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: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

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Genre: Science Fiction, Humor
Pages: 216
Series: Hitchhiker’s Guide of the Galaxy #1 (Out of 5 or 6)
Release Date: October 12, 1979
Publisher: Del Rey Books 

5 Stars

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If I ever made a list of the weirdest books I’ve read, this would definitely be number one. This book is absolutely bizarre, really funny and so freaking random!

Like seriously, one minute two people are having a normal conversation (as normal as a conversation can get in this weird-ass book) and the next, a teeny-tiny, alien army is being swallowed by an unsuspecting dog, and you’re sitting there thinking, Where the fuck did that even come from?

The synopsis itself is pretty straight-forward. Ford Prefect is an alien who’s been stranded on Earth for fifteen years. He’s a researcher for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and has been posing as an out-of-work actor. Right before the earth is demolished to make a galactic freeway, Ford and his friend, Arthur Dent (a human), hitchhike onto one of the ships destroying the planet. Then they’re on a journey through space.

Okay so, not that simple a synopsis after all. And you know what, just for the sake of making it more complicated, I’m gonna let you in on two of Ford and Arthur’s companions, that they meet later one. One is Zaphod Beeblebrox, the two-headed president of the galaxy who’s equal parts genius and stupid; weirdest character in the book. The other is Marvin, a depressed robot; best character in the book.

Now, that you’ve been properly introduced, I think I should tell you that for half the book, I wasn’t even sure if I loved it or hated it. The reason I found myself kinda hating it is because of how many made-up nouns there were. I love words but I prefer them to make sense. So when I encountered things like this:

Over the back of a silver spoon float a measure of Qualactin Hypermint extract, redolent of all the heady odors of the dark Qualactin Zones, subtle, sweet and mystic.

What was I supposed to make of that?! But then we got brilliant things like a fish that proved that God didn’t exist and the perfection that is Marvin. Seriously, I fucking love Marvin. He’s hilarious, but also makes you kinda sad because he’s sad and you wish someone would help him; but no one’s got the time between all the constant about-to-die situations, and how do you help a depressed robot anyway? Do you rewrite his code, or do you give him a hug or try to make him happy? Can you even change his programming? And if he’s programmed to dislike everything then wouldn’t all your other efforts be useless? What can you do?!

Anyway… this novel is total genius but it might give you a hard time with the made-up words. You get used to those though and then it’s a hell of a ride. I loved this novel and I think everyone should at least try it. If it’s not your cup of tea, that’s fine. But it’s something very unique that you shouldn’t pass over completely.

New Releases: August, 2017

Second New Releases post in a row! Yes! In the recent months, I’ve been terrible with all things non-review-y. But I’m trying to get at least the new releases done. I’ve linked the GR page to the covers. Let’s get started.

 

25876985Just Friends by Tiffany Pitcock – 1st

Jenny meets Chance for the very first time when she is assigned as his partner in their Junior Oral Communications class. But after they rescue a doomed assignment with one clever lie, the whole school is suddenly convinced the two of them have been best friends forever. Then the lies start to build and through it all, they hold on to the fact that they are “just friends”. But that might be the biggest lie of all.

 

32972153Secondborn by Amy A. Bartol – 1st

The second child in every family is taken by the government and forced into servitude. Roselle St. Sismode’s eighteenth birthday arrives with harsh realizations: she’s to become a soldier during the bloodiest rebellion in history. Then her decision to spare an enemy on the battlefield marks her as a traitor to the state. But Roselle finds an ally—and more—in fellow secondborn conscript Hawthorne Trugrave. Can Roselle create her own destiny?

 

32333246Shimmer and Burn by Mary Taranta – 8th

When her sister is caught trying to flee the kingdom and is sold into slavery, Faris reluctantly binds herself to the power-hungry Princess Bryn, who wants to steal her father’s throne. Now Faris must smuggle stolen magic into neighboring Avinea to incite its prince to alliance. She and Bryn turn to a handsome traveling magician, North. And as Bryn blackmails Faris into doing her bidding, Faris finds herself falling for North and developing schemes of her own.

 

26309792The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones – 8th 

When Dee Moreno makes a deal with a demon—her heart in exchange for an escape from a disastrous home life—she finds the trade may have been more than she bargained for. With reality turned on its head, Dee has only a group of other deal-making teens to keep her grounded, including the charming but secretive James Lancer. And soon Dee begins to wonder: Can she give someone her heart when it’s no longer hers to give?

 

32051720Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana Popović – 15th

All the women in Iris and Malina’s family have the unique magical ability or “gleam” to manipulate beauty. Their mother has forbidden them sharing their magic with anyone, and above all, from falling in love. But when their mother is mysteriously attacked, the sisters will have to unearth the truth behind the quiet lives their mother has built for them, and the wicked curse that haunts their family line.

 

22892448The Color Project by Sierra Abrams – 18th

Bernice Aurora Wescott doesn’t want anyone to know her name. Until she meets Levi, the local golden boy who runs a charity organization called The Color Project. When news of an illness in the family drains Bee’s summer of everything bright, she is pushed to the breaking point. Losing herself in The Color Project is no longer enough. For Bee to hold on, she needs Levi. She’ll have to give up her name and let him in completely or lose the best thing that’s ever happened to her.

 

29749085Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo – 29th

Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law to save a mere mortal. Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery. Together, Diana and Alia will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer.

 

13612968The Silver Mask by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare – 29th

This is the 4th book of the (five book) Magisterium series.

The first book follows Callum Hunt who, despite his best efforts to fail, somehow manages to get into the Magisterium, a magic school and a place that’s both sensational and sinister, with dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future.

 

…And that’s it for this post. I likely won’t be getting to any of these book until September, thanks to my already-planned month. But I’ve read quite a few 2017 releases (January-June) and I’ll be doing a post about my favourites within the next couple of weeks. That’s good, right. These lists are not for nothing,

What are some August books that’s you’re anticipating? Leave a comment and maybe I’ll check them out.

Review: Full Package by Lauren Blakely

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Genre: New-Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 300
Series: None (though it seems a lot of the author’s novels are part of the same universe and the characters usually show up in each others stories as friends or whatever)
Release Date: January 9, 2017
Publisher: Independent

Star

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Strangely enough, this is my first book by Lauren Blakely. It’s strange because I could’ve sworn I’d read something by her before. But when I read this novel, I was so impressed that I realized that I would’ve remembered a book by this author, had I read it.

That lead me to wanting to remedy my severe neglect of a great author. But that’s gonna have to wait because I’ve planned all the books till the end of August so severely that it will take nothing less than a miracle for me to actually stick to the plan. I’m panicked (yet, kinda excited) just thinking about it. So in the meantime, I’ll stop my rambling and review the freaking novel.

Full Package is told from the perspective of our male protagonist, Chase. Chase is a doctor who’s trying to find an apartment and having the worst luck. One of his best friends, Josie (who’s also the younger sister of another of his best friends) is having similar luck finding a good roommate. Living together seems to be the obvious solution. So what if there’s a spark between the two of them? They’ve been best friends for many years, they can handle it.

…Obviously, they can’t handle it. If they could, this book wouldn’t exist and that would be very sad indeed. Anyway, despite the attraction, they want to keep things strictly friendly. They don’t want to risk the strong friendship they have; even after they delve into the ‘benefits’ dapartment.

Now, it’s not exactly new that two friends hesitate to take things to a different level for the sake of their friendship. But in this case, it really makes sense. Especially for Chase because he’s already make the mistake of dating a friend only for it to end badly. Not only was he hurt and betrayed, he also lost a friend. And he cares about Josie too much to let the same thing happen with her.

So even though Chase and Josie have undeniable chemistry, they hold back. Don’t worry though, things don’t get too serious. They’re still the best of friends and every time they’re together, it’s a lot of fun. They work so well together. Props to Lauren Blakely for writing such a great relationship.

Also, props for stepping out of the norm with Chase. Contrary to popular tropes, Chase is not a player, or a tortured soul, or a bad boy. He has a stable job that he loves, he has lots of friends, he’s cocky in an endearing way, he’s caring and sweet, and feels very real despite being too good to be true. Josie, as well, is lovable and funny and sweet and compassionate. They’re both very likable characters and basically make the story, especially since it’s a very simple one that relies on its characters to make it special. And make it special they do.

This is a very well-written, entertaining, sweet, single-sitting read with a great narrative, that I highly recommend. I’m quite bummed out that I didn’t read something by the author before (the shirtless-dude cover has been allowed as penance). Seriously, check it out.

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: Till Death by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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Genre: Adult, Romance, Mystery, Contemporary
Pages: 400
Series: None
Release Date: February 28, 2017
Publisher: William Morrow

4 Stars

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Till Death is a mystery and a romance. Sasha Keaton, who left her home town ten years ago after a close escape from a serial killer called ‘The Groom’, is now coming back to help her mom with the family business. She left many people behind when she left town, and one them was her then-boyfriend, Cole Landis, who is now an FBI agent and wants to give things another shot with her.

But while they’re trying to see where their relationship could go, women start to go missing again, and even though they thought the Groom’s reign of terror died with him, that my not be entirely true.

Sasha is understandably scared about what’s going on, but she wants to deal with it head on. She wants to live her life. At first, it seems as if that could be possible. That maybe everything that’s happening doesn’t have anything to do with her. But the book has occasional excerpts from the perspective of the serial killer which tell us that it all has everything to do with her. And it soon becomes evident to Sasha and Cole as well.

Speaking of Sasha and Cole, I liked their relationship. They had a past and a lot of chemistry. I loved reading their scenes and interactions, and their romance was really sweet. There were times when I felt that things were maybe moving a bit too fast, and they were, but it didn’t bother me too much.

Cole and Sasha had a healthy relationship and they were very supportive of each other. Cole was her rock in everything she was going through and Sasha herself handled things really well. There were times when Sasha tried to push him away but he stuck by. The best thing about Cole was that he was very straight-forward. He said what he felt and didn’t let any misunderstandings come between them. He was very pro talking-things-out, which saved us from a lot of angst. We need more people like him.

The story was really good and interesting. Jennifer L. Armentrout has a writing style that’s flows so well that you don’t even realize when you’ve already read a hundred pages. I read the novel in two sittings (sleep came in the way).

The only things that disappointed me was that most of the events were… predictable. I saw many revelations coming, even the one about who the serial killer was. There weren’t any ‘holy shit!’ moments and that’s a bummer because I love those, and they’re quite necessary for an effective mystery novel. Though the tone was set very well. Definitely one that could make you a tiny bit paranoid, especially if you’re reading in the middle of the night.

I really enjoyed reading this book. I loved the characters and the balance between the romance and mystery. It’s worth checking out; even more so if you’re only just venturing into the mystery genre.