About Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

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Genre: Young-Adult, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal romance
Pages: 391
Series: Hush Hush #1 (4 book series)
Release Date: October 19, 2009
Publisher: Simon and Schuster BFYR

1 Star

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This doesn’t feel like a review to me. Maybe it’s because I only read 115 pages (give or take) or maybe it’s because I knew before I even finished the first chapter that I wouldn’t like it. But mainly it’s because the format I’ve chosen for this non-review is quite different from my usual.

Synopsis first, though. And I’ve chosen the one from GR, which I will later dissect.

Romance was not part of Nora Grey’s plan. She’s never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how hard her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch comes along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Patch draws Nora to him against her better judgment.
But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora’s not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is and seems to know more about her than her closest friends. She can’t decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.
For she is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen – and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost Nora her life.

For now, I’m just gonna leave the synopsis right there, and move to the first chapter.

It’s the month of April and Nora goes to school. In her biology class, her eccentric teacher decides to change the seating arrangement and Nora ends up with Patch next to her. It’s cliché but not worth more than an eye-roll.

The biology teacher starts the class off by asking then what science is. And I’ll admit that it’s been a few years since I’ve been to school, but in what universe does a junior biology class, in April, start with that question? Then we find out that it’s because science is about investigation and that means both students on each table must learn about each other, providing the perfect excuse for MC interaction. Cut to me questioning my life choices, because seriously? It’s biology! Biology don’t give a fuck about your hobbies!

But you know, this non-review is going to get very long so I won’t waste time. Next, Nora and Patch have a conversations. And it’s one of the most fucked up conversations I’ve ever had the displeasure of reading. For instance, this is the first thing Patch says to Nora:

“Call me Patch. I mean it. Call me.

Now, even if we ignore the creep-factor, this makes no fucking sense. Why would he say that? She just learnt his name, they’re in class, she doesn’t even have his phone number! This doesn’t even mean anything! And that’s just the beginning of the conversation. He then proceeds to tell her that he has a collection of her pictures. He also knows stuff about her that he shouldn’t. Like the fact that she writes poetry in secret and which colleges she’s considering. He also asks her if she sleeps naked. Then there’s this:

He hooked his fingers under the seat of my chair, dragging me closer to him. Not sure if I should scoot away and show fear, or do nothing and feign boredom, I choose the latter.

I-I can’t even find words other than, what the fuck is wrong with you, Nora?

Because throughout this whole thing, it never once occurs to her that he’s a creepy stalker and that maybe she should inform someone. It’s like she has no survival instinct. Or brain cells. And this was just the first meeting. Can you imagine how much worse things could get? I’ll try to give you some idea, but one more excerpt from the “meet-cute” before I do that.

“Are you suicidal, Nora?” His eyes connected with mine, and I could feel him laughing.

I don’t think words are necessary to elaborate what’s wrong with that. The next meeting is in a club or something. Similarly fucked up. No biggie. No, it’s when they met in class again that’s of note. Their teacher asks them to elaborate on the things they look for in a potential mate. Because see, they were studying reproduction. And reproduction isn’t any different from matchmaking class, right?

I swear to fucking God, shit like this made me wonder if the author’s ever been to school. It’s probably been a long time, though the maturity of her content does give me some doubts, but you can’t forget that much. You must still remember what kind of stuff you studied. Because you missed biology big time!

The “complexity of human attraction”? It’s like she’s just making shit up! I get that school isn’t usually given much importance beyond being a place the two protagonists meet, but can you at least try to not turn it into a complete joke?

Anyway… going forward from the topic of how much this book sucks, let’s talk about how much it sucks. Nora is a terrible protagonist. She has basically no spine, no brain and even though she thinks Patch is shady, she can’t help but be pulled toward him because of how good-looking he is. And I know not all books have a life lesson, but the least you could do is not tell people it’s okay if a guy is a potential psychopath as long as he’s also very hot.

Plus, the whole “pulled toward him” thing. Nora feels that he’s dangerous. She’s wary of him and might even be a little afraid. But the author shows all these things to be appealing. Just… NO! If you think a guy might really be dangerous and might actually harm you or someone else, that’s not exciting! Fear and danger are not good things! And they don’t mean that you like the guy! Jesus Christ, no wonder teenagers are fucked up, if this is what passes for romance!

*deep breaths*

Now that we’ve establishes that both Nora and Patch have issues and their dynamic is the farthest thing from healthy, let’s talk about Nora’s friend, Vee.

To put it simply, she’s a terrible fucking friend. For one, she doesn’t care about anything other than sex. And even in Nora’s rare moments of sanity, in which she acknowledges that Patch may not be a stellar guy, Vee encourages her to ignore her instinct because the guy is so hot, she just has to have sex with him. She even jokes about Patch stalking Nora because you know, a guy following you around all the time without your knowledge is absolutely fucking hilarious. Later on, Vee suggests that they break into the office that keeps records about students to find out more about Patch, and this happens:

“I called in a bomb threat from the pay phone outside,”

She called in a bomb threat to create a distraction! I could literally stab this girl to death and not feel an ounce of guilt, that how much I hate her.

And finally, to wrap things up, how about we go back to the synopsis? Nora’s never really been interested in guys at her school (it’s not as big a deal as the book wants us to believe) but her friend, Vee, still pushes them at her. Clear evidence of a sucky friend. Then Patch comes along (what kind of name is that, anyway?) and she’s pulled to him “against her better judgement”. Red alert!

But then some scary shit happens and Patch seems to always be around, knowing more about her “than her closest friends” (because he’s a fucking stalker). She’s not sure if she should, and I’m once again quoting here, “fall into his arms or run and hide”. Now sweetheart, if some part of you wants to run and hide, that probably means he’s not the kind of guy whose arms you want to fall in to! Not to mention, the whole ‘falling into a guy’s arms because you’re scared’ thing just set gender equality back about 50 years.

What I’m trying to say is, even the synopsis has red flags. And you can take that any way you want. Maybe it’s honesty, or maybe the crap is being hidden in plain site. I just felt like I needed to mention it even though it doesn’t change the fact that I fucking loathed this book — the parts I read, at least — and I highly suggest that you steer clear.

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Review: Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger

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Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 404
Series: Sky Fall #1
Release Date: March 5, 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse

Star

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What first drew me to this novel was the role reversal. Usually, in Urban YA fantasy, we have a girl who thinks she ordinary but then this mysterious guy comes into her life and tells that about the supernatural world. Now I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that. Just that it’s a norm.

In this novel, there’s a guy who thinks he’s a normal human being. His name is Vane Weston, he survived the tornado that killed his parents when he was just seven, and doesn’t remember life before that event. He thinks he’s perfectly normal. Then Audra, the girl who’s been haunting his dreams for as long as he can remember, shows up and tells him that he’s a sylph, an air elemental, someone who can communicate and command the wind. She also tells him that he’s a specific kind of sylph, a Westerly, and because he’s the last Westerly, an evil, power-hungry guy is hunting him down and will go to any length to get to him.

They only have a few days in which she must train him enough to survive. But that’s not the point. The point is that she’s the mysterious stranger who knows everything. And I love that. Gender swaps are so much fun.

Back to the plot. Bad guys are coming to get Vane, they have no backup because Audra’s bitch of a mother is a bitch who suggested that if all went wrong, Audra could just sacrifice herself to win the fight. Yeah, she suggested that her own daughter kill herself. Have I mentioned that Audra’s mother is a bitch? Her father was great but he died protecting Vane, and Audra’s taken it upon herself to protect him too, at all cost. The only way that cost won’t be her life is if Vane can learn something he doesn’t know.

You see, there are four kinds of sylphs for four kinds of winds. Each kind have their own language to control their wind. Anyone who knows all four will have a lot of power. The other three languages are known, but not Westerly. And only Vane, being a Westerly, can learn it and becoming very powerful. Or they’re screwed.

Great concept, isn’t it? I really liked it. And I loved how the world building was done because while it was just Audra explaining things to Vane, his reaction to everything was so authentic! And also quite sarcastic. It was almost like the author sat someone down and tried explaining the world to them, noting down what made the most sense to them. She did a really good job with the dialogue and the world and the characters. Especially Vane.

Imagine being told you’re not human and that you have powers.  The way the author wrote about him finding everything out, it felt real. Also, Vane is awesome. I really like this guy. He’s snarky, stubborn, caring, resilient and very relatable.

That’s not to say that Audra isn’t awesome. She’s just kind of broken as well. She blames herself for what happened to her father and Vane’s parents. She’s gotten no love from anyone since that storm and she’s spent years in isolation, caring about nothing but her duty. It’s not a good life and she’s so strong in dealing with it, but a person can only take so much. Vane and Audra are quite different but they’re both really good people and care about each other a lot. I loved them together. Their relationship hit all the right notes with me.

Overall, this is a great novel. It’s fascinating, fast paced, has great characters and a really sweet romance. I highly recommend checking it out.

Review: Frozen Tides by Morgan Rhodes

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Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy
Pages: 413
Series: Falling Kingdoms #4
Release Date: December 15, 2015
Publisher: Razorbill

4 Stars

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I’ve always known that this isn’t a very “good” series. I mean, it’s not a bad one, just one that you enjoy but don’t think too much about. It’s the kind of series that lacks grit, often glosses over details, has a lot of showing substituted with telling, and in which many convenient things conveniently happen. But that’s not always a bad thing. I always knew and accepted this series for what it was. But still, I was afraid that my opinion would have changed, and I’m glad to say that it hasn’t.

As for the reason I’m rewriting this review, it’s because writing stuff down helps me organise my thoughts. So let’s get started, shall we?

This book kicks off with Lucia having gone to the dark side and working with Kyan, the fire kindred. Cleo and Magnus are trying to deal with the fact that they lost the water kindred to Amara, the crazy, brother-killing, Kraeshian bitch, and Jonas is… I don’t really care. Probably trying to be rebel-y and failing.

Seriously, I don’t get why Jonas seems to be such a big deal. He is utterly incompetent. But, on a positive note, at least he tries to do the right thing. Does it change that fact that I was a better rebel at eight than he is currently? No, it doesn’t. But older (or younger) me seemed to have hope for him so I’m holding on to that. We still have two books left, maybe he’ll do something worthwhile. And maybe Lucia will stop being a spoiled brat who throw a mass-homicidal hissy-fit because her boyfriend died. Those two need help.

The two that don’t need help are Magnus and Cleo. Sure, their personal relations are complicated but they’ve grown quite a bit since the series started, especially Cleo. I like those two, and they’re my ship. Let’s just hope we can put Theon whatshisface to rest.

Let’s talk Theon. What is it with the importance given to him? He was basically created to die. I knew moments after he was introduced that he was going to die. But the author still keeps bringing him up! And don’t give me that Cleo-loved-him crap. She barely knew the guy and did not love him. I get that he was the main conflict between Cleo and Magnus, but the author needs to stop stretching him out. He was barely in a hundred pages and needs to be put to rest already. Though I have a feeling he won’t be.

And, on a related note (it’s related in a spoiler-y way), can someone punch Nic, please. I don’t remember whether I liked him in the previous three books but after this one (both times), I want him to got to hell.

Overall, this was a good book and I enjoyed it. I didn’t get my OMG moment but one came pretty close. I also have hope that I’ll get my squad. And I like that it feels like we’re building up to a climax. I’m interested to see what will happen next. This is turning out to be a good series, better than I expected when I read Falling Kingdoms.

Review: At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson

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Genre: Young-Adult, Contemporary, LGBT
Pages: 496
Series: None
Release Date: February 7, 2017
Publisher: Simon Pulse

Star

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You know how, when you read a high fantasy, you start off confused because you don’t know the world yet and then slowly, as you read, you find out more and more stuff and by the end, you familiar with everything (given that the book you’re reading doesn’t suck). Well, imagine that scenario, but the opposite.

Going into the novel, I though I had a fair idea of what I was getting myself into, a YA contemporary with featured a protagonist with a mental illness. After finishing, my reaction is on the lines of ‘What just happened?’.

The author left a lot for the reader to speculate and while a part of me likes that, I have so many questions. But synopsis first: The protagonist is Ozzie and his boyfriend has disappeared. Like, not run away or gone missing, but erased from existence. No one remembers him and all traces that there was ever a guy names Tommy have vanished. But Ozzie remembers him and he’s determined to find him. Even if everyone thinks he’s delusional and the universe is rapidly shrinking.

Yes, you read correctly. The universe is shrinking. At least according to Ozzie it is. But that’s not something I’m going to talk about. Just go with it, okay? This is a really good book with an increasingly intriguing plot. Of course, some might be bothered by the open-ended-ness of it and if you’re one of those people who like their fiction to be more concrete, I’d suggest avoiding this one. But if you like strange stuff, this is a good choice. Still, I wanna know at least one thing because I do kinda like concrete stuff.

It’s about Cal and Trent. Cal is the guy Ozzie teams up with to find his boyfriend and starts to like, despite not wanting to like him. Trent is a major douche. What I wanna know is what happened between the two of them. There’s history there and I there were hints that stuff happened, but I don’t know and it’s bothering me.

And I’m sorry to those who haven’t read the book to whom the above paragraph probably didn’t make sense. I just have questions. And, before I turn the review into even more of a mess than it already feels like, let’s talk characters.

We have Ozzie. Sarcastic, resilient Ozzie who can be a little self-absorbed but still cares deeply and is quite likable. We have Cal who is kind of broken. There’s Trent the douchebag and two of Ozzie’s friends, one of whom, Lua, is especially interesting. We also explore Ozzie’s relationship with his parents, who are getting a divorce, and his brother, who’s joining the army. Then, of course, there’s Tommy, the maybe-imaginary boyfriend. We get chapters of moments that Ozzie remembers between himself and Tommy. Safe to say, there are a lot of people in Ozzie’s complicated life and they’re all balanced really well.

Also, this isn’t a short book, but it doesn’t feel long because it pulls you in. There are many unexpected turns. You could even say that all the turns are unexpected. It’s really interesting, seeing what’s going on and trying to guess what will happen next.

Overall, I’ve already told you to whom I’d recommend the book. It’s a really good one and definitely worth checking out.

Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

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Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 384
Series: The Folk of the Air #1
Release Date: January 2, 2018
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers

4 Stars

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This one took me a while to get in to. But not in the way it usually takes me a while. This book wasn’t slow-paced or overcomplicated. We didn’t find info dumping and it was actually interesting and easy to get through. It took me a while to care. About the characters, mainly.

The book’s namesake, the “cruel prince” was kind of useless for most of the book. In fact, I’m pretty certain the book is only called that because of what Carden, that’s his name, represents to Jude, the protagonist. And you could say that Jude is the main reason I had problems.

She’s not a bad character; she’s very well-written, but not my kind of person. You know, the kind of person I could get behind or root for. The main reason for that is that she’s not yet the person she’s supposed to be. It’s easy to get mad at her for some of her really rash decisions. And it’s easy to dislike her for her flaws. I did dislike her for her flaws and bad decisions, despite coming to know the reasons behind everything.

Jude hasn’t had a good life. She was only seven when she and her sisters were taken away to faerie to live with the man who’d just killed both her parents. And while some people might find a way to overlook the nature of the court, she couldn’t ever forget the reality of her situation.

Faerie is terrifying place full of dangerous and deceitful creatures. A young mortal, despite the protection of her new “father”, is still susceptible to fae influence, and Jude spent a decade living in fear and helplessness. But she doesn’t want to escape faerie. She wants to fit into the world and she wants enough power that no one will ever be able to use her like a toy. After so many years in fear, she’s kind of… unraveling. The only solution in her mind is to become powerful by any means necessary. Which leads to some poor decisions.

She needs time to come into herself and we see characters development throughout the novel. And I have a feeling we’ll see a lot more in the upcoming books. But anyway, maybe because of her lack of likeability or maybe because of the setting-up-for-the-end-and-sequels nature of the novel, it wasn’t until the final third that I started to get excited about stuff.

Don’t get me wrong, I was still happy reading it. This is a well-written novel and the world is quite fascinating. I just wish that we’d gotten more deceit and cleverness. But so much setting-up was to be done that we didn’t get truly involved in faerie until near the end. And then the book ended, which was a total bummer because I was really liking it. All the different aspects that’d been set up were coming together, I was getting more into the story and the characters and now I have to wait a year (maybe more) for the sequel. *frowny face*

As a whole, this was a good book and I have a very good feeling about the rest of the series. I’m excited to know what will come next and, even though I didn’t like it as much as I’d hoped, this was still a good read.

Review: The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson

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Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT
Pages: 297
Series: None
Release Date: January 20, 2015
Publisher: Simon Pulse

4 Stars

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Andrew Brawley lives in a hospital. Ever since his family died in a car crash a few months ago, he’s told himself that he will never leave the hospital, just like they never did. He’s adamant that he’ll wait for death. The authorities are looking for him but he’s good at hiding. He has friends and a job, he’s fine.

Then another boy comes in, Rusty, who’s suffered a great trauma, and things change for him. Now there’s a new person in Andrew’s life who he’s pulled toward. Andrew wants to help Rusty. And in the process, he finds himself opening up about things that he’s kept locked up ever since his life turned upside down. They feel a kinship, these two kids who are both afraid of the outside world. Andrew because of his guilt and his belief that he doesn’t deserve to live. And Rusty because of the pain the outside world holds.

This is a sad book. Andrew is shoving down so many things. And, in his mind, he’s made up reasons for why he’s doing what he’s doing. At first, you’re confused at what’s going on with him. Then, as you get to know him and what happened to him, you understand his feelings and his methods of coping.

And while Rusty seems like a very important part of the novel, and he is, he’s not the only important part. Rusty is going through his own problems and he matters to Drew. But we also have Drew’s two friends who live in the pediatric ward. We have Drew’s boss in the cafeteria and three ER nurses who he’s befriended. They all play an important part in Drew’s life and they’re all developed well. Usually, with quite a few character, you find yourself mixing them up but here, it didn’t happen even once. And I liked all of them too. I cared about them and what they meant to Andrew.

The story pulls you in through its characters. I do think that, at one point, the book became too sad. Like, you’re supposed to build up to the big, bad moments. But when it’s one after the other without much ceremony, it’s not as effective. And I feel like the author started slacking a little toward the end. The emotional punches stopped landing. Also, I’m just not sure how I feel about the ending.

I liked this novel. I thought it was well-written, easy to get through and with really good characters. But toward the end, things went a little wrong. Maybe it was rushed… I think it might have been. But overall, a good book.

Review: Unwind by Neal Shusterman

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Genre: Young-Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia
Pages: 335
Series: Unwind #1
Release Date: November 6, 2007
Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers

Star

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After Scythe and Thunderhead, I knew that I had to read more by Neal Shusterman. And I’ve heard so many great things about Unwind, which got me even more excited. Then I found out that you can read it for free on Riveted (until 29th January) so my definitely-reading-soon plan changed to definitely-reading-right-now. And I’m very glad for that.

Unwind is a much darker story than Scythe. It’s very much not set in a perfect world. Any parent can donate/sell/throw away their child, as long as he’s between the age of 13 to 18. But not in a simple way, no. Those kids are taken to harvest centers and every single part of their body is transplanted to another individual. And it’s all legal. Hell, it’s not even frowned upon that people are killing children! Of course, they don’t call it “killing” (such a bad word, isn’t it?), they call it ‘unwinding’. They claim that the individual is still alive, simply in a divided state.

At first, I was shocked. I mean, how can something like this happen? But the more you read the book and learn of the situation, the more plausible it seems that people could actually do this. The process of unwinding is the consequence of a war. And there are so many benefits that most people are happy to look the other way.

We have three protagonists. All unwinds. Connor is a troubled teen whose parents gave him up. Risa is a ward of the state and is being unwound because of budget cuts, and Lev is a Tithe. Now, Tithes are special. They’re raised to the age of thirteen for the sole purpose of unwinding. They’re told their whole life that they’re serving a higher purpose. It’s really fucking messed up and, with Lev, you see how it’s affected him to the point that he’s proud to be unwound.

Connor, Risa and Lev are all on the run. They need a safe place to lay low till they reach eighteen, which is not gonna be easy. They’re kids who can’t ask anyone help because that person is likely to turn them in. They don’t have resources or connections. All they can do is keep moving.

I liked all three characters. Connor is the problem child. He’s impulsive, has a quick temper and has a tendency to get himself in trouble. Risa is smarter and she helps Connor to try using his head instead of just jumping into things. Lev is complicated. He’s angry at Connor and Risa for taking him away from his execution, he’s confused by the events that lead up that point, he’s proud of his status as a Tithe, he’s unsure of what to do, but, most importantly, he’s a thirteen-year-old, who’s been brainwashed and has not clue what to do.

His journey was the sad to read. And that’s what this book is, everyone’s journey. It’s a pretty straight-forward plot set in a messed up, broken world. Three teenagers trying to survive. Of course, we meet other kids. One is Cy-Fy. Even though I can’t say anything about him, I had to mention him because his story was the most touching.

Despite the “simple” plot, there are a lot of things going on, the pace is fast, and there’s lots of emotion. If there’s one small thing I have, to complain about (and it’s not really a complaint, per se), it’s that I would’ve liked to know more about what lead to the passing of a bill which dictated that you could unwind your ward. Like, we know the basics but I wanted more depth to it. How could people agree to this? I’m hoping we’ll get more insight in the sequels, which I will most certainly be reading. As for this one, I highly recommend reading it.