“Just because love don't look the way you think it should, don't mean you don't have it.”
What I love most about magical realism done well is that you...more“Just because love don't look the way you think it should, don't mean you don't have it.”
What I love most about magical realism done well is that you don't have to force yourself to suspend your beliefs in order to enjoy the story. Instead, you willingly dive in to the world that the author has created, and you eat, sleep, and dream alongside the characters that reside within. The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is one such story.
This book follows the lives of three Roux women: Emilienne, her daughter, Viviane, and her grand-daughter, Ava, who was born with wings much like those of a bird. The characters, their individual stories, and the overall story arc were are altogether tragic, lovely, complex, and ever so simple.
[Review to continue after a break for "real life."](less)
It took me forever to finish this book. Not because I was so overwrought with emotion, but because I was, frankly, a little bored. Which really disapp...moreIt took me forever to finish this book. Not because I was so overwrought with emotion, but because I was, frankly, a little bored. Which really disappoints me. After having this book on my shelf for more than 2 years, avoiding it because I wasn't ready to cry, after hearing almost every single one of my bookish friends rave about it's beauty and meaningfulness... it flopped.
While there were bits and pieces I liked about the characters, dialogue, and plot, none of them blended together in that deliciously harmonious way that makes a book truly memorable in my mind. So, what went wrong, then? Let's start with the dialogue.
What made me most excited to read THE FAULT IN OUR STARS at the beginning were all the lovely quotes readers were posting on GoodReads, Pinterest, Facebook, and well, everywhere. Quotes like, “You don't get to choose if you get hurt in this world, old man, but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices. I hope she likes hers,” and "The marks humans leave are too often scars." These quotes I read for months following the release of THE FAULT IN OUR STARS lead me to believe that, like Peter Beagle and Gayle Foreman, whose books are filled with "quoteables" that I love but that are also really superb overall, John Green would have written a truly life-changing book that would become my new favorite. Alas, that is not the case.
Hazel and Augustus are cancer-ridden teens, and because of this fact, I was willing to give them a little leeway to wax philosophical about life and its meaning. A little leeway. Instead, the book is filled of senseless metaphors, stitled monologues, and unrealistic dialogue from the characters who use an expansive vocabulary better suited to, well, no real teen I know. For example, when Augustus takes Hazel to Amsterdam and goes through the whole spiel (which you've probably read ad nauseum by now) about how love is a shout into the void and the sun will swallow the earth and he's in love with her anyway, I just couldn't believe it. His monologue felt rehearsed and overly-wrought. Perhaps I am a bit more jaded now than I was at 17, but it wasn't romantic or natural at all. Almost all of their conversations felt like they were trying to sound deep and intelligent, and for me, they just fell short of the mark.
Moving on to the romance between Augustus and Hazel, that too, was unbelievable. I could understand why they might like each other, but other than the fact that they both have cancer and that they bonded over a book and a video game, I couldn't see what else was there to prompt Hazel to declare Augustus to be the "great love of her life." Gus likes to "not smoke" cigarettes and play video games. Hazel likes to hate Support Group and obsess over her favorite book and its open-ended closing. They both like to try and one-up each other with desperately witty metaphors and exhaustive monologues. We literally learn nothing else about either character throughout the book, and because most of their encounters with each other are based only around the aforementioned interests, my only resounding thought while reading was - What is there to love? Frankly, I found Augustus to be pretentious and too bright to sparkle, and I found Hazel Grace to be pretentious and unbearably dull.
The secondary characters were just as pretentious and dull. I felt Isaac's character had more potential, but when I realized that he spoke with the same stitled, SAT-vocabulary dialogue as Augustus and Hazel, I stopped investing in him, too. Hazel's supposed closest girlfriend, Kaitlyn, and even her parents, seemed to be more of a convenience mechanism whose actions spurred along the story of Augustus and Hazel, instead of actually being part of the story itself.
Then we arrive at the "Big C:" the Cancer. I've read reviews that praise John Green for not romanticizing cancer and for showing it as it really is, puke, infections, needles and all. However, he does romanticize it. The characters fall in love after meeting at a cancer support group, take a completely unrealistic journey to Amsterdam where they lose their virginity to each other, and then Hazel heroically supports Augustus through his second and final bout with cancer before he dies. (And we really don't get much of a glimpse of the nastier side of cancer until the last couple chapters of the book.) Oh, and then she writes a eulogy where she declares him to be the "great love of her life," but doesn't really say much more of value than that. Cancer is a deeply moving, serious, sad, angry subject, and yet, I feel like John Green used it more as a plot device to wrangle the emotions of his readers rather than to really portray any depth or meaning.
In the end, what is boils down to, is that the characters of Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters were not independent of their author, the plot was too carefully constructed and manipulative, there was more "tell" than "show," and a disservice was done to real people dealing with or who have died from cancer.
After saying all that, I still gave the book 2 stars, mostly because there were a few moments where I did smile and feel sadness while reading, and because there were a few valuable insights. I don't believe I'll read any other books by John Green, but I'm glad I gave this one a chance. (less)
Disclaimer: I know the author, Kristin Rae, personally, and in fact, really like her. This girl is funny and genuine and super smart! So, it comes as...moreDisclaimer: I know the author, Kristin Rae, personally, and in fact, really like her. This girl is funny and genuine and super smart! So, it comes as no surprise that I really loved her debut YA novel, WISH YOU WERE ITALIAN. I am half-Italian myself, though I've never been to Italy, so it was a great adventure to travel through Italy with Pippa and "see" the Coliseum and "visit" Pompeii.
If asked to describe WISH YOU WERE ITALIAN in a few words, I would say, "Fun, light-hearted, and a perfect beach/summer read!" Okay, so that was more than a few words, but did you really count? The characters in this book are down-to-earth, genuine, and perfectly flawed. When we first meet Pippa, she's begrudgingly going along with the life plans her parents have set for her. She doesn't want a future in the world of art; photography is her real passion. Once she gets to Italy, though, she starts to blossom, and the fun really begins!
Enter Darren, the cute, aspiring archaeologist, and Bruno, the smoldering Italian hottie whose family she winds up living with for most of her stay. These two guys keep her on her toes, and although there is a bit of a love triangle within the pages, it's not over-the-top and is actually pretty believable, given the situation of each character. While the love triangle angle (oh lord, here come flashbacks to Geometry!) does take up a good part of the story, we also meet other lovable characters, including Pippa's grandmother and Chiara, Bruno's sister, who makes me wish she were MY friend in real life.
I would be completely remiss if I didn't mention Pippa's best friend, Morgan, so I simply must dedicate a paragraph to her! Morgan gives Pippa a journal at the beginning of the trip, filled with tons of lists and tasks for Pippa to complete while adventuring in Italy, which becomes the catalyst for much of the change in Pippa's life afterward. I found the journal to be such a FUN idea that I plan on giving something similar to my boyfriend when he returns to India, his homeland. I was glad to see I'm not the only one who would treasure a smear of dirt from the soil of another country!
And speaking of another country - it's clear that Kristin Rae drew on ALL of her experiences when she herself traveled to Italy, because the setting practically drags you into the pages and makes you feel as if you are in Italy, alongside Pippa and the gang. I could smell the Italian sea, taste the creamy gelato, and hear the chatter of conversations in Italian around me. Warning: Don't read this book on an empty stomach!
WISH YOU WERE ITALIAN is a light-hearted read overall, but not without it's more sobering moments and not without some hard lessons for Pippa. While there is romance, there are other central themes for teens who may read this book, including being true to yourself and being honest with those around you. The ending was a satisfying mix of melancholy and sweetness, and left me smiling long after I turned the last page.
Congratulations to Kristin Rae on a thoroughly successful debut! Dear readers, add this book to your summer reading list. You won't regret it!(less)
The Ring and The Crown is historical Young Adult fiction with a dash of white and black magic, drama, royal politics, and court romances. Loved it! Fu...moreThe Ring and The Crown is historical Young Adult fiction with a dash of white and black magic, drama, royal politics, and court romances. Loved it! Full of lush descriptions and intriguing characters, I especially loved the emphasis on strong, independent young women. Not everyone gets a happy ending in this one, which is equally disappointing and grudgingly wonderful. (less)
Mera naam Katie hai! Even though "K" has taught me a few things in Hindi, I tend to learn better by reading, so there you go! One sentence in Hindi I...moreMera naam Katie hai! Even though "K" has taught me a few things in Hindi, I tend to learn better by reading, so there you go! One sentence in Hindi I learned from ABBY SPENCER GOES TO BOLLYWOOD. [Smile.]
I thoroughly enjoyed this sweet, refreshing, fun, action-packed book. It truly does read like a Bollywood film, full of drama and intrigue and, yes, song and dance scenes, though obviously not quite as effective as a film. [Wink.]
Abby Spencer is half-Caucasian and half-Indian, the product of a loving relationship that went sour when her father returned to India from America shortly before her mother discovered that she was pregnant and could no longer get in touch with him, despite repeated attempts. She has always been curious about her father, but does not come off as poorly-adjusted or full of issues, thanks to the overwhelming love and concern shown to her by her mother and maternal grandparents, as well as the friendship of her best buds, Priya and Zooey.
When an unfortunate incident occurs that reveals a genetic allergic condition, Abby and her mother begin an internet search for her father, who, as it turns out, is now a major Bollywood star in Mumbai. After a flurry of email exchanges, Abby is whisked away to Mumbai to meet and spend time with her superstar dad - for the first time ever!
This is where the story really gets going! It was so much fun to experience India through Abby's eyes. She is exposed not only to the lavish lifestyle of her father, but also to the extreme poverty literally right outside the gates of his mansion, which I feel is an accurate representation of the extremes and contradictions you will witness when visiting India or any other similar country. The descriptions of Mumbai, from the streets to the food, made me even more anxious to visit India, an incredible country steeped in tradition and history, and in some ways, shrouded in mystery.
As always, characters are most important to me, and Abby and her fellow characters are no exception. Abby is a precocious, witty girl, and I loved how down-to-earth she was throughout the story. She didn't care about her dad's stardom or his wealth; she simply wanted to know him and to learn more about her heritage. Her father, in turn, seems to truly care about Abby, though it's clear he has a lot to learn about caring for a teenage girl; still, he tries, and his efforts made him endearing. Every character, from the most minor to the major, was well-developed, and I loved how even both sets of grandparents were involved in Abby's life and in caring for her in their own way. It sometimes seems rare to see such a strong family unit in books written for the younger crowd, which is a real shame. Though there is a slight "love interest" in the form of Shaan, an Indian American boy who is also visiting India, this book is more focused on Abby's personal growth and on developing the relationships between her two family units.
Though ABBY SPENCER GOES TO BOLLYWOOD is a book written for "tweens," it's not all fluff and rainbows. Abby deals with some challenging issues, including finding a way to connect with her super busy father and integrating herself into a new culture. I was curious to see how Varsha Bajaj would handle the issue of Abby's father disappearing before she was born, and why her mother never received a response after repeated attempts to contact him over the years. The answer turns out to be an unfortunate and sad one, but it serves to remind the reader that life is too short to judge others and that family ties are most important of all.
Congratulations to Varsha Bajaj for writing a book worthy of passing on to my sweet teenage niece!(less)
I am not quite sure how to feel or what to think about SWIMMING THROUGH CLOUDS. I knew I’d discover both light and dark amidst its pages, but I didn't...moreI am not quite sure how to feel or what to think about SWIMMING THROUGH CLOUDS. I knew I’d discover both light and dark amidst its pages, but I didn't know it would leave me feeling as if I were adrift at sea. In fact, I’m so confused at the ending and think I may need to read the last chapter again to see if I missed anything… but first, let me back up a little bit.
SWIMMING THROUGH CLOUDS focuses primarily on Talia Vanderbilt, a senior in high school and unofficial guardian of her younger brother, Justice (aka “Jesse”). Their mother is dead and their father, while still (very) present, is more of a terrorist dictator than a loving, supportive parent. The horrors they suffer at the hands of someone who is supposed to protect and nourish them are unspeakable. Slowly, very slowly, Talia reveals the depth of these horrors for the reader – and for Lagan, the boy whose dogged persistence earns her the first person she has ever been able to call “friend.”
Forbidden to have friends or go out like a normal teenagers, Talia and Jesse drift through each day, completing endless lists and walking on eggshells around their father, always aware that the words “or else” are waiting to be fulfilled around the next corner. Then, through a series of sticky notes, cryptic conversations, and clandestine meetings, an unlikely relationship blossoms between Talia and Lagan. Where her home life is as stable as a field of land mines, his care and consistency gives her a sliver of hope and peace. I have been on the receiving end of persistence, even when I felt I didn't deserve it or necessarily want it, and now I am so thankful that someone saw past my walls and found a way over them. It is because of this that, for me, Lagan is truly the shining star of this book.
As I’I've said before, characters can really make or break a book for me. In this case, even really wonderful characters that I came to care about couldn't quite support a 4 or 5-star rating. Unfortunately, SWIMMING THROUGH CLOUDS suffers from grammatical errors, poor sentence structure, and poor editing, which made reading, at times, a bit laborious. While some can ignore these issues, especially if the plot is engaging, it was hard to look past the numerous loose ends and the ultimately confusing, unsatisfying ending. What saved this book from earning a lesser review was, honestly, the intentions of the author, Rajdeep Paulus. I understood the overall message she was trying to communicate, and I do think she has a brilliant plot and wonderful characters. With skilled editing and a couple of re-writes to tighten up and maybe even flesh out/eliminate some characters/scenes, SWIMMING THROUGH CLOUDS could be a truly excellent book.
For my fellow readers, as a final parting thought, I do think you will enjoy SWIMMING THROUGH CLOUDS, especially if you love stories about the underdog, first romance, and family struggles. This book may not be polished, but it has heart. And that’s as good a start as any. (less)
There are some books that everyone - adults and children alike - should read. BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY is one of those books.
I have always had a special...moreThere are some books that everyone - adults and children alike - should read. BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY is one of those books.
I have always had a special place in my soul for stories from World War II. This probably stems from a very early reading of Corrie Ten Boom's The Hiding Place, and then later readings of The Diary of Anne Frank and Marcus Zusak's The Book Thief. I don't take pleasure in reading about the heart-wrenching events that transpired during the war, but I do take heart and find hope in the relentless human spirit. Even in the midst of death and abuse and the most rotten conditions, humans have an uncanny ability to find hope where there is none, and to survive when it would be so much easier to just give up. This is the type of story you will find within the pages of BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY.
Most of us are familiar with the unspeakable tragedies that the Jewish people suffered in the Holocaust, but I would wager that many of us were not aware of what happened to the people of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia at the hands of Stalin and the Soviet Union. Thank goodness for brave people like Ruta Sepetys, who tell the stories of the lost people and the survivors of the Soviet annihilation. BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY tells the story of the Vilkas family, and closely follows Lina Vilkas, a fifteen year old girl on the brink of an exciting year ahead, with the promise of a glittering summer and a prestigious art school before her. Then, with a thudding knock at the door in the middle of the night, all of Lina's dreams are shattered as she, her mother and younger brother are carted off in secret with dozens of other Lithuanians to Sibera.
Lina's story is not unlike the thousands and thousands of stories told by countless survivors of the Holocaust. Heartless soldiers, degrading conditions, little to no food, abuse, death, and sickness abound. However, despite these dark conditions and the evil lurking around every corner, Lina and her family and friends found hope and jubilation in the smallest of things - an unexpected kind gesture, a small piece of bread, a book, a comforting hand on the shoulder. While reading BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY, my emotional pendulum swung from one end to the other. I felt what Lina felt, alternating between despair and rage to hope and joy.
Not everyone has a happily ever after, and in fact, the ending of BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY is purposely left a little open-ended, but this doesn't detract from the beauty of the story. Ultimately, this story is about love. Love of country, love of family, love of friends, and most notably, love of our enemies; after all, they're the ones that need it the most.
When I read stories like Lina's, I am equally humbled and grateful for my many blessings and for the countless freedoms I enjoy every day under the shadow of the American flag and the blood shed by our military men and women. It is for this reason, and many more, that I would not hesitate to recommend this book to anyone and everyone I know. (less)
I've long known the song Scarborough Fair and am fascinated by the haunting, beautiful lyrics, so I had rather high hopes for Impossible. These hopes...moreI've long known the song Scarborough Fair and am fascinated by the haunting, beautiful lyrics, so I had rather high hopes for Impossible. These hopes were not fully met or realized, but it was a good read overall, and did keep me interested until the end.
This book does deal with rape, teen pregnancy, and teen marriage, but in as tasteful a manner as these subjects allow. The weakest aspects of Impossible are the paranormal bits, and the strongest aspects are the relationships that develop between each of the characters.
I don't think this book will necessarily change lives, but it is an entertaining read, at times even heart - warming in its portrayal of true love, both amongst family, biological and otherwise, and amongst lovers who fight the odds to stay together.(less)
Leigh Bardugo has such a raw talent for setting, characters and plot. I can't believe it took me so long to finally read this amazing book, but at lea...moreLeigh Bardugo has such a raw talent for setting, characters and plot. I can't believe it took me so long to finally read this amazing book, but at least now I can go straight into Siege and Storm! Full review to come soon on BlookGirl.com.(less)
I listed IF YOU COULD BE MINE as a Waiting on Wednesday pick a while ba...moreThis review was originally posted on BlookGirl.com.
I listed IF YOU COULD BE MINE as a Waiting on Wednesday pick a while back and was completely floored when the kind folks at Algonquin Young Readers had this book (and others) in my mailbox within 2 weeks. I have become more interested in Middle Eastern and Asian culture as of late, and have been impressed thus far by the few books I've read that feature these regions and their people. When a Young Adult novel combines not only characters of different ethnicities, but also characters within the LGBT community, I sit up and take notice. This combination is hard to find and so, a certain level of expectation comes with reading said novel.
After having recently read A Moment Comes by Jennifer Bradbury, which takes place solely in India, I had slightly higher expectations in regard to cultural depictions and setting going into IF YOU COULD BE MINE. We do get a glimpse into the oppressiveness of the Iranian laws (prison time for showing elbows, ladies!) and the shcoking inequality between men and women, but I was hoping for a bit more. Unfortunately, this is the least of my concerns about this novel, Most of my disappointment lies within the story itself. Sahar and Nasrin have been friends, and supposedly in love, since they were six. Aside from a few pages at the beginning of the book, however, we never get a feel for their childhood friendship or how or why they came to fall in love with each other. This omission was made even more obvious as I followed their story through current day.
Nasrin is a selfish tease, pure and simple. I have no earthly idea why Sahar was so committed to and infatuated with her! She sees Sahar when it suits her and is content to play house as long as it doesn't involve any real commitment on her part. Had their childhood friendship been fleshed out perhaps I would know why Sahar was so willing to give up her very identity for Nasrin, but because there was a complete lack of characterization and background, I just didn't buy into their romance or friendship. In the end, I felt incredibly sorry for Sahar. Unrequited love is incredibly tough to deal with, but to also feel as if you don't belong anywhere, even within your own home, it's a heavy load to bear. When Sahar began considering a sex change operation, it was just too much. I was so angry with both of them, but moreso with Sahar. That she would consider such a drastic, life-altering surgery without even consulting the person for whom she was making the change seemed absolutely foolish!
Despite the aforementioned negatives, IF YOU COULD BE MINE is not without its positives. The writing, while simple, is decent, and the secondary characters really captured my attention. Although the story is about Sahar and Nasrin's romance, I found myself much more intrigued by Ali, Sahar's gregarious, gay cousin, and Ali's transgendered friend (whose name escapes me at the moment). Unfortunately, the secondary characters also suffered from lack of depth and characterization. In fact, that seems to be my main issue with the book in general: though I realize I read an Advanced Reading Copy and things may very well be different in the final version, the whole story felt unfinished. It reads like a decent first draft of what could have been a truly amazing entry into this much-needed sub-genre of Young Adult novels. As it is, it falls short of the mark.
Overall, IF YOU COULD BE MINE tackles a tough subject matter in a nonjudgmental way and certainly gives the reader a lot to think about in regard to the challenges that millions of those in the LGBT community face every day across the globe. Those looking for a quick, one-day read that will keep you turning the pages, IF YOU COULD BE MINE is a good choice!
*An advance copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.(less)
I have always found the Amish way of life fascinating. They are cut off from technology, incredibly entrenched and involved in their close-knit commun...moreI have always found the Amish way of life fascinating. They are cut off from technology, incredibly entrenched and involved in their close-knit communities, and they follow very traditional gender roles. They are also, for the most part, very kind, loving, and hard-working people. These characteristics and more were well-portrayed within the pages of TEMPTATION, and I was happy to see that Karen Ann Hopkins did her research. She is also a very talented writer, which is why TEMPTATION earned the 3 stars that it did. However, aside from the solid writing and the fact that the story line did keep me intrigued enough to continue reading until the end, there is not much that I particularly loved about this book.
I knew from the synopsos (and from reading reviews of friends) that TEMPTATION would feature a bit of Insta-love. I'm okay with that, as long as there are other redeeming qualities about the plot line and characters, and initially, there was. Rose was independent and feisty, and it was her moxie that attracted Noah from the start. Well, that and the fact that she was "English" (i.e., "not Amish"), and therefore offered Noah the temptation of the "forbidden fruit". Noah was not the most likeable character. He had his moments, but overall, I found him to be controlling, obsessive, and close-minded. I don't care how "hot" a boy is; if he doesn't stimulate you intellectually and encourage you to grow as an individual, then he isn't worth it. Probably this is what concerned me the most - the fact that Noah was so willing to let Rose throw away college plans, her passion for dancing and dreams of the future just to be with him. I know that it wasn't too long ago that I was a lovesick teenager myself and probably did think my boyfriend at the time was "it" for me, but where does Rose's common sense finally kick in?!
The book isn't very plot-driven, which certainly hurts its rating in this case, depsite the fact that I usually am more of a character-focused reader. The plot in TEMPTATION seems to revolve solely around the romance and attraction between Noah and Rose, which becomes repetitive and nerve-grating after a while. They know each other for such a short time and by the end of the book, Rose is ready to leave behind her family and the modern conveniences of the "English" world for a boy who doesn't appreciate her love for dancing and to whom she must apologize for wearing lipgloss. GIVE ME A BREAK! I did keep in mind that there were vast cultural differences at play between Noah's world and Rose's world, and I did sympathize with this to a point. In fact, I am dating someone right now whose culture and background are very different from mine, and we've encountered our difficulties because of this, but never once have I considered giving up my identity for this man, even though I love him.
Maybe I'm a bit jaded or perhaps I'm more wise - or both - but this book just doesn't hold the appeal for me that it may have had I read it several years ago. As it is, I wouldn't be quick to suggest that any young teen girls read this book because it's just full of risky decisions born of raging hormones. I know there are two books that follow TEMPTATION, and I am slated to read BELONGING next. I hope Rose develops some common sense in the next book, and that Noah realizes that if he really wants to be a man he will need to develop his own beliefs and values and not just blindly follow the Amish herd.
Overall, TEMPTATION wasn't a bad read by any means. As I stated previously, Karen Ann Hopkins is an excellent writer and the story is very well outlined and paced. I also admired the skill with which she painted each scene. Her background as a riding instructor and farmer really shines through in the descriptive prose! The actual plot and characters did not necessarily appeal to me, but I do know many wonderful people who loved this book, and so it's just a matter of "to each her own." I suggest that you give TEMPTATION a try, dear reader, and see for yourself!
*An advance copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. ---------------------------------- This review was originally posted on BlookGirl.com on August 16, 2013, as part of the Harlequin Teen/Kismet Book Tours Blog Tour!(less)
I cried approximately six and a half times while reading EASY. Does that mean this review will be "easy" to write? I think not! Full review to come on...moreI cried approximately six and a half times while reading EASY. Does that mean this review will be "easy" to write? I think not! Full review to come on BlookGirl.com.(less)
When THE LOOP was first announced, I immediately added it to my "Oh Em Gee" list on GoodReads. It sounded unique and intriguing, and since I'm a big f...moreWhen THE LOOP was first announced, I immediately added it to my "Oh Em Gee" list on GoodReads. It sounded unique and intriguing, and since I'm a big fan of suspense and murder mysteries, I figured this book was right up my alley! I was right - and wrong.
I am a big lover of characters in the books I read. If the characters and their stories are compelling, I become emotionally invested, sometimes to the point of obsession. THE LOOP, clocking in at just over 200 pages, is very much a plot-driven novel. It's fast-paced and action-packed, which makes it a quick read, but I was a bit let down by the lack of character development. Since we're thrown right in to Ben and Maggie's loop within the first few pages, we don't get to learn what their lives were like before the loop, what they were interested in, what their families were like, if they had friends they cared about... the lack of this knowlede didn't lead me to really care about whether or not they escaped the loop in the end.
The premise of the novel is excellent, but I think the execution of it was poor in some parts and fair-to-middling in others. There were things that didn't really make sense, which sometimes is part of what makes a story great, but in this case, just left me feeling frustrated. Maggie had apparently been in other loops before, and remembered that she had, but couldn't seem to remember how she got out of them. Then, both Ben and Maggie try to change the course of Fate by making different decisions to escape the loop, but their decisions didn't really seem to make sense. They may be head-strong teenagers, but they're still children, and I would think that most kids would try to involve others (parents or mentors?) to help keep them away from a man bent on murdering them. And while I'm at it, the sole purpose of the big bad wolf, Roy, seemed to be that of someone Ben and Maggie could run from to further the plot. By the end of the story, I had forgotten why Roy was even intent on murdering them in the first place, and asked myself several times why Roy didn't just stop pursuing them to stop his own loop... Too many plot holes for me, and I'm not a big fan of Swiss cheese.
I know my review thus far is a bit of a rant/complaint, but I did give THE LOOP three stars, so there were some redeeming qualities. These qualities include the fact that it was a quick read, the action was non-stop, and it did keep me entertained. If you are a fan of plot-driven novels and are in search of an entertaining book you can read within the span of a plane ride or a few hours by the pool, THE LOOP may be just what you're looking for! Just don't over-think it and you're set!
*A finished copy of this book was provided by the publisher and AuthorsOnTheWeb in exchange for an honest review.(less)
CROSSING THE LINE was a a quick, engrossing read that kept me turning pages right up to the very end. Complete with fantastic characters, snappy dialo...moreCROSSING THE LINE was a a quick, engrossing read that kept me turning pages right up to the very end. Complete with fantastic characters, snappy dialogue, and a fast-moving plot, this is exactly the distraction I was looking for during the agonizing wait for DARE YOU TO.
My favorite parts of this novella were the snippets of letters to and from Lila and Lincoln. The friendship and eventual romance that developed through the writing of these letters swept me away and made me want to write letters of my own to the man I love.
In about 70-some odd pages, Katie McGarry manages to pack that same wallop of emotion that I've come to expect with her work. Overall, CROSSING THE LINE did not disappoint, and while I typically do not like this new "novella/1.5" craze, I would highly recommend this particular short story to any fan of the series.(less)