Review: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

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Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal
Pages: 390
Series: The Wolves of Mercy Falls #1
Release Date: August 1, 2009
Publisher: Scholastic

2 Stars

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Almost everyone I told about my intention to read this novel told me that it wasn’t good and that I wouldn’t like it. Which, of course, just made me want to read it more because a) I wanted to find out what was so bad, and b) I was hoping that I’d like it anyway.

Alas, all my hopes were crushed when I found myself not liking the book at all. In fact, by the time I got halfway, I was tired and just wanted to stop reading. But I also wanted to write a proper review so I dragged myself forward (you’re welcome) and I almost made it, except I didn’t. Got eighty percent through and then stopped because I couldn’t take it anymore. There was no plot!

Shiver is set in Mercy Falls (*cough* Vampire Diaries *cough*) and is told from the perspectives of two teenagers. One is Grace, a girl who’s obsessed with the wolves that live in the woods behind her house, especially one in particular. The other is Sam, who is said wolf, for a majority of the year anyway. He becomes a boy in the summer because that’s the only time it’s warm enough. Grace and Sam meet and have a nauseating romance. But there’s an obstacle between them and a happily ever after; with every year Sam becomes human for less and less time. Sooner rather than later, he will become a wolf permanently, unless he and Grace can find a way to help him.

Now, you might be thinking that I just wrote a perfectly okay plot even though I’d said there wasn’t one, and I’ll have you know that I meant the state of having a plot relatively. You can only spend so much time thinking (but not doing anything) about Sam’s eventual transformation into a wolf.

Still, every once in a while, you’d think that we were getting a proper story. There was a subplot with a student that got bit, the said student’s sister, and one with a senior member of Sam’s pack, Beck. But none of these things actively affected the protagonists. There was one subplot with a female wolf that did concern them, but it was shoved under the rug because Maggie Stiefvater has yet to master the art of creating tension. We’d be so close to getting something exciting, only to return to our regularly scheduled neglectful parents and gush-fest.

Speaking of the gush-fest. Usually, I’m totally in for a romance with adorable scenes. I love romances. But this was a very prime example of insta-love, if I ever saw one. Grace and Sam shared a mutual obsession with each other (human and wolf); they met, instant connection, and the next think you know, they’re making out and having sleepovers. Twilight had a slower burning romance, for God’s sake.

So thanks to the non-existent development of the relationship, I didn’t give two shits about it. On top of that, they were vomit-inducing even by romance novel standards. The writing was okay but the book was very boring due to the ‘no plot’ situation.

Before I wrap up, telling you not to read this novel, I have one last thing to say. For the longest time, I kept wondering why the wolves didn’t just move to a warmer place. Then I read in a review that there’s a reason for it, which helped me read on. So if you decide to read the book and find yourself annoyed by their inability to see an obvious solution, you will get a reason. Doesn’t mean you should read the book though. That said, I didn’t listen to anyone so I can hardly expect someone else to. For that, good luck!

Review: Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

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Genre: Young-Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 273
Series: None
Release Date: June 6, 2017
Publisher: Knopf Books

2 Stars

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Majorly unpopular opinion ahead!

From what I’ve heard, it seems that everyone and their mother is in love with this book. It’s so bad (or good; for the book) that while reading, I was constantly wondering if I was somehow reading the wrong book, or maybe just not reading it the right way. I even took a little break to watch some vlogbrothers videos (recent obsession) hoping that they would put me in a good mood and I’d start liking the novel.

The good mood thing worked. But did I start to like the book? Check the rating I’ve given.

I just couldn’t, for the life of me, get over how stupid it was. The protagonist, Rachel, was leaving town with her family. Before she left, she confessed her feelings to her best friend in a letter that she left in his favourite book. For the next few months, Henry wrote her tons of emails and letters, all of which she basically ignored because he didn’t mention Rachel’s letter and what she wrote. She didn’t ask him about the letter herself, just ignored him. And in three years, never once did it occur to her that maybe he didn’t get the fucking letter!

And now that she’s come back (three years later), she’s still mad at him while also trying to cope with the death her brother which occurred ten months ago. Henry just got dumped by his bitch of a girlfriend so he’s very busy pining after her. In all that, the only interesting subplot is that Henry’s family owns a used book store which, due to lack of profits, they might have to sell. Both Henry and Rachel work at the store.

There’s another subplot with Henry’s sister and an anonymous guy she exchanges letters with via the Letter Library in the book store. They’re supposedly falling in love via the letters and there’s this other guy who likes her but she treats him horribly because of the letter dude. With all these storylines, the grieving, the misunderstanding, the romance, the other romance, the two love-triangles, and the store, it’s no wonder that the author didn’t manage to give any of them the attention they needed. It’s a huge mess that I couldn’t wait to be done with.

Also, Henry is a complete and utter moron. From the start of his relationship with Amy (the ex), she only ever came to him when she didn’t have some “better” guy to go to. Then she dumped him and immediately hooked up with someone else. She also humiliated him and never once showed that she cared about him.

It was like (and I can’t not make this comparison) Pip and Estella. Except that Pip had a deeper reason for wanting Estella whereas Henry was just a moron who would not get it. I wanted to hit him on the head. With a brick.

But moving on from the stupid plot and the stupider characters, I didn’t like the writing. There were a few quotable lines which made me think that it was good but the prose had little emotion and next to no imagery. I couldn’t picture anything playing out in my head, nor did I feel a connection to anyone so the entire plot with Rachel’s brother was wasted on me because I couldn’t bring myself to care about either of them; and that’s if it had been done well, which I didn’t think it was.

Overall, hugely disappointed with this novel. It wasn’t even one I was planning to read, not until I saw the rave reviews. If there was one thing I liked, it was the letters that were sprinkled throughout the novel. And like I said, a few quotable lines were there. But other than that, I’m just glad it’s over. Do not recommend.
P.S. It was also very, very predictable.

Review: The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

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Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 452
Series: None
Release Date: March 7, 2017
Publisher: Clarion Books

3.5 Stars

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I’m going to kick this off by saying that I haven’t read Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. It’s sitting on my shelf and I still want to read, but after this book, I’m less certain that I’ll like it as much as most people did.

This book tells the story of Sal, who’s being raised by a single, gay, adoptive father. He’s probably the best father anyone could ask for and has raised Sal to be really nice guy. But lately, Sal has been feeling some not-nice things that have made him wonder if he’s more like his birth father (who he’s never met). Sal has two friends, both of whom are going through a tough time with their families.

And that’s all there is to it. It’s about Sal’s family, his best friend Samantha’s family, and his other friend, Fito’s, family. And the writing style is not my favourite.

It’s simple prose. It used small sentences, and it states things. There are few other punctuations. Except full-stops, and commas, and maybe conjunctions. That makes feeling emotions difficult. It’s hard to immerse yourself in the story, and in the characters. You don’t feel much connection to them.

And yes, that was a sample, with me using small sentences. You might notice that it comes off as a little stilted. A combination of this prose and the chosen format of very short chapters, meant that it took me forever to actually care about anyone, or anything that was happening. I’d gotten halfway and I was still having trouble getting into the book. All of this was definitely not helped by the lack of emotion in the writing and the lack of an overarching storyline. For example, there’s a paragraph in the book:

Books make sense. People don’t. You know, like life. All these things happen, and they’re not connected. I mean, they are and they’re not, and it’s not as if my life or your life—it’s not as if our lives have this plot, you know?

When I read this, I couldn’t help but think that Sal would be very satisfied to know that his book was exactly like real life because it didn’t have a plot either. But not because stuff didn’t happen. A lot of things did, only the writing didn’t put much weight on them so it felt like nothing was happening.

While having said all of that, this is not a bad book. The writing style didn’t work that well for me but it might for other people. And I actually enjoyed the last 200 pages. I finally got used to the way things were going to be. This is a novel that wants to show real life, where things just happen and there’s not definite plot. It’s also a coming-of-age story for both Sal and Sam, maybe even Fito a little bit. It’s a good story. I just wish it had been presented in a more lively manner so that maybe I could have enjoyed it.

The characters, which the book relies heavily on, were okay. Sal is mostly neutral and I don’t have much to say about him. Fito, I liked. I liked his arc too. Sal’s dad was great. Sam, I didn’t like. In the beginning, I found her to be judgemental and meddlesome. Not to mention, pushy. She grew up a lot in the novel but she never truly grew on me.

Overall, this is a book for lovers of contemporary and people who don’t mind mellow reads. I love contemporaries but I found it to be a bit dull. I think, had I been aware of what I was going into beforehand, I might have enjoyed it more. So if you’re someone who loves action and excitement and adventure, if you’re not good with a slow pace, then I don’t think this is one for you. It’s also too nice, something that bothered me. There’s a scene about how drug addition is a disease and you shouldn’t judge people for it, and it irked me because it’s also a choice and if someone’s parent choses that addiction over them, then they get to be judged.

So yeah, beautiful thought behind it and a lot of characters development. But also too nice and kinda boring. If that’s something you might like, got for it.

Review: Missing by Kelley Armstrong

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Genre: Young-Adult, Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 384
Series: None
Release Date: April 18, 2017
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers

5 Stars

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Okay, what is with all the unenthusiastic reviews of this book. I fucking loved it and it’s making no sense to me that more people didn’t feel the same way. And did you know there are actually people who didn’t like the protagonist? Winter was one of the best protagonists young adult fiction has ever seen; how could anyone not like her?!

But you know what, I’m going to try suppressing my bafflement for the reception that this novel has received and just write the review.

Out main girl, Winter Crane, lives in Reeve’s End, a town with nothing to offer but abandoned mines and empty futures. Everyone who wants a life, leaves and never looks back. Winter’s sister did it and Winter plans to do the same. Then she finds out that one of her friends who left town recently has gone missing and it leads her to wonder if maybe not all the people who’ve left actually left. Maybe some of them went missing.

And you might wonder, why didn’t anyone notice kids going missing? What’s the police doing? The answer is that it’s normal for the kids who leave to want nothing to do with the town. And the sheriff’s department is fucking useless. It’s basically a family run business and no one does shit.

So if Winter wants to find her friend and know more about the rest of the kids, then she’s gonna have to do it all on her own. Well, she has one partner. Jude, whose brother’s missing. Together, Winter and Jude make a brilliant fucking team. They’ve both got their own set of skills that contributes to the investigation and they’re both really fucking smart, and brave. The two of them worked so well together. A truly dynamic duo, if I ever saw one. And yes, there’s a romantic arc.

In the beginning I thought the romance would be with Lennon, the missing brother, but it wasn’t. Kelley Armstrong has done the brother switch twice now but she just sells it so well that you find yourself rooting for the canon ship.

Another thing Kelley Armstrong excels at? The setting and tone. The isolated town with the unhelpful people, surrounded by woods with feral dogs, and a serial killer stalking you and leaving mutilated animal treats for you to find. It was so creepy and I loved it. Kelley Armstrong’s prose is so good and flows so well. There was not a single dull moment, I was riveted throughout the whole thing.

I highly urge you to give this book a shot. Don’t let other people tell you it’s not great. Though, to be fair, if so many people were underwhelmed, there’s a chance you might be as well. Still, try it. This author, for me, really stands out when it comes to YA. I loved her Darkest Powers series and I love this book as well. I should really read more stuff by her…

Review: Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

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Genre: Young-Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 391
Series: None
Release Date: April 4, 2017
Publisher: Simon Pulse

4 Stars

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I wanted something adorable and I got it.

Alex, Approximately follows Bailey “Mink” Rydell, a classic movie buff who’s spent months crushing on a fellow film geek she only knows online, who goes by Alex. They both live on opposite coasts until Bailey moves into Alex’s town to live with her father. But she doesn’t tell Alex about it, or about Porter Roth, her new archnemesis-turned-maybe-something-more. What she doesn’t know is that Porter is Alex.

And while you might think that finding Alex’s identity would be a huge plot point, it’s really not. In the beginning, Bailey is very eager to find him but then their online communications start to dwindle as they both get busy in their offline lives and the book starts to focus more on the Bailey-Porter relationship, which is adorable.

The two of them are so great together. They didn’t get along at the very beginning; Porter can be quite outspoken and likes to tease and stuff, while Bailey is reserved and a self-proclaimed evader. (Tangent: I wasn’t sure if I would like Bailey because people who run from their problems get on my last nerve. But Bailey simply prefers not to be in awkward situations, and when things really matter, she doesn’t falter.) Despite the initial clashing of personalities though, as Bailey and Porter get to know each other, they start to get along. Their romantic journey is very well done.

The writing was good, though a bit heavy on the mundane details sometimes. I had a slight issue with the pace in the beginning but it was perfectly fine afterwards. And while some might not be happy about the Porter-Alex revelation being right in the synopsis, I think the author made the right choice. It would have been quite easy to guess, and this way, we got to observe the similarities between Alex and Porter.

I do wish that Bailey would have figured it out about Porter being Alex because at one point, she had all the facts. But I guess she wasn’t looking for him in Porter. Makes sense.

The ending was beautifully done and I loved it. There was like a 30-40 page section near the ending which has a misunderstanding that I found to be a little silly, but even that made a lot of sense when explained. Overall, I really enjoyed this novel and I highly recommend checking it out.

Review: Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith

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Genre: Young-Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 418
Series: None
Release Date: May 2, 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Press

3 Stars

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Alice is in love with her best friend, Teddy. For his birthday, she buys him a lottery ticket even though she doesn’t have any hope of him actually winning. She’s doesn’t believe in good luck, not after losing both her parents, one soon after the other, ten years ago. Then Teddy does win the lottery and he’s ecstatic. But as much as Alice should be happy for him, she wonders if winning the lottery may be some kind of curse instead of a gift.

Why does she think that? Because she’s a bit of a douchebag.

You see, Alice doesn’t like change (understandable). So even though winning the lottery will help Teddy and his mom out of their severe financial problems, all she’s think is, what if Teddy grows apart from me? That’s why she regrets buying the ticket. Which is such a douchy thing to think. If she loves him, she should be happy for him.

Except there’s one thing she loves more tha Teddy, and that is feeling sorry for herself. Seriously, it’s a constant thing where she absolutely refuses to be happy. I get that she lost her parents, but she still lives with her aunt, uncle and cousin, who treat her like family. She has no other problems in her life and she appreciates none of that. She also gets very judgemental of other people and has a superiority complex because she’s has such a hard life and she’s better than everyone else because she volunteers for charity work.

I’m sorry, but since when is the purpose of charity lording it over other people? Oh wait, it’s not!

Ugh, it was beyond annoying to have to read from her, very dull, perspective and see her give Teddy shit over how he was spending the cash. I will admit that Teddy let it get to his head for a while but honestly, give the kid a break, Alice! For someone who’s in love with the guy, you sure do think very little of him. Stop getting so fucking judgemental over what he’s doing, especially since the guy offered you half the money and you refused!

Alice wouldn’t to take the money because she wasn’t sure she could handle it well, but when Teddy spent it, she got all superior and I’m-a-better-person-than-you-are, constantly telling him what to do with it. She (supposedly) loved him but didn’t think he was good enough for her. Man, I hated her.

I didn’t much care for Teddy either. He made stupid decisions, about the money, and romantically. The only character I liked was Alice’s cousin Leo, who didn’t have a very big role. Most of the book was boring and I just wanted it to fucking end!

That is, until, the last 100 (or less) pages. That was when shit finally started to move on. Alice became a lot more bearable (though her superiority complex was never addressed), Teddy got his head out of his ass. He actually turned out to be a really good guy who just need time to get the hand of things. I started to like him a lot more. Both of them discovered some things about themselves, figured out what they wanted. There was many cute moments, Leo got a small arc, and the ending was really great. Had I reviews the novel immediately after reading, this would have been a lot happier, three-star review, because I was still in the moment at the time. It was really good.

Overall, a slow, kinda predictable, and kinda boring book which has a great ending. I can’t really say if it’s worth reading the un-fun chunk to get to the good part. That’s up to you.

Review: The Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

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Genre: Young-Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 320
Series: Daughter of the Pirate King #1 (Duology)
Release Date: February 28, 2017
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

3 Stars

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Alosa is the daughter of the pirate king (hence, the name) and she’s on a mission for her father to locate a third of a map that, when complete, will lead to an island of untold riches stolen by sirens. To get the map, she has to pretend to be a captive on an ship so that she has time to search it. Only, her captor is the annoyingly perceptive, clever and quite good-looking first mate of the ship.

But fear not! Alosa won’t let him stop her. She is, after all, the daughter of the pirate king, trained by the king himself and adept at everything. She clever and skilled and can do anything. She’s one of the best pirates to ever exist. Except that she’s not. She’s skilled, I’ll give her that, and she has her smart moments, but her “awesomeness’ is blown up. I can’t help but think that the author had Celaena Sardothian in mind when she wrote Alosa. And for most people, that wouldn’t be a problem. But that fact that I fucking hate Sardothian, a feeling made worse because everyone (Sarah J. Maas most of all) is fucking obsessed with her, puts a damper on things.

Thankfully, the author takes a more humourous approach with Alosa and I actually like her. It’s not her fault that things just keep conveniently happening to her liking.

Besides, and I’m about to give some very important advice here, this is not a novel to be taken too seriously. It has a simple prose, it’s fairly short and well-paced. Both Alosa and Riden are likable character (Riden more than Alosa). It’s written to be an entertaining read with some silliness. I wish someone had given me this advice and maybe I wouldn’t have spent the first half of the novel royally pissed off at how ridiculous some things were.

The romance was initially a problem because it started right in the first chapter with her meeting the attractive first mate who’s a good shot. It made me roll my eyes at the obviousness. But it got quite good after that. Alosa and Riden have chemistry and I loved their banter.

Still, up to the 75% point, I was iffy about how much I liked it and whether I would read the sequel. But the last quarter was quite good and I liked the direction the story took. I liked how the book ended as well, and I’m interested to see where it will go. Also, since I now know not to take it too seriously, I’ll enjoy it more. And, it’s a duology! I love duologies!

Overall, this is a fun book that can be tiny bit annoying and silly, but is still a fun read and the addition of pirates is great. The sirens aren’t well-explained and I think the fantasy and world building could use some work, but it’s still worth checking out.