The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver was a book that turned out to be a disappointing read. Personally, I just couldn’t form an emotional connection wThe Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver was a book that turned out to be a disappointing read. Personally, I just couldn’t form an emotional connection with Ella because I didn’t understand her motivation for pretending to be Maddy. I mean, it’s understandable that her parents were joyous when they heard the news that Maddy survived – at least one of their daughters did. I have no clue though why Ella would assume that that meant that they wouldn’t be happy to hear that she, instead of Maddy, survived. As well, although the synopsis suggests that Maddy’s life was full of secrets, Maddy really only had one big secret, which unfortunately just wasn’t scandalous enough for me....more
Way back when Ava Dellaira’s Love Letters to the Dead was released, I saw a few glowing reviews for it, and got a copy, which I then promptly forgot aWay back when Ava Dellaira’s Love Letters to the Dead was released, I saw a few glowing reviews for it, and got a copy, which I then promptly forgot all about. So, when I saw Wendy Darling’s review for Love Letters to the Dead a few days ago, and noticed that she compared it to Gayle Forman’s If I Stay, which I loved, I bumped Love Letters to the Dead to the top of my TBR pile. Sadly, I had a very different experience reading Love Letters to the Dead than Wendy.
There were multiple reasons why I couldn’t connect to Love Letters to the Dead, but the greatest reason why would be Laurel, the main character. For most of the novel, she was just one of those characters that follows the crowd because she’s so desperate to be liked. Within weeks of entering high school, for example, she’s skipping class, smoking and drinking because that’s what the girls she decides to be friends with are doing. I hate weak-willed characters, and Laurel is definitely one of the worst I’ve encountered! I also found it really annoying how she buried her head in the sand and refused to acknowledge that May, her sister, was less than perfect. While May was alive, Laurel never bothered telling her parents that May might have issues (e.g. creating the dead game, having a much, much older boyfriend, etc.), and then once May died, Laurel created this idealized version of her sister and tried to be more like her. Another reason why I had trouble connecting with Laurel was due to her inconsistent voice. For the most part, she came off as very young (which isn’t surprising because she’s only in Grade 9), but then she’d randomly start sounding like an adult.
The romance in Love Letters to the Dead wasn’t great either. As an aside, I found it very creepy that all these high school girls were hooking up with college-aged or older guys. Focusing on Sky and Laurel’s romance though, their situation was total insta-love. Like literally, after a couple of extremely brief conversations, they decide to become a couple. The conversation when Sky decides he’s a boyfriend kind of guy was so clichéd and made me roll my eyes because I couldn’t fathom why this relatively popular junior would be interested in a loner freshman. Later, Sky explains to Laurel why he thought she was so interesting initially, and I was like, “Oh, that makes so much more sense.” After the explanation he gave her though, I would have dumped him, but Laurel, of course, continues to like him (probably because no other guy would be interested in her what with all the random bouts of crying she does).
Besides the issue of grief, Love Letters to the Dead also explores a variety of other issues such as divorce, trying to figure out one's identity, sexual abuse, physical abuse, etc. To me, none of them were handled with as much depth as they could have been; and I think I would have liked Love Letters to the Dead more if it had taken a less is more approach and dealt only with the related issues of grief and identity....more
The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski was a book that I initially had no plans to read. After seeing all the positive reviews for it though, I changedThe Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski was a book that I initially had no plans to read. After seeing all the positive reviews for it though, I changed my mind for two reasons: 1) it was a fantasy and 2) the romance was deemed not to be an insta-love one.
Although I can’t say that The Winner’s Curse blew my mind, I did like it a lot. The worldbuilding was pretty solid; and while I had a bit of trouble visually conceptualizing how Rutkoski’s world would be arranged on a map, it wasn’t too difficult to imagine the setting because Rutkoski takes her time immersing you into her world.
What I didn’t enjoy as much was the romance. Yes, it was slow-paced and set up in such a way that you could logically understand why Arin and Kestrel would fall for each other, but the actual writing of the novel made their feelings sort of appear out of the blue. Also, considering that Kestrel and Arin don’t have a long history with each other, it was mystifying to me how Kestrel could still be attracted to Arin after what he did to her friends and townspeople.
As individual characters, I liked Arin and Kestrel much better. Right from the start, I had a feeling that there was more to Arin than met the eye, but I would have never guessed what he was up to! Kestrel, unfortunately, wasn’t as interesting as Arin because she seemed rather content with her life of attending parties and engaging in gossip. However, she does occasionally show that she isn’t entirely comfortable with the way her society functions. I just wish that she had been more vocal with her opinions. ...more
Having loved Elizabeth Fama’s Monstrous Beauty, I had pretty high expectations for her newest novel, Plus One. Unfortunately, Plus One didn’t exactlyHaving loved Elizabeth Fama’s Monstrous Beauty, I had pretty high expectations for her newest novel, Plus One. Unfortunately, Plus One didn’t exactly deliver.
A huge part of that was because its plot was so far-fetched. See, you’re basically thrown into this alternate version of the U.S. where a strict curfew maintains a division between Rays (people who go to school, work, etc. during the day) and Smudges (people who do the same during the night), with no explanation given until 30% in – a bit too far into the story in my opinion – for how and why this division came about. On top of that, you’ve got a protagonist who has decided that she’s going to steal a baby without considering all its implications (e.g. like the fact that she has no diapers, will have to feed the baby every two hours, etc.). Let’s just say that things only got crazier from there, with the plot really revolving around the baby stealing incident.
The character of Sol was another issue I had with Plus One because she was far too thoughtless for my liking. Case in point: her decision to steal a baby, which she does so by hiding the baby under her hoodie and then putting the baby in a drawer! What I did like though about Sol was her loyalty to the people she loves. Unlike Sol, D’Arcy was much more level-headed, which is why I liked him better.
I also didn’t like the romance as much as I was expecting. It’s funny that while Sol and D’Arcy weren’t together, I kept waiting for them to discover how they were connected and to just kiss; but then as soon as it happened, I wanted the opposite because they quickly moved from kissing to having sex and declaring their love for each other.
It took a few stories involving mermaids but with Elizabeth Fama’s Monstrous Beauty, I finally found one that delivered on its promise of seductive yeIt took a few stories involving mermaids but with Elizabeth Fama’s Monstrous Beauty, I finally found one that delivered on its promise of seductive yet vicious mermaids. Combine the dark plot with ghosts, a curse lasting generations and descriptive imagery, and it’s no wonder that Fama’s book is my favourite mermaid novel to date! Told from the seamlessly alternating perspectives of the mermaid Syrenka and the human Hester born almost a century and a half later, Monstrous Beauty slowly reveals how the lives of these two young women are intertwined.
Although she harbours a crush on her best friend Peter, Hester remains wary of falling in love. After all, Hester reasons that love eventually leads to wanting a family – something she can’t afford to have because every woman in her side of the family dies several days after giving birth. When Hester encounters Ezra and falls for him suddenly, – I didn’t like the instalove even if made sense in the grand scheme of things – he helps her realize that the pattern of deaths may be because of a curse rather than due to genetics.
I liked Hester; but I thought Syrenka’s story was much more captivating – and not just because I found Syrenka to be a more complex character than Hester. First off, Syrenka’s POV allows us to be privy to knowledge that Hester must discover herself in order to piece together what happened many, many years earlier. Additionally, the events leading up to the curse occur during Syrenka’s lifetime and so those events are part of the present for Syrenka but part of the past for Hester. Although I love history, it’s more fun to read about events as they’re occurring.
A must read for those looking for an enthralling mermaid tale!...more
Although the plot of 52 Reasons to Hate My Father by Jessica Brody is pretty generic in that it’s about a spoiled heiress who learns to appreciate whaAlthough the plot of 52 Reasons to Hate My Father by Jessica Brody is pretty generic in that it’s about a spoiled heiress who learns to appreciate what she has, I still found it an entertaining read. I think a huge part of that was because of Lexi. She’s this completely bratty teen in the beginning of the book, yet still somehow manages to be hilarious. It was easy to not only laugh with her, but also at her. Once Lexi started to mature, it became much easier to like her. I did think that her change in perspective was kind of quick though. Still, I’d have to say that 52 Reasons to Hate My Father is probably the best out of the three books written by Brody that I’ve read so far. ...more
Without Tess by Marcella Pixley is a book that explores the bond between sisters while attempting to determine the line between child play and mentalWithout Tess by Marcella Pixley is a book that explores the bond between sisters while attempting to determine the line between child play and mental disorder. For psychologists and psychiatrists, diagnosing a mental disorder like childhood psychosis can be really tough because children tend to naturally be imaginative.
Although the reader doesn’t know the circumstances around her death, it’s established right from the start that Tess is dead and has been for a while. Thus, other than the insight provided by Tess’ Pegasus Journal full of creepy sketches and poems, the reader can never see things from her perspective. Instead, you see and learn about Tess through her sister Lizzie’s memories.
The young Tess appears to be fine, if not a little too creative. However, as the girls get older, Tess begins to get stranger. For example, Tess claims to be a selkie when she’s at the beach with Lizzie and refuses to believe otherwise. Insistent on proving that she’s right, – and not an ordinary human like Lizzie – the two girls lie still on the cold water and let it wash over them. As the tide gets higher and the waves get bigger, Lizzie soon freaks out (unlike Tess) and ends up bashing her head on a rock, not the first time she suffers because of Tess’ wild imagination.
When a new family eventually moves in and the sisters begin to drift apart due to Lizzie’s friendship with Isabella, a jealous Tess tells Lizzie on the night of a full moon that she might turn into a wolf and murder Isabella. Scary and confusing, Pixley makes it completely clear that Tess needs help. As an aside, I also began to question Lizzie’s sanity during this part of the story – did she delude herself into thinking that Tess had changed into a wolf or was she aware that Tess was a girl?
Since Tess was so interesting and there was such a strong focus on her, I thought the character of Lizzie kind of fell by the wayside. It’s obvious that Lizzie idolized her older sister before starting to resent the attention Tess tended to receive from others, but other than that I felt like I barely knew her. In particular, I felt really closed off from Lizzie in the present because she refuses to interact with others (since she feels guilty about her sister’s death).
When Lizzie finally does begin to open herself up to someone other than her therapist, I couldn’t buy it. Having seen Niccolo interact with both Tess and Lizzie from Lizzie’s childhood memories, knowing that he was better friends with Tess, and the fact that Lizzie doesn’t hang out with anybody, the attraction between him and Lizzie just felt forced. Their spontaneous makeout session was totally unexpected and to me, it seemed like Niccolo was transferring his possible childhood feelings for Tess (after having read her Pegasus Journal) onto Lizzie....more
Recently, I've been trying to read some of the older books on my shelf. After liking Jessica Brody's The Karma Club, I figured I'd give another novelRecently, I've been trying to read some of the older books on my shelf. After liking Jessica Brody's The Karma Club, I figured I'd give another novel of hers a try. I therefore chose My Life Undecided because I remembered that it had something to do with a blogger.
While reading My Life Undecided though, I found out that it really doesn't give an adequate depiction of how much work goes into running a blog. If I didn't know anything about blogging, I would assume from My Life Undecided that you can quickly set up a blog, write some posts without preparation, and get followers and comments almost instantaneously. There's certainly no need to connect with fellow bloggers via social media or by leaving comments!
In terms of characterization, I thought the secondary characters were pretty clichéd. For example, you have the frenemy, the hot guy everyone wants to date, the sweet nerd, the perfect older sister, etc. As for Brooklyn, I didn’t particularly hate or love her. Also, aside from her one bad decision at the beginning of the book, I felt that that the unrealistic situations she found herself in were more of a case of bad luck than stupidity. There was no reason for Brooklyn to overreact and have other people start making choices for her through a blog. ...more
The Karma Club by Jessica Brody was a light and engaging read with an original plot and a message that tells you to beware of messing with karma.
BrodyThe Karma Club by Jessica Brody was a light and engaging read with an original plot and a message that tells you to beware of messing with karma.
Brody did a great job with characterization because not only was Maddy a relatable protagonist but her two best friends, Angie and Jade, were solidly developed as well, and therefore each of the girls had their own distinct personality.
I also really liked the emphasis on friendship in The Karma Club. Maddy, Angie and Jade, are constantly there to support each other and when Maddy comes up with the idea of the Karma Club, she makes sure that justice isn’t only exacted on the people who have humiliated her but also on those who have hurt her friends.
It’s easy to understand why Maddy starts the Karma Club. I mean, who wants to wait around for the universe to give the person that screws you what they deserve when you could restore the balance by yourself right away? The schemes that the girls originally come up with are funny (although a little childish) but it soon felt to me as if Maddy, Angie and Jade didn’t care about what they had to do to get revenge or how their actions would affect other people’s lives.
The other thing that bothered me was that things were wrapped up a little too neatly at the end. However, Maddy is finally able to comprehend how karma works and learns that you don’t want to use karma to get back at others but to spread good in whatever way possible. ...more