I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump with all the essays and midterms I have to study for. So, Nightshade by Andrea Cremer was the perfect book to ge...moreI’ve been in a bit of a reading slump with all the essays and midterms I have to study for. So, Nightshade by Andrea Cremer was the perfect book to get me out of my funk, especially since it brings you into the action right away and then explains gradually what’s going on.
The world Cremer has created is my favourite aspect of Nightshade because it’s so detailed and captivating. Calla even describes the origin of the Keepers, the Searchers, their enemy, and the Guardians, essentially leaving no questions about how this society came about.
I also really liked reading about the different Banes and the Nightshades and their interactions with each other. They were all solidly developed – especially Mason and Neville – and it was interesting to see how the two packs initially backed their own alphas, but as they started to merge into one, loyalties started shifting.
It’s only when thinking about primary characters that I get mixed feelings about Nightshade. I thought it was great that Calla was an alpha who could protect herself and those she loves, but didn’t find her as appealing when it seemed like she was stringing along both Ren and Shay. I get that she’s conflicted – hey, there’s two hot boys to choose from – but even when it finally seems like she’s made a decision by declaring her love to one, she refuses to admit it to the other! How aggravating!
Speaking of boys, to me, Shay only appears interesting because of how he connects with the bigger picture. Calla’s attraction to him seems more physical, which is the only reason I’m assuming she saved him in the first place (since Calla herself doesn’t know the reason why). I find Ren on the other hand more intriguing because of his history and more similarity to Calla, but sadly, he isn’t featured as much as I’d like him to be. Here’s to hoping there’s more of Ren in Wolfsbane, the sequel to Nightshade.(less)
Article 5 by Kristen Simmons is an action-filled dystopian set after the U.S. as we know it is gone and the Bill of Rights replaced by the Moral Statu...moreArticle 5 by Kristen Simmons is an action-filled dystopian set after the U.S. as we know it is gone and the Bill of Rights replaced by the Moral Statutes. Although I thought Simmons did a good job of depicting Ember’s world, it was never explained how this version of the U.S. came about and what happened to make people so willing to accept the terrible conditions of their lived reality. This question bothered me the entire time I was reading Article 5 so it’s a good thing the novel is full of action that distracts you from thinking about its iffy worldbuilding.
I thought the characterization was much more developed; and I liked both Ember and Chase. Even though Ember was sort of naïve and made stupid choices (e.g. running away from Chase when it’s obvious that he’s only trying to keep her safe and knows so much more about surviving on the run than her) which annoyed me, I liked that she had focus, adapted to situations, and wasn’t afraid to take risks. Ember's memories of Chase before he became a soldier not only allows you to realize just how deeply Chase’s betrayal has hurt her, but also lets you see later on how much his experience in the military has broken Chase. His relationship with Ember therefore was full of misunderstandings due to a lack of communication (and mistrust on her part) but did develop nicely over the course of the novel.
Recommended for fans of Marie Lu’s Legend and Veronica Roth’s Divergent!(less)
While I was initially tempted to read Brodi Ashton’s Everneath simply because of its pretty cover, I knew I had to read it once I heard that it was a...moreWhile I was initially tempted to read Brodi Ashton’s Everneath simply because of its pretty cover, I knew I had to read it once I heard that it was a retelling of the myth of Hades and Persephone because I love Greek mythology. Everneath, however, wasn’t a strict retelling. Rather, it’s more like Ashton was inspired not only by the myth of Hades and Persephone but also by the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice; and then created her own interesting Underworld (which I feel like there’s still more left to be learned about).
The book opens with the reader being aware that Nikki willingly went with Cole to the Everneath, but the circumstances around her decision are revealed slowly throughout the book. Thus, I found it hard to connect with Nikki at the beginning, especially because she was stripped of all her emotions in the Everneath. Through flashbacks interwoven seamlessly into the main narrative though, it became easy to care about her and understand how and why she could just leave her family and friends behind. As time ticked by, I couldn’t help but hope that Nikki would somehow escape the Tunnels.
What I liked about Nikki was that she wasn’t perfect. She had insecurities and if you think about it, she’s a little selfish for coming back when she knows that she’ll disappear again in six months. (Then again, if I was in her position, I’m sure I’d want some sort of closure too.) I also really liked that Nikki was willing to face the consequences of her decision; but she wasn’t going to go down without a fight.
The romance was nicely done as well. Although there’s a love triangle in Everneath, it didn’t annoy me because it didn’t feel like one. Ashton does a good job of making both Jack and Cole equally complex and having Nikki distinguish her feelings about the two. Cole may be the antagonist in the story, but he’s not just a simple villain who you’ll hate outright.
Cole and Nikki may have a bond because of their time together in the Everneath, but she genuinely loves Jack. In fact, so did I! I’m normally a fan of fictional bad boys but Jack managed to win me over in Everneath. The relationship between Jack and Nikki was just so sweet and real; and I really liked that not only was there a shared history between the two but that they had some ups and downs as well.(less)
Elisa Ludwig’s Pretty Crooked was an entertaining story that I thought was relatively good while reading it. After reflecting upon it however, I reali...moreElisa Ludwig’s Pretty Crooked was an entertaining story that I thought was relatively good while reading it. After reflecting upon it however, I realized that perhaps I overestimated how great it was.
The Robin Hood connection was what made me request Pretty Crooked; but I didn’t like how Willa chose to help the scholarship kids (aka the Busteds because they’re bussed in from a poorer neighbourhood) or her motivations for stealing from the Glitterati. Instead of standing up to her so-called friends, Willa steals from them and justifies it by saying they’re getting what they deserve for cyberbullying. She then buys outfits – yes, this is her way of helping the less fortunate! – for the Busteds and leaves them on their doorstep. Sure, having a flattering outfit can boost your confidence; but at the end of the day, it doesn’t solve the underlying problem of bullying. Also, considering that Willa only manages to buy one outfit for each person that she helps before she gets caught, her method of helping really doesn’t help in the grand scheme of things because I doubt the Busteds plan on wearing the same outfit every single day for the rest of the school year. (Personally, if someone bought me something fabulous to wear, the last place I’d be wearing it is to school.)
Although Willa was a bit stupid for thinking that she could help the Busteds by stealing rather than by not being a passive bystander, I can kind of see where she’s coming from. I think it would be easy for a lot of people to get sucked into the lifestyle that the Glitterati maintain and not want to give it up if they grow up poor and suddenly find themselves as one of the affluent.
Despite the outrageous plot, I actually got annoyed with Pretty Crooked near the end when there was just too much going on and not enough resolution. For example, throughout the book, Willa’s crush Aidan (who came off as a spoiled rich kid) is trying to get expelled and Willa's mom is secretly seeing a man. By the end, Aidan achieves his goal but how he does so remains a mystery – much like the role of the man Willa’s mom is seeing. I understand that Pretty Crooked is the beginning of a series, but it would have been nice if Ludwig had tied up some of those loose ends.(less)
Insta-love is a pet peeve of mine in novels so I was a little hesitant to read a book titled The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. Altho...moreInsta-love is a pet peeve of mine in novels so I was a little hesitant to read a book titled The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. Although Jennifer E. Smith’s The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight did actually end up being a cute, fluffy read; I felt like its romantic aspect was over emphasized by both the cover and title since a relationship can only develop so far in seven hours while on a plane. The more meaningful relationship that’s explored - through flashbacks and Hadley’s conversation with Oliver - is that between Hadley and her dad.
Aside from one scene at the wedding where Hadley acted childishly, I found Hadley to be a pretty relatable protagonist. It was easy to understand why she was so angry and upset with her dad and why she wanted to keep her distance from him. I also liked how she eventually conversed with her dad, knowing that she might regret it one day if she kept pushing him away.
I didn’t like Oliver quite as much. He got points for being British and being well read, but he didn’t reveal anything deep about himself to Hadley – and therefore the reader – while the two were on the plane. In fact, he kind of evaded her serious questions and/or changed the subject. As a result, I didn’t feel like I got to know him until the end.
Random Thought: Why didn’t Oliver and Hadley exchange contact details right away if they wanted to keep in touch? Considering most people have cell phones, it shouldn’t be that hard to give your phone number to someone else!(less)
The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges was just such an odd mixture of history, fantasy and paranormal! Set in Russia during the rule of Alexander III,...moreThe Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges was just such an odd mixture of history, fantasy and paranormal! Set in Russia during the rule of Alexander III, Bridges captures the lifestyle of the rich, but then enmeshes the historical reality with creatures like faeries, vampires, revenants and more. These fantasy and paranormal creatures seem to be discussed randomly early on in mini info dumps. Later in the book, they more or less took precedence – I’m still not fully sure what they were all doing because nothing was really explained; it was so very vague – and the story simply became a blend of fantasy and paranormal that just happened to be set in a historical setting. This was kind of disappointing because I expected something with more “historical” to it. (Although maybe that’s a good thing because as a member of the aristocracy, Katerina wouldn’t be doing much then other than attending balls …)
The romance was also disappointing. It’s not a love triangle like the summary suggests so that was good, but I don’t know … I just wasn’t feeling it. Part of that I think can be attributed to the time period – since there wasn’t a huge amount of private, personal interaction, the switch in feelings from dislike to like from both parties felt kind of sudden.
As well, most of the characters felt very flat. Just as how there were way too many paranormal creatures – none of whom were explored in depth, there were also too many secondary characters. I know there were a lot of aristrocrats, but all the same/similar names and finding out how Katerina was related to everybody just confused me!
Katerina herself was nothing special. While I did like that she was proactive and wanted to be a doctor rather than just aiming to get married, I found her situation a little unbelievable. Assuming you’re a duchess in 1888, why in the world would want to give up your easy, luxurious life to have the unglamorous job of a doctor?(less)
Thoughts on the Novel: Lately I’ve been reading a lot of books that have I’ve been feeling pretty ‘meh’ about. So when I picked up Wanderlove by Kirst...moreThoughts on the Novel: Lately I’ve been reading a lot of books that have I’ve been feeling pretty ‘meh’ about. So when I picked up Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard, little did I expect to fall in love with it. Since I’m now having a hard time trying to describe how I feel about Wanderlove, here are five reasons why you should read it immediately:
1) The setting: I’ve never been to Central America, but Hubbard conveys the culture and vibe of the places Bria visits so vividly that I felt as if I had. After reading Wanderlove, I wanted to drop everything, board a plane and backpack through all the places mentioned just so I could actually see them in person!
2) The characters: Every single character, regardless of how big or small their role, played an important part in Bria’s travel experience. Hubbard’s characters felt like real people, and I could easily imagine encountering someone similar abroad.
3) The journey to self-rediscovery: As much as Wanderlove involves a physical journey, there’s also a mental journey. After defining herself through her horrible boyfriend and being dumped by him, Bria wants to discover who she is without him and regain her passion for art. Meanwhile, Rowan – he’s a bibliophile! – is trying to forget about his past and become a better person. The two grew so much as characters, and I loved watching them open themselves up to each other and to new experiences.
4) The subtle romance: Neither Bria nor Rowan are each other’s type, but they do manage to forge a friendship. Despite some flirting early on, I really liked that the two came up with a list of subjects off-limits and clearly defined themselves as friends and nothing more because it gave them a chance to learn about each other through meaningful conversations, without any sort of underlying awkwardness about their relationship or what topics they could broach. Of course setting parameters on their relationship creates some delightful tension later on.
5) The drawings: How could I not talk about the drawings drawn by Hubbard herself?! They’re simply amazing!
A contemporary that will easily be among my favourite books of this year!(less)
Having read and loved Morgan Matson’s debut novel, Amy andRoger’s Epic Detour, I was excitedly looking forward to reading her sophomore novel, Second...moreHaving read and loved Morgan Matson’s debut novel, Amy andRoger’s Epic Detour, I was excitedly looking forward to reading her sophomore novel, Second Chance Summer. I finally got a chance to read it during my blogging hiatus … and loved it because while the book deftly tackles a terminal illness, it also manages to celebrate life.
Initially, I wasn’t a fan of Taylor’s because she had a tendency to run away from problematic situations rather than dealing with them. However, Taylor acknowledges this fault of hers and attempts to work on it. For example, flashbacks throughout the novel cause the reader to realize that something happened five summers ago that led to the breakdown of Taylor’s relationships with her best friend, Lucy, and her first boyfriend, Henry. Although the reason turned out to be very anti-climactic, I liked that Taylor sought to repair those relationships.
Taylor’s family also develops over the course of the novel. At the beginning, they’re all busy with their own activities and not very close with each other. But, as Taylor’s father’s condition worsens, her family starts to spend a lot more time together, enjoying each other’s company and supporting one another. I especially loved the scene where Taylor told her father that she loved him; it was so touching and had me wiping tears surreptitiously since I was sitting on the bus. It also made me feel a little guilty because in a way I’m a lot like Taylor in that I don’t tell the people I care about that I love them, but just assume they know I do.
A book that manages to suspend the passage of time (and make you long for summer) before reaching its poignant climax, Second Chance Summer is a novel I definitely recommend reading!(less)