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BOOK REVIEW: Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

BOOK REVIEW: Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca ZappiaEliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Her story is a phenomenon. Her life is a disaster.

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves the online one, and she has no desire to try.

Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and as he draws her out of her shell, she begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile.

But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.

It makes no earthly sense how another person can do this. Not even with words, just touches. Just looks. He just looks at me and I feel simultaneously like myself and someone else, like I’m here and I’m not, like everything and nothing.

Every once in a while you come across a book that was only supposed to be a filler. You pick it up, don’t expect much, and you just want something to pass the time until a book you REALLY want comes out. And there are times when those books serve their purpose, where you’re content and don’t think anything of it after finishing because the story fulfilled the part of you it needed to. And then, sometimes, those books you could care less about become something much, much more.

I’ll be frank: I read this book right when it came out. Wasn’t that like…a month ago? I feel like it was forever ago, yet I think about it frequently. I’ll also wholly admit that I forget some things about it. Does that mean I didn’t love it as much as I had originally thought? Perhaps…but I don’t think so. I still remember things that made me smile. I still remember how sweet Wallace was, how he didn’t speak often-but when he did, it was worth every moment he didn’t. I still remember being nervous, anxious, awaiting the big reveal and inevitable blow up. And, ya know, I still remember how it made me feel.

I’ll be the first to acknowledge that I slapped a 4 star rating on Zappia’s previous novel, Made You Up, yet I don’t think it deserved it, from my standpoint. I never got wholly into it, I found it hard to completely connect to, and I didn’t LOVE IT-but I also didn’t know how to rate it. With this novel? I knew. I knew immediately. Where MYU didn’t have anything I really connected to, EAHM was like a fairy tale of nerdiness made just for moi.

rainmaker: Weird, I didn’t know you had such a thing for timid guys.
MirkerLurker: Really does it for me when a guy is paralyzed with fear on a regular basis.
rainmaker: Aw. Sad.
MirkerLurker: What’s sad?
rainmaker: That it would never work between us. I’m too courageous.

Recently I’ve found that online romances are stealing my heart-as I stated in my AA review, ‘2017, the year of the YA Romance cyber stalkers’, is my most recent obsession, and it has been my favorite type of book to read this year. There’s just something so touching to me about reaching out, taking a chance, imagining what it would be like to meet that certain someone who just GETS you…but not knowing who they are or what they look like. I mean, with each new relationship you engage in on the internet, there’s a huge risk (We’ve all seen Catfish, am I right?).

So yeah, these online stories are crazy and zany and have that touch of unbelievability…but that’s what makes it fun. And I guess what I’m saying is: I just have a major connection to this type of story and can’t help but to become all fangirlish when I pick up one of these books-they are so far and few between, and it’s an extreme happiness I feel when I finally find one-because, frankly, even though the realistic factor is low, online/meet-in-real-life-without-knowing-it books have tended to be the most heart-wrenching, soul-crushing, addicting, and unforgettable stories of the year.


Sully and Church stuff their gangly selves in the backseat of my car so Wallace can sit in the passenger seat.
“No hanky panky up there,” Sully says.
“Yeah,” Church adds. “If I see a hand cross those seats, it will get smacked.”
“Smacked?” Sully says. “If I see a hand cross those seats, I’ll chop it off and burn it.”

So, let’s do a quick look at this book and why it worked for me…it’s quite simple actually. In a lot of ways, I found our main character’s problems mirroring my own. No, I’m not an EXTREME introvert like Eliza, and NO I most likely wouldn’t have led our main man on, but I could see similarities: Her attitude, the way she handled problems, the passion she feels when in her own world, creating…there was more, but I won’t lie, I am foggy on all the details :/ One of the numerous downsides to waiting so long to write a review. But, anyway, I really liked her character even though she made a few mistakes I didn’t agree with.

And I will also go so far as to say Wallace made a huge error, as well, in the end….but I have to wonder if it would have stood out so glaringly if I hadn’t read about it in a review before I started. Sometimes we learn something, like an out of character moment, before we pick up a book, so we look for it, and I think that’s what happened here. It upsets me because I am so easily influenced, and even after I say that, here I am doing the same thing to all of you….so, sorry in advance. My point in saying all that was to point out that Wallace wasn’t without his flaws, even though I adored him 95% of the story.

I loved how they had each other’s backs. I loved that they found a connection through her writing. I loved that they became fast friends after she stood up for him. And I loved everything about the two of them. This story touched me in the weirdest way, and I just haven’t forgotten about it, even for a minute.

I will admit I am upset and mad at myself…I started this review two weeks ago. I was halfway done with it when I got interrupted, so I thought I’d finish it later. But this doesn’t work for me. I’m the type of person who has to write a review right when I am feeling it, and once I lose that flow, it’s gone. All of my spunk, all of my originality, and my whole train of thought. Add to that my bad mood I’ve had the last two weeks and here we are-I’m finally just writing the review to ‘get it over with’ and I lost my happiness while writing it-the whole reason I began writing it in the first place. Plus, I haven’t slept well for a week. SO UGH. I hate that this is the watered down review I was on the way to writing, but at least now I can post it and move on-next time I’m writing a review for an instant favorite, I will refuse to pause or just plain wait. Sometimes that same mood or perfect moment doesn’t come around again, so I have learned that lesson the hard way. I just wish it wasn’t for this particular book. But just know: this book is worth all the stars and I endorse it 100%. It’s amazing and I hope all my friends will love it. ♥

View all my reviews

BOOK REVIEW: Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

BOOK REVIEW: Made You Up by Francesca ZappiaMade You Up by Francesca Zappia
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Reality, it turns out, is often not what you perceive it to be—sometimes, there really is someone out to get you. Made You Up tells the story of Alex, a high school senior unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion. This is a compelling and provoking literary debut that will appeal to fans of Wes Anderson, Silver Linings Playbook, and Liar.

Alex fights a daily battle to figure out the difference between reality and delusion. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8-Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until classes begin, and she runs into Miles. Didn't she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal.

Funny, provoking, and ultimately moving, this debut novel featuring the quintessential unreliable narrator will have readers turning the pages and trying to figure out what is real and what is made up.

 

“You’re Jetta.”
He shook his head.
I frowned. “Theo?”
“No.”
“Well if you’re not either of them, you’d have to be me.”
He blinked.
“It’s me?” I said.
“I couldn’t think of anyone else,” he said.

So….to keep pace with my current obsession of flawed and/or tortured characters and unreliable narrators, I just had to read this. I can’t even begin to imagine living in a world where I don’t know what’s real and what isn’t. It’s just unfathomable, to me. To look on my desk and see a spider, only to immediately think, ‘Wait wait wait…is this an actual spider…or am I just imagining it?’ That would surely be the end of me. But just ponder this: Nothing is certain, no one is guaranteed to be real, and you might never know if what you’re seeing is actually truly happening. How terrifying is that?

Was everything made up? Was this whole world inside my head? If I ever woke up from it, would I be inside a padded room somewhere, drooling all over myself?
Would I even be myself?

Now, this really wasn’t what I was expecting. But then, I don’t know what I was expecting. I have both strong and lukewarm feelings for this one. Let me explain: The characters were so addicting. I couldn’t get enough of mean old [tortured] Miles and poor Alex. I knew from the moment these two met that I was hooked. He was surly as shit, and she wasn’t going to take his crap like everyone else in the school. And this is what drove me forward from the very beginning. But then on the other hand…for some odd reason that I can’t explain, the story just felt so unrealistic to me. Which makes no sense! Of course it didn’t!! We are following an unreliable narrator and we don’t know what’s real and what isn’t.

“Alex. Wait.”
I turned back. It was the first time he’d said my name. He held a hand out. “Well played,” he said.
Oh no. No, we were not doing this. I hadn’t spent ten minutes gluing his locker shut just to admit it to him. So I arched my own eyebrow and said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
The corners of his lips twisted up right before I walked away.

But I don’t even think it’s that. Maybe it’s their high school life. But when have I ever picked up a book and said-‘This is so unbelievable.’ Never. I never have. Unless the cheese is through the roof and I can’t believe a girl could be so stupid, I never say that. No amount of dystopian or fantasy or paranormal could make me say that….So why did this book make me wonder things I never have? And that’s where my lack of that last .5 or full star comes from. I can’t decide if I liked the surreal feel of the story…or disliked it.

“You’re going to go up there”-he pointed at the empty bleachers-“and shut up.”
Was there some kind of law about drop-kicking assholes in the face? Probably. They always had laws against things that really needed to be done.

Not often do I say less is more, but due to lack of time and the fact that this story is based on belief of what’s real and not real, I think I need to stick by that thought. I fell inexplicably hard for the male lead, Miles, and I think that stems from my current obsession of ‘tortured boys with ‘tude problems.’ There wasn’t one minute where I wasn’t begging for more of him, just so I could get to the core of why he was just. So. Mean. I wanted and needed to know what made him tic and, most importantly, I needed to see more of his anger-riddled jealousy. Ah yes, Miles dear got extremely jealous on more than one occasion-Though, he’d never admit it. And I have to say-I loved the confused look on his face all the time. It was adorable. And the eyebrow raise!! And lastly-I loved how he always stood up for Alex, even if it didn’t look like he was. How he always was there for her and respected her (in his own way, okay) and took care of her. I loved it. He was a mean shit…but he had reasons. You’ll have to read to know anything more than that.

I really needed Finnegan’s Magic 8 Ball. But I could guess what kind of answer it would give me. Ask again later. So freaking noncommittal.

So, that is all. Still not a short review, by any means, but not near as long as they’ve been running lately, it seems. I think this book will touch many people because it’s not an easy topic to write about, nor is it an easy book to find written well. And that’s what this was-an excellently written story with deep characters and a meaningful story-line. I will be suggesting it to many, and I can’t wait to come back someday and re-read this with an open mind and knowing what is real…and what isn’t.


I don’t want you.
I don’t need you.
I don’t love you.

 

BOOK REVIEW – Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

BOOK REVIEW – Made You Up by Francesca ZappiaMade You Up by Francesca Zappia
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Reality, it turns out, is often not what you perceive it to be—sometimes, there really is someone out to get you. Made You Up tells the story of Alex, a high school senior unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion. This is a compelling and provoking literary debut that will appeal to fans of Wes Anderson, Silver Linings Playbook, and Liar.

Alex fights a daily battle to figure out the difference between reality and delusion. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8-Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until classes begin, and she runs into Miles. Didn't she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal.

Funny, provoking, and ultimately moving, this debut novel featuring the quintessential unreliable narrator will have readers turning the pages and trying to figure out what is real and what is made up.

“My throat tightened and my heart swelled painfully in my chest. Please don’t let this be a delusion. Please let this be real.”

As long as I can remember, I’ve always been fascinated by schizophrenia, and mental illness, for that matter. Although I’ve been unable to explain why for years, more that I think about it, more it seems to me that what attracts me so much is the fact that people apprehend and see the world differently, through the lens of their own perception. Perception that they can never really accept as the reality, because in the end, they know appearances can be fundamentally deceptive.

Perception.
What an untrustworthy trick. Indeed in my opinion – all healthy as we are – we don’t challenge enough what we see, despite the fact that many experiences show us that we can’t trust our eyes more often than not, because our mind overanalyzes everything and shapes what we see to agree with our expectations.

Anyway, Alex isn’t given any choice in the matter : she can’t trust herself. She can’t trust her own deceitful perception. She can’t trust anything, and as followers of the wanderings of her mind, neither can we. Talk about an amazing unreliable narrator.

How to live when you can never trust anything you see? How to trust others? How to trust ourselves? Can we, really?

“Was everything made up? Was this whole world inside my head? If I ever woke up from it, would I be inside a padded room somewhere, drooling all over myself?
Would I even be myself?”

Made you Up belongs to my favorite kind of contemporary : those which make you think and question everything, those which purposefully lose you, those which rely more on a psychological level than are action-packed. So, no, don’t expect never-ending action. Don’t expect astounding settings. But be ready to be captivated from the start, to be hooked. To
care.
Be ready to eat these words up. As for me, I can’t hide that I was delighted by the writing style, because if the sentences can appear to be pretty simple, I often felt suffocated by the feelings oozing from the pages – Despair. Hope. Happiness. Heartbreak. Doubt. So much doubt.

I trusted nothing. I loved everything.

Truth be told, the characters made me so damn happy, I can’t even. Why? Because they’re two flawed and unlikeable teenagers, who both have to deal with the wanderings of their minds, their extreme nerdness, and getting to know them was INCREDIBLE.

The story is told in the refreshing and unique voice of Alex, who’s suffered from schizophrenia and paranoia since her early childhood. What she perceives can be tricky, because she always has to keep the possibility of hallucinations in the corner of her head. Therefore she takes pictures and uses them for a reality check. A lot of them. Not to mention the Nazis, the communists, in a word, all these enemies she can’t help but see everywhere. What’s amazing is the fact that sometimes you forget that Alex suffers from schizophrenia and paranoia and suddenly she thinks stuff like “I’m not going to eat this you know. Because poison” and yes, it takes you by surprise, making you both laugh and cringe (of course that’s possible, duh). Although she’s rather bitchy more often than not, I loved her because  1)I am a sucker for both unreliable and flawed characters and  2)She always tries to see the better in everyone. Indeed – and that’s so rare! – she questions people’s reasons to act the way they do, and where she could have been judgmental, she prefers to give others the benefit of the doubt.

As for Miles, where do I even start? Well, he’s a smart-ass asshole. But not the controlling kind. Nope. Sure he’s very driven and his inability to always understand people’s emotions makes him appear quite the jerk sometimes, but in the end, what do we have? A complex, lonely, heartbreaking boy who needs to protect those he loves, and who rules over a whole hidden world in his head. Hidden world that I was eager to unravel, and – Oh, hell. He maddened me, broke my heart and made me choke on butterflies.

“Dear Asshole : Thank you for keeping your word and believing me. It was more than I expected. Also, I’m sorry you were inconvenienced by my gluing your locker shut at the beginning of this year. However, I am not sorry that I did it, because it was a lot of fun.”

Moreover, let me tell you that I absolutely adored their interactions and the pranks they set up to each other. Oh, yes, didn’t I say that? Miles is the King of pranks. For real. Trust me. Anyway, listening to them was often hilarious and always interesting. I know, I’m such a fangirl right now.

Finally – drum roll pleaaaaaasethere is no insta-love at all, and no love triangle, but two characters who fall for each other gradually, in a believable way.

To sum up, here’s one of the best contemporary YA I read this year, if not the best. Just give these flawed characters a chance, okay?

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