Reviews

[ARC Review] A Million Miles Away by Lara Avery

A Million Miles Away

A Million Miles Away by Lara Avery
Series: None
Publication: July 7th, 2015 by Poppy
Number of Pages: 320
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance
Source: NOVL Newsletter (Thanks~!)
Rating: ★★★1/2

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


Summary

Perfect for fans of Nicholas Sparks, this breathtaking story of love and loss is guaranteed to break your heart and sweep you off your feet.
When high school senior Kelsey’s identical twin sister, Michelle, dies in a car crash, Kelsey is left without her other half. The only person who doesn’t know about the tragedy is Michelle’s boyfriend, Peter, recently deployed to Afghanistan. But when Kelsey finally connects with Peter online, she can’t bear to tell him the truth. Active duty has taken its toll, and Peter, thinking that Kelsey is Michelle, says that seeing her is the one thing keeping him alive. Caught up in the moment, Kelsey has no choice: She lets Peter believe that she is her sister.
As Kelsey keeps up the act, she crosses the line from pretend to real. Soon, Kelsey can’t deny that she’s falling, hard, for the one boy she shouldn’t want.

(more…)

[ARC Review] Denton Little’s Deathdate – Lance Rubin

Denton Little's Deathdate

Author: Lance Rubin

Series: Denton Little’s Deathdate #1

Publication Date: April 14th, 2015

Publisher: Knopf Books For Young Readers

Number of Pages: 352

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Sci-fi

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


Summary

Fans of John Green and Matthew Quick: Get ready to die laughing.

Denton Little’s Deathdate takes place in a world exactly like our own except that everyone knows the day they will die. For 17-year-old Denton Little, that’s tomorrow, the day of his senior prom.

Despite his early deathdate, Denton has always wanted to live a normal life, but his final days are filled with dramatic firsts. First hangover. First sex. First love triangle (as the first sex seems to have happened not with his adoring girlfriend, but with his best friend’s hostile sister. Though he’s not totally sure. See: first hangover.) His anxiety builds when he discovers a strange purple rash making its way up his body. Is this what will kill him? And then a strange man shows up at his funeral, claiming to have known Denton’s long-deceased mother, and warning him to beware of suspicious government characters…. Suddenly Denton’s life is filled with mysterious questions and precious little time to find the answers.

Debut author Lance Rubin takes us on a fast, furious, and outrageously funny ride through the last hours of a teenager’s life as he searches for love, meaning, answers, and (just maybe) a way to live on. (more…)

[ARC Review] The Red Queen – Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen (Red Queen, #1)

Author: Victoria Aveyard

Series: Red Queen Trilogy #1

Publication Date: February 10th, 2015

Publisher: Orion

Number of Pages: 320

Genre: YA, Dystopian, Fantasy

Source: Gifted

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


Summary

The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of
those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

(more…)

[Review] Saving Francesca – Melina Marchetta

Saving Francesca

Saving Francesca

Author: Melina Marchetta

Publish Date: May 9th, 2006

Number of Pages: 243

Genre: YA, Contemporary

A compelling story of romance, family, and friendship with humor and heart, perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Lauren Myracle.

Francesca is stuck at St. Sebastian’s, a boys’ school that pretends it’s coed by giving the girls their own bathroom. Her only female companions are an ultra-feminist, a rumored slut, and an impossibly dorky accordion player. The boys are no better, from Thomas, who specializes in musical burping, to Will, the perpetually frowning, smug moron that Francesca can’t seem to stop thinking about.

Then there’s Francesca’s mother, who always thinks she knows what’s best for Francesca—until she is suddenly stricken with acute depression, leaving Francesca lost, alone, and without an inkling of who she really is. Simultaneously humorous, poignant, and impossible to put down, this is the story of a girl who must summon the strength to save her family, her social life and—hardest of all—herself.


Review

I think I’m in the minority of this book. Lots and lots of people loved it, but I on the other hand, didn’t like nearly as much as I had been expecting it. I definitely enjoyed it but it in no way, measured up to Marchetta’s later book, Jellicoe Road. Friends, if you have been following me for a while, you’ll probably notice that I loved Jellicoe Road. It’s painfully obvious if you read my Top-Ten Tuesday posts. Saving Francesca, while fantastic, was slightly disappointing, to me. I feel like a better decision would have been to read this one before I read Jellicoe Road.

Nevertheless, Saving Francesca had some fantastic qualities.

Characters. I adored the characters in Saving Francesca. They were all just amazing. Francesca was great. She was kind of sarcastic but also confused and very contemplative. I loved Will Tromble, her love interest. Francesca’s crew was beautiful. The way that the girls banded together and how they befriended the few boys that weren’t as sexist was just amazing. I loved the way that Francesca learned what it meant to truly live as yourself, not as what others expect you to be. I loved how she learned to deal with problems, to take control and tell people what was the right way to do things. She learned how to take initiative and do what she believed was right. She grows a lot as a character.

In short, the relationships, development, everything related to the characters, was amazing.

The plot of the book was…. not what I was expecting at all.

A summary in two sentences……

Francesca is starting at a new school and is one of the first thirty girls to attend St. Sebastian’s. She’s lost and trying to find her place while also facing the effects of her mother’s depression.

It was a lot more simple and the plot itself focused more on learning how to find yourself than the other mentioned topics (depression and sexism). Sometimes it came off as mundane. I felt like the concept of depression was kind of skimmed over in order to better describe the other important ideas within the book, although honestly, it might just be me and how I’ve read a lot of books where the limelight is on the mental illness. In this case, while depression is a prominent subject of the book, Marchetta doesn’t really spend more time than necessary talking about Mia’s (her mother) depression.

I liked the portrayal of sexism. It’s a really realistic comparison of how oftentimes traditions can end up becoming the reason that girls are discriminated against. If thirty girls infiltrate a previously all-boys school, somehow, I doubt that they will be so easily accepted. While, female empowerment isn’t really mentioned, I feel that the book did realistically mention the repercussions of the attendance of the girls.

 The romance was both good and bad. The two characters had a lot of chemistry but I can’t help but feel like it didn’t have a lot of buildup. I can definitely understand why Marchetta chose to do this (I mean, they’re in a sexist private school where dating the girls in the school is a really bold move.) but I wish there had been some more non-awkward interaction y’know? It’s not exactly insta-love but it could have been really close. I do really like that Will Tromble was the class president though.

3.5/5 Stars

Torn Away – Jennifer Brown

Torn Away

Torn Away

Author: Jennifer Brown

Publish Date: May 6th, 2014

Number of Pages: 288

Genre: YA, Contemporary

Jersey Cameron has always loved a good storm. Watching the clouds roll in and the wind pick up. Smelling the electricity in the air. Dancing barefoot in the rain. She lives in the Midwest, after all, where the weather is sure to keep you guessing. Jersey knows what to do when the tornado sirens sound. But she never could have prepared for this.

When her town is devastated by a tornado, Jersey loses everything. As she struggles to overcome her grief, she’s sent to live with relatives she hardly knows-family who might as well be strangers. In an unfamiliar place, can Jersey discover that even on the darkest of days, there are some things no tornado can destroy?

In this powerful and poignant novel, acclaimed author Jennifer Brown delivers a story of love, loss, hope, and survival.


Review

This was my first Jennifer Brown book and I have to say that I love it.

I honestly wasn’t expecting much from this book. I knew that it had gotten extremely good reviews but I wasn’t expecting it to make me cry. I rarely cry when it comes to books but this one easily made me tear up.

Torn Away was a fantastically poignant novel. It captured every aspect of loss. The characters were written amazingly well. On top of this, the writing and voice of Jersey fit. You know how sometimes the book is about teenagers but then the characters and the writing doesn’t really sound like them? (cough John Green cough) In some cases, it’s bearable, but most of the time, I prefer to have characters that sound like their own age (of course there are exceptions based on the circumstances). In Torn Away I loved the writing and I loved the characters. Jersey was one of the most believable characters I have ever read about. She has that bratty teenage personality and she isn’t perfect. When she realizes what had happened to her town, she kind of panics (which is expected) and the way she handled everything was so realistic. A lot of the things she does are what I would have done in the same situation. I would have begged to stay with a broken guardian. I would have begged my friends to ask their parents if I could stay with them. I would have faced the situation similarly. And that’s what made this novel shine. The characters were raw and nothing was left to the imagination. Everything from her opinion on her parents, siblings, friends, and the aftermath is explored.

One of the biggest things that this book explores well is the question of if your family was right or wrong. In Jersey’s case, her mother had always said that her father and grandparents had abandoned her. With the tornado, everything she had begun to believe about her family is brought into question. The grieving is portrayed extremely well.

In the end, what caused me to tear up wasn’t the death of anybody. It was the desperate way that Jersey tried to defend her dead family when her bitchy half-sisters crudely insulted them. The painful emotions that she felt because of the lack of support she had. That was what caused me to cry.

“Growing up, we were taught over and over again what steps to take in case of an approaching tornado. Listen for sirens, go to your basement or cellar, or a closet in the center of your house, duck and cover, wait it out. We had drills twice a year, every year, in school. We talked about it in class. We talked about it at home. The newscasters reminded us. We went to the basement. We practiced, practiced, practiced.

But we’d never–not once–discussed what to do after.”

Page 23

The plot was well-done, but not really the type that I love. It showed how when you lose everything you’ve ever known, finding a home can be difficult. Jersey is bounced around non-stop, none of her family ever actually wanting to keep her. It felt believable, but while reading, I found that it felt kind of aimless. I had no clue how Jersey would ever find a place to stay. It all worked in the end though.

I really liked that romance was the last aspect addressed. In a lot of books, as soon as something bad happens, the female protagonist goes into the arms of a boy she likes. Someone “nice” that she’s had a crush on for a while or a friend that she opens up to in a moment of weakness. Jersey clearly had better things to worry about than boys. Ain’t nobody got time to worry about love when they don’t have a home. Kolby was a good character. He was somebody that Jersey leaned on at times, but never once during the rising action or climax did they become anything more than friends (which is how it should be during traumatizing events).

4.5/5 Stars

Panic – Lauren Oliver

Panic

Panic

Author: Lauren Oliver

Publish Date: March 4th, 2014

Number of pages: 408

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance

Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.

Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.

Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn’t know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.

For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.


Review

The premise of this book really caught my attention. While I was not expecting too much from the writing, I was pleasantly surprised by some of the aspects of the book.

Panic is technically the first Lauren Oliver book I’ve read in it’s entirety. I’ve read samples of Delirium but I never got around to actually getting the book.

Panic was not a bad book. It’s loads better than some of the other things I’ve read recently and I enjoyed reading it.

I loved the character relationships. The character interactions were realistic and drawn well. There are flaws in their relationship which shows how nothing can ever be perfect. The thing about best friends are that even if they fight, they will be able to sort past their differences and make up. This is showcased numerous times throughout the book, and I know I’m making it sound like they’re constantly fighting, but keep in mind that Panic takes place over an entire summer. Every relationship and flaw was beautifully shown. Heather and Natalie were so different from each other, yet they still had that degree of trust and care. Dodge, the newcomer to their trio (Heather, Natalie, and Bishop) had believable interactions with every character. He was the personification of what friendship can be if you try. Just because you haven’t had friends for years, doesn’t mean that you can’t make them on a whim. The relationships, romantic, friendly, enemies, etc, were all portrayed well.

The same cannot be said for the characters. While some of them are round, they feel two-dimensional. They feel distant and hard to relate to because of the way that they are written. While Dodge had revenge has his motivation and his tough personality as his outside shell, by the end of the novel, I still felt like I didn’t really understand him. I had to really think and go back and analyze all of his actions to come up with what I would say is his portrayal. Another character, Bishop, was even flatter. He is supposed to be Heather’s romantic interest but by the end, I barely even knew who he was. I didn’t understand his reasons for anything, his opinions or his personality and he was supposed to be one of the major characters.

Even if they may face hard circumstances, readers should still be able to relate or sympathize with them in some way, even if it’s really small. I didn’t get this with Panic.

The setting in Panic was fantastic. The monochromatic, dull tone personified the bleakness of the competition. I could see the danger of their actions and how desperate they were to escape their own respective situations.

I didn’t like the writing of Panic. I felt that it was too blunt and disjoint and that it often affected my enjoyment of the story. The plot itself was interesting, but due to the writing and characters, it was hard to feel anything for the characters when they were doing their challenges. By the time I was halfway through with the book, it had dulled to the point where I could care less if anybody died. Still, I read on until the last challenge, the climax of the book, that unfortunately, fell flat. The dramatic moment that Heather experienced felt ludicrous and did nothing to make me feel anything.

And then, the epilogue. I abhorred the epilogue. It felt like a vacation journal, a chapter of summarizing what had happened to everybody. The scene itself wasn’t bad at all, but the way it was written, as if years had passed and that they had all changed into completely different people, was something that I really detested because the book had completely skipped over showing the monumental character changes that they had experienced. Sure, Heather might have had a small bit of her’s shown, but it wasn’t enough to satisfy me and convince me of their emotional changes. Yes, Dodge got over his want for revenge, but how did he do it? How did Bishop and Heather reconcile? There were so many unanswered questions I had.

Panic was a fun read, enjoyable if you didn’t think too much about all of the technical things that were wrong (For instance, how did people get away with some of the things they did? Panic included some illegal actions that should have been penalized appropriately, but of course, justice was not served because y’know, it’s a fictional world).

3/5 Stars

The Museum of Intangible Things – Wendy Wunder

The Museum of Intangible Things

The Museum of Intangible Things

Author: Wendy Wunder

Publish Date: April 10th, 2014

Genre: Contemporary, YA

Loyalty. Envy. Obligation. Dreams. Disappointment. Fear. Negligence. Coping. Elation. Lust. Nature. Freedom. Heartbreak. Insouciance. Audacity. Gluttony. Belief. God. Karma. Knowing what you want (there is probably a French word for it). Saying Yes. Destiny. Truth. Devotion. Forgiveness. Life. Happiness (ever after).

Hannah and Zoe haven’t had much in their lives, but they’ve always had each other. So when Zoe tells Hannah she needs to get out of their down-and-out New Jersey town, they pile into Hannah’s beat-up old Le Mans and head west, putting everything—their deadbeat parents, their disappointing love lives, their inevitable enrollment at community college—behind them.

As they chase storms and make new friends, Zoe tells Hannah she wants more for her. She wants her to live bigger, dream grander, aim higher. And so Zoe begins teaching Hannah all about life’s intangible things, concepts sadly missing from her existence—things like audacity, insouciance, karma, and even happiness.

An unforgettable read from the acclaimed author of The Probability of Miracles, The Museum of Intangible Things sparkles with the humor and heartbreak of true friendship and first love.


Review

WARNING: THIS ENTIRE REVIEW IS A GINORMOUS RANT AND I APOLOGIZE IN ADVANCE FOR THE LENGTH.

Bleh. This book was bleh. I’m so happy that it’s finally over after struggling through it for a few days.

The Museum of Intangible Things centers on two girls that are best friends, Zoe and Hannah. Now as teenagers, Zoe is itching to leave their small town and explore. What follows is a long road trip where Zoe hopes to bring Hannah out of her shell and learn to be more outgoing and big. Things like insouciance and audacity.

I hated the characters in this book so much. Zoe is so annoying. I don’t know if any of you guys have watched anime or more specifically, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, but Zoe reminds me of Haruhi from that. Both of them are obsessed with their friend’s breasts, believe in aliens, are bipolar (except in Zoe’s case, she’s actually diagnosed), and are extremely impulsive. The key difference is that Haruhi doesn’t appear nearly as annoying as Zoe and that in Haruhi’s case, these aliens actually exist. I hated Zoe. I don’t know who taught Zoe friendship or how to be a sister, but you don’t bring your little brother to high school parties and you most certainly do not make your friend drive you on a road trip and spend the money that you guys are sharing or peer pressure her into smoking. You don’t leave your brother because you want to go join a colony of aliens! On top of this, she doesn’t seem to care whatsoever about the fact that Hannah actually cares about her school grades. Zoe was a terrible friend and I don’t care if she was bipolar because she really needed a smack upside the head. Her behavior is immature and incredibly stupid.

Now let’s move on to Hannah. Hannah was spineless. Zoe walked all over her and when Hannah finally gets the guts to actually tell her friend to go back to town, Zoe decides to play the vanishing act (reason number 358 why I hate her). Hannah was manipulated so many times by Zoe that it wasn’t even funny. Zoe tells her to flash some random passerbys. She complies. Zoe tells her to sneak into an Ikea and sleep there for the night. She complies. Zoe tells her to do anything and she will do it. She has no mind of her own and she doesn’t seem  to care enough about her own future to maybe stand up to her supposed best friend. On top of this, the romance in The Museum of Intangible Things is over the top and absolutely ridiculous. She and Danny have talked a total of three or four times and somehow she has deluded herself into believing that she loves him. She is clearly incapable of recognizing the signs of a good boyfriend because even when he is cheating on his girlfriend, Rebecca, Hannah doesn’t seem to mind whatsoever. She’s more concerned with the fact that Danny seems to be dating Rebecca at the same time. Gurl, if your guy isn’t devoting all of his attention to you, but dividing between you and another girl, you need to kick him to the curb.

And later in the relationship, it’s even worse. They’ve been together less than a month and Danny is already pushing his sexual advances on her. They have a less than savory first time in his ice-cream truck where Hannah supposedly “finds God” at the same time she loses her virginity.

“We lie down together on our sides. He stares at me, moving his finger from my forehead, down my nose, over my chin, along my neck until it lands between my breasts.

‘Oh look,’ I joke, ‘I’m wearing buttons.’

‘I see that,’ he tells me, and he uses his nimble fingers to deftly, expertly savor each one before he pops it open slowly.

There, in a parked ice cream truck just outside of Buffalo, Wyoming, I say yes. I resign myself to finding God. And it’s true what they say. You can find God anywhere.

Page 227

Since when was ice-cream truck sex romantic? It sounds unhygienic and utterly unromantic. I don’t know what Hannah was thinking when she decided that she wanted to have sex after dating Danny for less than a month. Even saying that they’ve been dating is a stretch because it’s still unclear if he’s broken up with Rebecca. Obviously, even if she’s supposed to be smart, she’s not smart enough to make good choices in her sex life. Most guys wouldn’t even dream of trying to have sex with a girl that they’ve only dated twice. Although they kissed in 6th grade, Danny must have a lot of balls to try to make a move on her that soon. Oh wait. He doesn’t get turned down because Hannah is overly horny after that first experience. What happened to the innocent hand-holding? The sweet dates? Oh yeah. They’re nonexistent because there’s no substantial romantic development in this book at all.

Let us talk about Danny now shall we? Danny is one of the douchiest love interests I have ever met. All he ever has on mind is sex and girls. Apparently, in his world, it’s okay to cheat on his girlfriend of four years because he was dating her for “practice” anyways. He doesn’t care about her feelings at all. And he thinks that he “knows” Hannah even though he hasn’t even talked to her since the sixth grade.

“‘I know you.’

‘You do?’

‘I know that when you eat lunch, you’re the only one in the cafeteria who actually places her paper napkin on her lap.’

‘So?’

‘I know that you have a freckly underneath your left eye. I know that when you smile, your eyes close into adorable half-circles and all that’s visible are a little gleam of light and your thick black eyelashes. I know that you are really nice to that kid with Tourette’s and you sit patiently and help him with his math homework even though he’s uncontrollably barking ‘cocksucker’ at the top of his lungs ever five minutes. I know that you are trying to improve your life even though the odds are stacked up against you, and that you hide in the attic of the Cunty Day School to try to learn as much as you can. I know that you would give your left arm to help Zoe if she needed it, and that’s why we’re here. I think I know enough.'”

Page 234

If I were Hannah, I’d probably have some facial expression like this.

hongki stare gif

Like please explain how the heck you know that just from watching me!

Moving on to plot. The plot of the book was so so boring. It was hard to stay interested in it because the plot is pretty much Zoe doing something bold and encouraging Hannah to do it. And then they nearly get caught by law enforcement. Then they escape. Rinse and repeat. It’s repetitive, dull, and not worth struggling through. The only good part was the ending. I was satisfied with the way the book ended even if it meant that I had to struggle through the beginning.

Wunder’s writing was pretty good. It was understandable and I thought that although I didn’t enjoy this book, it fit well.

I also liked the concept of the museum of intangible things that Zoe made for her brother.

1.5/5 Stars

Wintergirls – Laurie Halse Anderson

Wintergirls

Wintergirls

Author: Laurie Halse Anderson

Publish Date: March 19th, 2009

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Psychology, Mental Illness

“Dead girl walking”, the boys say in the halls.
“Tell us your secret”, the girls whisper, one toilet to another.
I am that girl.
I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through.
I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.

Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the skinniest. But what comes after size zero and size double-zero? When Cassie succumbs to the demons within, Lia feels she is being haunted by her friend’s restless spirit.

In her most emotionally wrenching, lyrically written book since the multiple-award-winning Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia’s descent into the powerful vortex of anorexia, and her painful path toward recovery.


Review

Yay for another review for a book that came out a long time ago! Sorry guys but my tbr list is just really long so I’m trying to get through reading some of the older books.

Anyways, Wintergirls tells about the path of recovery of Lia, an anorexic girl trying to recover after the death of her ex-BFF Cassie. It’s a poignant, realistic read about anorexia and the repercussions it may have on loved ones.

Lia’s journey was heartbreaking. It made me hurt for her because it was heartbreaking that she believed these things about herself. The way that she strove to weigh seventy pounds at a height of 5’5″ was painful to read about. Every single thought she had about Cassie and her weight and family was just one reminder that she was toeing the boundary between life and death.

I love how she penned the name “Wintergirls” to describe girls that were suffering from anorexia and bulimia because of how tragically beautiful it is (not that eating disorders are beautiful). It’s kind of hard to explain my take on the name but I think it’s a way of saying that while the girls are constantly fighting their cold inner demons, they’re still beautiful no matter what. Winter is cold and harsh but it can still be beautiful y’know? I don’t mean to be offensive if it’s taken the wrong way.

The writing in this book was beautiful. I loved the different ways that Anderson chose to describe the moments of the book. I felt that they really illustrated the grief and helplessness of Lia. The metaphors and placement of them made scenes raw and even more moving than they would have been, had she used different words. While some may find it pretentious, I found that it was nice because she used it in moderation. There isn’t a two-page long description of a metaphor or philosophical idea but instead, they are sprinkled throughout.


“The unforgiving November wind blows me towards the building. Pointy snowflakes spiral down from the cake-frosting clouds overhead. The first snow. Magic. Everybody stops and looks up. The bus exhaust freezes, trapping all the noise in a gritty cloud. The doors to the school freeze, too.

We tilt back our heads and open wide.

The snow drifts into our zombie mouths crawling with grease and curses and tobacco flakes and cavities and boyfriend/girlfriend juice, the stain of lies. For one moment we are not failed tests and broken condoms and cheating on essays; we are crayons and lunch boxes and swinging so high our sneakers punch holes in the clouds. For one breath everything feels better.

Then it melts.”

Page 11


“Ghosts are waiting in the shadows of the room, patient dull shimmers. The other can see them, too, I know it. We’re all afraid to talk about what stares at us from the dark.”

Page 18


Yeah I picked quotes from the beginning in case anybody didn’t want any spoilers and counted those as spoilers? I dunno. But like I said a paragraph earlier, the writing in Wintergirls is beautiful. I liked how it contrasted with the dead, empty mood of Lia’s voice and the heavy topic of anorexia. Anderson did a really good job of making Lia sound like a girl obsessed with her weight that was spiraling deeper into anorexia. It was a highly accurate account of anorexia and there was clearly a high amount of research that went into it. The topics of bulimia and anorexia were both well applied to the novel. Everything from the mental effects to the physical deterioration and doctoral visits were described in full detail.

While the writing was great, I felt that the book lacked characterization of the protagonist, most likely due to the fact that Lia was ill that there was little room to expand on her personality before anorexia. This is completely okay with me because if anything, it brings the focus of the book onto the problems that Lia face. Even so, the secondary characters and Cassie, could have been elaborated further. I think I would have liked Elijah if he had actually been better characterized.

I didn’t really like the format of the writing. There were random parts in the book that reminded me of computer programming (Example from book: “youhavetoeat/I’mnothungry/eatsomething/stopforcing/listentome/leavemealone”). It might have been an internal struggle or her sub-conscious or something along those lines. But other similar parts make me think that it’s probably something else. Either way, these parts broke the flow of my concentration of the book and confused me more than it did contribute to my understanding. There were also strikethroughs and italicized parts, clearly meant to portray her sub-conscious. These weren’t as big a problem because you know. I actually understood them.

There was one character flaw of Lia that I didn’t really like. I’m not at all sure if this counts as a spoiler (highlight to read), but I really hated that the entire reason that the two girls began to lose weight was because Lia started a bet. I feel like in a real-world situation, it would take a little more than just a bet to cause people to develop eating disorders.

I’m really happy that I picked up Wintergirls. Even if it’s not going to become one of my favorite books, I don’t regret reading it at all. It’s opened my eyes even more to the minds of those that may be fighting these illnesses as I type these words. I’m definitely going to pick up her book Speak now.

Wintergirls may trigger some if read. Please be careful if you have recently suffered from similar issues. And if you have, you guys are strong and beautiful enough to not need to engage in these actions.

4/5 Stars

[ARC Review] Rites of Passage – Joy N. Hensley

Rites of Passage

Rites of Passage

Author: Joy N. Hensley

Publish Date: September 14th, 2014

Genre: Contemporary, YA, Romance

Sam McKenna’s never turned down a dare. And she’s not going to start with the last one her brother gave her before he died.

So Sam joins the first-ever class of girls at the prestigious Denmark Military Academy. She’s expecting push-ups and long runs, rope climbing and mud-crawling. As a military brat, she can handle an obstacle course just as well as the boys. She’s even expecting the hostility she gets from some of the cadets who don’t think girls belong there. What she’s not expecting is her fiery attraction to her drill sergeant. But dating is strictly forbidden and Sam won’t risk her future, or the dare, on something so petty…no matter how much she wants him.

As Sam struggles to prove herself, she discovers that some of the boys don’t just want her gone—they will stop at nothing to drive her out. When their petty threats turn to brutal hazing, bleeding into every corner of her life, she realizes they are not acting alone. A decades-old secret society is alive and active… and determined to force her out.

At any cost.

Now time’s running short. Sam must decide who she can trust…and choosing the wrong person could have deadly consequences.


Review

I received an ARC of this book free from the Goodreads First Reads program.

I was so so so happy when I found out that I won this book. I was extremely excited to read it because it reminded me of that Disney Channel Movie Cadet Kelly and because it sounded so cool.

First things first. I was really happy when I realized that the drill sergeant was NOT an old guy but someone that was Sam’s age. I hate reading about weird relationships like teacher/student, elderly/young woman, etc. It makes me feel really uncomfortable. The same goes for cheating if the main character is directly involved in the relationship. The romance in this book was great because it didn’t take over the story. The relationship didn’t even really ignite until more than halfway through the book. I liked this because it focused on Sam and ohmygod Sam is FAB. She’s confident and persistent and she has flaws and she’s just great guys. She’s great.

What I really liked about Rites of Passage was the format and structure of the writing. It was nice and told in a way that gave all details while also not causing it to become really slow and with the plot of this, it could have easily happened. I loved the first-person narration of Sam. I liked how Hensley put the story together and especially how she waited on the romance. Sam didn’t just give up all her morals and goals and go after Drill. She knew that doing it could cause her to be kicked out of the school. Sam was logical and because Hensley wrote her this way, sticking to the character, the plot was logical. The only problem I see with the romance is that although Sam and Drill might have seen and spoken to each other a lot, they didn’t really know each other. There was chemistry and them getting together was inevitable but I would have liked to see more scenes where the two of them interacted like a couple. It makes sense that there weren’t very many (because Sam had more important moments in the book and because of the circumstances of their relationship), but maybe in a sequel? *awkwardly winks at imaginary Joy N. Hensley*

jung ilwoos awk wink

Just try telling me that this isn’t awkward

THE RELATIONSHIPS IN THIS BOOK GUYS. SO SWEET. SO VERY VERY SWEET AND GOOD. Sam’s attitude and relationship with the other characters is so realistic. Her relationship with her parents is real and her relationship with her friends is even more real. It’s all extremely realistic for a character who is quick to judge and even quicker to not trust others. They were crafted perfectly.

What I love in a book is when everything is relevant. There aren’t many unnecessary scenes that don’t contribute to the plot like in certain other books *cough The Here and Now cough*. Everything leads up to an important scene whether it’s the actions of another character or a meeting Sam has with someone else. It shows great planning and thorough analysis of what the author is going to write.

There was so much research put into this book. Everything from life at a military school, uniform, positions, clothing, structure, to speech patterns. It’s executed fantastically and I learned a lot from it. I now know what dress blues are and how recruits are initiated and other stuff. I had no idea that military schools were that tough and I know that I ain’t ever gonna go to one now.

Rites of Passage also touches on a few topics. Early on in the book, you learn that the reason Sam is at the school is purely because it was the last dare her older brother, Amos gave her before he had committed suicide. There are feelings of never being good enough, having no support, etc. It’s not romanticized but it’s not the focal point of the book either. Hensley balances it extremely well with the mystery.

I’m extremely unhappy about the fact that I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as other reviewers. I loved the technical aspects of the book and the way that everything was written and planned but I didn’t ever connect with Sam most likely because I can’t really relate to all of the aspects of her life. It had everything I loved in a book but I didn’t end up loving it like I wanted to. I really wish that I would have liked it more and I’ll probably be rereading it a lot in the future so that hopefully, I’ll connect with the characters more and end up sticking this on my favorites shelf.

Rites of Passage is a well-written, unique contemporary that has all of the components of an amazing book. Definitely a must-read for all fans of the contemporary genre.

4.5/5 Stars

Illusive – Emily Lloyd-Jones

Illusive

Illusive (Illusive, #1)

Author: Emily Lloyd-Jones

Series: Illusive #1

Publish Date: July 15th, 2014

Genre: Dystopian, YA, Action, Sci-fi

The X-Men meets Ocean’s Eleven in this edge-of-your-seat sci-fi adventure about a band of “super” criminals.

When the MK virus swept across the planet, a vaccine was created to stop the epidemic, but it came with some unexpected side effects. A small percentage of the population developed superhero-like powers. Seventeen-year-old Ciere Giba has the handy ability to change her appearance at will. She’s what’s known as an illusionist…She’s also a thief.

After a robbery goes awry, Ciere must team up with a group of fellow super-powered criminals on another job that most would consider too reckless. The formula for the vaccine that gave them their abilities was supposedly destroyed years ago. But what if it wasn’t?

The lines between good and bad, us and them, and freedom and entrapment are blurred as Ciere and the rest of her crew become embroiled in a deadly race against the government that could cost them their lives.


Review

Illusive had the potential to become one of my favorite books of 2014. The premise was unique and amazing (well to me at least) and I thought that it’d be the perfect thing to read after the many contemporaries I’ve been reading lately. Illusive wasn’t bad per say, but it was a let-down.

Illusive is set in a world where people with powers exist but instead of making them superheroes, Jones chose to make them the “villains” instead. In Ciere’s world, those that are “immune” are regarded as dangerous weapons. They are brutally imprisoned if found and constantly are on the run to avoid it. It’s a really cool idea and I was hoping that it’d be just as amazing as it sounded. Unfortunately, there were two major things that brought the book down.

Firstly, the characters are flat as a board. They had so much potential and could have become some of my favorite book characters if not for the crappy characterization. I know I would have loved Ciere, Magnus, Devon, Kit, the whole lot of them if they had been more deep. They were each unique and had extremely rough character sketches. Evidence that the personalities were considered were definitely present, but the rest of it was all in the author’s head. I can take a wild, educated guess that Devon was sarcastic and that Magnus was a grudge-holder but Illusive lacked the deep characterization that would have brought the crew to life.

Secondly, Illusive had a great premise but the plot itself wasn’t. It doesn’t ever really pick up and if I could draw a line graph that showed the amount of action and suspense, it would be a straight line from the exposition to the conclusion with the exception of one teensy, tiny bump at the end that hits a record high of 0.02 excitement points. It’s a really slow read with no end in sight. When the “climax” is finally there, it falls flat.

I will give some praise to Jones for that twist in Part 3. I never saw that coming. And the action scene at the end in Part 4 was really cool. And I ship two couples in this book. For the first couple, I don’t want to spoil anything so I’ll just say that he and Ciere are adorbs together even if it’s a seriously bad case of insta-love. The lack of development is so terrible but I still kind of ship them regardless. In fact, I think part of the reason I ship them is because the nonexistent character development makes the nonexistent romantic development slightly better (which is kind of sad). I love Kit and Magnus’s banter. At this point, I’m not sure if they’re gay or if they’ve just had some really messed up history but I’ll be reading the second book to find out. I really wish that the characterization had been better because then I’d be shipping these characters even harder together. But alas, obviously it can’t happen.

Illusive is a solid book that didn’t illicit any particularly strong opinions. It was disappointing to say the least but I will be picking up the sequel and hoping that these issues improve.

3/5 Stars


Sorry if this review kind of sucks. I had to return it to the library and didn’t get a chance to thoroughly analyze it! ;__;