This Is Where It Ends is not a book that I would normally consider reviewing, though it caught my eye (the author is a big advocate of diversity in books), because the subject matter is very heavy. I am an escapist reader, and since I have a school-age child, it's not my first choice to read about something that I already worry about. That being said, the lovely people at Sourcebooks were kind enough to send me an ARC at the library, so I figured I could read it as a librarian and give it some attention here, too.
I do want to say before I get into the review that I did not like This Is Where It Ends. However, with it being so short and action-packed, I think it will be great for reluctant teen readers. I will be putting it into the hands of kids at the library. Easy, action-packed reads are important. Now for my thoughts on the book itself.
Since Marieke Nijkamp is such an advocate for diverse books, I began reading This Is Where It Ends with a high expectation of the characters. Sadly, I found them to be pretty flat. There are multiple points of view and students representing every walk of life. There are black, Latino, Middle-Eastern, LGBT, rich, poor, disabled, etc. individuals in the book, and I think something might have gotten lost in trying to color the book equally. Don't get me wrong - I loved seeing a diverse cast, but the book was too short to have everyone's story AND tension from the shooter. By showing us everyone, I wasn't able to connect with anyone in the story.
Note: I greatly appreciate Nijkamp not casting the Middle Eastern as the shooter. I respect the hell out of her for that.
There is obviously violence in This Is Where It Ends, but it seemed a little gratuitous to me. Yes, I really that school violence tends to gratuitous because of the nature of the beast, but the narrative seemed to go a bit over-the-top at time. There was a lot of grand-standing in general by the characters - which didn't seem realistic at all - and it felt forced. The shooter, Tyler, was not fleshed out, so it read like he was shooting just for the sake of shooting. He was so one-dimensionally evil that I expected him to go "muahahaha" at any moment. When someone breaks and shoots up a school, there is at least some kind of bullying or underlying mental illness. That was barely used.
This Is Where It Ends wasn't my favorite book, but I can definitely see the benefit of having it around. Maybe someone who doesn't normally see people who look like them in print will make them feel more included as a reader. Hopefully more diverse books will be coming along sooner rather than later.
- 2/5 Stars -
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own....more
I know I've said before that I tend to avoid American historical fiction when I'm choosing my reading materials, but I had no problem with picking up The Uninvited by Cat Winters because I enjoyed her writing in her debut, In the Shadow of Blackbirds. The writing in The Uninvited was just as good, if not better, because putting the book down and doing other things (like work) made me pretty angry.
The Uninvited is a very character-driven novel, as it follows Ivy Rowan adjusting to her new life away from her family in Buchanan, Illinois. Everything is in an upheaval from World War I and the flu epidemic, so nothing is easy for her. Since Ivy feels so enormously guilty about the murder her father and brother committed, she keeps going back to the Schendel furniture in hopes of making amends with Daniel. The development of that relationship was slow, but worth it in the end.
When I saw that The Uninvited was about ghosts, I expected them to be a lot more present throughout the novel. It is not at all what I would necessarily consider a ghost story. Ivy caught glances of various dead friends and relatives, and she knew that foretold some death in the coming days.
I do want to bring it up, though I cannot say much about it, but there are certain turns of the plot that I did not see coming from a mile away. I had an idea in my mind of what The Uninvited was going to be about, and it was not THAT at all. Having said that, it made the experience of reading the book so much better.
If you're a reader of historical fiction or a fan of Winters' YA, you need to go out and find you a copy of The Uninvited. Being as it was released in trade paperback, it shouldn't be too expensive. I can almost guarantee that it'll be a reread, or you'll at least be sharing it with friends.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the novel from the publisher through TLC Book Tours in exchange for an unbiased review. It has in no way affected the outcome. All expressed opinions are awesome, honest, and courtesy of me....more
Alive was my first book to read by Scott Sigler, though he is a great favorite of many of my friends. It was a good starting place for me because it is horror without too much gore, among many other things that I would hate to spoil. (Yes, I will be cutting off many thoughts because of fear of spoiling the book.) I will say that I saw many of the twists in the book coming, though it did not make them any less enjoyable.
I haven't read Lord of the Flies in years, but almost as soon as I started reading Alive, I began seeing similarities between the two. Alive is assuredly a nod to the classic. There are power struggles between characters resulting from a lack of "grown-ups" and in a vacuum where authority figures should be. Those are really the only nods that I'll mention because, as I stated before, spoilers.
The main character, M. Savage or "Em", is a very unreliable narrator, which I happen to love. She doesn't remember who she is, how she got to be where she is at, or where she is, for that matter. Em has some definite emotional issues (rage, namely), and those certainly do not lend to her reliability. I do like her because she tries to do what is right, though it is easy to see that it is a struggle at time. She just wants to keep all of the Birthday Children safe, even when she's getting a little distracted by O'Malley and Bishop. And Spingate. But I digress. It would be easy to judge her, but she's "twelve years old", and I had to cut her some slack.
While Sigler's writing was spot on, I was not a fan of Emma Galvin's narration. There was just something off about the speed or cadence of her voice that was a distraction from the story. I finally remembered the speed settings on my Audible app and zoomed her up to 1.25x. It was better, but still no walk in the park. I feel like I'd still be listening to Alive a month from now if I hadn't sped her up.
Though Alive didn't really have what can be considered romance, there was the beginning of a formation of what could be a love triangle down the road. As much as I hate to say it, I even know whose side I will be on.
I'm looking forward to the second book in this series, and there are quite a few things I'd like to know more about. The only thing I can mention without spoiling anything in the book is that I'd like to know more of an explanation of the symbols on the children's heads. (view spoiler)[Is there some kind of caste system or what?! Can we also please get information about the battles on the ship that left so many dead? And why couldn't they grow more bodies?! Gah! (hide spoiler)] In great detail. Immediately.
If you're not burned out on dystopia, you should go ahead and buy your copy of Alive. (Or you can listen to the serialization of it for free on Scott Sigler's website.
- 4/5 Stars -
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an audio copy of the novel from Audible in exchange for a review. No other favors or money was exchanged. This has in no way affected the of the review. All expressed opinions are awesome, honest, and courtesy of me.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Books dealing with time travel are usually very hit or miss for me, and young adult ones in the genre are usually more of a miss. Since I am ever theBooks dealing with time travel are usually very hit or miss for me, and young adult ones in the genre are usually more of a miss. Since I am ever the optimist, I wanted to give The Girl from Everywhere a chance. I will admit that I wasn’t in love with the book by the time I finished it, it was a fun ride.
The Girl from Everywhere is about Nix Song, a mixed race Chinese girl that time travels with her father. Her father is from modern-day New York, but she was born in Honolulu, Hawaii in the 1868. The other characters aboard the boat are from other eras in history, though not quite what you would expect. Their interactions with one another are pretty fantastic, especially Nix and Kashmir. Nix’s relationship with Slate, her father and captain, is well-written and believable. Both of their angst comes across beautifully. The characters off of the boat, except for Joss, were not my favorites at all, and I didn’t really understand the point of them.
The best part of The Girl from Everywhere was the history. I haven’t read much about the history of Hawaii – fiction or non-fiction – and I’ve learned enough that definitely makes me want to do further research on the fall of the monarchy, if nothing else. (Guilty pleasure alert.) Heilig wrote it in such a way that I felt like I was there with Nix. Yes, they traveled to places other than Hawaii, and they read just as true, too.
Since I said I would be honest, the end of The Girl from Everywhere was not as good as the beginning. For the first half of the book, I felt like I could read it forever, but as the plot progressed and the various tensions heightened, I wasn’t as invested in the story. I don’t know if it was the characters on the island or the love interest that felt forced, but I lost some of my excitement in reading it.
Though I had some issues with The Girl from Everywhere, I still think it’s a great debut, and we’ll be seeing great things from Heilig. I, for starters, can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book briefly for reviewing purposes through Around the World ARC Tours in exchange for an honest review. The book was likely provided to the tour by the publisher or author, which has in no way affected the outcome. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own....more
It's not very often that I stay up all night reading a book, but I did for The Scorpion Rules. I think that worked both for and against the novel becaIt's not very often that I stay up all night reading a book, but I did for The Scorpion Rules. I think that worked both for and against the novel because on one hand, there's not much better than reading a dark book (no, I don't mean scary) alone in the dark. On the other hand, I can't quite figure out if the weirdness of the novel was due to my insomnia or if The Scorpion Rules was just a strange book.
The concept of the book is interesting, if nothing else - the children of world leaders are taken and held hostage under the guidance of an AI overlord, Talis. These children are kept safe at Preceptures until they are eighteen, or until their parents or grandparents declare war on another country or region. In that case, the children in question are taken and executed. This is rather efficient as no one can step into any sort of position of major power without them having a child to have held again them.
The main character of The Scorpion Rules is Greta Gustafsen Stuart, Duchess of Halifax and Crown Princess of the Pan Polar Confederacy. As the heir to a superpower that holds a great water supply, she knows that she may be put to death as a result of her mother declaring war at any time. Following the death of a schoolmate from a rival confederacy, a new hostage came to the Precepture from the country that formed from the war that killed Greta's friend. The story follows how she deals with him (Elián) and the knowledge that his arrival almost certainly means her death.
The Scorpion Rules started out strongly, allowing me to get attached to the story and characters, but it started going all over the place as it progressed. By the end, I was scratching my head. It wasn't bad, it was just weird. I will say that I didn't call the romance, but I didn't care either. I didn't understand why Greta had to have one.
The Scorpion Rules is a new, fascinating spin on the ol' dystopia, and I recommend it, even if you're tired of the genre. It's no masterpiece, but it's still a good book.
***Per FTC regulations, I am disclosing that I received a copy of the novel briefly for reviewing purposes from Around the World ARC Tours.***...more
I hate to say this about a book that I enjoyed at the time, but I remembered almost nothing about After the End when I started reading Until the BeI hate to say this about a book that I enjoyed at the time, but I remembered almost nothing about After the End when I started reading Until the Beginning. I recalled the premise, but I couldn't recall the character names or the whole of the situation. And unfortunately for me, Until the Beginning picks up right where book one leaves off.
I even considered DNFing the book because I didn't have time to reread the first book or play catchup. My fortitude paid off when, slowly, I was fed breadcrumbs that brought me back to the story. I may or may not have done some skimming because the alternating point of views were a little jarring, and not too much other than traveling happened in the first half of the book.
I know I say that I don't like a lot of tension in books, but it felt like there wasn't any in Until the Beginning. I don't know if it was my detachment or something in the writing, but I never felt like Juneau or Miles were ever in any danger. The stakes didn't seem that high, but then again, it was a long time before anything really happened other than seeing cars in the distance for so long.
If you haven't read After the End, I would highly recommend reading it and Until the Beginning back to back so you can enjoy the continuous story. I have no doubt that I would haved loved Until the Beginning even a year ago because Juneau's hippy-dippy, Yara-loving, nature-hugging ways were neat and made a lot of sense. Something was just lost for me.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book briefly for reviewing purposes through Around the World ARC Tours in exchange for an honest review. The book was likely provided to the tour by the publisher or author, which has in no way affected the outcome of my review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own....more