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Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars

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Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

Publication Date: January 10, 2012.

Order your copy now: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | BookDepository

Favorite Quote from the Book:

“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.” 

My Thoughts:

Sadly, I did not fall for the hype of this book like so many others.  To me, it was an average book.  It is not awful, but I do not deem it a favorite like so many others.

One aspect of this book that I can appreciate is John Green’s overall writing-style.  Having read Looking for Alaska (and also deeming it an “average book”), I can see how much Green has developed as a writer.  The prose in this book is phenomenal and some of the best in Young Adult literature.  Sentences and metaphors (which seemed to annoy many people) seamlessly flow together creating a relatively pleasant and easy read for readers.

However, I could not let Green’s beautiful prose distract the content within the book.  Mainly, I have an issue between the romance of Augustus and Hazel.  Sadly, I would have to label their relationship as the stereotypical “insta-love.”  Since Green is such a renowned writer, I never believed he would stoop to writing insta-love in his stories, but I appear to be wrong.  In my opinion, I think the novel would have been better if Augustus and Hazel remained friends.  For a majority of their relationship, they acted as merely best friends and less like lovers.  I feel as though Green included the romance element in the book to make the story more heart-wrenching.  In reality, the romance is a distraction for a majority of this plot.

One of the biggest issues Augustus and Hazel face is their battles with cancers.  However, one is not completely aware of the severity of their cancers and what exactly their cancers entail.  Rather, the book placed a lot of emphasis on the “sick lovers” aspect.  When a child is diagnosed with cancer, falling in love is one of the last things on their mind.  There’s issues of treatments, finances, and death.  These are so overwhelming that a sick child cannot even begin to comprehend or tackle a relationship in the way Augustus and Hazel did.  I hate to say this, but it is a rather unrealistic portrayal of children with cancer; I know Green is highly praised for his realistic portrayal of teens, but this just wasn’t cutting it for me.

Additionally, I found the dialogue between Hazel and Augustus to be unlikely for two teenagers.  Do not get me wrong, Hazel and Augustus’s conversations are beautifully written and make great quotes, but no teenager talks so eloquently.  Admittedly, I cringe for the day when I will read the word “swag” in a young adult book, but at least that’s how many teenagers talk (sadly…).  A majority of the young adult population talks in slang, and many do not possess the knowledge or vocabulary that Augustus and Hazel exhibit throughout this book.  In my opinion, Augustus and Hazel are “character versions” of Green himself; I have nothing against Green, but there is a slight generation gap between him and teenagers which make his “typical conversations” very improbable to the conversations high school students have.

I do not want people to get me wrong.  I appreciate this book.  In fact, I firmly believe there need to be more books written about cancers, diseases, and illnesses.  Unfortunately, many Young Adult authors write books with perfect characters, perfect worlds, and perfect situations when this is hardly the case in many teens’ lives.  Many teenagers struggle with a variety of imperfections, and Young Adult authors should strive to demonstrate the commonality that exists in their problems.  After all, reading unites us!  However, I think that The Fault in Our Stars, while it details the account of two children with cancer, fails to completely recognize that life isn’t always perfect.  I applaud Green for his attempt, and I encourage him and others to continue to write books to the younger generation that demonstrate the imperfections we all face.

Overall, this book is an average contemporary read for me.  It is probably not one that I will reread in the immediate future, but I will always appreciate it as it is the first novel that I have read about cancer.

My Rating:

★ ★★ 3/5 stars!

Recommendation:

I would recommend this book searching for a contemporary novel detailing illnesses.  I would not recommend this book to those wanting to read a beautiful love story as I feel like the relationship between Augustus and Hazel is more of a friendship.

Please note: I read this book in 2013.

3 months ago · 8 notes

Book Review: Path Unchosen

When eighteen-year-old Judy Hudson discovers she’s a necromancer and sees first-hand the pain her powers can cause the dead, she just wants to deny who she is. The zombie plague is long over. She wants to find a more normal life, but that’s a challenge when a beautiful otherworldly man, who claims to be her guardian, saves her life. Judy tries to set right the harm she inflicted on a spirit she raised, but new zombies attack—zombies raised from among the long-time dead. Someone else just like her is out there, and he’s not trying to set anything right. To save her own life, and protect the innocent inhabitants of the nearby town who’ve become her friends, Judy has to figure out who’s raising the dead and why. She must also learn to control the darkness inside her—a seductive darkness that promises her power beyond her wildest dreams.-Goodreads summary

Publication Date: October 3, 2013.

Order your copy now: Amazon

Favorite Quote from the Book:

“I would learn and understand this gift.  In time, I would love it.  I belonged here.  This was who I am.”

MY THOUGHTS:

Judge the Book by its Cover:

Not a typical YA cover; it’s different.  I enjoy the cemetery setting with the raven as it alludes to important features of the novel.  After reading the novel, I see the relations this cover has with the novel, and I appreciate authors and cover artists who spend time making covers like these possible.

Things that Made Me Happy:

The character Judy has the admirable quality of determination to do good deeds with her powers.  Despite being recently introduced to her abilities, Judy ceaselessly uses her knowledge (and discovers methods to use her powers) in order to benefit others.  She truly is a caring character and is admirable to the audience.

Things that Made Me Unhappy:

Sadly, many elements make my unhappy about this novel.  Initially, I was extremely excited about the genre; a post-apocalyptic zombie book with some magical elements sound extremely appealing to the reader.  However, the plot summary and publisher’s blurb is extremely misleading.  Yes, this book is a post-apocalyptic zombie book with magic, but it also has a middle age historical feeling combined with steampunk, urban fantasy, and romance elements.  In short, this book is a combination of too many genres.  Due to all these genres, none of them are properly treated in the novel; they are simply introduced and never fully explained so as to introduce more elements of various genres.  Indeed, this can be appealing to a reader, but it is unsatisfactory because none of these genres are treated with dignity and professionalism.  Rather, they are imitations of other books.  Honestly, this book has so much potential but it is hindered by involving too many other book genres.

Thus, the combination of all these genres make the world-building nonexistent and unbelievable.  For example, the apocalypse that created the zombies is stated in the novel, but it is not explained.  Readers are left questioning what exactly caused and happened in the apocalypse and how zombies are created from it.  If this initially would have been explained towards the beginning of the novel, I believe this would have substantially aided the world-building in the novel because the totally unbelievable magical, steampunk, and urban fantasy elements could have been explained rather than suddenly thrown in the plot line.  It’s disheartening because there is no explanation of any of these genre elements, especially the magical elements.  How are certain characters magical and others aren’t?  Is magic familiar in the world or do the sorcerers need to hide it?  When an author introduces these genre elements, especially fantasy, in novels, he or she wants to secure the world building which is something Cleary fails to do in this novel.  These are rather pertinent questions to the plot line which aren’t really answered which again leave the reader frustrated.

Of course, there is romance in this novel, and you guessed it!  There is also a love triangle.  I believe on page 46 of this 338 page novel, Judy expresses interest of one of these men ON THE FIRST DAY SHE MEETS HIM.  She knows nothing about the man; he just shows up when she wakes up, and suddenly Judy is recognizing his “gorgeous attributes” as he gives her this internal longing inside her body.  Give me a break.  Cut the hormones.  Not every teenager has THAT MUCH angst.  Additionally, the other man is presumably much older than her; from his description and actions, I assume he is in his late twenties or early thirties.  The romance and love triangle are just unnecessary and detract from the other genres.  Really, not every young adult novel needs to include romance or even a love triangle to be appreciated and adored by the audience.  Honestly, it is getting overdone and typically isn’t executed well.

One would think I am done with my negative feelings about this book, but I am not done!  Additionally, many elements of this plot are predictable and blatantly stated by Cleary throughout the novel.  When a plot twist occurs, the reader is not amused because this has been stated by the author previously.  One of the greatest pieces of advice that I have received regarding writing fiction is to “Show.  Don’t tell.”  In this novel, there is an abundance of telling and limited showing.  Since everything is rather predictable in this book, I frequently got bored and, again, this added to my frustration.  Overall, the predictability, overemphasis of every character’s “suspicion,” and the suspected plot twist make this book dull.       

Lastly, I believe the word “awkward” sufficiently describes the writing style of this book.  Frequently, actions and days would pass without any sort of hint that the scene is changing.  In other words, the transitions are weak and the sudden switch in settings lead to confusion.  For example, Judy’s sudden arrival in town when she is at home in the previous sentence leave readers questioning about the turn of events.  Likewise, the chapters’ endings are just as random in the novel, too.  Judy is eating, and the chapter ends; Judy is saving a friend, and the chapter ends.  The differing resolutions at the chapters just aggravate the readers.  Simply, there is no consistency with Cleary’s writing style whether its settings, dialogues, or chapters’ resolutions. 

My Rating:

★ ★  2/5 stars!

Recommendation:

I wouldn’t recommend this book as a high-priority TBR book for anyone; however, if you have a day to yourself, and you enjoy an eclectic novel and don’t mind inconsistencies, then read this book.  It’s not awful; it’s just not my favorite book.

*I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

3 months ago · 2 notes

Book Review: Too Fast

Twenty-year-old Savannah enjoys a one-time one-night stand because a real relationship would never fit into her busy schedule. Working two jobs and pursuing her degree takes all of her time. Besides, the guys she has dated haven’t been much better than the random barfly.

It’s a good thing Luke’s body is honed by the long hours of carpentry and construction because he carries the weight of his family on his shoulders. School hasn’t been an option for him since he dropped out to make the house payments his mother had failed to make.

Luke finds what he’s been longing for in a night with Savannah. She’s determined to stop with a one-night stand, but he wants more. Neither can deny the perfection of their passionate interludes, but with such imperfect lives, do they have any chance for a future together? Suddenly she’s losing her heart and it’s all happening much too fast.

Not recommended for readers under age 18 due to language and sexual content.-Goodreads summary

Publication Date: July 16, 2013.

Order your copy now: Amazon

Favorite Quote from the Book:

He stood, walked around the booth and pulled me to my feet.  ‘I love you too, Savannah.  So much.  And I know it’s fast.  Too fast, but so good.’  He pulled me against him, brushed my hair out of my face, and said, ‘Too damn good to stop now.’

MY THOUGHTS:

Judge the Book by its Cover:

To be honest the cover does not do this book any sort of justice; it makes the book look a trashy erotica novel.  I’m not a huge fan of this cover.

Things that Made Me Happy:

Well, this was officially my first New Adult novel, and I’m extremely pleased.  As a college student, I found this to be quite the perfect genre for me, as I sometimes find young adult books to be too immature and adult books tend to be irrelevant to my life.

First, I absolutely adored every character in this novel, particularly Savannah and Luke, our lovers.  I’m always hesitant when reading romance because 90% of the time the characters are cloaked with extreme desperation for love and acceptance, which make them look rather pathetic.  However, Savannah and Luke were some of the toughest and truthful romance characters that I have ever read.  They both have serious skeletons in their closets, which affected their daily lives, but they found comfort and solace in the other’s company.  When one was suffering, the other was supporting, which reflected a relationship’s idealistic qualities.  Moreover, the characters’ flaws made the relationship more believable.  No relationship is perfect!  Therefore, Savannah and Luke learned to confront their problems and remained true to the other.

As previously stated the relationship felt believable.  Savannah and Luke underwent a series of fortunate and unfortunate events that they confronted together; additionally, I experienced the heartwarming and heartbreaking moments with them.  While times got tense, Savannah and Luke were able to find the comfort within their relationship.  As this is how most healthy relationships work, I was extremely satisfied with these romance elements.

Overall, Too Fast was short and sweet but an impactful romance that offered beautiful glimpses into the powers of love, loss, and companionship.

Things that Made Me Unhappy:

Nothing!  I loved this book; it was such a surprise!

My Rating:

★★★★ 5/5 stars!

Recommendation:

I’d recommend this book to those who enjoy New Adult Contemporary Romance.

*This book was sent to me via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review!* 

8 months ago · 1 note

Book Review: Projection

When 13-year-old Gretchen Harris’s mother is murdered at Gretchen’s 8th Grade graduation party, everyone in the town of Delphi, California, suspects a power struggle within the Oculus Society: Delphi’s version of the Junior League.  Gretchen’s best friend, Jessica Shaw, might even hold the key to finding the culprit with The Plotinus Ability: the Oculus Society’s jealously guarded secret power to trade souls, which hinges on a kiss. Gretchen’s hope at finding the murderer ends in tragedy when Ariel Miller—the class outcast—stalks Gretchen and Jessica and surreptitiously films them exchanging a kiss to test if the Plotinus Ability is real, not knowing their motives. The ensuing YouTube video (“Popular Girls = Secret Lovers”) goes viral, Gretchen’s and Jessica’s lives are further shattered, and they vanish from Delphi.

Flash forward two years later: Ariel is suddenly the most popular junior in town, but wracked with guilt over what she did to Gretchen and Jessica.  When both girls reappear after their mysterious absence, Ariel finds herself pawn, suspect, and key player in their scheme to bring the murderer to justice.-Goodreads summary

Expected Publication Date: September 3, 2013.

Preorder your copy here: Amazon Barnes and Noble | BookDepository

Favorite Quote from the Book:

‘Our trust and our faith shall bring justice…This is the promise we solemnly keep.’

MY THOUGHTS:

Judge the Book by its Cover:

While I think the girl and overall design is beautiful, the book’s cover holds no relevance to the story.  In fact I believe that it is just a typical pretty YA cover designed with the intention to sell more books when it’s published.  It’s okay but not one of the best.

Things that Made Me Happy:

I absolutely loved how this book was told through dual plots: the ancient Romans’ invention and use of projection and the modern society’s continuation of projection.  Creatively, Green conceived this magical act of projection, the power to trade souls with another person, in the early Roman Empire.  While women were suppressed in this society, this power gave them a sense of sovereignty against the men’s oppressive authority.  Since then, women had secretly passed this power among generations, where it was found in the modern times of this book.  Still, women honored this power and found it was fundamental to their lives.  Both the ancient women and current women created a strong sense of female empowerment that made for a great read.

This book was full of many plot twists, which were unexpected by readers.  Combined with the tense mystery element, the plot’s zigzagged development constantly kept the audience on their toes in anticipation for what was to come. Nothing was predictable, which made for an overall entertaining read.

Wow, what a gripping ending.  Initially I was concerned within the last 50 pages because I felt that the novel would end unresolved; however, the novel quickly pieced together that created an intricate sub-plot story, which was entertaining and riveting. 

Things that Made Me Unhappy:

At times I felt that there were inconsistencies to the personalities of the characters, as if they were not fully developed.  While their development was not terrible, I believed that Green had the potential to create more three dimensional characters.  Considering this book was a mystery novel, implementing deeper well-developed characters would have further enhanced the mystery element and generated more suspicions.  Overall, their actions and mannerisms never fully created genuine characters, which was frustrating.

Lastly, Green overemphasized the true criminal.  Suddenly, all of his or her actions became suspicious, which aided in my belief that the people in this book sometimes acted out of character.  It was upsetting, as I was hoping for a more unsuspecting mystery.  While placing together the final pieces of the puzzle and capturing the criminal were fantastic, the suspect’s actions became increasingly annoying as they were too obvious and detracted from the mystery elements, which created more of a suspense novel.

My Rating:

★★★★4/5 stars!

Recommendation:

I’d recommend this book to those who enjoy simplistic young adult suspense and mystery novels.

*This book was sent to me via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review!* 

8 months ago · 0 notes

Book Review: Sweet

Witnessing a brutal murder at work is only the beginning of Celia’s problems. The fact that the victim is a vampire only proves to complicate her life even more. The vampires of New England have always had an undetected existence among humans but with the unprovoked death of one of their own, the lust for revenge has begun. Celia’s concerns are magnified when a hunter from Dallas arrives in town. With Jay’s sexy smile and rugged ways, Celia finds herself wanting to spend time with him despite being mysteriously linked to the nest that is threatening to become extinct if Jay gets his way. When four bodies are found drained of blood; Jay teams up with a local bunch to take out all the undead which coincidentally, includes her boyfriend Victor. Celia won’t stand seeing anything happen to Victor but refuses to hurt Jay as well. Confusion, lust, rage and violence intertwine as worlds collide. Celia will soon discover that her neat little existence is not what it seems as her cryptic past and present start to unravel.-Goodreads summary

Favorite Quote from the Book:

‘Anything gets tough, you push it away.  Anything that threatens your little bubble, you lash out ’cause that’s the only way you know how to handle it.’

MY THOUGHTS:

Judge the Book by its Cover:

I’m not the biggest fan of this cover.  In addition to the plot summary, I find it to be misleading.

Things that Made Me Happy:

Wilkerson wrote in a way that was easy to comprehend; her writing reflected a conversational tone, which made it a quick and easy read. 

The last 30 pages of the novel were tense, and I wanted to read to the book’s conclusion.

Things that Made Me Unhappy:

Oh, I hate when I struggle to find pros for a book but can assert numerous cons…well, here we go.

As mentioned, the writing style of this book was extremely rudimentary.  While it made this an easy read, I found there to be a complete disregard for basic grammar and mechanics.  Had these errors been contained to just the dialogue, I would not have felt quite so perturbed, as the conversation would reflect typical slang formatting.  Rather, the writing style, primarily in the non-dialogue passages, was too lackadaisical and unprofessional.  In fact every page of this book had at least one error, which made me, an English major, cry.  I could not believe that the publishing company had such a disregard for all of these mistakes.

Additionally, I was not a fan of any of the characters-both the ones that readers were supposed to like and the ones that the readers were supposed to dislike.  First, I found the main character, Celia, to be too much of an annoyance and quite contradictory.  Frequently, she snapped at other characters and created havoc.  However, at one point in the book she stated, “‘Believe me, I do not like drama.’”  I could not even take that line seriously because up until that point she had started every fight with her boyfriend, Victor, and other love interest, Jay, for ridiculous reasons, and believe me, there were many arguments.  Additionally, she treated men terribly.  All she ever stated about Victor and Jay pertained to their looks and how desperately she wanted to sleep with them, which made all the romance elements of this book to be laugh-worthy.  Speaking of romance, let’s focus on her boyfriend, Victor, as a character.  He was probably the guy your parents don’t want to meet.  He was manipulative and had to be the person in control at all times.  If there ever was a moment where he felt inferior, he disappeared-just like Celia (reference above quote).  He was detestable.  Equally repulsive was the love interest Jay.  Surprise, surprise, there was a love triangle in the book.  Jay mirrored every quality of Victor, which made Celia’s rash decisions to run to Jay every time Victor upset her completely bogus.  No rational person would surround himself or herself with an individual who was identical to his or her enemy.  Regardless, these three made a stereotypical love-triangle, which made readers either be Team Victor, Team Jay, or Team You Should Probably be Single because You Seem Slightly Unstable, Celia.  Why does this sound eerily familiar?

That’s right!  It sounds familiar because this plot has been executed many times: girl has guy; new guy comes into the equation; old guy and new guy are enemies; girl has feelings for new guy, while still leading on the old guy; girl chooses who we all know she will choose.  This book was just too much like every other post-Twilight and Twilight fanfiction that I have ever read.  I was disappointed because I appreciate an author’s boldness to step outside the boundaries and create a fantastical world, but that does not happen in Sweet.

My Rating:

★★2/5 stars!

Overall, this book was a disappointment.  I was anticipating a new vampire world only to be greeted by one that I have visited many times.

Recommendation:

I’d recommend this book to those who enjoy Twilight fanfiction.  I would not recommend this book to those who enjoy paranormal/vampire novels, as I feel this book would greatly aggravate you for its lack of originality.  

*Please note, I was provided this book from the author and publisher via Read it and Reap in exchange for an honest review.*

8 months ago · 2 notes

Book Review: The Book Thief

A New York Times bestseller for seven years running that’s coming to movie theaters on November 15, 2013, this Printz Honor book by the author of I Am the Messenger is an unforgettable tale about the ability of books to feed the soul.Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.-Goodreads summary

Favorite Quote from the Book (New Segment!):

I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn’t already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race-that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant.

MY THOUGHTS:

Judge the Book by its Cover:


For a long time I did not understand the significance of this cover. How is a stack of dominoes relevant to the story? After certain scenes from the book and much thought, I came to the conclusion that the game of dominoes serves as imagery for the overall plot. Think of the game: there’s a succession of domino cubes; with a slight nudge on one, the whole line begins to fall one after another. In my days of physics, my teacher would state Newton’s principle that “Every action has a subsequent action.” Boom. That’s The Book Thief for you. Regardless of how much good readers wish for the characters, World War II is beyond their control. They are forced to become domino pieces in the intricate design created by government, and like the game, they are destined to fall. What an awesome cover design by Zusak and his cover artist!

Things that Made Me Happy:

As an avid lover of historical fiction novels, especially those written about the World War II era, I am certainly displeased at how long it took me to read this book. Regardless, I read it, and I insanely love it.

Overall, the book bestows a variety of meaningful messages to its readers. The powers of love, friendship, family, and words are the most prevalent in this novel, as they are learned by the main character, Liesel Meminger, who is living in Nazi Germany during World War II. Her struggles, failures, and successes are felt by the readers because at some point in our lives, we have all been Liesel-lost, confused, and feeling trapped within limitations. Liesel finds comfort through these hardships in those around her and through reading/stealing books. These people and books leave withstanding impacts on her life, which teach her the importance of the aforementioned themes.

Liesel acquires this understanding within this 500+ pages novel in the most interesting tale that has readers laughing on one page and bawling on the next. Narrated by Death, Liesel’s story unfolds beginning with a timid young girl and ends with a mature knowledgeable woman. Death includes the various people, events, and objects, which impact Liesel. In short this novel is a coming-of-age story (in my opinion it is one of the best). However, Liesel’s character and the narration set this book apart from books with similar “maturation” plot lines. As mentioned, readers have been like Liesel at least once in their lives, feeling the pressures of peers, unwilling to conform to trends, not understanding the world around us, etc. Through Death’s narration, readers embody Liesel. This sets apart The Book Thief from other books.

Simply, this book encourages readers to think: on the surface one could think, “What would I do if I were in Liesel’s circumstance?” However, the more invested one gets in the story, he or she finds himself asking, “How do I respond to situations that call for me to fit a mold?” Moreover, this book transcends its 1930s-1940s plot and is has the ability to be relevant to modern times; to say that this book is a beautifully and artistically creation is an understatement.

I certainly could continue praising this book, but I must encourage you to read it for yourselves!

Things that Made Me Unhappy:

Nothing.

My Rating:

★★★★ 5/5 stars!

Recommendation:

Regardless of your age, genre preferences, etc., I highly encourage EVERYONE to read this book!

9 months ago · 5 notes

Book Review: The End Games

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It happened on Halloween.

The world ended.

And a dangerous Game brought it back to life.

Seventeen-year-old Michael and his five-year-old brother, Patrick, have been battling monsters in The Game for weeks.

In the rural mountains of West Virginia, armed with only their rifle and their love for each other, the brothers follow Instructions from the mysterious Game Master. They spend their days searching for survivors, their nights fighting endless hordes of “Bellows”—creatures that roam the dark, roaring for flesh. And at this Game, Michael and Patrick are very good.

But The Game is changing.

The Bellows are evolving.

The Game Master is leading Michael and Patrick to other survivors—survivors who don’t play by the rules.

And the brothers will never be the same.

T. Michael Martin’s debut novel is a transcendent thriller filled with electrifying action, searing emotional insight, and unexpected romance.-Goodreads summary

Judge the Book by its Cover:

  • In real life, the book cover is much darker, which makes the images extremely hard to see.  However, I quite enjoy the use of the dark reds and blacks.  These colors play an integral role in the overall plot, and I would like to think  that the cover artist did it on purpose.  Besides the coloring, the images of the two brothers and bellows are okay-not necessarily my favorites, but they, again, relate to the plot.

Things that Made Me Happy:

  • The book immediately jumps into the plot.  Quickly, I was swept into the apocalyptic world overrun by zombies that Martin created.  While he did instantly begin the plot, Martin provided ample “flashbacks,” which provided answers that readers may have concerning the world-building.  These moments never distracted from the main plot but provided ample explanations for the brothers’ current situation.  Overall, I enjoy this plot format that Martin exercised.
  • This book truly had some fantastic character development; I especially enjoyed the character development of Michael and Holly.  Throughout a majority of the book, I became increasingly annoyed with Michael.  I found him to be close-minded and never willing to accept the help from others.  Likewise, I felt pity for Holly.  She was a quiet girl, who I so desperately wanted to speak her mind because I sensed her potential as a character.  Simultaneously, these characters both realized their faults and attempted to work with them in order to create some goodness in this world.  Rarely, do readers see this kind of genuine character development.  I really enjoyed it. 
  • There were some hilarious pop culture references in this book.  The world that Martin created was bleak and depressing, so the little details of the boys sleeping in Pokemon sleeping bags and pretending like the war against the zombies was a Call of Duty game were lighthearted and deduced a lot of the book’s melancholy.

Things that Made Me Unhappy:

  • Within the first 100 pages there is a totally unsuspecting plot twist that completely destroyed the book for me.  Prior to this destructive plot twist, I enjoyed Martin’s concept; I found it to be unique and possessing an abundance of potential, which made me want to keep reading.  However, this plot twist shattered the unprecedented elements of this story and turned it into a typical “apocalyptic zombie story.”  Additionally, I felt that adding this twist was a last minute decision made my Martin and his publishing company because I found latter parts of this book to be full of inconsistencies as if that plot twist did not exist, which made the novel that much more frustrating.  Therefore, I found the rest of the book to be extremely dull, and completing the book was a huge struggle for me.  
  • In addition to the plot twist and the subsequent actions boring me, I had an inability to relate to any of characters.  While they did have some amazing development, I just could not connect with the characters and did not find myself really caring how their story ended.

My Rating:

★★★ 3/5 stars!

Recommendations:

I’d recommend this book to those who like young adult fictionscience fiction/apocalypticaction, and horror novels.

9 months ago · 2 notes

Book Review: Black City

A dark and tender post-apocalyptic love story set in the aftermath of a bloody war.

In a city where humans and Darklings are now separated by a high wall and tensions between the two races still simmer after a terrible war, sixteen-year-olds Ash Fisher, a half-blood Darkling, and Natalie Buchanan, a human and the daughter of the Emissary, meet and do the unthinkable—they fall in love. Bonded by a mysterious connection that causes Ash’s long-dormant heart to beat, Ash and Natalie first deny and then struggle to fight their forbidden feelings for each other, knowing if they’re caught, they’ll be executed—but their feelings are too strong.

When Ash and Natalie then find themselves at the center of a deadly conspiracy that threatens to pull the humans and Darklings back into war, they must make hard choices that could result in both their deaths.-Goodreads summary

Judge the Book by its Cover:

  • The book is a beautiful cover; however, it took me awhile to discern what exactly was on the cover-an exploding rose.  Gorgeous, but not explicitly in the story so it allows for artistic interpretation.  I like it!

Things that Made Me Happy:

  • The original parts of the plot are very good.  I enjoyed when Richards “broke from the mold.”  I found these parts of the novel to be the most exciting and most believable.  Honestly, I wish the author would have structured more of the story around her own ideas because they are great!
  • I’m a sucker for imagery that foreshadows future events, and Richards uses plenty of it.  Some YA authors can over emphasize these images, which detracts from the subtle hinting.  However, she implements these signs in such a nonchalant way that it made me excited to discover one.  While Richards’s foreshadowing indicated certain upcoming events, it never made the book predictable.
  • Great unsuspecting plot twists!  I can’t go into too much detail here because I don’t want to give away the book.
  • I enjoyed the depiction of the corrupt elements in the story.  Every character has a story which led to some very interesting and unsuspecting character development.
  • The latter half of the book is captivating.  I did not want to put down the book!

Things that Made Me Unhappy:

  • I found the beginning of the book to be very confusing.  Richards overly implements the writers’ adage “show don’t tell” in her story, which leads to an inablilty to connect with characters and the plot in the first hundred pages.  Some of the confusion eventually gets resolved, but a lot of information is left to the discretion of the reader.  For example, I know a Darkling is a vampire, but what are these other “races” of vampires and how do they correlate with the ones in this specific city?  From where do they come?  etc.  My confusion and continuous questioning leads me to believe that the world-building is sub-par.  It is not horrible but definitely not comparable to other books.
  • The definition of insta-love can be found between this book’s pages.  Romance in YA books is wonderful when it is done well.  However, Richards makes these characters fall in love within the first fifty pages.  It is ridiculous and horribly unbelievable.  The romance is literally forced.  Moreover, the “origin” of their love is so outrageous and does not give sufficient grounds for a serious relationship.  I mean really!?  Throughout the novel Natalie commented to her lover Ash that they really did not know each other.  Very true, Natalie, but why do you continually profess your love to him?  I would have enjoyed watching their relationship progress as they familiarize themselves with each other and believe this would have made the romance elements more realistic and less of a joke.
  • Too, too, too many elements from top YA books.  I really should have tallied how many references I found to The Hunger Games, Twilight, and Harry Potter.  I understand that authors can be inspired by other works, but it is important to make his or her own work as original as it can be.  This book heavily relies on these other books’ plots to constitute its own.  I am seriously in awe that this book has not received any trouble for its infringements on copyright laws.  Overall, the times when the author does steer away from these plots are the best.  Seriously, Richards you should have pursued your own story!

My Rating:

★★★ 3/5 stars!

Recommendations:

I’d recommend this book to those who like young adult fictiondystopiaparanormal (vampire), andromance novels.

10 months ago · 0 notes

Book Review: Cryer’s Cross

Cryer’s Cross is an extremely small town in Montana that is devastated when one of its very own teens goes missing.  After countless search parties, the victim is never found.  Kendall Fletcher was never best friends with the missing teen, but the crime terrorizes her OCD.  Suddenly, a second teen disappears, and this one is best friends with Kendall.  The anxiety terrorizes Kendall’s brain.  When she begins to find mysterious etchings on a desk and hear the voices of the victims, Kendall assumes she has finally become crazy.  The notes and voices start getting more intense, and Kendall must decide if she should act on her suspicions.  Soon, Kendall discovers that small towns contain large secrets.  To find out more about this book, click here.

"When it is over, we breathe and ache like old oak, like peeling birch. One of Our lost souls set free. We move, a chess piece in a dark room, cast-iron legs moving a centimeter at a time, crying out in silent carved graffiti. Calling to Our next victim, Our next savior. We carve on Our face:

Touch me.
Save my soul.

The protagonist, Kendall Fletcher, is relatable.  Like everyone, she has great dreams and aspirations and truly works hard at attaining her goals.  While she faces many difficulties, she manages to overcomes these battles and become a stronger individual.  

An additional character, Jacian Obregon, was a great companion to Kendall, especially during her roughest moments.  Watching their friendship blossom made me happy despite the tragedies occurring in Kendall’s life.  

Overall, the character development is wonderful.  I thought all the characters managed to develop but still remain true to their roots-okay, laugh out loud to that because the city, Cryer’s Cross, is a major farming city…roots…plants…you know?  Oh, I’m awfully unfunny.  

I enjoyed how unique and unpredictable this story is.  Definitely unlike any book that I have read in the Young Adult Fiction genre.

The plot progression was pleasing; it is never too fast or too slow.  Furthermore, There is never a dull moment in the story, which made me want to keep reading.  I read it in less than three hours!  

While the story is phenomenal, I did have a slight issue with the book.  This is difficult to explain without spoiling the book, so please bear with me!  Somehow, I felt like there is a lack of cohesion between the middle of the book and its ending.  To me it appeared as though the author wrote parts of the book at different times and forgot to unify them.  The ending is extremely dramatic, which is great, but I believed much of the drama is overemphasized at the ending.  Preferably, I wish the author had emphasized more friction in the middle of the book in order to correlate with its climactic ending.  Therefore, the story would have made more sense and would have really put me on the edge of the seat.

Overall, I’d give this book:

★★★★


4/5 stars!

Happy reading!

     The BookshelfBlogger, Katie

To read more book reviews and other book-related content, click here and follow my Tumblr!

10 months ago · 0 notes

Book Review: Red Riding Hood

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"Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf?"  Sarah Blakely-Cartwright presents a riveting fairy tale-retelling of the classic tale Little Red Riding Hood.  Valerie lives in the village of Daggorhorn, which is plagued by an evil werewolf.  Each full moon the villagers make a sacrificial offering to appease the wolf and create peace.  However, the werewolf wreaks havoc when it starts killing villagers at random.  Now, Valerie and her loved ones are in danger, but with the wolf’s identity unknown, no one can trust each other.  Therefore, is Valerie afraid of the big bad werewolf, and can she stop it?

“‘The Wolf lives right here.  In this village.’  He looked at the villagers.  ’Among you.  It is one of you.’

Starting at one end of the crowd, he met the eyes of every villager down the line.  The masked bowman scanned the throng alongside him, his crossbow slung across his back.

'The real killer could be your neighbor.  Your best friend.  Even your wife.'”

Upon discovering that this novel is based off the screenplay of the movie, which also happened to be directed by the ex-Twilight director, Catherine Hardwicke, I was extremely hesitant to read this book.  However, I am pleased with the book overall.  

The pacing of this book is phenomenal.  It is not too fast nor too slow.  The mystery element of the book contributes to this pacing and makes the audience desire to read the ending. I found myself engaged while reading and dreading having to put down the book. 

Quickly, I finished the book, but I was left in a daze.  A daze so great that I had to spend 48 hours comprehending what I just read, my thoughts, my feelings, etc.  To be honest, I still do not know how I 100% feel about this book.  First, the ending of the physical novel leaves readers with a “What the heck?” feeling.  Then, the actual ending, which is only available online, still leaves readers with a “What the FREAKING heck?” feeling.  Therefore, I am dumbfounded.

Yes, the ending is a surprise.  The solution to the mystery is completely unexpected, and I am pleased, but it was the actions of the protagonist, Valerie, that cause me to seriously think about this review.  At the beginning of the novel, she is wicked in the sense that she is not afraid explore or be herself.  Towards the end of the book, she is wicked in the sense that she is slightly cruel.  While I think some of her actions needed to be done, there are others that I find inconsistent to her character.  

I so badly want to give this book a perfect rating because beyond Valerie’s inconsistencies, the story is great.  It is a riveting mystery of the classic fairy tale.  Unfortunately, my issues result in giving this book a:

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4/5 stars!  It deserve them, but I wish that I could give this a perfect review!  UGH!

Happy reading!

     The BookshelfBlogger, Katie

*Please click here to be redirected to my blog’s homepage where you can find other book reviews and book-related content.  Additionally, you’ll find links to my Goodreads and Twitter!*

10 months ago · 0 notes