Bumped and Thumped by Megan McCafferty

Summary: When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society. Girls sport fake baby bumps and the school cafeteria stocks folic-acid-infused food.

Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and have never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Up to now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they are searching for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend, Zen, who is way too short for the job.

Harmony has spent her whole life in Goodside, a religious community, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to convince Melody that pregging for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from.

When Melody is finally matched with the world-famous, genetically flawless Jondoe, both girls’ lives are changed forever. A case of mistaken identity takes them on a journey neither could have ever imagined, one that makes Melody and Harmony realize they have so much more than just DNA in common.

From New York Times bestselling author Megan McCafferty comes a strikingly original look at friendship, love, and sisterhood—in a future that is eerily believable.

Review: Like my review of the first two Jessica Darling books that I put up the other day, I'm combining these two novels into one review. Mostly so I don't get them mixed up during two separate reviews, because they're pretty much just one story split into two books.

Also like the Jessica Darling books, I read these because I bought the first one for 1.99 a couple months ago (years ago?) and finally got around to reading it, followed by being interested enough to check out the second book from the library.

In case you didn't catch the other similarity, let me point it out: They're also by the same author, Megan McCafferty.

All that being said, let's talk about the books now.

So, I'm not sure exactly WHY I was surprised, considering the premise of the book as stated by the summary above, but I was in fact surprised by how much sex there was in these books. Not that there was a ton of sex, because there actually wasn't very much, but they talked about it a lot. Like, A LOT. And I wasn't really on board.

Although it was intentional (or else why contrive such a ridiculous virus that makes artificial insemination impossible?), I think it took away from the social issues that McCafferty was trying to highlight. In fact, with artificial insemination in play, the entire issue of paying girls to have babies would have been a lot less uncomfortable (on paper), because then you weren't paying them to have sex.

Of course, without it in play you have the issue of True Love and stuff...

So anyway, what I'm trying to say here is that clearly these books have an intriguing premise, but I wasn't terribly impressed with where it went. Among other things, Melody and Harmony weren't particularly compelling characters, and I wasn't a fan of the Insta-love.

Goodreads Shelves: addictive, bechdel-test, fluffy, is-or-would-be-a-good-movie, is-this-a-kissing-book, thought-provoking



Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle

Summary: Sparkling white snowdrifts, beautiful presents wrapped in ribbons, and multicolored lights glittering in the night through the falling snow. A Christmas Eve snowstorm transforms one small town into a romantic haven, the kind you see only in movies. Well, kinda. After all, a cold and wet hike from a stranded train through the middle of nowhere would not normally end with a delicious kiss from a charming stranger. And no one would think that a trip to the Waffle House through four feet of snow would lead to love with an old friend. Or that the way back to true love begins with a painfully early morning shift at Starbucks. Thanks to three of today’s bestselling teen authors—John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle—the magic of the holidays shines on these hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and breathtaking kisses.

Review: What to do here? Let's take this one at a time:

"The Jubilee Express" by Maureen Johnson - This one was cute. I really liked the thing about her parents' hardcore miniatures collection; it was a fun detail that definitely added to the cuteness factor. I liked the love story, although the more I read and older I get, the less patience I have with super-quick love stories like this one. Although that's the nature of story collections like these, so I guess it's my own fault.

"A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle" by John Green - I think John Green sometimes overrates the charm of clever teenagers, which is probably just proof that I'm not a clever teenager anymore. I also found this story a bit unbelievable, because too many things Happened, and it felt like they were just Happening for Making the Story Longer purposes.

"The Patron Saint of Pigs" by Lauren Myracle - Aaand this is where it all fell apart for me. Although there was some charm to it, I couldn't really take it seriously. This girl is SUPER self-absorbed, and nobody's ever told her that before? And then this one thing happens, and suddenly a switch is flipped and now she's not conceited any more? How convenient.
(As a side note: The only other thing I've read by Lauren Myracle is her story in Prom Nights From Hell, which already left a bad taste in my mouth bc it's not even an original story -- it's just a rehashed, prom-themed version of "The Monkey's Paw".) I did like the wrap-up scene at the end, with all the characters from the other stories, just for the sake of closure.

Overall, it was nice to read a Christmas book at Christmas time (because I wasn't really feeling Christmas time -- Christmas isn't ubiquitous here like it is in the US), but most of the good feelings I have for it are for sentiment's sake, not based on its own merits.

Goodreads Shelves: addictive, bechdel-test, fluffy, is-this-a-kissing-book



Challenge Accepted! 2015 EBook Reading Challenge

Ok, one more reading challenge.

2015 EBook Reading Challenge
Hosted by Annette at Annette's Book Spot

Since I do most of my reading on my Nook these days, I've actually been looking for a challenge like this one (albeit not very hard). So when I noticed the other day that one of the blogs I follow had signed up for it, I decided to go for it. 

Level: Megabytes
Goal: 25 ebooks


Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings by Megan McCafferty

Summary: Sloppy Firsts: “My parents suck ass. Banning me from the phone and restricting my computer privileges are the most tyrannical parental gestures I can think of. Don’t they realize that Hope’s the only one who keeps me sane? . . . I don’t see how things could get any worse.”

When her best friend, Hope Weaver, moves away from Pineville, New Jersey, hyperobservant sixteen-year-old Jessica Darling is devastated. A fish out of water at school and a stranger at home, Jessica feels more lost than ever now that the only person with whom she could really communicate has gone. How is she supposed to deal with the boy- and shopping-crazy girls at school, her dad’s obsession with her track meets, her mother salivating over big sister Bethany’s lavish wedding, and her nonexistent love life?

A fresh, funny, utterly compelling fiction debut by first-time novelist Megan McCafferty, Sloppy Firsts is an insightful, true-to-life look at Jessica’s predicament as she embarks on another year of teenage torment--from the dark days of Hope’s departure through her months as a type-A personality turned insomniac to her completely mixed-up feelings about Marcus Flutie, the intelligent and mysterious “Dreg” who works his way into her heart. Like a John Hughes for the twenty-first century, Megan McCafferty taps into the inherent humor and drama of the teen experience. This poignant, hilarious novel is sure to appeal to readers who are still going through it, as well as those who are grateful that they don’t have to go back and grow up all over again.

Second Helpings: "Knowing that I've just done something that will take decades off my parents' lives with worry, you'll excuse me for not getting into the fa-la-la-la-la Yuletide spirit this year. . . . The only difference between Christmas 2001 and Christmas 2000 is that I don't have a visit from Hope to look forward to. And Bethany has already packed on some major fetal flab. Oh, and now Gladdie doesn't need to ask a bizillion questions about my boyfriend, because she's already gotten the dirt from you know who."

Jessica Darling is up in arms again in this much-anticipated, hilarious sequel to Sloppy Firsts. This time, the hyperobservant, angst-ridden teenager is going through the social and emotional ordeal of her senior year at Pineville High. Not only does the mysterious and oh-so-compelling Marcus Flutie continue to distract Jessica, but her best friend, Hope, still lives in another state, and she can't seem to escape the clutches of the Clueless Crew, her annoying so-called friends. To top it off, Jessica's parents won't get off her butt about choosing a college, and her sister Bethany's pregnancy is causing a big stir in the Darling household.

With keen intelligence, sardonic wit, and ingenious comedic timing, Megan McCafferty again re-creates the tumultuous world of today's fast-moving and sophisticated teens. Fans of Sloppy Firsts will be reunited with their favorite characters and also introduced to the fresh new faces that have entered Jess's life, including the hot creative writing teacher at her summer college prep program and her feisty, tell-it-like-it-is grandmother Gladdie. But most of all, readers will finally have the answers to all of their burgeoning questions, and then some: Will Jessica crack under the pressure of senioritis? Will her unresolved feelings for Marcus wreak havoc on her love life? Will Hope ever come back to Pineville? Fall in love with saucy, irreverent Jessica all over again in this wonderful sequel to a book that critics and readers alike hailed as the best high school novel in years.

Review: Ok. So I read these two books within a couple days of each other, and I'm worried that if I try to review them separately, they'll just blend together in my mind. So I'm just gonna do one review.

I've been hearing about the Jessica Darling books and Marcus Flutie for quite a while, thanks to the girls over at Forever Young Adult. And after reading the first two books in the series, I can certainly see why. Jessica is exactly the kind of girl they love over there. She's honest, smart, insecure, snarky, and not afraid of swearing or drinking. She's obsessed with a boy she can never have, and also with her best friend moving away.

So in that sense, these were good books. They're funny and honest and exciting. And I liked seeing Jessica learn to stand up for herself and create an identity for herself that went beyond missing her best friend or feeling like an outsider in her own family.

And I really REALLY liked that the first book was one calendar year. So many books are based on the school year, and reading a book that took place from January to December was SUPER refreshing.

Based on reviews I've read, the first two in the series are the best, so I don't have any plans to continue. But I don't regret the $1.99 I spent on Sloppy Firsts, or the couple days I spent reading these.

Goodreads Shelves: addictive, bechdel-test, fluffy, funny, is-this-a-kissing-book, nook-ya, snark-attack



A Time to Love by Barbara Cameron

Summary: War correspondent Jennie King thinks she s just a temporary guest in her grandmother s Amish community while she recuperates from the devastating injuries sustained in a car bomb attack that changed her world. But when she meets Matthew Bontrager, the man she had a crush on as a teenager, she wonders if God has a new plan for her. Jennie has emotional and physical scars and though she feels she has come home to this man and this place, she's not sure she can bridge the difference between their worlds.

Review: Ok. So I've heard about this Amish Romance trend, and I was vaguely interested in giving it a try. And I had this book sitting around in my Nook. So I read it.

SUPER underwhelmed. Like, SO MANY THINGS about this book just don't make sense. I don't even know where to begin.

So you spent a summer or two here when you were a teenager, and that has prepared you to completely overhaul your life? And now you're gonna marry this guy you haven't seen in ten years and only met again a couple months ago? And you're some foreign war correspondent who's dedicated to helping people, but now you can somehow help children in war zones from this sleepy Amish town with no electricity?

I just... I can't even.

Like, this book had so few redeeming qualities that I can't even think of any now.

Maybe there are better books to read that fit in with this trend?

Goodreads Shelves: bechdel-test, fluffy, is-this-a-kissing-book, nook-book



The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith

Summary: After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.

Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.

You may think you know detectives, but you've never met one quite like Strike. You may think you know about the wealthy and famous, but you've never seen them under an investigation like this.

Review: So I was excited about this one, but also iffy. On the one hand, I'm a fan of the Harry Potter books, so I was expecting great things. But on the other hand, I've read some reviews that were pretty underwhelmed. So I went in with mixed expectations.

And I liked it! It wasn't as groundbreaking as the HP books, but it was a solid mystery novel. I liked Strike; he's smart and tough and also a little insecure, and he's a really good PI. I liked his relationship with Robin -- Robin was great. I'm such a fan of Robin. (Although I really REALLY don't want them to have a romantic relationship. Am I alone in this? I LIKE their dynamic too much to be interested in them doing something as boring as falling in love.)

Plot-wise, it was pretty good. I'm not usually very interested in guessing whodunit, because I tend to be wrong. (And because I don't like to guess, I don't get better at it. It's a vicious cycle.) But I felt like all the little details and clues got explained really well -- it was intricate enough to actually describe as intricate, which I liked a lot.

Goodreads Shelves: addictive, bechdel-test, is-or-would-be-a-good-movie, my-kind-of-woman

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