To be fair, I read up until 50% of this book, skimmed for a while, and then skipped ahead to the 95% mark where I finished the book. So I wasn’t entirely sure whether to classify this book as a “DNF” read or as a full-fledged read. But in the end, because I knew what happened at the very end in terms of the resolution, I was overly indulgent and told myself I had completed this novel. The reason I was so hesitant to endure the other half was because of how much I really hated the characters. Only Everything is told in three different people’s perspectives: the exiled goddess Eros who goes by the name True on Earth, the dad-less student Katrina struggling with her identity, and the new kid Charlie who’s infatuated with Katrina. It’s an interesting cast by far, but what I really hated about them were that they weren’t compelling characters. In terms of the story itself, it was decent, although the attitudes of our main characters really pissed me off.
First of all, True, alias Cupid, was so stupid that I wanted to take her neck and squeeze. She would come to school wearing stuff like a dress layered over jeans, sneakers, and a baseball cap, it wasn’t just secondhand embarrassment, it was idiotic. If you made frequent visits to Earth, then you should be familiar with the fashion choices there. Even if you do meet up with your boyfriend or girlfriend secretly in a secluded forest, you should still have an idea of what you’re up against before you go to a foreign place. Not to mention, True was teaching Orion about Earth before they were separated and she got exiled to Earth. So the fact that she tries to make herself as conspicuous as possible at high school is ridiculous. High school’s ruthless—you’re going to get noticed for what fashion chooses you make, especially when they’re as out of date as hers were.
Furthermore, True needed to stop whining and being obnoxious. Every other chapter, she was saying something about how much she wanted her powers back. Like, no. You’re exiled for a reason, and if you can’t get along okay without your powers, then we have a problem here.
This could not be my reflection. The hair in tangles, the gray swipes of color under the eyes, the red nose with its skin peeling along its bridge. I leaned forward, horrified. Was that a pimple on my chin?
“No!” I cried, the tears flowing freely now. “This was not a part of our deal! No one said I was going to deteriorate!”
Then she goes on a tangent on how beautiful she was as a goddess, and how her being ugly would’ve made Orion run for the hills, because obviously true love is based off of how pretty you are. Nothing annoys me more in mythology than when characters are depicted as literally perfect just because they’re gods and goddesses. Obviously not, because Hera was a jealous bitch, and Hades was a psychotic bastard. True needed to stop with the “I’m so not pretty anymore my life is ooooovvvvveeeeerrrrrr” melodrama because nobody cares, girl. And then in another chapter, she gets drunk because she drinks two bottles of wine and then literally whines, “This has never happened to me before!!!” while ranting about how she needs to get back to Orion and reclaim her goddess-status. If you know that being a human’s different from being a goddess, you have to know that you’re weaker and more susceptible to illness and imperfection. But no, she continues to cry over how much of a lightweight she is.
In Katrina and Charlie’s point of view, True would constantly spout random shit that just made her seem really desperate and annoying. She would pretty much say out loud that she only needed x amount of match-ups left to be allowed back to Orion, and all it would do was make it harder for anyone to want to put their love life into their hands. She would push girls onto Charlie and even when he obviously wasn’t interested, True would whine at him and try and get him to give the girl in question a chance.
Both Katrina and Charlie were perfect for each other—because they were such pushovers. Katrina was in SUCH a toxic relationship, both with her old boyfriend and friends, and the fact that she didn’t even bother standing up for herself made me so mad. She didn’t even get angry at them for what they did to her. They treated her like utter shit and she wouldn’t even think, “That doesn’t sound right,” she’d be like, “I guess they’re not very close friends with me because they’re siding with her this time” instead. The same went with Charlie, because he couldn’t even stand up for himself and even though on the inside he would be screaming for help, on the outside he grinned and bore it.
I gave Only Everything that extra half star for the possibility of character development by the end, although with how much the supporting and main characters annoyed me, I wasn’t going to hold out. The ending did nothing to convince me to return to my reading spot and actually finish it, except for maybe the progression of Charlie and Katrina’s relationship, which was still nonexistent at 50% so I’m not sure how well that would’ve went over any other way.
It seems that the contemporary books I count on to lift my spirits have actually been crashing and burning, this one unfortunately not being that one book to break my unlucky streak.
At the end of eighth grade, Lucy Carpenter was mortified when she tried to make a move on her best guy friend, Jackson, wherein he responded, "Don't.” Years later, Lucy, moving in with Mikayla to a quant house, is suddenly thrust back into Jackson's world, but that's where the cliché story ends. Jackson actually ends up falling for Lucy's best friend Mikayla, which causes a series of problems and turmoil. Personally, I felt that Mikayla and Jackson's relationship was so stupid because she didn't even know his name at first and then all of a sudden she was willing throw away her best friend for the sake of a guy she barely knew. If my best friend had bad history with someone, I wouldn't go after that someone if I barely knew him or her. But not only was their relationship rushed and implausible, Mikayla briefly asked Lucy her opinion, and when Lucy replied a vague, "Sure," Mikayla interpreted it as a sign that she was doing things right and shouldn't change the amount of communication she was having with him. If you’re her best friend, you should be able to tell she’s not sincere, and you should be trying to take the relationship slower for the sake of your friend. Maybe it’s unorthodox of me, but personally I believe that a friendship takes precedence over a romance.
How to Meet Boys is told in both Mikayla and Lucy's perspectives, so you see both of them falling for a guy and having their share of romantic moments. I didn't particularly favor any of the relationships featured, and I felt that the conversation between the two couples at times was dry and lifeless.
Basically *and the following is an exaggeration*:
Lucy: hey Love Interest: hey L: what's up you look different LI: nah it's probably just my new watch L: lol cool
Lucy didn't even seem that bothered by Mikayla's relationship with Jackson, but we were told that she isn't supposed to like the idea of her almost-boyfriend and her best friend hooking up. Whenever she's not having a flimsy rant over how upset she is about the whole thing, she’s having a side romance. Since they worked together at Lucy’s grandparent’s store, they spent a lot of time together. By that point, I believed there was more chemistry between Lucy and Jackson than either of the real relationships going. Lucy and Mikayla’s friend dynamic is flimsy at best, and it’s irrelevant to have the fact that they’re best friends thrown in there if they don’t even spend that much time with each other.(less)
Why does this keep happening to me? All these amazing books that have received a ton of hype, and none of it has been up my alley! Better off Friends is pretty cute, yes, but it also has some flaws that I couldn’t really overlook.
First off, I loved Levi and Macallan’s relationship. They met when Levi first moved from California and soon became best friends. Their conversations are so best-friend material, encompassing everything that two people close to each other would say. I loved how comfortable and easygoing they were towards each other, and it was the small gestures they exchanged that really clinched it for me. There was this one scene where Levi saw Macallan at a restaurant and just put his head on her shoulder while she was order, like it was nothing. Even though I didn’t approve of Levi’s motives, the act in itself was adorable and super cute. Their friendship is the kind of relationship I want to have with someone. I want a best friend as dedicated as they are towards each other!
Past the content of their friendship, I can’t say I loved anything else. I felt like the first half was kind of slow, because I understand that it was to build up the relationship between Levi and Macallan, it wasn’t very interesting. I feel like I was either in the wrong mindset, but I just can’t explain why I felt bored by it. Furthermore, I wasn’t a fan of Levi’s character. I feel like the reason his feelings towards Macallan suddenly changed was groundless. It was a classic best-friend moment, but right after Levi started obsessing over what was going on, and the shift was way too abrupt for my liking.(less)
As much as I loved the idea of a book set during Hitler’s rule in Germany, this one ended disappointing me. Prisoner of Night and Fog takes place during the early 1900s, while Hitler is rising towards power and spreading his influence. The beautiful thing about this book is how Anne tried to almost humanize Hitler in the beginning, truly showing off his charisma and how he was able to get as far as he did with his vision to purge Germany of the Jewish population. The amount of research that’s put into this story is truly remarkable, and it’s obvious that Anne knows what she’s talking about. It’s not hard to tell that she spent an extensive amount of time looking into Hitler and his life outside of his political views. Not only does she properly build the setting with the right amount of facts without it becoming too overbearing, her attention to detail is breathtaking. The setting is wonderfully constructed, and the characterization is something to be admired. Gretchen’s brother Reinhard is one of the most chilling characters that I have ever had the pleasure of reading, considering his extensive role in the book.
Despite the wonderful premise and characterization, I felt like nothing happened in between. Gretchen was supposed to be focused on unearthing the grounds under which her father died, but it felt like she really didn’t care. The story was that her father had died a martyr, jumping in front of Hitler to save him from being shot, but soon she starts to question that popular belief. However, the mystery didn’t really start to unravel until the last twenty percent. I just felt like nothing really happened for the first two thirds, because the focus was mainly on the character development, romance, and setting. Even though it was interesting, it wasn’t enough to keep my attention. I didn’t want to keep reading, and I feel like Gretchen talked about possible theories but never really found anything of much use to her.
There’s obviously a romance between Gretchen and a Jew named Daniel, and I found that I didn’t even like that part. She’s the niece of the one person that hates Jewish people more than anything, but she seemed to jump into the romance without any hesitation. I wanted there to be some kind of social clash between them, or there to be a bigger conflict between Hitler and the Jewish population in Germany. While Prisoner of Night and Fog took place during the first phase of Hitler’s rule, when he was still campaigning for the extermination of everyone who followed that particular religion, maybe there could have been a more significant sign of the abuse and oppression from the hands of Hitler’s Party and regiment. Not that I condone his actions, and I don’t know enough about the Holocaust to know what was happening at that specific time, but that was just one of the pieces of the puzzle that didn’t fit perfectly.
Prisoner of Night and Fog is a must-read for historical fiction regulars, but for those who aren’t familiar with the genre and don’t find a liking to strong character-oriented stories, I would pass on this one.(less)
Tease would have been a more positive reading experience for me if one thing had happened: Sara was a completely different character entirely. While the idea is creative, Sara’s entire personality ruins the air of melancholy loss and grief.
What angered me the most about Sara was how nonchalant she was about Emma’s suicide. Tease is told in two time frames, before Emma’s suicide and after it. The two together worked well, but I really hated the kind of person she was in both time frames. I could understand her being a complete bully in the before parts, but the fact that she was still a pretty big bully in the after parts was really inexcusable. In those parts, Sara would continuously rant about how she had absolutely nothing to do with Emma’s suicide, when it was obvious she was. At first, she was a little bit of a bystander, acting as the major bully Brielle’s tag-along, adamantly agreeing with the biting jokes she made. But then Sara started joining on making fun of Emma, going out of her way to put her down to make herself feel superior, and there was this one instance when Sara started a string of angry Facebook posts on Emma’s wall, like, “Why are you such a skank?” and “What does it feel like to be a skank?” I get why you may be angry, but it was so stupid how Sara continuously preached her innocence when it was obvious she did participate in the bullying and harassment. No, you obviously aren’t as innocent as you say you are, so if you’re going to keep saying, “Boo hoo, everyone hates me because they all think I killed Emma but I didn’t DO ANYTHING!!!!!” we’re going to have a serious problem,
Another thing I had an issue with was the obvious slut-shaming. Brielle and Sara actively call Emma a slut, because she has a “reputation” for sleeping around, which everyone knows of. Absolutely everyone knows that Emma’s a supposed “slut,” but there’s absolutely no evidence of her reputation. The worst thing she does is hook up with someone once, but Sara and Brielle are doing way worse, so they had no right to be calling her those kinds of things if Emma was only hooking up with one person throughout the entire book. Even then, Brielle would be like, “Eww Emma’s wearing such a slutty outfit, like look at that tight dress!” If it’s not clear enough how much I despise slut-shaming, the two had no right to put Emma down for what she wore, especially since Brielle and Sara also wore the same kinds of clothing.
And what pissed me off even more was that when Sara caught Emma kissing Dylan, she exploded and called Emma all of these vulgar terms like slut and skunk, posting those messages on her Facebook. But when Dylan apologizes, she thinks, “It was all that slut’s fault Dylan cheated on me, but I still love him so I think I’m gonna sleep with him because that’s obviously what he wants.” First of all, it’s so degrading to assume that Emma was the sole perpetrator in the relationship, and that Dylan didn’t have at least one thing to do with the cheating. Another thing, if Sara thinks that sleeping with Dylan is the way to get him back, she shouldn’t be calling Emma the slut. Not that I’m calling Sara one, but her and Brielle’s definition for the word “slut” is exactly what Sara was doing.
It just really pissed me off how she didn’t blame the guy of the relationship because of how men are displayed as the blameless one in cases. Girls are more subject to being called sluts for cheating, but the guy won’t have as heavy of a punishment because society’s taught us that it’s okay that guys can’t control their emotions. It’s okay for a guy to cheat because they can’t help it. You have to be easier on them because that is just their nature. In the world today, we’re constantly glorifying a man’s actions and trying to place the blame on a woman, because they’re assumed to be more subject to labels like this thanks to slut-shaming. And Tease is obviously advocating this kind of action with how often it happens.
*end of spoilers*
While this book had potential in the summary, I really couldn’t bring myself to like this one even remotely with the slut-shaming, hypocritical characters, and degrading themes towards women.(less)
I started this book at 10 PM on a school night, read straight through the book in one sitting, and ended at 1 AM, feeling a plethora of fuzzy feelings in the pit of my stomach and happy beyond belief. Open Road Summer paves the inspirational story of an unbreakable bond between two imperfect best friends and a heart-tingling romance—it’s addicting and close to perfect.
The one aspect that I was not a fan of was Reagan’s behavior for the shortest period of time at the end. I mean, I know she’s emotionally guarded and trying to work on her quick-to-judge attitude, but she was so stubborn. She wouldn’t listen to anyone, because she thought that she was right, even if what she believed had been taken out of context. It was a fairly ridiculous way of thinking, especially when everyone around her was trying to convince her that she had misconstrued everything. Besides that, Reagan was such a great character with so many different layers. She was sarcastic and witty, a truly delightful protagonist that warranted a fair share of laughs from me. However, we quickly learned that this facetious, flirty side of her was only a front to protect the inner turmoil lurking beneath the surface, evoking a lot of sympathy from me.
When Reagan first met Matt, there was immediately a sense of chemistry between the two, and I loved every minute of it! I was already loved Reagan’s quick wit and snarky personality, but it seemed to amplify when she was around Matt. What worked even better was that he seemed to be able to match her jabs in a round of flirt fighting, filing Open Road Summer’s pages with romantic tension and gooey feelings. The book is split two ways between the romance and the friendship, and I equally loved both. Still, Emery knows how to build a romance between two characters in a way that feels sweet and fervent at the same time. In between their irresistible banter, there were earnest conversations that made my heart melt even further. Everybody has something that haunts them, whether it’s big or small, including Matt and Reagan. I adored their honesty towards each other, how they were able to bare their souls to each other to display their unshakable trust.
And come on, who doesn’t love singers who are also country boys? You get the allure of a Southern boy mixed in with the awesomeness of a singer. Being a singer=at least 20 points on your attractiveness, and the Southern boy probably makes up for the rest of the points, at least in Matt’s case. I just love him! I also love Reagan and Dee’s friendship, especially how Reagan’s there for Dee’s career. Dee, also an up-and-coming country singer, is currently on tour, so Reagan’s been tagging along for the summer until she enters senior year. This ensues a series of laughs, heart-to-hearts, and all of the things you’d expect in a friendship as close as theirs. I envied how close they were at times, because I want someone that I’m so close with that I would ask them to come on tour with me if I became a famous singer (or vice-versa.)(less)
Sweet Reckoning is an explosive ending to a popular trilogy, a book that almost didn’t get published for an indefinite amount of time. While many will be preaching the words of Wendy Higgins, I unfortunately will not be joining the ranks of adoring fans.
I think what clinched the reading experience for me was how disconnected I felt from the story as a whole. The chemistry between Kaidan and Anna wasn’t as on point as I expected it to be, the plot twists weren’t as shocking as originally anticipated, and the ending felt subpar. I don’t anticipate that many others will feel the same way that I do, because this book has a lot of desirable elements. Wendy’s writing ensures that you’ll have a fun time reading. I also appreciated how much Anna has grown as a character. She’s significantly changed ever since we were first introduced to her in Sweet Evil. When I first got into her head two books ago, I got the impression that she a little annoying with how she vigilantly tried to maintain her innocence. But she’s a badass now! Anna is fierce and has a significantly better tolerance of vulgar terms. Even though that aspect doesn’t really matter, it plays a large role in a supposed prophecy that focuses on Anna and how she’ll put all the demons back into heaven.
Overall, Sweet Reckoning seemed too innocent. Maybe it was the fact that nothing truly challenging happened to Anna. I had a epiphany at the climax because I was thinking of how every Nephilim was either for Anna or against her. However, if they were against her, they were secretly for her, so she kind of had everything handed to her on a silver platter. Perhaps I’m glorifying the reality of the situation, but I never felt the true sense of danger in each situation, except for maybe this one section that I can’t disclose because of spoilers. It seemed that wherever Anna went, she had multiple allies to defend and protect her. While having a substantial amount of allies isn’t a bad thing at all, the fact that Anna was never surprised by anything because someone had told them beforehand what was going on really bothered me. The feeling of innocence also was in part to the fact that I had completely forgotten Sweet Peril and was underwhelmed by a lot of things because I didn’t remember many of the character relationships.
The ending was really rushed, and it was a big reason why I ended up deeming the book three stars. I feel like a plot twist was incorporated to add a sense of urgency, but then the initial impact wore off quickly. Basically, the problem was talked out of. They stopped threatening each other, bickered over all these different things, fought for about five minutes, and then everything was over. Kind of anticlimactic. if you ask me, and also I was a little disappointed with the happily ever after of the ending. Sweet Evil and Sweet Peril had all of these bittersweet sacrifices that I dared to hope the same thing would happen. Unfortunately, nothing did. There was one instance that was supposed to instill emotion, but I was still underwhelmed by it, despite how much I wanted to feel moved.(less)
While Gwendolyn Heasley’s new novel can at first be dismissed as a lighthearted read about the inevitable struggle between one’s parent and themselves, it quickly morphs into something less simplistic. It endeavors to reach a new type of depth and create a coming-of-age story, when it is very obviously not.
Imogene suffers from a lifestyle under the scrutiny of the majority of the population. In fact, it’s gotten to the point that her classmates teased her about what happened on her blog. While I find it highly unlikely that a mom blog is so popular that Imogene herself gets recognized while shopping in a mall, I understood the sour feelings towards her mom’s blog because it was obvious from very early on that Imogene’s mother treated her like a baby. When her English teacher gives Imogene’s class a project to write a blog themselves, Imogene launches a campaign to escape the ridicule of both her mother and classmates before she formally enters high school. I would label Don’t Call Me Baby as a mix between a middle grade and young adult novel, because of the young age Imogene is portrayed at (15, entering ninth grade) and the superficiality of her problems. The innocence of Imogene and her peers wasn’t quite believable, given the amount of interconnection seen in the novel, when the “popular girl” of the grade attempts to ally with Imogene and takes an assignment seriously, when it was established that she was the stereotypical “popular mean girl.”
Don’t Call Me Baby’s biggest flaw is how abruptly the character development takes place. As soon as she decides to fight back against her mom, the conflict persists for maybe three or four chapters before the book abruptly changes tone and all of a sudden we’re focusing on (view spoiler)[the fact that Sage and Imogene are fighting because Imogene is questioning whether or not she really wants to fight her mom. We’re given NO previous development whatsoever on why Imogene is changing her mind, but after one blog post where Imogene is reflecting on the pros of getting away from the computer and “unplugging,” Sage is accusing her of all these ridiculous things. She’s saying, “Imogene you don’t care about this as much as me, you’re giving up on our goal, you’re such a fake and hypocrite!” Chill out, it’s only one blog post. It really doesn’t matter. But then they’re fighting and ignoring each other without any real explanation. (hide spoiler)] Imogene continuously thinks of new ideas, but they come at spontaneous and awkward intervals, without any previous development or foreshadowing.
My last few complaints were slightly nitpicky, like how unrealistic and unprofessional the Mommylicious blog sounds, and the ignorance of the main character. She jokingly asks what a CD is, because just because you’re fifteen means that you’re too young to understand what a CD is. CDs still exist, I have dozens of CDs, and I’m the same age. It’s absolutely ridiculous how much the younger generation is dismissed as an ignorant generation in Don’t Call Me Baby. Furthermore, with the number of allusions made, all of them are thoroughly explained upon delivery. As soon as a cougar is mentioned, Imogene takes it upon herself to explain it to her audience, which in reality is only herself since it’s her inner dialogue. The word “swag” is explained as party favors for bloggers, and while it may be a term that needs explaining, it shouldn’t need an outright definition compared to maybe an inference.
While this could have been a lighthearted book, another issue is how Gwendolyn attempts to give it an added depth by reflecting on the simple nature of teenagers and growing up. If it were not for the absurdity of the story beforehand, I would’ve bought it. But it remains that the lack of development and naïveté behind our leading and supporting characters produced an inability to even entertain the idea of this book being more than a “cute” book. I was originally holding this at a three-star rating, because it was decent, however I lowered it because of the anticlimactic ending and the overall rushed pacing, topped with an unfortunately failed attempt to provide depth.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
When I found this on my Kindle library, possessing no previous knowledge of where or when I downloaded it, I decided to start reading, even though it seemed like a long shot after the first few chapters. However, still I journeyed on, and still found nothing too special about this book.
Tess was way too focused on the romance, overall. The book centered around two things: the romance and her efforts to try to keep a pixieball alive. The pixieball is supposedly a rare breed, the last one of its kind, that her grandpa stole and grew himself. Her mother carried on the tradition, caring for it, and now it’s her turn. However, it’s gotten sick, therefore Henry and Tess are in an “urgent” race to find a cure for whatever disease Pix (her name for the pixieball) has. But, even though the pixieball is super important to her, enough that she’s willing to go through all the crap she goes through to try and save it, she doesn’t care when it comes down to the plant, or Henry. Sure, she cares about Pix, but when Henry tries to talk about saving it, Tess is more focused on how much they’re making out and the idea of them two together. Henry’s trying really hard to immortalize Pix, and Tess is more concerned that a letter heading says, “Dear Tess and Henry.” She’s more interested in the fact that their names are together on a freaking letter than on her plant that’s dying! And she constantly tries to make out with him when he seems like he may not be in the mood or want to talk about something on his mind.
Speaking of their romance, there was absolutely no chemistry between the two. Their “I really like you” statements could have held the equivalent passion as if they were acquaintances who barely knew each other in high school catching up on the side of the road. Their dialogue and conversations were bland, holding no substance or meaning. The beginning was cute, but when the story morphed into Pix’s illness, I was hoping that the character development would begin. There were some nice sentiments made in The Last Forever, like how not everything is picturesque and perfect like in movies and television series, but in the end it wasn’t quite what I was expecting or needing to compensate for the disposable romance and static characters.
During the first few chapters, Tess actually had a boyfriend named Dillon. But then it was dismissed within three sentences, something like, “Oh, apparently Dillon broke up with me…” and then Tess was free to chase after Henry Lark. It was an easy sentence to overlook, and because I was already disinterested in the story, I skipped over what I thought was a useless two sentences. Turns out, it was those sentences that freed up Tess’s relationship status. I had to look back and double-check when I remembered she previously had a boyfriend. When I found and familiarized myself with the section in question, I realized that it had been glossed over and glorified. It wasn’t memorable enough for me to remember it or for it to properly register in my brain. There wasn’t even a telltale reason why he decided to break up with her, but whatever. No development needed there.(less)
Strange and Ever After is an explosive ending to an equally explosive series, combining everything we knew about the last two books and building upon it even further. Susan Dennard has wrapped up this trilogy like an artisan, leaving your bones aching with remnants of emotion.
It’s hard to believe that this book takes place over only merely a week or two, but it’s not any less rewarding. It’s difficult to properly review Strange and Ever After because it’s as consistent as it was during the first two books. The plot remains the same high-strung series of Dead, mystery, romance, and necromancy. This time, the book is set in Egypt, and I love how each book takes place in a different setting because it adds a fresh addition to what’s going on, as well as clearing our minds for new possible clues and opportunities. What’s mentioned in previous books don’t necessarily tie into the big picture of this book, and only general topics and subplots are transferred through to relate the titles together. Otherwise, I’d never say they were in a continuous series because they’re so individual from each other while still engaging and wholesome. Either way, I’d recommend that you read A Darkness Strange and Deadly right before you start Strange and Ever After, because this book begins only a few hours where the other concludes, therefore you’re still reeling from the end and can jump right into the action with a short recovery period.
Eleanor really comes full circle in the final installment of the Something Strange and Deadly trilogy. Her feel-first, rationalize-later method of approaching situations bothered me at first, especially with how she continuously pushed and pushed people away. It seemed at the beginning of the book, when she was angry and out for blood, she would treat everybody around her poorly as a result of her rage towards Marcus. She never quite realized how this destructive way of living would eventually harm all of her companions. The issue was also present in the first two books, but it wasn’t as obvious since Eleanor didn’t truly begin feeling the level of intensity of her anger until Strange and Ever After. That was when I realized the ingenuity of Susan’s writing because Eleanor started off as a hostile, unforgiving character and somehow in a few hundred pages completely one-eightied into someone completely unlike herself.
And I must touch upon that ending. That ending. It’s bittersweet, encompassing both the imperfection of life and the ability to find happiness in even the darkest of storms. When I first registered what was happening, I was devastated at the audacity of Susan to decide on such a conclusion. However, after a given amount of time, a certain feeling of justification and rightness filled my veins, replacing the thinly veiled outrage. While certain found it unnecessary, the majority of the falling action and resolution included a number of sacrifices that revealed how truly unforgiving a power struggle can be, bringing more and more innocent people into the wake of destruction. The ending finally pushed me up to a four and a half star read, because of how fitting it was for the series. As much as I wanted to deny the reality of that particular ending, I found it to be the best one that could half been chosen.(less)
This book is so fun! It's mild and tame in terms of the horror factor, but nonetheless thrilling. It’s odd, how well the pieces of this book fit toget...moreThis book is so fun! It's mild and tame in terms of the horror factor, but nonetheless thrilling. It’s odd, how well the pieces of this book fit together, because so much happened, including a new character addition, Oliver. The introduction of his character raised quite a few red flags, posing the question: was Susan choosing to include a love triangle? It was still unclear what Oliver’s true feelings towards Eleanor were by the last page, but I have a good feeling that their relationship won’t cross the line between platonic and romantic. Oliver was mysterious, but he also humanized Eleanor’s older brother Elijah’s character. While he was not present in A Darkness Strange and Lovely, Oliver’s previous relationship with Elijah (which occurred sometime during the first book) really helped me understand Elijah’s old self and establish why Oliver was so interested in Eleanor. If I could describe Eleanor and Oliver’s relationship, I’d call them desperate friends groping for a semblance of company in a society of isolation.
Plot-wise, a lot of things happened to compromise what we previously thought was true. Amidst Eleanor’s fervent chase to find Marcus, she expanded her knowledge of necromancy with the help of Oliver, and she fought the Dead alongside the Spirit-Hunters. What I’ve found with this series is that it’s mostly a mystery, with its fair share of subplots. Along the way, the Dead got slightly lost in translation, however all other aspects were wonderfully handled. The mystery unfurls like a rose, blooming only at after it has had enough nourishment from the sun and soil. Right before the rose is able to fully bloom into something beautiful, an earthquake happens, smothering the flower, inhibiting its growth pattern, ultimately killing it. The same was with the mystery, leading us on until the very last moment. I felt like I was going to gain something valuable from the mystery, until something happened that put our characters at square one. It was infuriating and addicting.
I must admire Susan for her writing, because Eleanor’s narrative exemplified her emotions and personality perfectly. Her actions and thoughts were realistic and reflective of her surroundings, surprising me with how accurate her reactions proved to be. Another thing I admire Susan for was how accurately she captured the setting. I can never imagine her writing anything except for historical fiction, but maybe that’s only because she writes her genre so well. Her vocabulary and syntax, ranging from words like “gooseflesh” to the overall elegance of everything, completes the novel for me. With her writing, the book flies by in a blur of hungry zombies and conspiracies.
A historical fiction that incorporates horror and steampunk, Susan Dennard’s unforgettable sequel to her hit Something Strange and Deadly is here with an unforgettable protagonist, impeccable writing, and unnerving plot.(less)
After falling in love with My Life After Now, I had high hopes for The Summer I Wasn’t Me, but unfortunately several aspects proved detrimental to my overall enjoyment of the book.
First and foremost, I appreciated Jessica’s choice to tackle a subject such as LGBTQIAPK (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, interest, asexual, and kinky, according to Why We Need More Sex Labels). While only the lesbian and gay portions of the acronym were addressed, the concept of a “de-gayifying” camp was absolutely absurd. The majority of the world population knows that you’re born with your sexuality, but I went with the idea that your sexuality could be changed at a camp, because it was meant to instill a sense of outrage in The Summer I Wasn’t Me’s audience. That did not mean I was okay with what happened later on in the book. The camp seemed to revolve around the idea that its attendants were gay or lesbian because they were raised with skewed perceptions of gender roles. The girls were taught that their real role in society was to look pretty and perform “feminine” actions, like cleaning and taking care of the house. The boys were taught to play sports and do the heavy-lifting in a relationship. It got to the point where it made me see red, but I went along with it, because, again, that was part of the camp’s characterization.
”Think about it, Lexi. Your whole life, your parents have given you mixed signals about the roles of men and women. Your mother worked out of the home. She dressed like a man. She shared the head of household duties with your father, thereby reducing his masculine identity.”
However, I don’t understand how brainwashing a bunch of kids into believing in a medieval set of gender roles “cures” the disease of being gay? If a woman acts like a man, does it mean that she’s gay? Today, there are people who strictly follow the Bible’s teachings and believe that women should behave traditionally. Even if you do identify with those teachings, you can’t deny that women and men’s roles in society are blurring together. Stay-at-home dads and stay-at-home moms exist, women are gaining rights across the board, and that’s been a great step for feminism in the last century! So, if there are that many people who are going against “traditional” gender roles, does that mean that all of their children are gay? Mr. Martin, the person in charge of the camp, blamed Lexi’s lack of real parental figures, a mom that stays at home and a dad who works everyday, for her being lesbian. That was really stupid, and the fact that Lexi went along with what he said and didn’t even think about calling him out for his blunder.
Some of the things he said were so unrealistic, and the methods used to alleviate each teen’s “gayness” were uncalled for and completely cruel. Another question I’d like to address: how was the camp still running? Some of the aforementioned methods deployed in order to guide each patient, for lack of a better term, towards the Land of the Straight, made them cry. It was quite unorthodox, but since I don’t know what one would actually do to relieve the unfortunate state of being gay (that was a completely sarcastic statement), I blindly continued in the beginning. However, in the end, things got intense and crazy, but still nobody questioned what was going on. If I was at this camp and was forced to do things that I didn’t want to do, things that made me cry, I’d want out of that camp immediately. There was another instance where I was questioning why New Horizons Camp was still running, because it was obvious that after the camp was over, each patient was free to go home and tell their parents everything that happened. How come nobody even bothered to tell their parents or another trustworthy individual about what the camp was truly like?(less)
To mirror the title of Dear Killer, I decided to write my review in the form of a letter to Katherine, expressing my thoughts for this novel.
I don’t know how you wrote this book at seventeen, but I fell in love with it. I’m not quite sure if it was Kit’s calculating mind that finally sealed the deal for me, or if it was the character-driven forces of Dear Killer. This book was engaging, infuriating, and addicting all at once, states of mind that I didn’t know could fit together.
Kit Ward is one of my favorite characters purely because of her unorthodox upbringing. She was trained by her mother to kill, and carried our murders by the philosophy that nothing was right and nothing was wrong. Kit didn’t judge who deserved to be killed and who didn’t, she simply carried out the action and collected money from it. It’s such a gruesome way to go about murdering someone, and it instills fear in the general populace. Nothing is right, nothing is wrong, nobody is safe. Quite a chunk of food for thought, actually. Kit’s moral nihilism, drilled into her by the hands of her mother, not only shocked me, in a way something that cold can, but also intrigued me. How did Kit manage to live up to this philosophy, as the human mind naturally judges and corners people for their faults and thoughts? By the end, I realized that Dear Killer wasn’t about Kit’s killing spree, but rather her character development as a serial killer and her moral nihilism.
Her kills further intrigued me, and it ties back into what I said earlier about her serial killer persona. I loved her alter ego, Diana, the one that killed and committed murder; it proved to be a nice contrast, enforcing the idea that right and wrong are very different. I strongly admire you for your ability to flesh out Kit’s character in a way that manages to evoke sympathy in your readers and make it nearly impossible to hate Kit for her actions. I loved how Dear Killer wasn’t just about Kit’s sporadic, flawless killing spree, but it also shed some light on the flaws in Kit’s work ethic and how she began to question what she had originally been taught. Furthermore, I want to ask how you embodied our protagonist’s unfeeling mind so perfectly. She analyzed situations perfectly, improvising and improving her plans on a whim. When push came to shove, she had a perfect solution to her problem and an alibi to aim the beam of suspicion away from her. How did you do it so effortlessly? It was as if you shared Kit’s personality from how well I understood her motives.
But I also have so many questions about Dear Killer and Kit. First of all, how were her kills so flawless? While I loved the descriptions you gave of the murders and you reflected on how Kit killed so well, there were still a couple things gnawing at the back of my mind. If she was killing during the wintertime, wouldn’t she have left footprints in the snow? Weren’t there security cameras at the Whitevale Tower that put her there at the scene of the crime? I don’t understand how there was no evidence on her, despite her fame as one of London’s most prevalent serial killers since Jack the Ripper. Also, it was established that she was paid for her murders, but I remember reading that the money was enclosed with the letter. Was it possible that she could just take the money without actually going through with the murder or did the money come after the murder separately? She divided her letters with murders she wanted to go through with and murders she didn’t, but what happened to the money given by those who didn’t have their requests fulfilled?
Besides the few plot holes that had me wondering, Dear Killer was a delightful read searching into the mind of a well-trained serial killer. I don’t think I’ve ever come across a story with a character so unpredictable and detached from herself, and Kit is a phenomenon in herself. Thank you, and I’d like to request something from you:
This book, while dealing with a range of emotions and issues, is both addicting and infuriating. It holds a range of emotions that not only give its readers perspective of what it’s like to be a serial killer and psychotic kidnapper. While there were issues within the plot and characterization, The Cellar was an interesting take on being in captivity.
After Summer’s abducted by Colin Brown, who goes by the name Clover, she’s renamed Lily by him to satisfy his obsession with flowers. We got to experience a few chapters in Colin’s point of view that articulated how damaged his mind was. The reason behind why he abducted four girls was for a specific reason, and he suffered from OCD. I found his mentality towards kidnapping girls to be disturbing and unsettling, and while reading I was fighting the urge to start screaming at him and his reasoning. His was a twisted antagonist, which really intrigued me. I didn’t understand his motives completely, but his three dimensional character kept me from disregarding him as another delusional kidnapper. However, the most interesting aspect of his inner dialogue was how he truly believed that he was doing the right thing. Despite how everybody else thought of his actions, he truly believed he was doing the right thing by keeping these four girls in her cellar.
The Cellar takes place of the course of roughly a year and a half, spanning both Summer’s life inside the cellar, Colin’s struggle with his own mind, and her boyfriend Lewis’s quest to find her. It’s a lot to cover in a single book, and I felt that as a result the psychological effects on Summer lacked. She was kept in a cellar for over a year with three other girls—she witnessed murder, rape, and countless horrors. How could she not be damaged by what she saw? Her determination to escape captivity was admirable, but overall she was a relatively static character. Because of the action happening outside of the cellar and the occasional flashbacks, there wasn’t a lot of focus on Summer’s struggle with herself. At the climax, we were struck with a massive turn in character that came out of nowhere and felt forced. I needed for there to be a build-up to that moment, for there to be noticeable changes in Summer’s behavior. Rape and homicide are tough things to go through, but they were glossed over and instead her relationship with Lewis took prominence. I wanted her to deal with those topics, to cope somehow, but instead she didn’t seem very affected by what had happened.
Another complaint I had was with the plot holes scattered throughout. Colin, after collecting a new girl, would rename them accordingly, and then throw them in the cellar. He renamed them after the same four flowers, which was really frustrating, because I had no idea which girl was the girl in the present. We saw him abducting his very first girl and naming her Violet, but past-Violent was obviously a different Violent from present-Violet (the Violent that Summer was in captivity with). Past-Poppy was different from present-Poppy, and past-Lily was obviously different from present-Lily, who was Summer. I wished that there was a little more backstory to behind when and why he replaced a girl for a new girl, because that topic was also glossed over. The plot and inclusion of two other points of views outside Summer’s were a good choice on Natasha’s part, however I felt that it was too much to handle, given the flashbacks that were often used to clarify an event but only raise more questions.(less)
Originally I was so sure I wouldn’t enjoy this one, from the beginning that was mediocre, nothing that assured a pleasant reading experience, Luckily, after a few chapters everything turned around for the better. I was dumbfounded by Morgan’s cold attitude towards everybody that she encountered. Her persona was shrouded with coldness and it was like she had drawn “ice queen” onto her forehead in Sharpie. However, despite how forcefully she tried to shove people away, it didn’t bother me. I was more concerned with how little was given about her past. Morgan was closed off because of a video that had gone viral a few months ago, one that we don’t fully realize until much later in the book. It was the embarrassment of her life, and she was always mortified when people teased her about it. The “big reveal” of what the video really was about came a little later than I had anticipated and hoped, but I liked how it was handled.
This book is a book that gets better and better as the plot goes on. It starts with Morgan embarking on a journey with two friends to find her father, but ends by bringing the plot full circle in a classic bildungsroman. Her relationship with Amy and Adam, two coworkers at an amusement park that managed to force their way into her dad search, truly spoke to me. Janet made it possible for three teens who previously had nothing to do with each other grow together and become best friends. Their friend dynamic wasn’t one that was forced or rushed; with Amy’s passion and tenacity, Adam’s dorky tendencies, and Morgan’s drive, the trio shared memories that I didn’t think that they would. Amidst these bonding sessions, there was a telltale shift from Morgan’s guarded self to an open, willing character that could still dish out some heavy sass when needed.
16 Things I Thought Were True focused on the motif of lies and deception, each character seeming to hold a secret or suppress a truth. I appreciated how often it was incorporated into the story line without it becoming repetitious, a new lie seeming to occur at every turn. It was surprising how many characters were keeping secrets from others, revealing how even the most open person has one thing that they don’t want anybody else to know. With that being said, when the final reveal came along, it felt anticlimactic. The last secret we were left underwhelmed at first, but it wasn’t that big of an issue. The story continued to progress and transform at the end, becoming more than just a goose chase across the country. Janet Gurtler’s most recent novel is inspiring, bringing into light the power of friendship and the power of one’s own mind.(less)