Review: Making It Complicated by Clarisse David

I’ve been patiently biding my time for this companion to Keeping the Distance to release out into the world ever since I finished the first book that fateful night in February. After nine faithful months, it finally came to my notice today that the sequel was already out, so I hurried on to catch up with these beloved characters.

Nineteen-year-old Cam has a metric ton of emotional baggage and is in no mood to unload them on anyone. After her parents’ marriage imploded, stress-free is the only way she wants her life to be. And what could be more freeing than spending the summer on Boracay? Absolutely nothing…until she bumps heads with Hunter, the hot drummer who screams incoming heartbreak from a mile away.

Though I’m a bit mad at myself for reading this book a whole month after its publication, Making It Complicated still presented itself at exactly the right time in my life. It’s interesting how just the day before I’d been in the mood for a quick and fun-filled romance to sweep me off my feet, and the universe delivered just right with this book.

The events of this book are set a year after Keeping the Distance: Camille Velasco, Melissa Ortiz’s best friend, is set for her summer before college, full of bright and hopeful opportunities.

“It was a great night to be nineteen.”

Side note: I’m thankful I got my wish fulfilled of having Cam as the main in the sequel, as I mentioned in my review for #1. Her carefree youth encompassed me at the start of the book. Speaking of which, here are some of the main points from the book I’d like to highlight (mild spoilers ahead):

  • The main issue occurring between Cam and Mel, “the best friend I didn’t quite know how to deal with anymore,” of how they’d outgrown each other.

“I wanted to be happy for her.
Truly, I did.
But a huge part of me didn’t believe in the same things she did anymore, in finding such utter bliss with another person and trusting they weren’t going to rip you apart. I didn’t have the energy for that.”

We follow Cam’s journey of going out into the world on her own to try to find who she is a person, especially after the whole ordeal that happened in her family. I’m a sucker for a classic coming-of-age tale.

  • There’s a lot more angst and resentment than I anticipated going into this, but nonetheless grew to appreciate as an important trait of Cam’s strong-willed character growth.

“I was broken, and I had to stop hoping other people would fix things. Not Mel. Not Hunter. I had to put the pieces back together myself.”

Her anger was palpable, understandable, and not just swept away over the course of the book, which I appreciated a tenfold.

  • But circling back to Mel and Cam, the continuous miscommunication happening between them brought to mind my favorite quote from my favorite duo in Broad City:tumblr_o3g7ywkmoy1qiaxzfo2_250
  • I was relieved to see less of her best friend because truth to be told, Mel and Lance were so uncomfortable to watch from an outsider’s perspective. In their POV in Keeping the Distance, I could put aside my discomfort and chalk it up to nothing serious… But seeing them acting all lovey-dovey in front of Cam, I couldn’t help but think of this eerily fitting vine:

So I was low-key relieved to see less and less of them over the span of the book.

  • Instead, I welcomed the new group dynamics with Hunter Alvarez and his bandmates Cal, Eddie, and Keith. The teasing was merciless. And the laughs endless.
  • Plus, I have to pay attention to a tiny detail from one of the members that had me enraptured for the rest of the book:

“Do you want to listen to this podcast with me?” Keith offered one of his earphones to me.”

This offer is the one true key to my heart.

  • But out of all the members, I’d love to know more about my silent mystery man, Cal. “It was obvious Hunter made most of the major decisions, but Cal could control the rest of them with a single sentence. All that quiet power was amazing to watch in action.”
  • Finally, moving on to the main couple of the book… The rising sexual tension between Cam and Hunter was deliciously satisfying.

“Did I dare step inside his house when I knew very well we were going to be alone? A thousand thoughts—about the feel of his lips on mine, how hard his abs were underneath my fingertips—demanded entry into my brain. I refused to let them in.
“Is there anyone else inside?” I trusted Hunter, just not my hormones.
I watched as a light bulb seemed to go off in his head. His eyes moved from my black camisole down to my distressed denim shorts. The look he gave me made me want to pull my shirt collar away from my neck and fan myself with one hand. Voice low, he said, “No, it’s just us.”

This infinitely patient boy had me sitting at the edge of my seat with the drop of his voice.

And one more for the road:

“Every inch of my side connected with his, our shoulders and knees sliding against each other every time the jeepney stopped. When the wind burst inside and whipped my hair around my shoulders, Hunter reached out and gathered the strands in his fist, pulling them over my shoulder for me.
When his fingers brushed against my neck, I forgot how to breathe.
“You look a little…weird,” Hunter sounded a little too happy. He knew very well what he was doing to me. The bastard.”tumblr_osw20dinl11td9fl4o7_r1_400

Overall, this sequel full of antics from youthful summers exceeded all my expectations. I’m giddy for what’s next in store.

4/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Making It Complicated, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

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Review: Giant Days, Vol. 6 by John Allison

It felt so good to be back for another round of Giant Days, following our three wholesome “grown-up women in the modern world.”

Second year begins and Daisy, Susan, and Esther have taken their friendship commitment to the next level by moving into their “beautiful home”, off-campus. But the keys didn’t come without a whole new level of responsibility. Unwanted suitor visits, a robbery, and Susan living only a few blocks apart from her ex-boyfriend, McGraw has made the dorms feel like a haven. The girls are in for a dose of reality when they learn that there’s more to being an adult than paying your own rent.

This newest addition to the series was the most grown up we’ve seen our group. From crossing the brink of adulthood by hosting a fancy dinner party at their new home to dealing with unexpected tragedies happening all around. We’ve matured a lot as a group.Giant Days, Vol. 6 5-- bookspoilsThere’s a reason why Giant Days is the only comic series I actually bother to keep up with consecutively, and the answer lies mostly within the characters.

  • We have a new story arc centering around Daisy. From visiting her past to find out the reason behind her parents’ tragic and unforeseeable death, to watching her branch out and date her complete opposite in the present. I never tire of seeing Daisy Wooton have more “screen” time.Giant Days, Vol. 6 1-- bookspoils
  • In the meantime, with Daisy taking advantage of her youth, Esther has taken on the mom-friend duty with excellence.Giant Days, Vol. 6 2-- bookspoils
  • The humor is remarkably up to par in this newest volume, like, morbidly so.Giant Days, Vol. 6 3-- bookspoilsThe last panel actually made me laugh out loud.
  • Speaking of which, here’s another gem of classic comedy:

Giant Days, Vol. 6 4-- bookspoilsEsther’s comment “He’s going to break the toilet” broke me.

  • Finally, on a completely unrelated note, the tumultuous relationship between McGraw and Susan is unfortunately still happening. Though I’m secretly hoping they work things out in future issues, I’m still game for whatever direction the writers decide to head in.

3.5/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Giant Days, Vol. 6, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

Review: Yosl Rakover Talks to God by Zvi Kolitz

I stumbled across this tiny book among the shelves of my library and was drawn to it, mainly thanks to the title: Yosl Rakover Talks to God. I had never heard of story before and the history behind it, but I was in for a wild journey.

Warsaw, 28 April 1943

There are two stories here. One is the now legendary tale of a defiant Jew’s refusal to abandon God, even in the face of the greatest suffering the world has known, a testament of faith that has taken on an unpredictable and fascinating life of its own and has often been thought to be a direct testament from the Holocaust.

The parallel story is that of Zvi Kolitz, the true author, whose connection to Yosl Rakover has been obscured over the fifty years since its original appearance. German journalist Paul Badde tells how a young man came to write this classic response to evil, and then was nearly written out of its history.

What struck me almost immediately -and most noticeably- upon starting Yosl Rakover Talks to God was the unnerving honesty behind each sentence. There’s no purple prose or watering down the vocabulary; the author tells of the events as they are, and you feel it reverberating for pages to come. A simple passage made me contemplate as if I had just read a whole story. Take for example the one below:

“Rachel had said nothing to me about her plan to steal out of the ghetto — a crime that carried the death penalty. She went off on her dangerous journey with a friend, another girl of the same age.

In the dark of night she left home and at dawn she was discovered with her little friend outside the gates of the ghetto. The Nazi sentries and dozens of their Polish helpers immediately went in pursuit of the Jewish children who had dared to hunt in the garbage for a lump of bread so as not to die of hunger. People who had experienced this human hunt at first hand could not believe what they were seeing. Even for the ghetto this was new. You might have thought that dangerous escaped criminals were being chased as this terrifying pack ran amok after the two half-starved ten-year-old children. They couldn’t keep up this race for long before one of them, my daughter, having expended the last of her strength, collapsed on the ground in exhaustion. The Nazis drove holes through her skull. The other girl escaped their clutches, but she died two weeks later. She had lost her mind.”

The ending is what gets me every time because these two half-starved ten-year-old children were dying of hunger and are being chased as if they’re “dangerous escaped criminals.” Nothing makes my blood boil more than my hatred for Nazis. Nothing.

This is also why I don’t read the horror genre when you can just take a look at History, or even the news, and have pretty much the same feelings evoked.

But circling back to the story, the language created by Zvi Kolitz was rich in its attention paid to each deserving line, as every word takes part in delivering to the overarching theme.

“I am proud to be a Jew — not despite of the world’s relation to us, but precisely because of it.

I would be ashamed to belong to the peoples who have borne and raised the criminals responsible for the deeds that have been perpetrated against us.”

No author has consumed my world as much as Kolitz’s did with his short story. It’s my mission to get my hands on any of his remaining works. In the meantime, I will be sure to share Yosl Rakover Talks to God with anyone I can because it’s impossible to keep to myself.

Point proven, one last quote I want to share that talks about keeping quiet in the face of evil:

“The world will consume itself in its own evil, it will drown in its own blood.

The murderers have already pronounced judgment on themselves, and they will not escape it. But You, I beg You, pronounce Your guilty verdict, a doubly harsh verdict, on those who witness murder and remain silent!

On those who condemn murder with their lips while they rejoice over it in their hearts.

On those who say in their wicked hearts: Yes, it is true that the tyrant is evil, but he is also doing a job for which we will always be grateful to Him.”

The lengthy afterword offered necessary insight on Zvi Kolitz’s life before and after releasing Yosl Rakover Talks to God, his family history, the Yosl Rakover myth and  Kolitz’s fight to have his authorship be recognized. It was dynamic and all-consuming.

5/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Yosl Rakover Talks to God, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!