Month: August 2014

Cloaked – Alex Flinn (DNF)

Cloaked

Cloaked

Author: Alex Flinn

Publish Date: February 8th, 2011

Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, YA

I’m not your average hero. I actually wasn’t your average anything. Just a poor guy working an after-school job at a South Beach shoe repair shop to help his mom make ends meet. But a little magic changed it all.

It all started with the curse. And the frognapping. And one hot-looking princess, who asked me to lead a rescue mission.

There wasn’t a fairy godmother or any of that. And even though I fell in love along the way, what happened to me is unlike any fairy tale I’ve ever heard. Before I knew it, I was spying with a flock of enchanted swans, talking (yes, talking!) to a fox named Todd, and nearly trampled by giants in the Keys.

Don’t believe me? I didn’t believe it either. But you’ll see. Because I knew it all was true, the second I got CLOAKED.


Review

So disappointed by this one.

I read Flinn’s book Bewitched about a year or so ago and I really liked it. Beastly immediately went onto my tbr list and I’ve been looking for a copy of it at the library for a long time now. However, 100% of the times I’ve gone, they’ve only had Cloaked. I finally cracked and picked it up instead of praying that Beastly was there. It probably would have been more efficient to put a hold on it, but I keep forgetting to.

Now this book is classified as YA but I think it’s too childish. I think I would have enjoyed this book more if I had read it three years ago when it came out. The characters were badly developed and as a result, made the book seem more unrealistic. I know that it’s a fantasy and about magic and isn’t meant to be realistic, but what I mean by this, is that Flinn didn’t bring this story to life.

Johnny had potential as a character. He wasn’t your typical teenage boy, and unique in the way that he’s fascinated by shoes and aspires to be a renowned designer.

The problem was that he was so dumb.

He knows that there’s magic and manipulations throughout the story. He uses the magical cloak and headpiece for Christ’s sake! Yet what happens? He is tricked more than once by mirages and tricks of manipulation. People tell him multiple times that he shouldn’t trust everybody. But what does he do? HE TRUSTS PRETTY MUCH EVERY SINGLE PERSON HE MEETS.

“Oh you’re forced to live here and you want to visit your parents in North Carolina? I’ve just met you, but you seem trustworthy. Here’s a magic cloak!”

*gets kidnapped*

“Aw shucks, I shouldn’t have trusted her.”

And then after he gets kidnapped, he resumes to come up with the stupidest plans of escape that I have ever heard. In a real-world situation, they wouldn’t ever work, but since this is book-world, of course it does.

“I don’t stand up. ‘Look, I’ve got a plan. When they get here, they’ll have the cloak, a magic cloak that transports you wherever you want to go. Now that I’ve got your flashlight, I’ll be able to see them. I’ll sneak up in the dark, turn on the light, and grab the cloak. So I’ll wish to be someplace impossible to guess, like the football stadium, and then I’ll be there. I’ll hide out a while. They’ll never find me.'”Page 157

Johnny, ever heard of the fact that your enemies own ears too? His plan could go wrong in so many ways, but naturally, since this is book-world, nothing does.

Aside from how dumb he acts, he’s also extremely flat. All of the characters are. They are painted with certain personality traits, but none of them have depth.

Another problem I have with the book is the relationships. It’s mentioned many many times that Johnny’s best friend is Meg but their relationship is so painfully awkward and so unnatural. The things they do for each other aren’t like best friends would. A real best friend wouldn’t lie to his best friend about his super big adventure and then use his AWOL father to guilt trip her into not questioning him. At one point he feels guilty that Meg doesn’t have sunglasses so he doesn’t use his. Wouldn’t a real best friend offer to let her use them?

What type of friendship is this and how the heck is it supposed to develop into dating?! At no point is there any concrete, emotionally-charged moments where you can see that they are friends.

I stopped reading at about halfway. I could not take any more of Johnny’s stupid decisions and the terrible relationships between the characters.

1/5 Stars

Stacking the Shelves [1]

Stacking the Shelves is a meme created and hosted by Tynga’s Reviews highlighting the books that you have acquired or added to your shelves. These include books borrowed from the library, bought, gifted, e-books etc.


Since I am a broke student who does not have nearly enough money to purchase books, most, if not all books that I acquire will be from the library. Occasionally, I go to Half-Price Books and buy stuff from there.

Fun Fact: When I go to the library, I kind of go crazy. I raid the new books shelf and then I scrounge the shelves for anything that might stick out to me. I’ll leave the library with anywhere from 10-20 new books.

STS 1  Borrowed

Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong

On the Fence by Kasie West

The Ring & the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Panic by Lauren Oliver

Girl With the Windup Heart by Kady Cross

Rumble by Ellen Hopkins

She is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick

Noggin by John Corey Haley

Won but Not Pictured

How We Got to Now: The History and Power of Great Ideas by Steven Johnson

Now that I’ve actually looked at the profiles of each book, I’ve realized that Girl With the Windup Heart is actually the last book in the series. Curse my unobservant self.

Eleanor and Park – Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor and Park

Eleanor and Park

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Publish Date: February 26th, 2013

Genre: Realistic Fiction, Contemporary, YA, Historical

Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough…Eleanor.

Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.


Review

I wanted to love this one so much.

I started this book mainly due to the huge hype and because there were copies of it at the school library. Obviously, if i can get the book without having to wait or put a hold on it, it’s a lot better for me. I checked it out, along with a number of other books two weeks ago. Eleanor and Park was the first on the stack. I went into it knowing almost nothing about it. I knew that it was probably a romance novel and that the main characters were Eleanor and Park.  From the very beginning, I could tell that I wasn’t going to like it very much. But I held out hoping that maybe, just maybe it’d grow on me and that I’d experience the feels and happiness that other readers had felt.

It didn’t.

From the first moment I saw the cover of this book, I had thought that Park looked Asian. I was right; he turned out to be half-Korean. I appreciate that Rowell decided to write about an interracial relationship and an Asian/Caucasian one at that because there’s very few books that deal with these types of couples. The problem that I had with the relationship was that it was too abrupt. It’s a case of insta-love mixed with bi-polar syndrome. Their first interaction is the moment when Park tells Eleanor to sit down on the bus. It’s not a very polite exchange and neither of them are left with positive relations. Eleanor refers to Park as “the stupid Asian”. Park is upset about it. I couldn’t see how Rowell was going to make a relationship about this without making it ridiculously cliche. My questions were answered when suddenly, the two begin to develop crushes on each other. It wasn’t the classic love/hate relationship because all of a sudden a switch flipped in their brains that made them like each other. It comes out of nowhere. I personally feel like their relationship feels like one where they got together because of convenience. They’re sitting next to each other on the bus everyday so why not get together while they’re at it? If I dated every person I sat next to every day I think I would have to shoot myself.

Bi-polor insta-love is one thing, but the rest of the relationship was just as bad. If you ask me, it felt like a really unhealthy relationship. Eleanor was always so insecure about it, constantly getting jealous and mad about the things that Park would do. If they were truly a happy couple, she wouldn’t feel so unconfident about it. I understand that she has those family problems, but I didn’t think she needed to always take out her emotions in insecurities on Park.

The characters in this book were a mixed bag. I hated Eleanor. I didn’t like her character or her personality or how even though her family is suffering, she doesn’t think to help them at all. If they tell her to not call the police, she meekly doesn’t even if she knows that it would help. She could’ve cared less about what happened to her family as long as she wasn’t hurt. It’s like she thought the whole world was against her and that she’s never in the wrong. Her problems might have been bigger than Park’s, but she handled them so badly. On the other hand, I liked Park. I liked reading about his family’s banter and the difficulties that he faced. He could have been a great character but he wasn’t fleshed out as well as I would have liked. Eleanor’s black friends were really fun to read about (even if a bit stereotyped). I loved the interactions that Eleanor had with them. Some characters were good, but the ones that weren’t, really really weren’t good.

This book was one of the most boring books I have ever read. Almost nothing happens besides the relationship Eleanor has with Park and the family interactions they have.  The plot is the slow way they fall in love during a school year. *yawn* When I was 1/4 of the way through, I looked at the page number and realized, “Holy crap there’s another two hundred pages to read. I’m going to die of boredom.” This never happens to me with books. Never. I sincerely hope that Eleanor and Park doesn’t get a sequel.

I think that there’s a problem with a book if I don’t realize that it’s in a certain time period until I look online. I knew that it was probably set sometime in the 1900’s but never did it cross my mind that it would be 1986. Um, please explain to me how Park hasn’t been bullied as much as his real life counterparts would have? Even in modern-day America, Asians are bullied for being who they are. I can’t even begin to believe that it wouldn’t have happened in 1986. The same goes for Eleanor’s friends Beebi and DeNice. The fact that they weren’t bullied by the white girls in the gym class surprises me.

Another thing. How did Park’s mom get carted off to America? She most likely didn’t know any English and I doubt that her parents would let her be taken. How does Park have green eyes? The brown allele is dominant. All Asians have brown eyes and since her ancestors are all Asian, it’s impossible that she would have a recessive gene for green eyes. Therefore, the only possible eye color their kids would have would be brown.

I do admit that the writing was well done. It had a John Green feel which most would probably think is a good thing. I could care less because I didn’t like his books but his flow was great and Rowell’s was too.

Not bad but I’m not on the bandwagon for this book. I’m hoping that Fangirl is a better read.

2/5 Stars

The Woes of Switching Classes

The Woes of Switching Classes

School started for me two weeks ago. As a freshman, I was constantly getting plowed over by older non-freshy people and walking down the wrong hallway. Luckily, my high school is actually arranged pretty non-confusingly so I figured it out quickly.

My classes weren’t that bad actually. I find that when people say that a certain teacher is awful, I can tolerate them. I can safely say that I think I’m not the best at Spanish. Foreign language classes have to be one of the most difficult things I have ever had to take. It’s not that I hate them. In fact I’d like to be able to one day, speak fluently. It’s more like I’m not good at memorizing conjugation and vocab and all of the stuff that comes with learning a new language. Thinking this earlier in the spring, I thought that I’d sign up for Spanish 2.

This was a mistake.

On the first day, it was quite clear that my class had no idea what they were doing. We were reviewing vocabulary and terms from Spanish 1. Naturally, I thought that it was probably just going to be a one day thing. It ended up being a three day spiel.

Yes it was only three days. My high school runs on block schedule. In other words, there is a two day schedule, A-days and B-days. Our classes are divided between these two days so that teachers can have more instructional time in a day.

By this point, my friend and I had realized hey this class is too easy. If we have to review colors, numbers to 100, months, days of the week, and seasons for THREE DAYS, then I’m pretty certain that it maps out what the rest of the year is going to look like. So on the third day, we decided that we’d request for a class change to Spanish 3. Obviously, we wanted to scope out exactly how difficult the classes would be and how much work they got. In the end, it didn’t even matter. My friend emailed the guidance counselor yesterday and got both of us scheduled for a class change. I didn’t even know I had an appointment until halfway through Chemistry. I got up, thinking that the appointment was at that moment. So embarrassing when I realized it wasn’t.

Flash forward to 12:10 when I finally did get it changed. I now have a different English and Spanish teacher and I’m pretty excited to see how hard the higher level is. My first class is on Friday. But before that, I had to sit through my last Spanish 2 class. Here, the awkwardness began.

At the beginning of class, my friend had told the teacher that we were going to change into Spanish 3. Cue his actions to really really guilt trip the two of us. Do you know preterites? How about so-and-so form? Not a moment later, he put me on the spot and asked me what the season was. Now I already told you guys how I’m not exactly the best at Spanish but I do know what all this stuff is. Stupidly, I asked him to repeat what he said three times and went on to say August. FML. I realized Oh my gosh he’s asking about the season I’m so stupid, mumble out a “verano” and get an unhappy grunt and frown. He really really hates the two of us now. A moment later, he asked my friend what the color of a piece of paper he had on the wall. Everybody and their grandmothers could see that it was obviously red. She answers “rojo” and he responds with “mmmm es rojo/rosada. Mas y menos” or something along those lines. IT WAS RED. NOT PINK. I KNOW YOU STILL HAVE ENOUGH COLOR RECEPTORS IN YOUR EYES TO KNOW THAT IT’S RED AND I’M FAIRLY CERTAIN THAT YOU AREN’T COLOR BLIND BECAUSE YOU’VE BEEN FINE IN IDENTIFYING COLORS IN THE LAST FEW DAYS.

It was quite obvious that he didn’t like us too much but whatever the two of us were OUT OF THERE.

u mad

Later in the class, when we were all finishing up class work and getting ready to leave, we asked him if we could go see the other teacher to see what they were doing in class and to get handouts and homework we might get. He made sure to nitpick every single thing we said.


Friend: Hey is it okay if we run down to the other Spanish teacher’s room so we can see what they’ve been doing in class and get the handouts and stuff?

Teacher: Well you don’t have to RUN down to her class. She’s right next door.


We did go to her class and can I just say that I like her a lot more than the Spanish 2 teacher? I mean, he was an interesting guy, but I don’t need a History of Vocabulary lesson for every single Spanish word. He was a really odd person. He would hum and sing random words during class and his floppy hair was a prop in some of his teaching. I do feel bad for him though. The Spanish class I’m in isn’t the brightest in any way. On the third day of class, there was one guy who didn’t request to change classes although he hadn’t had any form of Spanish curriculum in his life. This was the third day. He still hadn’t handled it. Meanwhile, half of the class is either sleeping or has headphones in. The Latino guy that sat next to me would nap, watch One Piece, listen to music, and play games on his phone. He was Latino and OBVIOUSLY knew the language so the teacher wasn’t too harsh on him.

I’m looking forward to the higher level class. I might die from how hard it is, but at least I won’t be bored to death right?

Lola and the Boy Next Door – Stephanie Perkins

Lola and the Boy Next Door

Lola and the Boy Next Door (Anna and the French Kiss #2)

Author: Stephanie Perkins

Series: Anna and the French Kiss #2

Publish Date: September 29th, 2011

Genre: Chick-lit, Romance, YA

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion…she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit–more sparkly, more fun, more wild–the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket–a gifted inventor–steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.


Review

I can’t really say that I enjoyed this book as much as I thought I would have. I thought that I’d be able to relate to Lola because of her obsession with clothing and costuming (because that sounds really fun and I love fashion). But unfortunately, that was not the case.

I found that this book was a lot less about the adventure of love and learning, but more like growing up and realizing what you wanted for yourself. Unlike in Anna and the French Kiss where Anna is learning how to adjust to her school in France, Lola is trying to grow up and become a better version of herself. She’s sick and tired of being judged and controlled by her parents because of the decisions she makes. This isn’t a bad thing but I was just expecting something that was as funny and endearing as the first book and Lola didn’t deliver. I found that the plot seemed to be slower than it did in Lola. What really annoyed me was that it took her a good 250 pages to even get close to the beginning of her relationship with Cricket. Lola just needed to make up her mind and act on it by that point because I was fed up by how indecisive she was acting.

Lola was an interesting protagonist. She’s spunky and unique yet also very sensitive. I didn’t really like her that much. She acts like a confident person when in reality, she’s actually quite insecure, which I suppose, is one of the most important aspects of the book. Personally, I found her to be whiny and annoying even if she the rest of her personality was interesting. The characterization, like in the first book, was well done. Lindsey, Cricket, Max, Norah, her dads, everybody seemed realistic. I actually wish I had seen more of Calliope in the story but more often than not, she was just someone that they talked about. I loved Lindsey, Cricket, and Norah (I don’t care if she was a terrible mother, I still loved her character). Lindsey was fabulous. Her crush on Charlie was adorable and her observing personality was great. Cricket was cute (in my opinion, better than Etienne). It might just be because he had a slightly nerdier quality than Etienne did (nerdy, awkward guys are the best). His character was super realistic, more so than a lot of the other characters.

Overall, Lola and the Boy Next Door didn’t have that many problems. It’s just that it didn’t live up to my expectations after reading Anna and the French Kiss. If anything, the main problem I had was with Lola’s character and the fact that it took them a ridiculously long amount of time to get together. You’ll find yourself screaming at the book because they don’t get together.

3/5 Stars

The Vanishing Season – Jodi Lynn Anderson

The Vanishing Season

The Vanishing Season

Author: Jodi Lynn Anderson

Publish Date: July 1st, 2014

Genre: YA, Mystery, Contemporary, Supernatural

Girls started vanishing in the fall, and now winter’s come to lay a white sheet over the horror. Door County, it seems, is swallowing the young, right into its very dirt. From beneath the house on Water Street, I’ve watched the danger swell.

The residents know me as the noises in the house at night, the creaking on the stairs. I’m the reflection behind them in the glass, the feeling of fear in the cellar. I’m tied—it seems—to this house, this street, this town.

I’m tied to Maggie and Pauline, though I don’t know why. I think it’s because death is coming for one of them, or both.

All I know is that the present and the past are piling up, and I am here to dig.I am looking for the things that are buried.

From bestselling author Jodi Lynn Anderson comes a friendship story bound in snow and starlight, a haunting mystery of love, betrayal, redemption, and the moments that we leave behind.


 Review

Some books are so misleading.

Although Goodreads marked it as a “Thriller”, I refuse to classify it as so. It was the complete opposite.
I was so excited to read this book when I first saw it on Goodreads a few months ago, so imagine the happiness I felt when I got my hands on a copy from the library. Imagine the unhappiness I felt when I realized that the book was not focused on the disappearing girls so much as the love triangle and every day, monotonous life of Maggie, Pauline, and Liam. The blurb made it sound like a mysterious, paranormal, possibly crime novel depending on how you took it.

Instead I got a contemporary. I had been in the mood to read something that was on the opposite side of the spectrum, preferably adventure or something like that and picked this up thinking that it would fit the bill.

And why was that? The first sentence on the inside flap of the cover says, “Girls started vanishing in the fall, and now winter’s come to lay a white sheet over the horror. Door County, it seems, is swallowing the young, right into its very dirt.” They shouldn’t have emphasized how girls started to vanish in the fall because it made me believe that it was going to be a major part of the novel when in reality it accounted for less than a fourth of it. The vanishings may have led to different situations in the novel, but it most definitely did not impact the characters as much as it seems to suggest in the summary. This pissed me off to no end.

The book itself was not a bad read by any means (especially if you compare it to other books). It’s mainly from Maggie and a ghost’s point of view. But it’s a dull read. It’s a slow, boring read. Nothing ever happens. Nothing. I kept waiting for something, anything to happen but nothing really did. And then when something finally happens at the very end, it’s anti-climatic. I’m fairly certain that it was supposed to be surprising to the reader but the rest of the book was so boring that when it happened, it too, was boring. I didn’t think it was horrible but it could have been so much more than it was.

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Maggie forgot about her old life in Chicago rather quickly. Her family did have money issues (which isn’t a spoiler because it’s mentioned pretty early on in the book) which again, wasn’t addressed explicitly in the book. It was like a passing though, something forgotten quickly which is strange considering she just moved. She was a solid character. Characterized well had somewhat realistic interactions but then again all of the characters did. The thing about these characters is that even though they were characterized, I found difficulty in connecting to them. It might have been how bored I was with the book or just the fact that I found them unrelatable and in a life completely different from my own. I don’t see myself at all in any of the characters. I didn’t like any of them. Especially Liam. I hated Liam. I don’t know if it was his “nice-guy” attitude or the fact that he seemed to have no purpose in life or even if it was how he didn’t seem to know what the heck he was doing in a relationship. Pauline wasn’t much better. Her supposedly “cheerful” and “unique” personality got on my nerves. Instead of being the girl that Maggie described her to be (mysterious, beautiful, etc.), she was stuck-up, demanding, and just downright b*tchy. It seemed like everything that Maggie wanted and was happy with, she had to take. Even though they were friends, they didn’t really know each other the way friends should. Maggie was self-deprecating and spineless. None of these characters were likable.

The one good thing in this book was the prose. The writing was great and the book had a lot of beautiful quotes. I liked the way that Anderson described the situations and concepts that she addressed.

“If I could show you the lives of the people below me-the colors of what they all feel heading into this chilling, late fall-they’d be green and purple and red, leaking out through the roofs, making invisible tracks down the roads.” page 90

“Dinosaurs, glaciers, people living in sea caves, millions of years of organisms. And Pauline and Maggie and Liam are just tiny specks in it all. Why do they seem so large?” page 124

The writing in The Vanishing Season is beautiful. It’s lyrical and pretty and just beautiful. Even so, beautiful writing does not make this book any better. Maybe if the book had been more like the premise suggested, it would have been a more interesting read.

3/5 Stars

Making this Blog

Making this Blog

So I’ve decided to make my first post that’s not about books (because why not?).

Yesterday, I finally caved and decided to make a blog, even though I probably should have been doing homework and studying for the quizzes I have. But procrastination > work. I thought of this name pretty easily compared to how long I usually take on figuring out titles. Usually I take way too much time thinking of a title and end up with something that sounds dumb when I look back on it.

WordPress is so confusing. I spent two hours frowning at the screen, picking a theme, customizing it, and figuring out how to use the stupid thing. In the middle of my lovely struggle, I decided to try out Blogger. Blogger was even more confusing (I know nothing about coding) and so I switched back over to WordPress. Maybe I’ll try out Blogger when I learn how to code (which will be a long, long time away). Since I’m cheap and my parents most certainly are not interested in paying for a prettier blog, I used this template thingy and picked some pretty generic colors. I was hoping that I could add some maroon or burgundy in (those are my favorite colors) but alas, I could not. I took a break in the middle and went downstairs to eat some watermelon whilst also complaining to my mother about how much I suck at using WordPress. She called me an idiot and asked me why I didn’t use something that I could code. I said that I couldn’t code. She rolled her eyes and continued to eat watermelon. Then my brother and I had a peach-peeling contest. I had a headstart but he still won. I stand by my claim that my peach was bigger, not as juicy, and therefore, the skin was harder to peel

After I finished eating, I went back upstairs to struggle with this blog. I didn’t know how to make an unclickable page. Took me a good thirty minutes to figure out. If anybody can tell, I’m about as tech savvy as a colonist from the 1600s. After I finally got the blog to look like a blog, which took me more time than I care to admit, I started to put up some of the reviews I’d written. I think I revised my Anna and the French Kiss post a total of 14? 16? times. I don’t even know. I just know that I probably shouldn’t have pressed publish when I wasn’t done with it XD I would link my Goodreads account, but some of my earlier reviews are so bad that they’re scary. I pretty much picked and chose the ones that weren’t nearly as bad and were long enough to warrant a post. Posting these reviews took long enough because I kept fiddling with the look of them. I gave up on making something with two columns and just put everything down so it wouldn’t have awkward spacing. Repeated that with a few other reviews and decided to go to sleep.

Hopefully, WordPress gets easier to use over time.

In the Shadows – Kiersten White, Jim Di Bartolo

In the Shadows

In the Shadows

Author: Kiersten White, Jim Di Bartolo

Publish Date: April 29th, 2014

Genre: Graphic Novel, YA, Fantasy, Historical Fiction

From the remarkable imagination of acclaimed artist Jim Di Bartolo and the exquisite pen of bestselling author Kiersten White comes a spellbinding story of love, mystery, and dark conspiracy, told in an alternating narrative of words and pictures.

Cora and Minnie are sisters living in a small, stifling town where strange and mysterious things occur. Their mother runs the local boarding house. Their father is gone. The woman up the hill may or may not be a witch.

Thomas and Charles are brothers who’ve been exiled to the boarding house so Thomas can tame his ways and Charles can fight an illness that is killing him with increasing speed. Their family history is one of sorrow and guilt. They think they can escape from it . . . but they can’t.


Review

Can I just say that I loved the art? But great art doesn’t always mean that the book is just as amazing. I found that the drawings didn’t communicate very well because I was extremely confused throughout the course of the book. The pictures would often look as if they had skipped a scene and I struggled to find a connection between the two stories up until near the end of the book. It made the reading experience less enjoyable. The connections are disjointed and jostle the flow of the book. In the Shadows lacked the storytelling aspect. The writing was bland and the plot was even more so. It lacked flavor and dragged a lot. It seemed like a lot of nothing was happening. Honestly, the back story and plot isn’t explained at all until the last fifty pages. It’s all rushed. The romance in this book was also shallow. It could have been something great, but instead it had the feeling of a summer fling.

Characterization wasn’t terrible but it could have been better. It felt as if the characters had certain personality traits pasted on them but that these traits weren’t constant. Some were obviously more strongly developed than the others although there were five principle characters. For instance, Minnie, Thomas, are significantly better developed than Charles. The execution of what could have been a great idea was sloppy and boring. Opposite the main characters, the villains were about as threatening as pansies. I didn’t feel any suspense or tension about what was happening; it was all told in a way that eliminated all the emotion.

And the writing gets it’s own paragraphs because I have lots to say about it.

FIRST OF ALL. The worldbuilding sucks. It’s downright terrible. It’s like the author took a historical setting (which is 18-something? Might be earlier. It doesn’t specify the exact date of the sections at the boarding house) and then stuck some type of supernatural/fantasy idea behind it. All of the worldbuilding is thrown into the last fifty pages (some of which were pictures) and as a result, is a discombobulated, non-descriptive mess. You get a small tidbit at the beginning, some scattered here and there in the middle, and the rest of it in the end. Badly developed, very unbelievable, and unsatisfying.

SECONDLY. The writing is choppy and repetitive. The flow is awkward. I see the same word used two or three sentences in a row. The sentences are broken up. Sometimes this works. Other times, it sounds awkward. Everything about the writing just screams awkward. It’s like being in a conversation with someone you just met.

I wish I had just skipped this one. I expected so much from it but was disappointed. When it was over I was literally like, “That was it?” The sweet, funny ending didn’t make up for the rest of the book. It worked, but at the same time, there were many elements missing that would have made it better. There was little to no actual content in this book. If you enjoy graphic novels, perhaps you would like this one, but otherwise, don’t bother.

Side note: I did like the title of the book. It seems so generic but then once you read the book, it all makes sense!

2/5 Stars

This Side of Salvation – Jeri Smith-Ready

This Side of Salvation

This Side of Salvation

Author: Jeri Smith-Ready

Publish Date: April 1st,2014

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction

Everyone mourns differently. When his older brother was killed, David got angry. As in, fist-meets-someone-else’s-face furious. But his parents? They got religious. David’s still figuring out his relationship with a higher power, but there’s one thing he does know for sure: The closer he gets to new-girl Bailey, the better, brighter, happier, more he feels.

Then his parents start cutting all their worldly ties to prepare for the Rush, the divine moment when the faithful will be whisked off to Heaven…and they want David to do the same. David’s torn. There’s a big difference between living in the moment and giving up his best friend, varsity baseball, and Bailey—especially Bailey—in hope of salvation.

But when he comes home late from prom, and late for the Rush, to find that his parents have vanished, David is in more trouble than he ever could have imagined…


Review

The story opens up with the after party of prom. The party is reported by the cops and David and his sister Mara return home to find that their parents have disappeared. The two believe at first that they have been Rushed and are in heaven upon finding their clothing laid out in bed. But on closer investigation, they realize that there are some other aspects manipulating them and what has happened.

From here the story progresses in a before-and-after format, skipping back to nine years prior to what David refers to as “The Rush”. Starting from here, David tells the story of how his family began to spiral downwards and how his parents came to join a cult. Originally, his family was completely normal. That was, until his older brother, John, died while in the military. His father became a drunkard and David’s family was in turmoil for years. Then, one day, his parents discovered God and changed. No longer did his father drink, but instead he preached, speaking in Bible quotes. His father acted as if he had never had a second son, but only David. It was his own strange way of coping with the death of his firstborn. David’s life was completely changed. His parents were difficult to communicate with and his sister, Mara, ended up completely ignoring them altogether. As his parents change churches and eventually join the cult founded by Sophia Visser, David questions his faith and belief in Sophia as well as God and by now, he will do anything to have his old family back.

At first, I was not too into the book. I, personally am not a religious person at all and because of this I went into the book thinking that it was going to be about they were saved because most books that I have seen dealing with the Rapture were dealt with in this way. And at first, that was what the book seemed to be like as I first began reading it.

I was completely wrong.

The book was told from the point of a view of a Christian that did not believe in the Rapture. While his parents were dedicated to planning for the Rapture, David was more focused on living in the present and for the future that he might have if the Rush did not happen. It used the idea of the Rapture to write a story about a boy that was recovering from his brother’s death and finding himself. This Side of Salvation is not focused on the religious aspect so much as it is on the characters and their growth and this was something that I loved about the book.

David was an amazing protagonist and I absolutely loved his sister, Mara and his best friend, Kane. Their relationships were genuine and part of the best aspects of the book. The relationship between Mara and David was realistic. They called each other names, argued, did all the things that siblings did, and most importantly, had each others backs in the end. David and Kane had the type of best friend relationship that every person deserves to have.

The characters were so realistic. They are well developed and relatable. David acted like a teenage boy. His emotions and thoughts were characteristic of what a boy his age would do. His confusion on his values and beliefs made the book that much better.

The before-and-after format effectively tells the story, and foreshadows multiple scenes in the book. And while the book was slow in the beginning, it quickly picked up as more is revealed about what exactly happened to their parents.

While This Side of Salvation may not appeal to those that believe in the Rush, it’s definitely worth a read for those that don’t.

5/5 Stars

The Here and Now – Ann Brashares

The Here and Now

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

Author: Ann Brashares

Publish Date: April 8th, 2014

Genre: Dystopian, YA, Sci-fi

An unforgettable epic romantic thriller about a girl from the future who might be able to save the world . . . if she lets go of the one thing she’s found to hold on to.

Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love.

This is the story of seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve. Except Prenna didn’t come from a different country. She came from a different time—a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins.

Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they’re from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she’s told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth.

But everything changes when Prenna falls for Ethan Jarves.

From Ann Brashares, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, The Here and Now is thrilling, exhilarating, haunting, and heartbreaking—and a must-read novel of the year


Review

The premise set up by Brashares is a paradox. It doesn’t make any logical sense.

That was one of the things that I really didn’t like about the book.

The other things
The characters are really badly developed. Only two are somewhat developed (albeit, crappily)and those are Prenna and Ethan. I couldn’t connect to any of them. The dialogue was awkward, the characters were flat, and many of their actions made no sense. Might I add that Prenna is one of the dumbest main characters I have ever read about. She has been warned numerous times that changing major things in history could result in bigger consequences than she is aware of. Does she listen? Of course not! She goes on to save a few people from dying, and although it didn’t affect too many things, it was something that really, really bugged me personally. Additionally, Prenna doesn’t seem to ever think about what she does or says (evidenced numerous times throughout the book). The adults in the book were extremely weak. They had no backbone whatsoever. Prenna walks all over them. She’s rude and they don’t do anything about it!

ONTO ETHAN.
This guy. Oh my god. He is supposed to be a normal kid who just so happened to be there when Prenna time-traveled to the past. Instead he can do almost anything, somehow manage to save Prenna (WHO THE CRAP WOULD PUT A TRACKER IN A SHOE? I DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU BUT I WOULD RUN FOR THE HILLS IF SOMEONE DID THAT TO ME. DOES PRENNA THINK THIS IS CREEPY? NOPE. SHE LOVES HIM EVEN MORE FOR IT.) every time she does something stupid (which happens a lot). He is also poorly developed but not as annoying as Prenna.

The romance in this book was so forced. One second, Prenna is talking about Ethan like an acquaintance, the next she is referring to how she loves him. It came out of nowhere, had no buildup, and in the end, their relationship still felt the same way that it had at the beginning of the book. AKA, no chemistry.

Plot-wise, the book wasn’t much better. They are trying to save the world and prevent the plague, but then they go on a swim to the beach. A few chapters were dedicated to their trip in which NOTHING OF IMPORTANCE HAPPENED. It did nothing but attempt to develop the already terrible romance in the book. The author added in lots of scenes which had no relation to the overarching conflict but only to the romance (such as Ethan teaching Prenna card games). As a result, the plot was weak and unrealistic. Many plot points were brought up and then quickly ended(which made them really unnecessary as they didn’t help the plot progress at all).

1/5 Stars