Book Review: Emergency Contact

Title: Emergency Contact

Author: Mary H. K. Choi

Publisher: Simon& Schuster Books for Young Readers

Format: Hardback

Penny Lee is heading to college and glad. High school wasn’t for her, and she’s happy to be spreading her wings and staring her journey to being a writer. Her first day, she meets Sam, her roommates “uncle” and is immediately attracted. Meanwhile, Sam is overwhelmed with the idea his ex-girlfriend might be pregnant and not in the best place in his life. When a panic attack causes him and Penny to cross paths again, they agree to become each other’s emergency contact and start texting each other. The more they text, the more attracted they are toward each other, but each is unsure if they’re ready to take the next step.

I struggled with this one. I just found Penny to be so unlikable. She judges everyone from her mom to her new roommate and just… I don’t know. Isn’t very nice. Now, I know characters don’t need to be nice to be likable, or a character doesn’t need to be likable for a story to be good, but in this case, it was detrimental to the plot. 

However, I think Penny’s likability was part of her journey as a character. The more Penny and Sam communicated, the more understandable Penny became. She opened up to the world, she faced her flaws, and she became more well rounded.

Sam didn’t go through quite the same journey. He had issues that he had to work through, and he did, and was changed from the beginning, but I don’t feel like he experienced quite the same growth and awakening as Penny did. I liked him better than Penny, but I wasn’t as invested in him.

This book overall was interesting. The characters went through growth and helped me relate to and understand them better. I struggled in the beginning, and I feel there were some threads that were left unfinished or hanging, but it was a solid read with a good ending.

This or That book tag

Today I’m here with another tag: the This or That book tag. This tag was created by Paper Fury. I saw it done over on The Kingdom of Pages and thought it looked like fun. So, I’m giving it a try!

Series or Standalone?

Obviously I want whatever is going to serve the story the best, but if it’s really good, I generally want a series so I can have more.

Magic earned or magic born?

Either, as long as they have to work and learn to control and use the magic. If they’re born with it and it comes as naturally as breathing, I’m less interested, but if they have to work to learn to control it, it’s okay.

Enemies-to-lovers or friends-to-lovers?

I tend to like enemies-to-lovers better. I’ve always been a sucker for when the bad guy has to join up with the good guys to defeat an even bigger bad guy, and that’s a little of what enemies-to-lovers gives me.

Hilarious banter or emotional ruin?

Hilarious banter.

Love triangle or insta-love?

It depends, is the isnta-love due to a biological imperative or soul-bond? Because I love that. But if it’s just two people falling in love instantly… eh, I think I’d still prefer that to a love triangle. I’m tired of those.

Keyboard smash fantasy names or all names start with the same letter?

All names start with the same letter. I don’t read keyboard smash fantasy name books.

Mean parents or dead parents?

Dead parents.

Supermodel looks or constantly says how plain they are?

Supermodel looks. That’s how I’ll picture them anyway.

Face on cover or typography on cover?

Depends on how pretty/arresting the face or typography is. I’m not particularly drawn to one over the other.

Villain turning a little good or hero turning a little bad?

I probably already answered this, but villain turning a little good. It’s catnip to me.

TAG, YOU’RE IT!

Book review: We Rule the Night

Revna is a factory worker who can illegally manipulate the Weave, a form of magic that holds the world together. Linne is a soldier who defied her father, dressed herself as a boy, and ran away to join the army. When the two are caught, they are offered a chance to serve the Union: use their magic and join an all-female squadron of pilots to fight against the enemy. The problem is, the two girls can barely stand each other and the plane, made by “living metal” that can sense emotions, becomes difficult to manage with the tension in the cockpit. Can the two young women set aside their differences and become a team? Or will the tension become too much for them to overcome?

This was a really relentlessly depressing book. That’s not a knock on the book, because the plot was interesting, the characters were well developed, and I liked the descriptions of how the girls trained and became a unit. But everywhere, there was resistance and sexism and the threat of torture and death. Revna and her squad spend the whole book convinced that the moment the war ends, they’ll all be arrested for using illegal magic. And, really? I think that fear is well founded. The government and the secret police are terrifying and oppressive to the extreme.

Also depressing was the relationship between Linne and Revna. Individually, I like both the girls. Linne has been a soldier for the past few years and is adjusting to having to be a woman again. She’s disdainful of the women in her squadron and prejudice against Revna because of Revna’s prosthetic legs. In fact, she’s outright cruel, and sometimes it was hard to like her. Revna was much easier to take. I understood her fear and depression over the state of being. She’s torn between hating the Union for what it’s done to her and wanting to be a good Union girl. She desperately wants to be a pilot to save her mother and sister, but finds personal freedom in it as well.

This book has some adventure and a lot of intrigue. It’s just a very heavy book and hard to handle at times. I also wish there had been a little explanation as to what the Weave and living metal was. I got it from context, but I’d have liked to delve deeper. All in all, it was an okay book.

WWW Wednesday: May 22

This has been a long week! It’s been a better week than last week, but it’s still long. I think it’s a combination of being the end of the school year (and the kids going crazy) and being nervous about the field trip we’re taking on Friday. When we get there, it’ll be fine, but until then, it’s one long week of anxiety building up.

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words. Each week, you answer three questions:

What are you currently reading?

What did you just finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m currently reading F is for Fugitive by Sue Grafton. You may notice that, once again, I’m not reading either of the two books I said I was going to read for the past two weeks, but I have a really good reason. I’m trying to save a little money and be more mindful of what I buy, and I couldn’t justify either of the purchases, even on Kindle. So, I went to the library, instead. I checked out four or five books and have been working my way through them. I actually went again yesterday and got a bunch more books, so I’m all set for awhile.

Now, do I want to be reading any of these books? Kind of, but not really. What I want to read is Clockwork Prince and Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare, which is the sequels to Clockwork Angel. However, despite the second book supposedly being at the library, it wasn’t on the shelf, and the third is not at my library but at the one I’ve never been to. And the far away library that I sometimes go to also doesn’t have them in. And neither library has them on Overdrive, and the third library I belong to, I can’t remember my pin. So… I may have to buy them this weekend, even though I’m trying to save money and spend more intentionally and…. Well. I want to intentionally buy the books to intentionally make me happy (even though, from what I understand, this series is going to break my heart). So, that’s okay, right?

Anyway, that was a lot of words. That’s my reading week.

What are you reading this week? Drop a comment below and let me know!

Top 5 “Unputdownable” Reads

It’s Tuesday which means it’s time for Top 5 Tuesday! Yay! Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Shanah @ Bionic Book Worm. Each week, she posts a new topic and gives us all a chance to respond. This week’s topic is Top 5 “unputdownable” reads.

Star Wars: Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn. When I was in seventh grade, I had finished all my books and my work in English class. Having nothing to read, I must have complained, because a boy in my group handed me this book. I was only able to read the first chapter before the period ended and he had to take it back (it wasn’t his book), but the damage was done. This book was like drugs to me: I couldn’t think for the rest of the day and I was addicted for life. I mean, I’ve always been a Star Wars fan, but this book took it to a whole new level. I don’t think I thought of anything but Star Wars for the next two years, when the trilogy was finally over. I definitely couldn’t put it down.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I was always a kid who liked to be prepared, so when I knew I was going to have to read this book the next year for English class, I decided to get a head start. I had an old, beat up copy of my nana’s (which has since completely fallen apart) and I started reading. I read for most of the hot summer evening, well into the night sitting on the tile floor of the kitchen in front of the back door. I was fascinated by Scout and her brother, by Boo Radley and everything that was happening. I could not put the book down.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Shortly after this book came out, I went to the book store determined to find a book with the following criteria: YA, dystopian, and about a girl. But, I couldn’t get into this at first. Still, it was the book I took with me to Disneyland/DCA when my family and I went to see World of Color. We were taking a break in the shade and I decided to put it out. Four hours later, the lights went down so the show could start and I had to put the book away. I missed all the singing, games, and performing of the preshow just so I could keep reading this book because I was so enthralled.

Seize the Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon. I am honestly embarrassed to include this on my list because I didn’t really think the book was that great, but I could not put it down. I got it for free at ComicCon one year and I started reading it and could tell it wasn’t my taste, but there wasn’t much going on that day. Any time my sister and I sat down, I’d pull it out and start reading. I read the whole thing in bits and pieces throughout the day, the entire time lamenting the fact I couldn’t stop because it was so over the top silly. To this day, all I can remember is the main character feeds her romantic interest penis-shaped pasta and that he, at one points, sucks garlic butter off her breast. I won’t say this book was bad, because a) I know the series is wildly popular and scratches an id and b) it wasn’t badly written. I tried to read others in the series, but could never get into them. But this, for that day, was glued to my hand.

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare. Yes, it’s taken me years and years to read. But I finally did and couldn’t put it down. When I saw its size, I thought it might take me three or four days to get through. But then, I got home from work yesterday, pulled it out, and read way past my bedtime. I didn’t want to put it down and I was dying to see how it ended. Despite my initial reservations, it was a very fun read and very unputdownable.

What are some books that you’ve had a hard time putting down? Drop a comment below and let me know!

Book Review: Clockwork Angel

Title: Clockwork Angel

Author: Cassandra Clare

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Format: Paperback

Tessa Gray travels to Victorian England to live with her brother, Nathaniel, after the passing of their aunt. But instead of the quiet life she expects, she’s abducted by the mysterious “Dark Sisters” who teach her to use a power she never knew she had: the ability to change shape into another person. Under threat from the Pandemonium Club and the Magister, the head of the organization, Tess despairs of ever being free again. However, she is rescued by a group of warriors called the Shadowhunters, who free her from the clutches of the Dark Sisters and thrust her into a world unlike she has ever known.

I really enjoyed this book. I picked it up sort of on a whim when I was at the library the other day. They didn’t have another book I wanted, and my sister has told me that she thought I’d enjoy this one, so I decided to give it a try. I found the plot really engaging and didn’t want to put the book down. I was intrigued by the magic system and the Nephilim and Downworlds. I thought the organization and rules of the world were very clever.

The character were interesting, but they do feel a little unfinished somehow. They’re painted in broad strokes. Will Herondale, who is sharp, caustic, clever, and beautiful, borders on being more of a cliche than a fully realized character. However, he has some depth to him that pops up throughout the book that saves him from being too shallow (in fact, for all that I feel he’s not quite a fully realized character, yet, he reminds me a lot of someone I know in real life. So I’m not quite sure what to do with that.) I think, however, it’s less to do with the writing and character and more to do with the fact this is the first book in the series and just an introduction. The ending certainly suggests there’s a lot more to Will.

I also really liked Tessa. She’s your typical heroine where she thinks she’s average and ordinary, and then is thrust into extraordinary circumstances. I like how she adapts to her situation, and I especially like that one of the main ways she adapts is through books and reading. I like how she deals with Will and how sure of her own worth she is.

I’m a little less than thrilled that there appears there may be a love triangle in the series. I’m not totally opposed to them, but I’m not usually happy when they appear. I am very concerned as to how it will play out.

This book was a really fun read. I almost wish I hadn’t read it first out of my selections, because I have three more books to read before I go back to get the other Infernal Devices books. Unless, you know, I say screw it and just go and get them anyway. We’ll see.

Sunday Post: May 19

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by the Caffeinated Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news, recap the past week on your blog, and showcase books and things you’ve received. The rules are here: The Sunday Post.

This was just a difficult week all around. It started with migraines on Monday, an anxiety attack that made my hands go numb on Tuesday, and just a general sense of blah and exhaustion the rest of the week. I’m not enjoying a book I got from NetGalley, and while I don’t want to DNF it because I want to be nice and review it…. I also really, really don’t want to keep reading it. Luckily, a trip to the library helped turn my reading week around and I got some books I’m really enjoying. Also, with any luck, next week will be much better and I’ll get things back on track.

Monday: The Alchemist (book review)

Tuesday: Top 5 Magical Creatures

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday

Thursday: Aurora Rising (book review)

Friday: Avengers Book Tag

Saturday: Last Sons of America (book review)

Monday: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare book review

Tuesday: Top 5 Unputdownable Reads

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday

Thursday: We Rule the Night by Claire Eliza Bartlett book review

Friday: TBD

Saturday: Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi book review

What are your reading this week? How did you last week go? Drop a comment below and let me know!