Monday, September 26, 2016

[Review] Elsewhere - Gabrielle Zevin: Afterlife and Aging Backwards


In ELSEWHERE, Liz dies in a bicycle accident and goes to Elsewhere, where everyone ages backwards until they are reincarnated on Earth.

What intrigued me: Amazing premise. Wow.

Quiet and comforting

Stories about the afterlife are very tricky to write in my opinion. Zevin decided not to play into any of the expectations I had, let them be religious or not. The concept of death being just another life, this time in reverse, is strangely comforting. Comfort is definitely the first word I'd use to describe ELSEWHERE. It's a very quiet, almost shy story that absolutely lives from its beautiful premise, but is also, sadly, crippled by it.

Beyond the neat idea of a utopian afterlife, there isn't anything memorable about this story unfortunately. The voice is very reserved and the main character Liz strikingly colorless and forgettable. Most of the novel is spent exploring Elsewhere, without actually gaining much insight on the world. The world building is almost non-existent, the interesting bits happen within the first 50 pages and from then on it feels like you're just observing awkward mundane tasks. ELSEWHERE has a nice premise but absolutely relies on this.

More of a MG read

The writing is extremely simple and plain, lacking descriptions, but nevertheless I had images in my head non-stop. The concept is definitely powerful enough to make you think up your own expectations of the afterlife, and I really love that. ELSEWHERE's approach to life after death is open, but still imaginative. I longed for every piece of information about this world.

I would definitely say that this is lower YA, even upper Middle Grade because of the language and the approach to the topic. You won't find any typical YA tropes in this.


Rating:

★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

ELSEWHERE has a nice concept, but that's about it. I think this could really appeal to Middle Grade readers more than it did to me - I expected typical YA, and was disappointed.



Additional Info

Published: May 15th 2007
Pages: 277
Publisher: Square Fish
Genre: YA / Urban Fantasy
ISBN: 9780312367466

Synopsis:
"Welcome to Elsewhere. It is warm, with a breeze, and the beaches are marvelous. It's quiet and peaceful. You can't get sick or any older. Curious to see new paintings by Picasso? Swing by one of Elsewhere's museums. Need to talk to someone about your problems? Stop by Marilyn Monroe's psychiatric practice.

Elsewhere is where fifteen-year-old Liz Hall ends up, after she has died. It is a place so like Earth, yet completely different. Here Liz will age backward from the day of her death until she becomes a baby again and returns to Earth. But Liz wants to turn sixteen, not fourteen again. She wants to get her driver's license. She wants to graduate from high school and go to college. And now that she's dead, Liz is being forced to live a life she doesn't want with a grandmother she has only just met. And it is not going well. How can Liz let go of the only life she has ever known and embrace a new one? Is it possible that a life lived in reverse is no different from a life lived forward?"(Source: Goodreads)



What's your favorite book about the afterlife?

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Friday, September 23, 2016

Recreating Flaming June by Sir Frederic Leighton with Stickers | #PaintBySticker Masterpieces


With PAINT BY STICKER MASTERPIECES you can create twelve iconic paintings yourself - with stickers.

What intrigued me: I love art!

MASTERPIECES comes with twelve full color paintings that even someone who's not interested in art has probably seen before. From The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli to Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, there's definitely a painting you'll like in this. The paintings all come in a handy DIN A4 size.

The first half of the book consists of the twelve paintings, all with numbered little areas that you'll have to put the stickers on. The second half is filled with the sticker sheets. You can easily separate the pages from the book and get going. 

Creating Flaming June

As a little example I'll try and show you guys the first painting I made with stickers. I recreated Flaming June by Sir Frederic Leighton. I inserted a picture of the original on the right, in case you're not familiar with it.

From painting to painting the sizes of the sticker areas vary, and I seem to have picked one of the "more difficult" paintings, meaning with lots of detail. It's advised in the book's introduction to use tweezers if you want the most accurate results, but honestly, nobody has the time for that!

You'd think it can't be that hard to put a sticker on a piece of paper, but it really is. From the get go I wanted it all to look perfect, fearing that maybe if I don't get it completely right the painting would look terrible. But this is really not anything you have to worry about - MASTERPIECES goes for the mosaic look, no matter how badly you mess up the painting will still look fabulous. Like a cool mosaic rendition. 


Here's what it looked like after about 15 minutes



Then the finished product after about 1 1/2 hours




Rating:

★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

I enjoyed this a lot. I've already completed a couple other paintings and really had fun with it all. PAINT BY STICKER MASTERPIECES is a great pastime activity.



Additional Info


Published: September 20 2016
Pages: 56
Publisher: Workman Publishing
Genre: Non-Fiction / Arts and Crafts
ISBN: 9780761189510

Synopsis:
"Paint by Sticker is a compelling new activity for crafters and artists, doodlers and coloring book enthusiasts of all ages. Masterpieces encourages everyone to channel their inner da Vinci and create twelve iconic works of art.

Paint by Sticker Masterpieces includes everything you need to create twelve vibrant, full-color “paintings”—the stickers, the templates, the intuitive directions. The works include The Birth of Venus, by Sandro Botticelli, The Creation of Adam, by Michelangelo, Mona Lisa, by Leonardo da Vinci, Girl with a Pearl Earring, by Johannes Vermeer, Napoleon at Saint-Bernard Pass, by Jacques-Louis David, The Great Wave off Kanagawa, by Katsushika Hokusai, Houses of Parliament, Sunlight Effect, by Claude Monet, Still Life with Apples and a Pot of Primroses, by Paul Cezanne, Dance at Bougival, by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Bedroom in Arles, by Vincent van Gogh, Breezing Up (A Fair Wind), by Winslow Homer, and the stunning study in color, Flaming June, by Frederic Leighton.

The cardstock pages are perforated for easy removal, making it easy to frame the completed images."
(Source: Workman Publishing)


Do you like crafty stuff?

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

5 Toxic Tropes to Include To Make Me Dislike Your YA Book Instantly | YA Talk






Sometimes I feel like tropes are being reused all the time in YA. 



Usually, I don't have a problem with that, but when it's the same five tropes over and over again in every single book I read, I simply don't want to continue.


But sometimes it's not about repetitiveness It's about being irresponsible. There are some things I would never want young teens to read about. 



Here are 5 things that make me dislike an author and their book instantly: 


5. Unhealthy Co-Dependency
While I do like a good epic romance, I am absolutely not a fan of books that make it seem like it's impossible to continue your normal life when your boyfriend/girlfriend breaks up with you. This makes me give you the side eye and I certainly will knock off a star or two off the rating for that.

4. Romanticizing Illness
I will never understand why there are certain illnesses that seem to be romanticized more than others. Schizophrenia, bipolarity, AHDH not so much, but depression and anorexia? What makes this romantic? What's desirable about being sick? 

I think one of the best examples is what happened to THE FAULT IN OUR STARS. I don't necessarily think that John Green is the kind of person who would even try to romanticize mental illness, but his fandom sure is. I've seen people tweet things like they wished their boyfriend and them had cancer so they could be cute like Augustus and Hazel. This is why this list of tropes is important to internalize and avoid. If you're a writer, please take this to heart.

3. Curing Mental Illness Through Falling in Love
This isn't a thing. I don't want anyone to think that this is a thing.

2. Slut-Shaming
NO! This will make me quit a book and write a scalding review. I never write mean reviews to deliberately make the author feel bad but things like this aren't okay. Simply because they teach a younger audience values that shouldn't exist in our society anymore. I will actually tell people not to read a book if I encounter this in a novel and with immediate effect never read something by the author ever again.

1. The Special Snowflake Girl who isn't Like Other Girls
I can't hear "she wasn't like other girls" anymore. There's nothing wrong with being ordinary. There's nothing wrong with being different either. I don't mind if you've got a protagonist like that but when said protagonist starts talking down other girls and feeling superior, I'm out.





Which tropes are deal breakers to you?

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Sunday, September 18, 2016

[Review] Assassins: Discord (Assassins #1) - Erica Cameron: Girls Who Like Girls, Murder, and Action, Baby!

In ASSASSINS: DISCORD, assassin Kindra who has been raised to follow the rules, starts rebelling.

What intrigued me: f/f. Enough said.


Fast-paced action-style writing

I was really excited for ASSASSINS: DISCORD. I really really wanted this to succeed, because of the winning combination - fast-paced action + assassination + lady-loving ladies? 
Who doesn't need this in their lives? Unfortunately it was the writing style at the end of the day that irked me the most. 

The way the reader gets thrown into the story isn't written elegantly enough to make it that kind of smooth action-filled, thrilling story ASSASSINS: DISCORD wants to be. It definitely is written like an action movie - cut scenes, lots of different scenery, no time wasted. Murder, car chases, walking away from explosions, spying - you'll find all of that in this book. That's all without exception a great thing, however combined with the writing it doesn't translate very well in my opinion.

I had tremendous problems even establishing the characters, even understanding what is going on and why it is going on. I went in blind without reading the blurb, which I really don't recommend you do. You're going to want to cling to every little bit of information you can find without spoiling the novel for yourself, because ASSASSINS: DISCORD doesn't waste time explaining anything. It simply reads like the second book in a trilogy. I actually went back and checked because I was afraid I had accidentally picked up the second book instead of the first.  

Very plot-driven

A fantastic asset of ASSASSINS: DISCORD is the representation. You'll find characters of many different sexualities in here and also a cheeky little f/f romance that I won't say too much about, only that I enjoyed  that but that we got tremendously. At times I was hoping that the author went more for it, and really really pursued that romance. However, this is a plot-driven book and that's really minor criticism.

But again, I have to criticize a bit; because this is so fast-paced the characters are lacking slightly. From the start I couldn't really identify with anyone or even get attached to anyone, simply because they aren't really introduced. Of course this will also then have an impact on how you perceive the romantic subplot, and how you read this story. 

ASSASSINS: DISCORD is a really really fast, quick book. Sometimes you have to be careful, because it may overtake you.


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

Sure. ASSASSINS: DISCORD is the read for people who like their thrillers diverse and their ladies loving ladies. It gains a lot of sympathy points with that and really makes me turn a blind eye to the couple of issues I had with it. You will, too.



Additional Info

Published: September 5th 2016
Publisher: Riptide Publishing / Triton Books
Genre: YA / Thriller

Synopsis:
"Kindra’s moral compass has never pointed north, but that’s what happens when you’re raised as an assassin and a thief. At sixteen, she’s fantastic with a blade, an expert at slipping through the world unnoticed, and trapped in a life she didn’t chose. But nothing in her training prepares her for what happens when her father misses a target.

In the week-long aftermath, Kindra breaks rank for the first time in her life. She steals documents, starts questioning who their client is and why the target needs to die, botches a second hit on her father’s target, and is nearly killed. And that’s before she’s kidnapped by a green-eyed stranger connected to a part of her childhood she’d almost forgotten.

Kindra has to decide who to trust and which side of the battle to fight for. She has to do it fast and she has to be right, because the wrong choice will kill her just when she’s finally found something worth living for."(Source: Goodreads)



What's your favorite assassin book?

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Friday, September 16, 2016

Recommendation: Ten Thousand Skies Above You (Firebird #2) - Claudia Gray: Multiple Universes and Epic Romance





In TEN THOUSAND SKIES ABOVE YOU, Marguerite is forced to help their enemies from the Triad Corporation by sabotaging other dimensions' research if she wants her boyfriend Paul back, whose consciousness has been splintered and has to be retrieved in four different dimensions.


What intrigued me: The first novel in this series was phenomenal.



Less romance, more action

TEN THOUSAND SKIES ABOVE YOU takes a little different approach to the story than the previous novel. Instead of focusing on the romance, I'd rather call this one an action-like novel with a side of romance. The pace isn't necessarily picked up, but it feels like you're rushing through every mission with Marguerite. 

Mostly I got this feeling because to me the respective universes we travel through aren't explained or explored as much as I would have liked. The universes we visit are much more grounded in reality and I would have loved to visit a crazy universe like the Oceanverse from the first novel. However, each universe just feels like a quick rest stop instead of a complete world. There is so much potential in the wonderful worlds we get a glimpse of and it's really disappointing that Gray this time decided to swap world building for dialogue. 

Masterfully crafted and addicting

Aside from this, TEN THOUSAND SKIES ABOVE YOU was breathtaking. Gray paints such incredible characters that are so real it feels like you actually know them while you read it. Again, I was absolutely swept up in the romance and happy to return to the Russiaverse from the first novel, that absolutely broke my heart the first time. Gray isn't miserly with plot twists, throwing the reader from one intrigue to the next. It's impossible to see them all coming, and insanely impressive because most of these had to have been planned from the beginning. Hats off, the structure of the Firebird books is just impeccable.

TEN THOUSAND SKIES ABOVE YOU absolutely made me want to read the next book, ending on the biggest and most insane plot twist I've read about in a while. November can't come soon enough and I am absolutely, positively sure that I will recommend this incredibly addicting and mind-blowing series to a lot of my friends.


Rating:

★★★★

 




Overall: Do I Recommend?

Absolutely. If you like scientific concepts, conspiracy theories, and a romance that will break your heart, pick it up. TEN THOUSAND SKIES ABOVE YOU proves to be a worthy sequel to a stunning debut and surely sealed the deal on the Firebird series becoming one of my all-time favorites.



Additional Info

Published: November 3rd 2015
Pages: 424
Publisher: Harper Teen
Genre: YA / Sci-Fi / Parallel Worlds
ASIN: B00TE8LHXI

Synopsis:
"Ever since she used the Firebird, her parents' invention, to cross into alternate dimensions, Marguerite has caught the attention of enemies who will do anything to force her into helping them dominate the multiverse—even hurting the people she loves. She resists until her boyfriend, Paul, is attacked and his consciousness scattered across multiple dimensions. 

Marguerite has no choice but to search for each splinter of Paul’s soul. The hunt sends her racing through a war-torn San Francisco, the criminal underworld of New York City, and a glittering Paris where another Marguerite hides a shocking secret. Each world brings Marguerite one step closer to rescuing Paul. But with each trial she faces, she begins to question the destiny she thought they shared. "(Source: Goodreads)



Have you read the Firebird books?

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Read Only Popular Newly-Released Books? NAH! Reasons to Read Backlist Books




In the blogosphere you'll often notice that many bloggers seem to only be reviewing popular books. There are many reasons for that, free review copies, the hype around those books, or simply just seeing them in a bookstore and being unable to resist. 

Whichever reasons you may have for predominantly reading new books, allow me to introduce another concept: b a c k l i s t books.

What's a backlist book?

A backlist book is a book that has been out for quite some time. It's typically not promoted as much anymore, and probably not hyped as much anymore.

But won't reviewing "old" books impact my views negatively?

I mean, it's no secret that reviews aren't necessarily the way to go if you care a LOT about your views and only want to post stuff that will possibly blow up and go viral. Whether you review backlist or frontlist books, you won't get a lot views either way. 

But the thing is, not all bloggers are always on the lookout for the newest books. And bloggers aren't your only readers anyway, there are lots of people who read book blogs but don't blog themselves. And they won't have the faintest idea what you recently got in your inbox, what book just got sent out to reviewers and is everything everyone is reading. 

From experience, my own and that of others, I know that most people either go for reviews of 

a) books they have read                   or                      b) books they have heard a lot about. 

And either can be backlist or frontlist. It really, really, really doesn't matter to your readers what you review. If you are still skeptical, go for backlist books that have a lot of reviews and generally have been popular.

But why should I even read them?

Because it helps the authors and publishers tremendously! And we all should generally just stop always chasing the newest hit, this is super boring, don't you think? 
  • Imagine a world in which authors only get buzz in the first year that their book is out. 
  • Imagine a world in which you can't be a successful author unless you put out a new book every year. 
Sounds boring, doesn't it.

Backlist books don't bite, I don't get why this is even an issue I have to address. Do you purposely walk past book stores and not buy what's on sale unless it's a brand new book? C'mon. Stop this. Review backlist and frontlist, guys. 

Do you read backlist or frontlist books or a mix of both?

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Monday, September 12, 2016

[Review] The Form of Things Unknown - Robin Bridges: Hallucinations, Schizophrenia, and Ghosts





In THE FORM OF THINGS UNKNOWN, Natalie struggles with hallucinations and suddenly starts seeing ghosts when she's chosen to play Titania in her schools rendition of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

What intrigued me: I've read the first companion novel DREAMING OF ANTIGONE and was curious to see more of Bridges.



Character-driven coming-of-age story

THE FORM OF THINGS UNKNOWN is a companion to DREAMING OF ANTIGONE, featuring some characters you might recognize, but it's by no means necessary to have read the latter. Both novels are coming-of-age stories that feature chronically/mentally ill protagonists and are essentially retellings of Antigone and A Midsummer Night's Dream respectively. 

THE FORM OF THINGS UNKNOWN surprised me by being a lot more hands on and to-the-point than DREAMING OF ANTIGONE. I quickly grew very invested in Natalie's story and was very intrigued by the paranormal (? or not ?) sub plot. Brigdes cleverly intertwines Natalie's mental illness with the past-tense story though I found the novel a little too slow at times. The plot doesn't advance as quickly as I would've liked and aside from the premise, there is sadly not much to THE FORM OF THINGS UNKNOWN. It's purely a character-driven coming-of-age story and you certainly do have to have a soft spot for that to enjoy this. Personally, I'm not a fan.

Belittling mental illness?

I loved Natalie dearly and grew fond of almost all the supporting characters, which ultimately warrants my interest in this story and had me stick around until the end. Without Natalie's entertaining voice and narration I wouldn't have finished this. The truth is, there are a couple things that are problematic about THE FORM OF THINGS UNKNOWN. Love interest Luke is/was suicidal and depressed and has been at rehabilitation facility with protagonist Natalie (who`s been treated there for her hallucinations). 

At no point do both these illnesses feel genuine, realistic, or even just well-researched. Luke is one of those generic mysterious love interests whose depression is belittled, paraphrased: "he doesn't look like he's depressed". Natalie's hallucinations are shrugged off and merely a gimmick to give this novel at least some kind of plot with them searching for ghosts in the theatre. 

It just irked me, though I love that Bridges tries to tackle mental illness in many forms (Natalie's grandmother also suffers from schizophrenia), the lack of research is blatantly obvious. THE FORM OF THINGS UNKNOWN is spiked with microaggressions and slurs that may not be as obvious to a neurotypical reader. Despite all that, there's no story to begin with. 

Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

I certainly liked THE FORM OF THINGS UNKNOWN more than DREAMING OF ANTIGONE, but because mental illness isn't handled very respectfully and the novel overall lacks direction and plot, I wasn't really a fan. The high rating is mostly warranted by the great voice and characters, and trying to include neurodivergent characters.



Additional Info

Published: August 30th 2016
Pages: 240
Publisher: Kensington
Genre: YA / Contemporary
ISBN: 9781496703569

Synopsis:
"Natalie Roman isn’t much for the spotlight. But performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream in a stately old theatre in Savannah, Georgia, beats sitting alone replaying mistakes made in Athens. Fairy queens and magic on stage, maybe a few scary stories backstage. And no one in the cast knows her backstory.

Except for Lucas—he was in the psych ward, too. He won’t even meet her eye. But Nat doesn’t need him. She’s making friends with girls, girls who like horror movies and Ouija boards, who can hide their liquor in Coke bottles and laugh at the theater’s ghosts. Natalie can keep up. She can adapt. And if she skips her meds once or twice so they don’t interfere with her partying, it won’t be a problem. She just needs to keep her wits about her."(Source: Goodreads)



Have you read novels that portray mental illness accurately?

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Saturday, September 10, 2016

2 year Blogoversary MASSIVE #Giveaway! Win $60 Worth of Books and Learn About my Blog Statistics




I can't believe it but my blog is turning 2 today! 

Thank you so much to all the viewers, commenters, and followers. I wouldn't still be blogging with such joy if it weren't for you guys!





Let's take a look at the past 2 years:
  • I've reviewed 200+ books
  • Hit 200,000 page views
  • Published nearly 300 posts
  • Written about 500 posts

I've also launched four original features (and countless original posts):

Book Blogging Etiquette, in which I teach newbie bloggers the unwritten rules of blogging. (4 posts)



Book Blogging Tips, in which I let you in on the tips and tricks I use to make blogging easier (45 posts)

You're A Terrible Blogger Because You Don't Post Every Day
Do You Actually Review Unsolicited ARCs?
How I Pick Which Books I Request for Review
Review Copies Are Not Free Books
Dramatic Changes I Made that Ended Up Improving My Blog
No Comments on Book Reviews?
How Often Should You Post per Week?

YA Talk, in which I chat with you guys about all things ya-lit (16 posts)



and of course my latest one and my baby, #DiversityBoost, in which I highlight and boost diverse authors and diverse books!

Here's the announcement Introducing #DiversityBoost: I'll be promoting and boosting #ownvoices and #diverse Authors! 

And the first post! 20 Exciting 2016/17 YA Books by Black Women


These are my most viewed posts:

Requesting Review Copies from Publishers | Book Blogging Tips #1
Recommendation: Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas #1) - Zoraida Córdova: Witches, Latinx, and Demons
Introducing #DiversityBoost: I'll be promoting and boosting #ownvoices and #diverse Authors! | Blog News

...and all thanks to you guys!

So long story short, here's the promised giveaway with lots of options to enter through a lot of different social media platforms.




a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks so much for sticking around, guys. It means a lot.

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Thursday, September 8, 2016

Recommendation: Wrecked - Maria Padian: Sexual Assault in College





In WRECKED, Jenny gets sexually assaulted at a party, but the people around her are too preoccupied with their own lives to get what's going on.

What intrigued me: I usually don't go for novels with themes like these, I wanted to step out of my comfort zone.

Smart and Compelling

WRECKED is an incredibly unique read. It's written in multiple perspectives from people who in some way are connected to Jenny and the rape. Padian cleverly gives all of them their own struggles, their own little problems that make it easy to ignore what's happening outside of that. 

Each storyline is compelling in its own: Haley, who gets benched in her soccer team after a live-threatening concussion; and Richard, who just got dumped by Carrie whom he desperately wants to win back. I was invested in their struggles and it's such a smart way to illustrate what happens in real life as well. People are just preoccupied with their own lives. So smart, such a fantastic metaphor.

WRECKED is essentially a guessing game, even though it seems obvious at first, you'll constantly feel insecure in your perception of what actually happened. It's definitely one of those books that you have to read multiple times to fully get the whole picture.

Literary and Character-Driven

The writing is also extraordinary and another reason why I'm very sure WRECKED will go on to win a couple literary awards in the future. It's very literary, very much character-driven with a very strange, unique narrative voice in each POV. The narration flip flops back and forth between past and present and uses flashbacks to give background information. Normally, this wouldn't work. For Padian it does. I have no idea how. 

Exactly this contributes to the icky feeling I had while reading. There are constantly new thing revealed about the people involved and you never know what to think or whom to trust. I grew especially invested in Richard's storyline, the boy that's so blinded by his love for his ex-girlfriend that he doesn't realize it's an obsession. It's weird to be on the other side of a situation that I'm sure many girls out there have experienced - dating the boy who just doesn't take no for an answer. 

The story in itself is just so compelling and it's absolute word magic to convey this serious topic in such a subtle way, yet make it so obvious that the reader knows what happened from page five on. Just fantastic.


Rating:

★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

WRECKED is a very important book that should be compulsory reading at every school. An absolute recommendation if you don't mind YA that's on the literary side.



Additional Info

Published: October 4th 2016
Pages: 368
Publisher: Algonquin
Genre: YA / Contemporary
ISBN: 9781616206246

Synopsis:
"Everyone has heard a different version of what happened that night at MacCallum College. Haley was already in bed when her roommate, Jenny, arrived home shell-shocked from the wild Conundrum House party. Richard heard his housemate Jordan brag about the cute freshman he hooked up with. When Jenny formally accuses Jordan of rape, Haley and Richard find themselves pushed onto opposite sides of the school’s investigation. But conflicting interests fueling conflicting versions of the story may make bringing the truth to light nearly impossible--especially when reputations, relationships, and whole futures are riding on the verdict."
(Source: Goodreads)


Can you recommend any good books about sexual assault?

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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

[Review] Wither (The Chemical Garden #1) - Lauren DeStefano: Polygamy and Dystopia

In WITHER, Rhine gets abducted to be a bride in a world where women live to be 20 and men live to be 25.

What intrigued me: The blurb makes it sounds like a solid dystopian novel. I may have also seen this around quite a lot and was curious.

World building?

What initially drew me in on WITHER is the premise. It sure sounds like a dystopian novel, but with more world building and less emphasis on rebellion. However, while the latter still holds true after reading the novel, the former is exactly where it went wrong for me. There is honestly no world building in this book. Nothing is explained, there are no reasons for anything. 

I was insanely disappointed that you don't learn anything about the world as you go along, because there is nothing to learn. Essentially, this read is just about the polygamous relationships protagonist Rhine's husband Linden has, of course with a side of intrigues. 

I'll forget this book soon

I felt claustrophobic reading this, because the action mainly takes place in two or three different places total, while most of it is just in the house. DeStefano tries to hide this by adding ridiculously long descriptions of everything, from the looks of the rooms, to every single time Rhine gets dressed to look pretty for her husband.
This unnecessarily ruins the pacing and makes the first 50 pages a nightmare to read. I wouldn't have minded all those descriptions if the beginning of this didn't only consist of them. Because WITHER lacks so much in world building, it really relies on the reader liking the character dynamics, which I just didn't. 

We have every cliché ever in this, a love triangle that doesn't make sense and feels forced and instant-love-y. I would have liked this more if it only had one love interest, because I found Linden quite sympathetic. The writing itself is really good which is just more reason for why I'm so frustrated with this. The idea is okay, the characters are alright, the writing is amazing - how did this book end up to be so forgettable and ... average? Very disappointing.


Rating:

☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

WITHER has potential to be a wonderful quick stand-alone, but I cannot imagine to read three books set in this world. I wouldn't recommend it, because it bored and disappointed me.



Additional Info

Published: March 22nd 2011
Pages: 358
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: YA / Dystopia
ISBN: 9781442409057

Synopsis:
"By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. She can thank modern science for this genetic time bomb. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males with a lifespan of 25 years, and females with a lifespan of 20 years. Geneticists are seeking a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children. 

When Rhine is kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can't bring herself to hate him as much as she'd like to. He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that not everything in her new husband's strange world is what it seems. Her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote, is hoarding corpses in the basement. Her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next, and Rhine is desperate to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive. Will Rhine be able to escape--before her time runs out?

Together with one of Linden's servants, Gabriel, Rhine attempts to escape just before her seventeenth birthday. But in a world that continues to spiral into anarchy, is there any hope for freedom?"(Source: Goodreads)


Have you read WITHER?

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Sunday, September 4, 2016

Popular Book Series I Started but will NEVER Finish feat Cinder, Talon, Zodiac & more




I'm generally hardly a person that sticks with a series unless it absolutely knocked my socks off. Therefore I simply got a lot of unfinished series on my shelves. Some of them well-known. Here are they:





THE DARKEST MINDS  - Alexandra Bracken
I think this is simply a case of being too late to the party. I'm not sure whether this book inspired lots of similar dystopian books that read exactly the same, or it was inspired by them. I felt like I've read 78 books like this already, mabye I would've liked this more had I read it after the release. 

BEAUTIFUL CREATURES - Kami García & Margaret Stohl
I think I will maybe give other books by them a chance, but I really wasn't a fan. I found the Southern theme too over the top, despite this being undoubtedly a very skillfully written book that's surely innovative in the right places. I felt like the story of the two protagonists wasn't really interesting enough (to me), to want to read a sequel.

THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER - Michelle Hodkin
I think the hype simply ruined this for me. I was expecting something completely different. A thriller, a horror story, just something fast-paced and exciting. I found the novel not really exciting at all and too romance-centric for my taste. 




ZODIAC - Romina Russell
I don't know what happened here, I love astrology and sci-fi, yet this just didn't hit the right spot for me. Maybe it's because the majority of the characters are human, I would have loved some more aliens. I mean it's space, come on!

TALON  - Julie Kagawa
Again one of those books that I'm positive I would've liked had I read it earlier. Maybe this would have been something for 14 year old me. Again, the tropes and the entire world feels so recycled! I love paranormal romance usually but this lacked any ounce of originality in my opinion.

HOURGLASS - Myra McEntire
I love this book. But she decided to switch protagonists in the sequel and I'm not really a fan of that.




CINDER - Marissa Meyer
I really didn't like anything about this. The hype really had me super curious especially because I love fairytale retellings and sci-fi. This one has it both! I found the diversity/Chinese aesthetic super forced and lowkey pretty racist. It really ruined everything for me to be honest!

SHATTER ME - Tahereh Mafi
I think this is just an overall case of "not for me". The writing, the characters, the plot - I'm surprised I even managed to finish this in the first place.

RED QUEEN - Victoria Aveyard
This book is simply hit or miss if you look at everyone's reviews. For me it was a miss, for reasons you've probably heard about.


Which book series will you never finish?

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Friday, September 2, 2016

[Review] Leave Me - Gayle Forman: Heart Attacks and Leaving Your Family





In LEAVE ME, the overworked mother of twins Maribeth decides to leave her family after she had a stress-induced heart attack.


What intrigued me: I've read other books by Gayle Forman and liked her writing style, so I was eager to try something else by her.

Devastating premise

The premise of LEAVE ME is a very devastating one, which is half of the reason why I wanted to read this. 

Having read other novels by Forman before, I'm confident in her ability to portray strong emotions. She didn't disappoint me. LEAVE ME manages to portray this horrible scenario in a very realistic, emotional way. 

Maribeth is an incredibly relatable character and I did understand her choices, however cruel they are. I'm not really a fan of the perspective, I'm positive I would have enjoyed this even more if Forman had decided to write this in first person instead of third.  This perspective makes it hard to connect to to Maribeth and to really see things the way she does, which is in my opinion crucial to enjoying and understanding LEAVE ME. Forman tried to incorporate little flashback-like scenes to establish relationships, mostly the one between her former best friend and now-boss Elizabeth and Maribeth. I'm not a fan of flashbacks generally and inserting them right into an ongoing scene just confuses me and throws me right out of the story. However, this is really minor criticism. 

The difficult thing about LEAVE ME is that it doesn't follow a straight plot line, there is no real goal that Maribeth is working towards in the story. I was expecting leave me to start with Maribeth's departure, instead we get about 70 pages of what I'd call introduction. I do like that we get an insight view of Maribeth's life and that indeed makes it more easy to understand why she would leave her family just like that. 

Very literary and definitely recommended

At the end of the day, there's no way around saying that LEAVE ME really could have used more structure. I did enjoy following Maribeth into her new life and I read the book fairly quickly, however I just personally like novels to follow a clear storyline. The reason why this novel just worked for me is undeniably because of Forman's uncanny ability to portray emotion. 

Maribeth is relatable, her experiences very real, and it just reads less like fiction, but more like something that might actually happen.

If you don't mind novels that go more into the literary direction and are a fan of Foreman, this is a must read. 


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

LEAVE ME is an interesting, thought-provoking novel that I enjoyed. However I can only recommend this to you if you don't mind the slow pace and the lack of action.



Additional Info

Published: September 6th 2016
Pages: 352
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Genre: Adult / Drama
ISBN: 9781616206178

Synopsis:
"For every woman who has ever fantasized about driving past her exit on the highway instead of going home to make dinner, for every woman who has ever dreamed of boarding a train to a place where no one needs constant attention--meet Maribeth Klein. A harried working mother who's so busy taking care of her husband and twins, she doesn't even realize she's had a heart attack.

Afterward, surprised to discover that her recuperation seems to be an imposition on those who rely on her, Maribeth does the unthinkable: She packs a bag and leaves. But, as is so often the case, once we get to where we're going, we see our lives from a different perspective. Far from the demands of family and career and with the help of liberating new friendships, Maribeth is finally able to own up to secrets she has been keeping from those she loves and from herself."(Source: Goodreads)


Have you read books by Gayle Forman?

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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

7 Popular Authors That I Just Can't Get Into


Everybody's tastes are different, and my particular taste doesn't always seem to correspond with the general public.

Here are seven very popular authors whose books I just can't get into.
7. J. Lynn / Jennifer L. Armentrout
I really love her Lux series, but any and every book by her that I've read after that disappointed me massively. I'm so sad about this, especially her NA books under the pseudonym J.Lynn are so incredibly popular and it would've been so nice if I had liked them. 

6. Maggie Stiefvater

I stand by saying that I think she's a terrific writer. But really, the writing is just too poetic, too dreamy, too otherworldly to keep my attention for more than 3 seconds.


5. George R.R. Martin
I read the first two ASOIAF books and it's just all too lengthy and political for me. High fantasy is usually a hit or miss thing for me and I am very picky about this, so it's not surprising.

4. Stephen King
Honestly, judging by the fact that everyone calls him the king of horror, I wasn't even scared once. Maybe I just picked the wrong books. I've read FIRESTARTER, CARRIE, IT, and NIGHTMARES & DREAMSCAPES. I wish he could scare me. I love a good horror novel.

3. Sarah Dessen
I keep trying and trying and every time I finish a book by her I think to myself that I would've been better off had I read her books in 2007, back when everyone did and loved them. It's just not for me. I'll still keep trying with her newer works, I think.

2. Rainbow Rowell
I read nearly every books she's ever published aside from ATTACHMENTS and ELEANOR & PARK. I honestly, truly want to like her books but the only one I found mediocre was FANGIRL. I keep wondering what's wrong with me.

1. Cassandra Clare
I've read the first four The Mortal Instruments books, more out of morbid curiosity than actual interest. No matter how hard I try and really want to like them, I guess her books will never be for me. It's sad because there are SOOO many books in this series.





Which popular authors can't you get into?

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