You Guys, I've loved everything I have ever read by Stephanie Perkins. I basically swooned my way through Anna and the French Kiss (it remains a favouYou Guys, I've loved everything I have ever read by Stephanie Perkins. I basically swooned my way through Anna and the French Kiss (it remains a favourite book of mine to this day) and while Lola and the Boy Next Door wasn't as memorable for me I still loved it at the time. I have been looking forward to reading Isla and the Happily Ever After for ages and I'm so glad I finally got the chance to.
Isla and the Happily Ever After is set the year after Anna and the French Kiss. Isla is living in New York for the summer when she runs into Josh, the boy from school who she's had a crush on forever. Once they're back in Paris they're inseparable, but of course life gets in the way. They have a few romantic weeks, but Josh's issues with rules come back and threaten to separate them as does the looming possibility of going to separate countries for college.
Isla isn't exactly what I was expecting when I first started reading it, but I don't think that's a criticism in the slightest. Both Anna and Isla were on the lighter side of reading for me; they dealt with real world issues, but the characters were fairly confident and I, as a reader, was confident in the happy ending. These were fictional characters that swept me off my feet, but they were still fictional characters living in a beautiful version of the modern world. These are a few of the reasons why I love the books so much. Isla was different in that way though; she felt more real, more grounded as a character. She hit very close to home for me.
There were moments reading this book that I admit I had to put it down and it took me awhile to pick it back up again. This went on right until I was finished. The writing was as always spot on, but I saw a lot of myself in Isla and not always in the best way. She's a bright, academically motivated high school senior, but she doesn't have a plan and feels completely adrift. She has a lot of insecurities that just are. They don't really have an explanation, but they affect her decisions, her relationships, everything really. It was hard to read parts of it because I know that I myself have made and will continue to make a few of her poorer decisions. This was a girl I know well. Picking a fight with a boyfriend because of some fear that really only stems from your own mind? Yup, been there. Anna is one of my favourite books because it's escapism for me; I loved Isla, but because it felt REAL. This is a story that I know.
The story line has none of the big dramas of the other two novels, again it felt more grounded in reality. At times the pace may have felt sluggish for some, but for me it was perfect. Josh is a senators son and talented artist who has some issues with school and rules and sure these kids can hop on a train to Barcelona, but nothing felt over dramatic. The tone was right and their reactions were those of high school students. Most of it focuses on the painful decisions you have to make once you graduate and separate from the people you've known for years. It's about trying to figure out your place in the larger world and how you react to it.
One of my favourite things about Stephanie Perkins is her ability to weave humour and levity into her books that aren't always light and fluffy and that remains true with this one. I also love the settings. The worlds she creates are beautiful and filled with artwork and love. It's really our world as it should be. Anna inspired me to go to Paris the first time and Isla makes me want to revisit it. The beauty of the scenery is inspiring and it makes me want to live in this world with murals on the walls and trains through the countryside. Even getting drenched in the rain sounds romantic when it's on the pages of this novel.
Isla was a harder read for me and I know I won't revisit it as much as I would with the other novels in this series, but only because it is so well written and spot on. If I didn't relate to it as much as I do it would be easier to read, but wouldn't be as real. This book affected me in ways that the other novels did not and I'm grateful for that. I'm so glad that I finally read it and I'm glad I persevered even when I found it difficult. It's a fantastic end to one of my favourite series. ...more
I'm normally very careful about how I phrase reviews and I try to find something positive in almost every book I read. Constructive criticism and honeI'm normally very careful about how I phrase reviews and I try to find something positive in almost every book I read. Constructive criticism and honest opinions are one thing, but I'm always wary of veering off into a rant. Piece of my Heart makes me wary for this very reason. I don't necessarily want to rant about it, but there was so much I disliked about it that it evoked some very strong emotions from me while reading it and let's just say my notebook isn't fit for public eyes.
Piece of my Heart focuses on Marisol Reyes, a nearly eighteen year old girl who wants to make it in the music industry. She's had a difficult life, losing her father at a young age, growing up in East Harlem without a lot of money behind her to help support her dream. What she lacks in opportunities she makes up for in drive and the book focuses on her career path and the choices she makes to get to the top.
I originally requested this book on NetGalley because the premise was intriguing; who can resist a good rise to fame story? Plus, it's a book about a woman of cover living in New York and we need more diversity in books. However, the book itself left me flat. The characters were not well drawn and there was absolutely nothing to the relationships. Throughout the book we're told that Marisol is driven, career oriented, but also pure and a good girl. This alone sets up problematic female relationships. The world the author built was so black and white; there was no room to build believable, dynamic relationships let alone set up a promising story arc.
Marisol as a main character was absolutely abhorrent. She's set up as this good person, who stands her ground and follows her own path; she knows her limits and will stand up for herself and pursue what she wants. These are great traits for a female character to have. However, most of the novel has her tearing down other woman. You can't be a woman in the world and not support Marisol, that makes you a hootchie mama at best.
I am so tired of reading about these toxic female relationships. Slut shaming, fat shaming, are all present in this book and none of the female characters support each other. They are constantly tearing each other down and Marisol is a huge perpetrator of it. Not only that, but the narrative supports it; it's not a character choice. Marisol is the good girl, the virgin whereas those who have had sex end up in sex tapes and are talked about, called skanks, you name it. I have absolutely no time for that. If it's one character who does it, sure, maybe, but for all of them to do it; there are clearly judgements being passed not only by the character, but by the story itself. I think the best example is when the "mean girl" (and let's face it, they're all mean girls in this one) films a sex tape with her boyfriend and another woman it's the girl's ex who gets all the attention because poor him he must be so embarrassed. Must we shame women for their sexuality in this way; could there not be a reasonable discussion about these topics? Of course, there's the classic fight with your best friend oh well now she's your enemy, better comment on her looks.
Not only do I have some serious issues with these characters, but it was poorly written. It read like pure exposition. The reader is constantly told things. We're told that Marisol is pure. We're told that she's in love with Julian. We're told that she's over her schoolgirl crush on Diego Salazar, popstar. We never actually see these things. Marisol rarely interacts with others for one. Plus, when she does she's all over the place as a character. The writing also gets incredibly repetitive as the same statement is repeated multiple times. Yes, we know that Marisol and Julian will never really be over because they are so in love; it's too bad they're both seeing other people at the moment. It can also be juvenile at times, using odd slang such as "you've got such a rockin' little bod." Perhaps that is how people talk, but it felt like a poorly written play. Dialogue that's just a little off in a way you can't quite put your finger on.
I would not recommend this book and I hate to write such a negative review, but I received this book in exchange for an honest opinion. I'm just so tired of reading books that perpetuate negative female stereotypes in this fashion. There were other issues I had with it that I just don't have the energy to go into because when I start to type I get so angry thinking about the plot points that I've already mentioned. Not every female relationship has to be a positive one, but I cannot stand behind a book where women are constantly tearing each other down and perpetuating the myth of the virgin and the whore. ...more
You know those books where it's just difficult to formulate your thoughts to form a cohesive opinion? Thorn Abbey is one of those books for me. ThereYou know those books where it's just difficult to formulate your thoughts to form a cohesive opinion? Thorn Abbey is one of those books for me. There is a lot to be critical of, but also a lot to like and it's left me feeling pretty scattered. Thorn Abbey is a modern retelling of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca. The story is now centered on Tess, a brilliant, but insecure and socially awkward girl who has trouble fitting in. She falls for the rich and popular Max, but feels that her relationship will always come in second to his relationship with the now dead Becca, the former Queen Bee on campus. I think it's a super interesting premise and it could be an absolutely brilliant retelling, but the problem is, I've never read the original novel. I feel like I'm missing out on a lot by knowing absolutely nothing about the source material, but there you have it.
I was totally drawn in by the premise of the book, but I have to admit that when I first started reading I almost put it back down. I found Tess to be so incredibly off putting; I wasn't sure that I would make it through the book, but I realized that she was written that way for a reason and I soldiered on. Tess is an incredibly frustrating character; she's insecure, needy and at times a little delusional. It's so difficult for me to read about somebody like that. However, ultimately it was the right choice for the story. I think in the end Tess needed to be the way she was for anything to work. Plus, she was always described as being awkward and insecure and wow, did she show that. So while I found this character to be incredibly frustrating, I have a feeling it's true to the original and she seemed to work as a plot device.
That aside, the story itself was super creepy. The presence of this dead girl throughout the school is overpowering. People, especially her super popular ex-roommate are obsessed with her in a way that cannot be healthy. It's that part of the plot that really drew me in. How much power did this girl really have over everybody and how is her presence still so tangible despite her death months ago?
That's where what I understand to be the modern updates come in. There's a definite supernatural, haunting presence that was more than weird enough for me. I'm a total wimp when it comes to that sort of thing. Writing on walls, flying embers, burning pages all of it added up to one vengeful ghost and I cannot deal. I mean it keeps the pages turning and sets the tone from the start, but it creeps me out just thinking about it now. For those of you who are into ghost stories and supernatural heebie jeebies, you'll probably think of this as super tame, but for me, it struck the right balance.
Now I did have an issue with some of the character development. The characters were fairly two dimensional and we never learn a lot about anybody. They're flat and show no growth. There's no emotional journey. Max is moody, the girls are all stereotypical mean girls, the cousin is sleazy, there's the loyal best friend, I could go on. That having been said, it's not like this was a book driven by characters; it was more about action. I just happen to like some solid character development in my stories.
Overall, I enjoyed Thorn Abbey as it is, without comparison to the original. I like the boarding school setting and think that Ohlin set up the plot and tone well. The supernatural aspect, for me, enhance the story and it's the main reason why I'm still shivering about it now, days after I finished reading; always a good sign. It was by far not the perfect novel and maybe those of you who have read the original will have more to criticize, but I liked it for what it was and would buy it again for my shelf. ...more
The streak continues with Let it Snow. It wasn't the perfect, blow me away, reread all the time kind of book, but it was exactly what I was looking foThe streak continues with Let it Snow. It wasn't the perfect, blow me away, reread all the time kind of book, but it was exactly what I was looking for. The book is three interweaving stories connected by setting and secondary characters. Each author has their own take on Christmas romances and I enjoyed each one in it's own way. I find I'm having issues summarizing and reviewing the book as a whole since each story is unique so I'll split up my discussion into three sections.
The first story is Maureen Johnson's "The Jubilee Express." On Christmas Eve Jubilee's parents are arrested and instead of going to her boyfriend's Christmas Eve Smorgasbord she has to get on a train to get to her grandparents in Florida. The train gets stuck just outside of Gracetown and she must rely on the help of a stranger to have a warm, safe place for the night. The stranger just happens to be Stuart, a boy her age who has recently had his heart broken.
I really enjoyed "The Jubilee Express" although it took me a little while to warm up to Jubilee herself. She's one of those characters who seemed totally believable and I know people like her in life, but my god she drove me crazy at times. She was so concerned with outward appearances that she rarely saw what was really happening. I enjoyed the building tension between Stuart and Jubilee and more than anything loved the supporting characters in this story. Stuart's family was so sweet and caring if a little quirky and well I'll leave the reason why Jubilee's parents were arrested out of this since I think you should find that out for yourself if you don't already know. "The Jubilee Express" felt like a cute holiday romance with some fairly believable characters in weird and quirky situations. It kind of just made me go aww, I know, not the most eloquent way of putting it.
The second story is John Green's "A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle." This was probably my least favourite of the three stories which definitely surprised me. I was honestly expecting to like it more than I did. This one centers on Tobin and Angie, best friends who go, with another friend, on an epic midnight Christmas Eve adventure to the local Waffle House to meet some cheerleaders who were stranded on the same train as Jubilee.
These characters just seemed to rub me the wrong way. They were incredibly nerdy cool in a way that almost seemed to look down on others or like they were all trying just a little too hard to really pull it off. There's a weird male obsession with hooking up with cheerleaders, but also a certain disdain in the writing towards them. Angie is a cool girl because she's a girl, but totally doesn't act like one (but of course still wants to be seen as one). I think that's the part that really got to me; why does being a cool girl amount to displaying more masculine traits and being one of the guys? I'm all for going your own way; this just seems to be a female stereotype that comes up a lot and kind of bothers me. I know there are others out there who have examined this in much more detail and I'm feeling the need to read up on it now. The other part of it was that I just couldn't get behind the adventure. Driving your car up an icy road in the middle of the night during a blizzard is a really good way to get killed. There was some incredibly poor decision making displayed in this story.
The final story is Lauren Myracle's "The Patron Saint of Pigs." This one centers on Addie a girl who has just broken up with her boyfriend, who happens to be another passenger stuck on the train. She's absolutely heart broken, but also realizes that what has happened was ultimately her doing. It's now Boxing Day and she must go to work while dealing with her heartbreak and horrible breakup haircut and remember to pick up the pig she and her friend have purchased for their friend who is absolutely obsessed with pigs.
I know this wasn't a story loved by many, but I really enjoyed Myracle's take on some classic holiday plot lines. Angels and bells, they just go with Christmas you know? Maybe I've just seen It's a Wonderful Life one too many times. Her characters are probably the least fleshed out of all three, but I was too busy enjoying the talk about angels and self improvement and worth to really care. I could not stand Addie's two friends, Dorrie and Tegan, even her boss ended up getting on my nerves. Dorrie was written as a Jewish stereotype and Tegan basically had no personality of her own. The thing that got to me was everybody telling Addie how selfish she was being and while she did display a lot of selfish behaviour, the reactions to some of the things that happened seemed extreme. Not all, she did do one major thing that I know won't sit well with a lot of readers. However, despite its flaws; I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Overall, Let it Snow isn't my favourite holiday book of all time, but I know I'll pick it up again next Christmas. It's light, it's a really fast read and all the stories are about people falling in love in the snow. How bad could any of that be; you just have to be in the right mood for it. Which I, perhaps shamefully, always am. ...more
Going into this one I figured a book about telepathic high school students could go either way. On the one hand, telepathy could be kind of cool and sGoing into this one I figured a book about telepathic high school students could go either way. On the one hand, telepathy could be kind of cool and science fictiony, but on the other, you've got the potential for some highly immature thoughts. Don't Even Think About it unfortunately veered towards the latter.
A group of high school students gets the flu shot at school and one of the unexpected side effects is telepathy. They can overhear each other, friends, family, cheat on tests. Of course, they decide to keep it a secret because who would believe them anyways? I love the premise of the book. It had the potential to be a sort of contemporary sci-fi mash up, at least in my mind, but something about it ended up rubbing me the wrong way.
My first gripe is that it was written entirely with the we; it was as if they had a collective conscious and no individual thoughts. I suppose I understand why; they could overhear everything every other person in their direct vicinity was thinking, but it kind of got on my nerves. Just because you can hear everybody's thoughts, does that necessarily mean that individual thought is entirely gone? Doesn't one person still have to have the thought before it can be heard?
It also seemed fairly immature. The telepathy was used only to get gossip and cheat on tests. There was no wondering why or how they got it. It might have been mentioned briefly, but then quickly glossed over. How could a government conspiracy or botched science experiment top who was cheating on who. I wouldn't have minded that so much had every chapter not been high school gossip, but it was. Maybe other reasons, perhaps the target audience actually, would understand these teenagers more than I do, but it certainly wasn't the book for me.
I have to admit I ended up putting this book down for awhile before picking it back up. Reading every single thought, fully formed, as a sentence got to me after awhile and I just didn't think the premise was used to its full potential. I'm not saying that Don't Even Think About it doesn't have an audience, but I was definitely not among it. ...more
I read a few reviews for The Here and Now and was prepared to hate it. I was expecting for it to not make sense, for the characters to be heinous, reaI read a few reviews for The Here and Now and was prepared to hate it. I was expecting for it to not make sense, for the characters to be heinous, really any number of sins, but you know what? I actually enjoyed my time spent reading. Maybe it's because I went into it with such low expectations, but I enjoyed the novel more than I thought I would. It certainly wasn't the perfect read and I'm not running out to buy it for friends, but it was a few hours of my time well spent.
Preena is a time traveler who has come to our era with a group of others from the future in order to prevent a completely dystopian future. However, this group has taken to hiding out and has not taken any action to change the future. Preena learns through unconventional means that a turning point is about to occur and she must prevent one event from happening that could change humanity's entire course.
I have to admit that I love books that involve time travel. They don't always make sense, but there's something about the possibility of multiple time lines and time being circular that appeals to me. Even if a story's not particularly well written I'll probably like it more than I should. A lot of people who's opinions I rely on when choosing books absolutely trashed The Here and Now and a few people didn't finish it. I can understand why. The plot was convoluted and their was a not entirely successful blend of romance and mystery. However, despite the convoluted nature of the time travel I was still reading at two am. Their were logical holes in the plot that even now I can't fully wrap my mind around so I'm not even going to touch on them here.
The love story was also problematic in that it wasn't exactly fleshed out. It was love at first sight and then we jump ahead a few years to a nearly fully developed relationship. Preena and Ethan are good friends despite her community's restrictions on relationships with people native to the time. Typical star crossed lovers trope. There's really no build up or tension to their relationship. They're basically in love as soon as the readers meet them. It's not as satisfying as watching a relationship grow.
The mixture of crazy time travel drama and romance was an odd balance.They seemed to take these large breaks from their mission and it suddenly became a contemporary romance for a few chapters. It was jarring and put me off from the part of the story I was actually interested in; the crazy time travel pandemic. These breaks from the main plot combined with some of the logic holes slowed the pace down and dragged the story out. I thought it could have been much tighter; most of the action was packed into a couple of pages and the characters seemed to have quite a few deus ex machinas on their side so in the end there was a lot of exposition as opposed to action.
It was most definitely not my favourite book and I think there are definitely better time travel stories out there. I didn't however hate it and it did keep me flipping the pages until the early morning hours. It might not be the best book out there, but it kept me entertained as I read it and sometimes that's all I ask for. ...more
The Dream Thieves was an engrossing book that I didn't want to put down even at two in the morning. The characters are dealing with things that they dThe Dream Thieves was an engrossing book that I didn't want to put down even at two in the morning. The characters are dealing with things that they don’t fully understand and it is so exciting for the reader. I love the characterizations and how fully each character is being developed. The relationships forming between them feel real and fractured and I can’t think of a single character who I don’t like. Even the characters who I don’t like, villains like Kapuscinki, have more than one dimension and are compelling.
I am now thoroughly invested in the Raven Cycle and cannot wait to read Blue Lily, Lily Blue. I don’t often read series because I find myself getting bored halfway through, but this is one that I’m more than happy to continue.
I have to be honest, crime thrillers aren't my usual genre. I have a weak stomach, what can I say. No matter how well written a novel is I'll find mysI have to be honest, crime thrillers aren't my usual genre. I have a weak stomach, what can I say. No matter how well written a novel is I'll find myself skipping over parts of it I find too gruesome; it's the same reason I don't watch horror movies. I generally stick to contemporary for a reason. That having been said, every once in awhile I find myself picking up a crime novel, a novel that describes itself as gritty, and giving it a shot. I have yet to fall in love with one of these books, Blood Sports included.
Blood Sports fits squarely into its genre. It takes place on the Downtown East Side of Vancouver; one of the poorest areas of North America. Tom is living with his girlfriend and daughter in a small apartment, trying to leave his past behind, but it starts to catch up with him. He is kidnapped, tortured; it is all brutally described in detail. It may be a work of fiction, but none of it is entirely out of the realm of possible, making it that much more difficult to read.
Robinson's prose suits the genre and helps set a dark, dank and downright creepy tone throughout the novel. It is direct, never shying away from the more unsavoury details of whatever a character is going through, whether it be a drug overdose or torture. It is brutal and fitting. An interesting stylistic choice that I found to be quite effective was the way the story jumped around in time. It was jarring and on occasion it took me awhile to figure out where in time we were, but it added to the story's overall chaos and confusion. We are normally seeing the story through Tom's eyes and he is often unsure of what is happening; the jumps through time help bring that confusion to the reader.
The characterizations are brilliant and while I felt for Tom and his girlfriend Paulie; I could also clearly see how they ended up in the situation they were in. They made many poor choices, compounded by bad luck. That's not to say that I didn't want them to come out ahead in the end as they were complex characters who were clearly trying to build a better life, but it was also easy for me to see why that was so difficult for them. Jeremy Reiger, Tom's sociopathic cousin is one of the most disturbing, unfeeling characters I have come across in literature and not somebody I want to revisit anytime soon; I can only assume that was Robinson's goal while writing him into this novel and that she was successful at it.
I didn't love Blood Sports, but I didn't expect to. I found it to be more than a little unsettling and I do think that that's a sign of a successful thriller/murder mystery. I put down the book and felt so creeped out; there really was no reprieve to the tension. I think Robison wrote an excellent crime novel and I love that it was set in a Canadian city. It may not have been the book for me and I won't be picking up another thriller in the near future, but I would definitely recommend it to somebody who liked the genre and maybe, just maybe, has stronger nerves than me....more
Full disclosure, I don't deal well with horror or thrillers or anything that could potentially keep me up at night because I'm still pretty sure thatFull disclosure, I don't deal well with horror or thrillers or anything that could potentially keep me up at night because I'm still pretty sure that there are monsters under my bed just waiting for me to forget to pull the covers up one night. Keep that in mind when reading my review because I am a giant wimp when it comes to this kind of novel. Day One is kind of an action packed thrill ride type of novel. Like it's close to a Hollywood blockbuster, but you know, a book. There are tons of explosions, action sequences and conspiracies that keep you guessing. While it might not be my genre, I could see somebody really getting into it.