Under Rose-Tainted Skies tells the story of Norah Dean, a girl who suffers from agoraphobia, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder, and becauseUnder Rose-Tainted Skies tells the story of Norah Dean, a girl who suffers from agoraphobia, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder, and because of that she can’t leave the house, she can’t stand being touched by anyone except her mother, she obsesses over germs and a bunch of other stuff constantly, she has panic/anxiety attacks all the time and this is just the tip of the iceberg. And then the new neighbors arrive and Norah finds herself getting more and more attached to Luke, who keeps saying ‘hi’ across the porch and knocking on her door with a smile on his face and sending her cute little written messages through the letter plate. But like so many other things in life, Norah’s condition is not something that can be magically cured by the sudden interest of a boy, no matter how adorable and kind and considerate he is, still, Norah’s life finally starts to change.
As it happens I share some of Norah’s obsessive-compulsive issues, meaning this story spoke loud and clear to me, I fully understand that she simply *cannot* stop doing this or that, or stop being afraid of something, or just get over it and do the thing because that’s just not how the brain works, and it made me so emotional to think this story was based on the author’s own struggles with mental illness. You genuinely feel like a freak when you OCD on this level, it feels like everyone else around you has life all figured out, everything seems so easy when they do it, and yet there you are, stuck, trapped inside your mind, ruled by fears and anxiety and uncontrolled thoughts and obsessions.
That said, I think the author did a fantastic job putting into words Norah’s feelings regarding her condition and how it clashes with her dreams and just with little things she wishes she could do, after all they’re so contradictory, like, she wants to go study architecture in France but she can’t even step outside to pick up the grocery bags from the porch, she watches videos of people kissing on the internet but takes one look at Luke’s lips and can’t stop thinking of all the germs throwing a party inside, and so on.
Don’t get me wrong though, the romance in this book is very sweet, Luke understands Norah’s limitations, even if sometimes he makes mistakes, but his intentions are so pure and his words so genuine that it was impossible for me to blame him for, let’s say spoilers.
In conclusion, a gripping and moving debut with a heroine who tries her best despite her debilitating condition and that approaches mental illness in a realistic, honest way. (Plus HELLA CUTE romance!) ...more
Going to kick this review off with a: wow, what a debut. I will certainly read whatever Katherine Arden publishes next. She completely won me over wit
Going to kick this review off with a: wow, what a debut. I will certainly read whatever Katherine Arden publishes next. She completely won me over with her beautiful, spellbinding writing, intriguing storytelling and outstanding heroine; even if I don’t think this a flawless story and have a few complaints, but more on that later.
The Bear and the Nightingale is based on Slavic mythology, and it tells the story of a young girl, Vasilia, as she grows up in a small village in Russia during that time of transition from the old pagan beliefs to Christianity, when people believed in all kinds of gods and spirits embodying things, animals and natural phenomena. Like her mother and her mother’s mother before her, Vasilia can see and speak to these deities, which makes her somewhat of an outcast in the community, but she has a strong, determined, independent personality and doesn’t really care about what people think or even call her. That was my favorite thing about this story, Vasilia’s personality, her carefree way, how nothing or no one ever breaks her spirit--she is one tough cookie.
So, long story short, one of these “creatures” is about to wake up, but he’s evil and dangerous, which means Vasilia, along with her family and Morozko, the Winter King, will have to deal with it.
As I said before, I loved Vasya, but I loved her family too, even if sometimes the father and the older brother could have been way more supportive. Plus I liked how we get to go with them on a journey, even if Vasya, the main character, was not with them. Those chapters of the father and the older sons at court had me completely mesmerized. Stunning storytelling.
The writing is absolutely gorgeous and enthralling, I felt like I was listening to a master storyteller from the old days instead of reading it on my phone with my own two eyes.
Now, the minor complaints (this will seem like a lot but it's not really ALSO SOME SPOILERS AHEAD):
-What was the necklace for anyway? This item is such an important thing in the story from almost the start, Morozko gives it to Vasya’s father and tells him he has to give it to her and that she must wear it always, but he never explains its purpose. Was it for protection? For him to track her down at all times? Was it a symbol that she was to be his bride? All these options crossed my mind but the evil guy still gets to her when she’s wearing it, and Morozko seemed to be able to find her alright when she wasn’t wearing the necklace yet, and I don’t want to spoil anyone but I don’t think the bride hypothesis is correct also. So, what?
-Meh romance. There’s not too much of it to begin with and honestly I wish there had been none because, man, there’s absolutely no romantic chemistry between Vasilia and Morozko. Plus, it’s weird, with Vasya being just a young lady and Morozko not even being human and god knows how old.
-Morozko waking Vasilia up with a slap across the face. Excuse me, but this guy is a paranormal being with extraordinary powers, the freaking Winter King himself, so a slap across the face to wake up a sleeping girl shouldn’t even be an option. Couldn’t he, I don’t know, freeze her toes for a minute? Speaking from personal experience nothing wakes me up more during those cold winter nights than my icy feet, even if the rest of my body feels almost feverish with all the blankets on top of me; or even better, couldn’t he have conjured a bit of water and let it splash on her face? Really, it had to be a slap? It was such a turn off for me, seriously.
-That ending. Didn't get it, felt a little cheated.
Rant and flaws aside, The Bear and the Nightingale was one of my favorite reads of 2016, after all, I am a fantasy fan through and through, plus a fairytale/folktale-retelling nut, so of course a marvelous tale with such a strong and remarkable heroine was bound to tick all my boxes. Recommended!
(I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much!)...more
I tried but I'm honestly bored to tears with this one. I think that, because of the description, I was expecting lots of witty writing, captDNF at 39%
I tried but I'm honestly bored to tears with this one. I think that, because of the description, I was expecting lots of witty writing, captivating characters and all kinds of entertainning shenanigans, but there's just so much tedious planning/dialogues/scenes in general before something mildly amusing happens that I can not make myself care about it when it actually happens.
Not my cup of tea, I guess.
(I received an eARC from the publisher, via Netgalley. Many thanks.)...more
I had a really good feeling about this one ever since the day I first heard about it and now that I finally read it I'm happy***NO LOVE TRIANGLE!***
I had a really good feeling about this one ever since the day I first heard about it and now that I finally read it I'm happy to say my gut feeling did not fail me on this occasion--woot!--because Tell Me Three Things is a thoroughly enjoyable read, even if I wish I could have skipped the heartwrenching scenes in which Jessie talks about her late mother, it was agonizing and altogether too much for me and every single time I wanted to run to my mom and hold her tight forever. Please, Jessie, STAHP, I cannae deal. Okay, meltdown over.
The main character: Jessie is a fine, relatable heroine, as in: nerdy and bookish and a little awkward, she also doubts herself a lot, she's grieving and she's so so alone at first that I found myself unable to stop reading so at least I could be some kind of company. Still, this book is not a grief-fest, despite all Jessie has an amusing voice and many times I both shed tears and smiled big while reading the same page.
The anonymous friend/love interest, Somebody/Nobody, SN for short: *swoooon* SN is adorable and smart and funny and I just wanted more and more of those emails and messages. I guessed who he was almost immediately after Jessie mentions the actual character for the first time (NO SPOILERS!), but it was still so much fun to watch her try to unveil the mystery of Somebody/Nobody and to watch them interact when she was so clueless that it was him.
The romance: confession time, I am a TOTAL SUCKER for You've-Got-Mail-secret-admirer-pen-pals type of romance and that's actually what caught my attention about this book in the first place, and oh my God, the whole thing was so cute, I honestly wish this book was longer because I wanted more e-flirting and irl-flirting, and non-official and slightly awkward dates, and basically more of the whole partially anonymous slow-burn romance. Also, NO LOVE TRIANGLE, THANK YOU DEAR AUTHOR, I mean, there's more than one guy interested in Jessie but she makes it very clear that she only has a crush on one.
In conclusion: a captivating, moving and strangely quick read (I didn't even realise I was almost done with the book until I had only like 20 pages left, whaaa?), that made me feel all the things and them some, and that also made me add Julie Buxbaum to my author watchlist.
The romance in this one is so cheesy, I was honestly rolling my eyes every single time Austin and Marisa had a scene together. Also, this guy at soDNF
The romance in this one is so cheesy, I was honestly rolling my eyes every single time Austin and Marisa had a scene together. Also, this guy at some point was very proud to say he knows how to handle guns and that he shot a duck once. A main character that hunts for sport: disgusting....more
In Real Life had a lot of potential, I love the whole idea of “two people become best friends online and eventually fall in l***Mild spoilers ahead***
In Real Life had a lot of potential, I love the whole idea of “two people become best friends online and eventually fall in love without ever meeting in person”, it’s the new millennium love story but with a touch of classic romance to it, like two lovers who live far, far away from each other and only have their letters to each other to keep their romance going.
So, why didn’t this book work for me? Well, first of all, I could never relate to the main character, Hannah, I felt like she was always whining about something to someone or to herself, which means that she got on my nerves pretty early on.
Next thing that bothered me, and this was not just regarding Hannah, but also Grace, her slightly older sister, and Lo, the hometown best friend, was their totally reckless, risky, seriously stupid behavior, I mean, these three girls drive all the way to Las Vegas so Hannah can finally meet Nick, the online best-friend-possibly-more-than-that, and once they get there and things don’t go exactly like Hannah was hoping, the sister and the best friend basically ditch her to hook up with strange boys. In Las Vegas. While Hannah is upset and heartbroken, and at some point even drunk for the first time ever. Her sister and best friend totally forget about her and let her roam about the city, the casinos, hotels and shady rooms with strange guys. A teenager. Drunk. Honestly, I read the entire Las Vegas part of the book in a deep state of unease and horror.
I honestly don’t want to give anything major away, and I swear I’m trying my best not to reveal Nick’s secrets and why Hannah gets so upset and heartbroken (although you can probably guess), but I have to say this, so please bear with me, or please stop reading if you fear spoilers: the way both of them behave when they finally get some alone time is NOT okay. It was shameful, really. Both Hannah and Nick’s behavior: shameful. Lowkey or not, cheating is NOT okay. Flirting/actively seeking out alone time with someone who’s in a relationship because you think “he/she was mine first” is NOT okay. Even if you love this other person, you don’t do that to your girlfriend/boyfriend or to some else’s girlfriend/boyfriend. Nothing about this was cute or romantic---it was sh*tty. I’m sorry but I call it as I see it.
Also, what’s up with all these kids parents? The entire book: not even one lousy phone call.
The ending felt too forced for me, like everything and everyone was running out of time. Also, that last Nick-and-the-band big secret wasn't the least bit surprising because it was kind of obvious and I guessed it in the first couple of chapters.
In conclusion, can’t recommend this one based on the plethora of things that bothered me about this story and these characters---there was honestly nothing in it or about them that I could relate to. I basically spent the entire book shaking my head at the wrongness of it all: the silly and careless behavior, the many annoying misunderstandings and lies, the NOT OKAY romance. Read at your own risk.
(I received an eARC of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.) ...more
First & Then tells the story of a young woman, Devon, 17, who is in her last year of high school and who still doesn't know what she wants to do wFirst & Then tells the story of a young woman, Devon, 17, who is in her last year of high school and who still doesn't know what she wants to do with her life or what college she wants to attend. She lives a pretty normal life, nothing tragic has ever happened to her, her parents are still married and happy together, she doesn't have siblings, she never had a boyfriend, and she only has one friend, Cas. Her life starts to change when Devon's parents take in her 14-year-old cousin Foster and she has to hang out with him at school and everywhere else.
I absolutely loved Foster from the very start, he's such a good kid, sometimes I'd even forget he was 14, because boys that age can be pretty complicated to deal with, but Foster was so sweet, kind, honest and mature in a childlike way, and just the way he looks up to Devon and wants to hang out with her and protect her from assholes when, really, he's just this scrawny kid with zero meanness in his body—seriously, Foster is the definition of adorable and his story broke me into so many little pieces that I’m still trying to put them all together again.
It was also very easy for me to love and relate to Devon, she’s no Mary Sue and she has flaws, but she’s a good person and even though she’s still adjusting to having Foster around and maybe resents the whole situation a tiny little bit, she never really complains about it or is mean to him, on the contrary, she’s very protective of Foster and I love the way he slowly and naturally becomes part of her life and routine, how he becomes the little brother she never had. It’s heartwarming.
This book is inspired in Pride & Prejudice, and Devon herself is a Jane Austen fangirl to the point of comparing situations that happen in her life to scenes in Jane’s books throughout the story, I also had fun trying to compare scenes and characters myself. That said, the Mr.Darcy of this book is Ezra, who I wanted to throttle at some point--I mean, that stupid Prom scene... duuude, if you don’t want to go then don’t go. Why say yes just to be kind or polite and then make yourself miserable?? I don’t get it. Anyway, of course that being P&P inspired the romance in this story is a slow-burn, which is just the way I like it. I just wish that Prom scene could have happened in a different way, because it killed my mood a little bit. (Ezra is an idiot, pass it on.)
I’m conflicted about marking this one with the love triangle red flag or not because it’s not really a love triangle—even if Devon has had a crush on Cas all her life and still does when she meets Ezra and starts to have feelings for him. Honestly, I think it didn’t bother me because nothing romantic has ever happened between Devon and Cas, and it’s not like she’s moping around because of him, so, in my opinion this book is safe territory for love triangle haters (like myself).
This was a very emotional read for me, a fantastic debut and a fantastic Pride & Prejudice retelling, I love how the story has lots of layers, how it’s not just about the romance, but about family and Devon’s relationship with her cousin, and how it's also a journey of constant self-discovery and character development for this heroine who is so easy to like and relate with.
I recommend this one for fans of YA contemporary books such as Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell and The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West. ...more
Every Last Word tells the story of Sam, a girl with OCD who tries so hard every day to hide this from her friends, to fit in, to be “normal”--the kindEvery Last Word tells the story of Sam, a girl with OCD who tries so hard every day to hide this from her friends, to fit in, to be “normal”--the kind of normal her friends and other people can deal with. This has been going on for several years now and to cope with all the pretending and her OCD, Sam needs psychiatric help. Still, that’s not enough. And then comes the day that she finds a group of people at school—outsiders like the person she tries not to be--that writes poetry, and her life begins to change, because with them she feels like she can finally be herself.
Dear lord, this was such an emotional read! I legit couldn't stop crying when I reached a certain part of the story--it was so shocking and heartbreaking and the tears just kept coming and coming and coming.
My heart was aching for Sam the entire time, I mean, this girl, who is a good person, thinks that if she stops pretending, her somewhat toxic friends will not accept her and she will not have a place to go, a table to sit at during lunch, people to hang out with, a group to belong to. I kept trying to make her listen to me: GET RID OF THOSE “FRIENDS”, SAM! EMBRACE WHO YOU ARE! DO WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY REGARDLESS OF WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK! But that was self-assured adult-me speaking, and I knew very well that when you’re a teenager and you’re part of a group it’s so hard to find your own voice, go against the flow, say no, because you just want to belong and not be the weird one. (Been there, done that.)
By contrast, I was crazy with joy when she joins the secret poetry group, Poet’s Corner, because she feels so good there, safe, normal. Of course the OCD and the anxiety/panic attacks don’t go magically away just because she’s there, but it helps so much. Sam knows that this new group of people in her life isn’t judgmental or threatening in any way, she knows they’ll not cast her out at the first sign of weird. There’s one quote in this book that I especially loved and it goes like this, “embrace who you are and surround yourself with people who do the same”, and that’s exactly what happens to Sam at Poet’s Corner with these people she just met.
And then there’s the romance and AJ Olsen…*swoooooon* AJ is dreamy, kind, thoughtful, a gentleman, and not just with Sam, with his friends too, he cares so much about the people from Poet’s Corner, he loves his family, he respects everyone around him, and he writes poetry, sings, and plays the guitar. I’m pretty sure this is the definition of perfect love interest. Sam and AJ actually start off on the wrong foot and at first it’s kind of hard to imagine they even have a chance, so the romance is a bit of a slow burn—my favorite type, and it kept me turning page after page. (No love triangle whatsoever.)
This book not only deals with mental illness but also with bullying and its devastating consequences. I’m fully convinced that my heart did break when I read those last 50 pages or so. It fills me with despair to think that actual people in this world go through situations like the ones described in this book, that actual people are targets of stupid pranks and hate, every single day, for no reason at all or because they’re being themselves, and for the bullies it’s just a game, but for the victims it can be the end. Christ! Here I am crying again! Thank you for the nonstop tears, Miss Stone.
Every Last Word is remarkably touching and romantic, one of those stories that feel genuine, like you’ve met the characters at some point in your life, or know someone who went through a similar situation. (Or maybe it’s you.) Sam’s unique, honest voice and journey will break you and make you all over again. I highly recommend this book to readers of all ages.
(I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!)
I have mixed feelings about this book--I like the idea, the main characters, and the romance is lovely, but the whole narrative feels disconnected, liI have mixed feelings about this book--I like the idea, the main characters, and the romance is lovely, but the whole narrative feels disconnected, like there are paragraphs or scenes missing, and the story itself is poorly executed, confusing, and just plain awkward. The heroine's voice, her choice of words to describe things and situations, the dialogues, everything--awkward. Page after page I found myself making an unusual amount of effort to understand what, who, why.
One of the things that bothered me the most was how this story starts--there’s a conflict of some kind, bombs are going off, and Asa, the protagonist, and her older sister, Wren, get caught up in it, Wren gets injured and Asa rushes to get her out of there, and the next thing you know she’s getting married in her sister’s place to the heir of another kingdom/country/planet (?), so that they form an alliance and help each other out, but everything happens so fast, without a proper introduction to the world or the characters, that I seriously felt like my eARC was missing a bunch of chapters.
Honestly, in my humble opinion, this book needed at least another 50 pages before the first chapter. I wanted not only to understand the world, but also to get to know Asa before this whole mess, because Asa-after-the-mess pretty much only worries about one thing: Wren. For maybe 90% of the book everything she does is with the sole purpose of keeping her sister safe, and then later, to keep other people safe, to prevent more war. Her actions consist in a series of sacrifices for others, and as noble as this is, I wish she would just stop to think about herself for a little bit.
Nonetheless, I can’t help but give this book a positive rating, even if it’s just a halfhearted 3 stars, because, like I said in the beginning, I did like the characters, and I have a soft spot for apparently hopeless arranged marriages that end in wonderful love stories, and this one certainly qualifies--Asa and Eagle are adorable together. (AND he doesn't have one hand, and half of his face is scarred.) So, despite all the confusion and awkwardness, I’m glad I kept reading and finished this book.
(I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Thank you.) ...more
Okay, so I feel like the odd man out on this one, because everyone else seems to love Every Breath with a passion, meanwhile I'm just here like...
ButOkay, so I feel like the odd man out on this one, because everyone else seems to love Every Breath with a passion, meanwhile I'm just here like...
But I wanted to love it, damn it, I wanted to love it so much, I mean, it's a YA Sherlock retelling, with "Sherlock" and "Watson" solving a murder mystery while falling in love (kinda maybe?), and dealing with their own problems and personal demons along the way. Sounds really good, right? Yeah, it didn't work for me though, and here's why:
--I couldn't relate to or even like the characters that much. Mycroft (Sherlock) and Watts (Watson) just never grew on me; Mycroft's angry, rebel, genius teenager behavior felt too forced, and honestly half of the time I was just plain grossed out with the idea of being in the same room with him because of all the cigar smoke. Sweet baby Jesus, give it a break, son. I sympathized with Watts--the narrator--a tiny bit more, she's also angry at the world for a couple of reasons, but I understood her. Sadly, I had to take back the small percentage of affection I had for her after finding out she (view spoiler)[killed her dogs with a rifle (hide spoiler)]—apparently she had to do it because no one would take them, but honestly I couldn’t care less about the reasons, it made me sick, and I just couldn’t think of her the same way after that.
--The plot is boring, so boring. I had to make myself care about the murder investigation and the puzzle, because I had zero actual interest in finding out what, why, who, how, and that sucks.
--Some scenes are unnecessarily long and detailed. Like, that scene when Mycroft and Watts go to that building to check out the Roof Monkeys artwork, oh my God, I was so so bored with the never-ending story of their climb, so I lift my leg and put my right foot on the plank, and then my left foot, then I try to reach the crack on the right but it’s too high up, so I try the one on the left, but then my right foot slips and I make the mistake of looking down at Mycroft, who is trying to put his own right foot on a too small crevice, and his left foot on the ladder, and that's when I realize that his right hand is touching the inside of my left leg, and that his face is almost smashed against my crotch, as I notice this, my sweaty right hand starts to slide away and my left foot slips and... blablabla right foot blablabla ladder blabla rope blable left hand blablabla...
(please note that that ^ isn't an actual quote of the scene, it's just me ranting)
--The dull and almost non-existing romance. So disappointing. Honestly, I think it didn't work for me mainly because I didn't like the characters to begin with.
What I liked: that Mycroft and Watts are both genuinely good, smart kids that don't care what others think of them, and that they never give up trying to find out who killed their friend. It wasn't enough for me, though. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more