Day 5 a.k.a Hump Day
I spent a very recent evening having a fantastic meal and drinking a LOT of good wine with a couple of good friends from high school (they’re still together after all these years, it’s so sweet). Conversation turned to nostalgia, and since we’re all musicians, a passionate discussion about our favorites. Jason showed off his Top 25 Tunes v. 2.0 as posted on Facebook, and after a few more glasses of wine, I promised to draw up mine.
THIS IS WHAT ALCOHOL DOES, KIDS. DON’T LET IT HAPPEN TO YOU.
Strong melodies and lyrics abound. Lots of first wave (Depeche Mode, Stephen Duffy), and rock songs with a strong new wave influence (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Killers). I like my pop arty and alternative (Crowded House, Tori Amos), my rock with interesting percussion (New Pornographers, U2), with a little feminism thrown in (Tori Amos, Hole).
Is Feed The Animals a cheat? True, it’s one continuous 53:27 track with literally 300 songs layered on top of each other. Which makes it the Best. Cheat. Ever. I love mash-ups like whoa so this was the best way to represent.
As for the timing of the release of the songs, I have large clumps coinciding with important life events. Starting high school/death of my mother. Graduating from high school. Getting dumped by my First Boyfriend. Spending half the year away from home.
These are the non-negotiable, cannot-possibly-live-without, what-do-you-mean-you-hate-my-favorite-songs?, completely nerdy and self-indulgent Top 25.
26 + The Rest Seriously How Did These Not Make The Top 25 But Putting Them Here Is Totally Not Cheating
Review prologue: I was that comic book nerd.
I didn’t hide it like Maddie, because I didn’t really have any friends that I’d need to hide anything from. I had my life, I hung out with friends, but they didn’t need to be included on everything. That’s the thing about being 10, I guess.
Back before parents didn’t let children go anywhere in public without a full compliment of guards, I would get on the bus every Saturday afternoon after my chores were done. I’d ride 20 minutes to the C-Train station, then another 20 minutes to the heart of downtown, and walk to the comic shop on one of the seediest “retail” strips Calgary had at the time. There I’d divest myself of my allowance, mostly on the latest issues of the X-Men. I didn’t buy every week, but the store guys didn’t mind that I would spend the odd Saturday just looking and reading a bit because I was a regular. I wonder what they thought of me? At 10, you really don’t think about things like that. You do your thing.
Which is my minor little issue with Leah Rae Miller’s “The Summer I Became A Nerd.” Our heroine Maddie is obsessed with her hard-won popular girl status. It’s not really clear if she loves cheerleading, but she sure doesn’t seem to like anything else about the popular-girl life. She even has a hard time enjoying time with her closest friends Tara and Rayann. Tara, in particular, is supposed to be her best friend but doesn’t really know anything about Maddie at all.
This plot point stretched my suspended disbelief a one beat too far The sheer amount of deception needed to perpetrate Maddie’s public facade which included Tara didn’t ring quite true given the ease and depth of Tara and Maddie’s relationship.
That detraction aside, I was won over by the realism of true, nerdy giddiness Miller brings out so beautifully. This is a universal truth: there’s nothing better in the world than finding someone who loves what you love, no matter how uncool and silly it may be. We know how liberating it is to acknowledge and celebrate your true self and not surprisingly, these moments are is where the narrative shines.
Spoiler alert: now we get into the details nearing the end of the story, so STOP READING NOW and come back later when you’ve read it. Seriously. Stop here. I’ll be here when you get back, honest.
You know that pivotal point in a book when any weaknesses fall away and you just give yourself over to it? I hit it when Maddie concocted a daring quest to win Logan back. The defining moment was the tiny sliver of dialogue when Maddie goes over to meet with Marsha’s mom when launching said quest, and one of Logan’s sisters asks Maddie to watch TV with them. When Maddie replies that she’s busy with that quest thing, Vera replies with the single best line of the whole book (p. 214):
“Have fun storming the castle!”
I laughed out loud with sheer delight at this reference. No explanation or expansion, just leaving it out there in all its nerdy pop culture finery (if you don’t get it, you’re dead to me). This line made me long for more moments like this one in the book, but I’ll grant there may have been a few, or several, that I missed because I’m not nerdy enough to have caught them. I’m ok with that. (Feel free to tell me what I missed below in the comments.)
The quest is the part of the book where everything comes alive. It’s written so movie-like, the popcorn and pop were finished ages ago, you may have to go to the bathroom a little bit but you’re in that last 15 min. of the film and bladder issues are so irrelevant because THIS IS SO GOOD.
Despite the forced tension between Maddie and Tara, it’s such a well-crafted story with a satisfying character arcs for not just Maddie but so many of the secondary characters, I can happily give it a solid 4.5/5. If you’ve ever nerded out and felt anxious about doing so, this will be a worthwhile and fun YA read for you too.
(Note: An ARC was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)
I am hugely excited to support Jennifer Iacopelli and help her announce that today, yes TODAY, her New Adult (“NA”) book GAME. SET. MATCH. has been sent forth into the world!
I’ve waxed poetic about this book before, so I figured I’d let you in on an interesting little trend that has developed over the last few months amongst the book’s fans as we’ve been treated to sneak peeks of the story. Just like the competitiveness of the characters in GSM, a (mostly) friendly battle has been waging on Twitter as readers have been picking their favorite of the three main characters. Jennifer has written GSM from the rotating points of view of Penny Harrison, Indiana Gaffney and Jasmine Randazzo – very different women brought together by a burning passion for tennis and winning (you can get a hint of what they’re like from the book’s blurb below). Once you get pulled into their world, you may gravitate towards one, dislike another, and change your mind as each woman changes throughout the book.
I’m just going to come out and say it. I want to be BFFs with Indiana Gaffney. Penny is perfect, successful and got her shit together – totally not my kind of gal. Jas was close to winning me over because she’s angry and bitter and that makes her likably unlikeable, but I couldn’t get behind her spoilt-rotten nature. But Indy? She completely rocks.
It’s not because she’s more virtuous or humble or determined than the others. Rather, I can completely relate to everything Indy goes through (other than being devastatingly brilliant at tennis). Her reactions to her mom’s death are authentic and how they affect her tennis and the rest of her life makes complete sense to me, because I went through the same thing at nearly the same age.
I think you’ll cheer for Indy like I do, but who knows. Maybe you want to go out and CafePress your own #TeamJas or #TeamPenny tees instead but we’d be totally friends off. Just so you know.
Nestled along the coastline of North Carolina, the Outer Banks Tennis Academy is the best elite tennis training facility in the world. Head Coach, Dominic Kingston has assembled some of the finest talent in the sport. From the game’s biggest stars to athletes scraping and clawing to achieve their dreams, OBX is full of ego, drama and romance. Only the strong survive in this pressure cooker of competition, on and off the court.
Penny Harrison, the biggest rising star in tennis, is determined to win the French Open and beat her rival, the world’s number one player, Zina Lutrova. There’s just one problem, the only person who’s ever been able to shake her laser-like focus is her new training partner. Alex Russell, tennis’s resident bad boy, is at OBX recovering from a knee injury suffered after he crashed his motorcycle (with an Aussie supermodel on the back). He’s hoping to regain his former place at the top of men’s tennis and Penny’s heart, while he’s at it.
Tennis is all Jasmine Randazzo has ever known. Her parents have seven Grand Slam championships and she’s desperate to live up to their legacy. Her best friend is Teddy Harrison, Penny’s twin brother, and that’s all they’ve ever been, friends. Then one stupid, alcohol-laced kiss makes everything super awkward just as she as she starts prepping for the biggest junior tournament of the year, the Outer Banks Classic.
The Classic is what draws Indiana Gaffney out of the hole she crawled into after her mom’s death. Even though she’s new to OBX, a win at the Classic is definitely possible. She has a big serve and killer forehand, but the rest of her game isn’t quite up to scratch and it doesn’t help that Jasmine Randazzo and her little minions are stuck-up bitches or that Jack Harrison, Penny’s agent and oldest brother, is too hot for words, not to mention way too old for her.
Who will rise? Who will fall?
Told from rotating points of view, GAME. SET. MATCH. is a ‘new adult’ novel about three girls with one goal: to be the best tennis player in the world.