Having enjoyed Sarah Ockler’s previous books, I was looking forward to reading #scandal. Sadly, it just didn’t live up to my expectations.
First, the rHaving enjoyed Sarah Ockler’s previous books, I was looking forward to reading #scandal. Sadly, it just didn’t live up to my expectations.
First, the romance was set up in a weird way. Not only did #scandal begin with Cole and Lucy hooking up and having feelings for each other, but the two were forced to go to prom together by Lucy’s best friend, Ellie, who didn’t tell Lucy that she and Cole had broken up. So, while I was trying to figure out how I should feel about Lucy and Cole as a couple (because I barely knew anything about Cole or Lucy as individuals or Cole and Ellie as a couple), I was also wondering why somebody would agree to pretend to still be dating their ex. On top of that, you’ve got two girls claiming to be best friends, yet keeping huge secrets from each other.
As the novel progressed, it became clear that the romance wouldn’t be a highlight of #scandal. Cole was barely around (because Lucy kept avoiding him since she felt guilty about hooking up with him); and when he was present, I just found the way that he and Lucy interacted to lack chemistry.
Another aspect of #scandal that could have been great had it been written differently was the cyberbullying element. I never really connected with Lucy, and it didn’t help that she refused to stand up for herself despite being given opportunities for doing so. I also found it very strange that the school administrators didn’t investigate the issue more but simply decided that Lucy was the bully. Even after realizing that she wasn’t the perpetrator, an apology wasn’t given; instead, the principal decided to use Lucy as an example and made her do a presentation about the effects of cyberbullying.
A book that took me far too long to finish!...more
Having seen the love for Sarah Fine’s Sanctum series and then the positive reviews for Of Metal and Wishes, I decided to give Fine’s writing a try witHaving seen the love for Sarah Fine’s Sanctum series and then the positive reviews for Of Metal and Wishes, I decided to give Fine’s writing a try with Of Metal and Wishes, a retelling of The Phantom of the Opera.
Of Metal and Wishes is very much a character driven book. While I liked Wen, a girl who learns to look beyond the Itanyai’s prejudices to see the Noor for who they are, and Melik, a Noor who refuses to be cowed by the Itanyai, my favourite character was the complex Ghost. Full of contradictions, I loved how the Ghost could be so kind one minute and then terrifying the next with the amount of power he wielded.
I also liked the romance. Although I thought there might be a love triangle in Of Metal and Wishes, there actually wasn’t one because Wen was only ever interested in Melik. Admittedly, they did develop feelings for each other quite quickly, but I was willing to excuse this because of the cramped and isolating conditions of the slaughterhouse.
Where Of Metal and Wishes could have been better developed, however, was the worldbuilding. Not only was little revealed about the world beyond the slaughterhouse, but there wasn’t a firm time period established either because while the conditions of the slaughterhouse had a historical feel, the machinery described in the outside world appeared to be more modern. Hopefully, the sequel will clear up some of my questions about the worldbuilding. ...more
Through the use of music and a loosely defined world of Limbo, Claire Legrand’s The Year of Shadows explores the themes of loss, friendship, and lonelThrough the use of music and a loosely defined world of Limbo, Claire Legrand’s The Year of Shadows explores the themes of loss, friendship, and loneliness in a manner suitable for MG readers. Consider for example the protagonist: Olivia. During a time of recession, many tweens will be able to relate to Olivia’s situation of having their parents be stressed about their finances. Although I found The Year of Shadows to be a solid read, I couldn’t help repeatedly comparing it to Legrand’s other novel, The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, which I thought was more engaging. ...more
The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand was a delightfully creepy read (with great illustrations) that’s sure to appeal to MG and oldeThe Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand was a delightfully creepy read (with great illustrations) that’s sure to appeal to MG and older readers alike!
Beginning innocently enough by introducing the reader to its protagonist, Victoria, a girl who strives for order and perfection, the plot takes a turn for the worse when Victoria’s friend – or as she would say, project – Lawrence disappears. Though his parents claim that Lawrence is at his grandmother’s house, Victoria believes differently and begins to seek answers. Her investigation leads her to Nine Silldie Place (aka The Cavendish Home) where ordinary things like a house and candies just aren’t what they seem, and the extraordinary appears to be all too possible.
As a villain, I loved Mrs. Cavendish! Her black and white thinking about what’s appropriate can easily be contrasted with Victoria’s; but unlike Victoria, she’s willing to go to extreme lengths to ensure that everybody conforms to her ideals. Her coaching methods are actually kind of reminiscent of Dolores Umbridge’s.
I also loved Victoria because she knows exactly who she is and dares you to try and mould her to be different. Her no-nonsense attitude, stubbornness, and lack of apology about her personality made her the perfect match for Mrs. Cavendish.
A story that’s perfectly paced to maximize tension and keep readers guessing about all the secrets harboured at The Cavendish Home!...more
In my early days of blogging, I saw quite a few positive reviews for Jenny Han’s Summer series. But since the premise of the series never appealed toIn my early days of blogging, I saw quite a few positive reviews for Jenny Han’s Summer series. But since the premise of the series never appealed to me, I haven’t read any of her books until now. Given the synopsis, I was expecting To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before to be a very romance-centric novel, but was pleasantly surprised to find out it focused equally on family.
I loved the Covey family and wouldn’t hesitate to be adopted by them! I just felt the family dynamics, particularly the relationship between siblings, was portrayed so realistically. As the eldest child, I have no idea how true to life Lara Jean’s relationship with her older sister, Margot, is; but the relationship she has with her younger sister, Kitty, is definitely very accurate. Like Lara Jean, though I got along with my younger siblings most of the time, we did fight and get great glee out of annoying each other.
Moving on to Lara Jean as a character, I found her to be a bit immature and naïve at times. But at other moments, I could completely relate to her thoughts and experiences. For example, the way Lara Jean describes her driving is pretty much how I feel when I drive, which probably explains why I still only have my G1 license.
The romance was the weakest aspect of the book for me. I just couldn’t support Lara Jean’s feelings for Josh, Margot’s ex, at the beginning of the novel, and later on, thought he acted way too much like a jealous boyfriend. As Lara Jean began to hang out more with Peter to try and get over her feelings for Josh, I ended up slowly liking Peter. The open ending kind of ruined how I felt about him though because (view spoiler)[when someone – it’s unclear who, but I’m assuming it’s Peter’s ex-girlfriend – spreads rumours about Lara Jean being a slut, Peter doesn’t defend Lara Jean, a fact she somehow forgets. Also, it just seemed like Peter and Lara Jean randomly decided that they had feelings for each other and were over the people they liked, yet their actions suggested otherwise. (hide spoiler)]
After I ended up loving both Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour and Second Chance Summer, Morgan Matson quickly joined my list of contemporary authors I woulAfter I ended up loving both Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour and Second Chance Summer, Morgan Matson quickly joined my list of contemporary authors I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend. So, I was thrilled when I received an ARC of her newest novel, Since You’ve Been Gone, for review because it shortened my need to wait for its release.
In a well-ordered universe, here are five reasons (in no particular order) why you should get your hands on a copy of Since You’ve Been Gone:
1) The realistic depiction of friendship: I thought Matson did a fabulous job of showing a friendship from a variety of different angles. For example, through Emily’s thoughts, you see Sloane portrayed ideally whereas through flashbacks, you come to learn some of Sloane’s faults. When combined with Sloane's list of dares and the ending, the flashbacks also enable the reader to understand how important their friendship is to both girls.
2) The protagonist: I found Emily really easy to relate to because her personality is similar to mine. The way she reacts and the choices she makes are ones that I could see myself making too if I were placed in the same situation.
3) The slow personal growth: Accomplishing Sloane’s list of dares causes Emily to change in a very natural way, and it’s only at the end of the novel that you realize just how much she has grown over the course of the summer.
4) The secondary characters: I loved that they seemed like real people and were complex. For example, though Collins is Emily’s friend, he is also simultaneously jealous of her friendship with Frank, his best friend, because it means that he gets to spend less time with Frank.
5) The romance: Although I didn’t completely love the romance because (view spoiler)[Frank still had a girlfriend when he hooked up with Emily (hide spoiler)], I did like how it developed. I found the transition from the two being acquaintances to friends to something more to be very nicely paced.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
In comparison to Eileen Cook’s previous books, I’d have to say that her latest novel, Year of Mistaken Discoveries, is probably the most serious in toIn comparison to Eileen Cook’s previous books, I’d have to say that her latest novel, Year of Mistaken Discoveries, is probably the most serious in tone. The subdued humour wasn’t what I was expecting, but I appreciated that Cook decided to try something new.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t get fully invested into the story because it involved more telling than showing. We also don’t get to know Nora very intimately, and so her death had little impact on me.
Furthermore, I couldn’t connect with Avery or Brody. In the case of Avery, I think this can partly be attributed to the fact that she herself doesn’t know who she is. Brody, on the other hand, seemed like a guy that I would easily like since he was sweet and honest … but, something just seemed to be missing to make him come alive off the pages.
I really liked the last few chapters of the novel however. Although Avery’s search for her birth mother progressed easily and in an unrealistic manner, the result of her search was unexpected and made her – and the reader – reflect on the definition of family....more
Two Lies and a Spy by Kat Carlton had a completely outrageous but fun plot. I liked that there was plenty of action and an ending that I wasn’t expectTwo Lies and a Spy by Kat Carlton had a completely outrageous but fun plot. I liked that there was plenty of action and an ending that I wasn’t expecting. I also really liked Kari and the secondary characters. Lacey and Evan both made me laugh, and seven-year-old Charlie, Kari’s brother, was pretty cute. As well, although the synopsis makes it seem like there may be a love triangle in Two Lies and a Spy, I liked that that didn’t end up being the case. Kari never veered from having a crush on Luke, but since we really don’t see much of him, I don't know how I feel about him. ...more
Losing Lila by Sarah Alderson begins a week after the end of Hunting Lila. When the novel starts, Lila and Alex are on the run from the Unit. Jack isLosing Lila by Sarah Alderson begins a week after the end of Hunting Lila. When the novel starts, Lila and Alex are on the run from the Unit. Jack is in a coma after having been shot. Demos’ original group has splintered and those that remain with him are trying to divide the Unit’s forces by having the Unit chase them rather than Alex and Lila. Readers dive headfirst into the action, and it’s awesome!
As a character, Lila is definitely more mature in this novel. She’s still impulsive, but her impulsivity is reined in. It’s also evident throughout the course of Losing Lila that she has become more comfortable with her power and is able to control it better. As well, I really liked that she was able to stand up for herself, especially when it came to decisions made by Alex (who shows some emotional vulnerability in this installment) or Jack as those two tended to make the decisions for her in Hunting Lila.
I continue loving the sibling dynamic between Lila and Jack! Their interactions never fail to amuse me, and I love how they know exactly what buttons to push to annoy the other person. If I could have an older brother from a YA novel, Jack would probably be on the top of my list (although his protective streak might get old after a while)!
With the return of beloved secondary characters like Nate and Suki, Losing Lila is as enjoyable as Hunting Lila. While Hunting Lila may have been more fun, Losing Lila balances that out by having more emotional depth. ...more
Though I’m not a big fan of sci-fi novels, I was pretty interested in reading Phoebe North’s debut, Starglass, because of North’s presence on GoodreadThough I’m not a big fan of sci-fi novels, I was pretty interested in reading Phoebe North’s debut, Starglass, because of North’s presence on Goodreads and in the blogosphere. Unfortunately, I struggled to finish Starglass due to several reasons.
First, I found it incredibly hard to believe in the worldbuilding. Having discussed the challenges of traveling to another planet in an astronomy course I took, I just didn’t find the existence of the Asherah very realistic. I might have been able to put aside my skepticism if the Asherah were a spaceship consisting of a few people traveling to a planet nearby, but North made it almost like a miniature city. There were a few hundred people, pets, crops being grown on fields, babies being born in a hatchery … all on a spaceship engaging in interstellar travel!
Another thing I was constantly focused on was the strong incorporation of Judaism in Starglass. It was very unexpected, and left me wondering why there weren’t any people of other religions present on the Asherah. Midway through the book, I finally learned that the Asherah is owned by the Post-terrestrial Jewish Preservation Society. Had this been explained earlier, I think it wouldn’t have been nagging me so much, allowing me to concentrate more fully on the plot.
Speaking of the plot, Starglass’ is really slow and meandering. For the first third of the book or so, there isn’t much going on other than Terra going to work, wanting to be kissed, and planning her marriage. Later on, she joins a rebel group and is chosen to assassinate somebody but is too busy making out with them.
As a character, I did not like Terra! Aside from the fact that she’s a bad friend, I thought that Terra seemed very desperate for romantic love since she’s constantly thinking about kissing guys. I hate when girls appear needy in that sense. I also didn’t find her to be a strong character – she does quite a bit of crying – which was too bad because she sometimes found herself in the wrong place at the wrong time and then would get involved in things I thought she probably had no business getting involved in.
Finally, I didn’t know what to make of the absurd ending. (view spoiler)[ While the Asherah has been in space, Terra – for reasons unknown – has not only been dreaming about Zehava (the planet the Asherati plan on colonizing) being inhabited but also of a particular Zehavan guy. (The Asherati don't know that Zehava is inhabited until the Asherah gets near and a team is sent to scope out the planet.) After witnessing something dangerous, Terra realizes she’ll no longer be safe on the Asherah and so decides to seek safety with the Zehevan guy she has been dreaming about, a guy who happens to be a total stranger! (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
You know those books that although you liked, still disappointed you because you were expecting more from them? Well, that was my experience with MaidYou know those books that although you liked, still disappointed you because you were expecting more from them? Well, that was my experience with Maid of Secrets by Jennifer McGowan.
When we first meet Meg, she’s a thief who’s looking forward to leading the street thieves of her acting troupe and hoping to eventually have enough money to live the life that she wants. One mistake, however, results in Meg ending up as a spy for Queen Elizabeth I or risk having the other members of the Golden Rose troupe branded as thieves as well. For a book involving thieves and spies, Maid of Secrets wasn’t as exciting as I thought it would be.
I also didn’t feel like I got to know the characters completely. It just felt like something was missing to make them memorable, and this stopped me from really caring about them or becoming fully invested in the romance (which I thought could have used a bit more spark). Two secondary characters that I did find interesting though were Rafe and James. We know right from the start that there’s more to Rafe than meets the eye, but I think the same may be true for James too. And, although I thought there would be a love triangle, that wasn’t the case at least in this book.
As a historical fantasy, I think Maid of Secrets could have been better written to make the historical aspects not so dry. With some historical fantasies, you just absorb knowledge about the time period without even realizing it. I don’t feel like that can be said about Maid of Secrets because McGowan would give details about people or situations rather than showing the reader things through her story. ...more
I found Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood, an older Eileen Cook novel, to be a bit more enjoyable. Although I couldn’t understand why Helen would still hI found Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood, an older Eileen Cook novel, to be a bit more enjoyable. Although I couldn’t understand why Helen would still hold a grudge against Lauren years after having moved away, I’m always game for a story involving revenge. Unfortunately, Helen’s revenge tactics turned out to be pretty petty.
I did like Helen’s voice though and the fact that Cook showed that getting revenge may not actually make you happier. Sometimes it’s better to concentrate your energy on yourself rather than on others. I just wish the story could have concluded differently because you never find out what type of consequences – other than the fact that her friends sure got over being used quite fast – Helen faced due to her actions. This was one novel where I could have used an epilogue!...more
Having read a couple of Eileen Cook’s previous books, I knew that The Almost Truth would be an amusing novel that I’d finish in one sitting. However,Having read a couple of Eileen Cook’s previous books, I knew that The Almost Truth would be an amusing novel that I’d finish in one sitting. However, I couldn’t help but be disappointed that when the potential arose for a little bit of seriousness to be added to the story, the book ended abruptly. As well, I never really connected with Sadie since she and her best friend, Brendan, were pros at conning people whereas I don’t really approve of lying. Overall, although I had fun reading The Almost Truth, it’s probably my least favourite of Cook’s novels. ...more
Having read and loved Morgan Matson’s debut novel, Amy andRoger’s Epic Detour, I was excitedly looking forward to reading her sophomore novel, SecondHaving 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!...more
Hunting Lila by Sarah Alderson is a book that you can breeze through in one sitting because the story is fun and fast-paced. While not totally originaHunting Lila by Sarah Alderson is a book that you can breeze through in one sitting because the story is fun and fast-paced. While not totally original, the plot does have some surprising twists as well as a super cute romance and plenty of action.
Lila is a character that I could easily relate to because she’s pretty smart and has a good heart. However, she also tends to be a bit stubborn (which, okay, she kind of needs to be because Jack and Alex refuse to let her in on their secrets); and reading about her crushing on Alex and jumping to conclusions about his conversations and actions not only made her seem younger, but also got annoying after a while.
Luckily, midway through the novel, Lila finds out that Alex likes her too and stops gushing about how hot he is. I really did like the romance though (even if I thought the switch in Alex’s stance from the whole ‘we can’t be together’ to ‘screw it; I’m kissing you’ was sort of sudden). Not only was Alex hot, but he was also protective of Lila. Moreover, since the two of them had known each other since childhood, Lila’s memories of a younger Alex allow the reader to gain a deeper understanding of why she likes him so much.
The secondary cast of characters were enjoyable as well; and I’m looking forward to getting to know them better in Losing Lila. In particular, I’d like to see a bit more of Jack and a whole lot more of Suki in the sequel....more