After a seemingly chance encounter with Galen, a guy she bumps into on the beach, EmThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil Lost...
After a seemingly chance encounter with Galen, a guy she bumps into on the beach, Emma finds herself constantly in contact with this tall and handsome stranger. What she doesn’t realize is that he’s a Syrena and that he’s been looking for a girl that can communicate with underwater creatures. The girl who possesses this special gift is the missing piece to the puzzle that will save his underwater world. If only he can convince Emma – and himself – that it might be her.
Being the first mermaid book I’ve read, I wasn’t sure what to expect. With all the books about vampires and werewolves, it was only a matter of time before mermaids became the next big thing. I’m not sure if this book has changed any preconceived notions I may have had about this new budding “genre”, but I remain indifferent, and open to the possibility. I liked Of Poseidon okay enough, but I wasn’t fully sold on it. The narrative felt a bit juvenile at times, and the characters didn’t always make sense in their motivation and actions. The overuse of endearments like “angelfish” and “minnow” with the constant “ohmysweetgoodness” got me eye-rolling quite a bit after a while. Interestingly enough, Emma uses such non-swear words so often that it seemed really out of character for her to call Galen a “jack*ss” at one point. With how Banks describes Emma’s best friend Chloe, in complete sincerity and seemingly no self deprecation, it’s a wonder why Emma would consider Chloe her BFF. Her actions don’t make her sound like a very nice person.
All that being said, I did enjoy the premise of the story. The story of the Poseidon & Triton houses, and the history of the Syrenas, are all very well thought out. I can tell that a lot of backstory was created for this fictional underwater society, and I’m looking forward to finding out more about them. If nothing else, the book sets up to the last 10 pages of this book where the action really leaves you with a cliffhanger for the sequel.
The Woman in Black is about a young lawyer, Arthur Kipps, who is tasked with travellingThis and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil Lost
The Woman in Black is about a young lawyer, Arthur Kipps, who is tasked with travelling to a remote town to close up the affairs of Mrs Drablow, a reclusive old woman who has passed away. He encounters mysterious and inexplicable occurrences on the grounds and is faced with evasiveness from the townspeople who don't want to discuss the strange woman.
Originally published in 1983, it's found a resurgence with the new movie starring Daniel Radcliffe. At a surprisingly short 200 pages, The Woman in Black was a quick read yet, in spite of that, I found myself having trouble getting through it. It wasn't necessarily the old Victorian-style language (as I'm used to reading historical fiction) but something in the way the narration was written and phrased, I found myself zoning out and losing focus - and then subsequently having to reread passages over again.
The story is fairly simple, a typical set-up for a good ghost story and Hill accomplishes the mood setting. However, perhaps due to the length of the book, I felt that all the eerie moments could have had more development and build up. There seemed to be a longer section of book dedicated to getting Arthur to the point of being at the old woman's house than all the actual creepy, ghostly stuff that is to happen. When it does happen, it's very "all-at-once" and then it's over. It ends fairly abruptly and leaves you wanting more. I wanted more development of the haunted house, more about the eerie town and its inhabitants, more about the life of Arthur. There is so much potential with this story, that I felt Hill may have missed the mark on really fleshing out the narrative.
Nonetheless, I love a good ghost story - and this definitely has its ghostly moments. I'm excited to check out the movie and, admittedly just based on the trailer, it looks like it'll be a lot scarier than the book was.
Julia is spending her spring break on a class trip to London, EngThis, and other reviews can be found on Just a Lil' Lost
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ (3.5/5 stars)
Julia is spending her spring break on a class trip to London, England - away from Phoebe, her BFF and Mark, her childhood crush and MTB (aka "Meant to Be"). When the chaperoning teacher pairs her up with the class clown, Jason, she can't believe her luck. Julia's studious nature immediately doesn't mesh with Jason's partying ways when he convinces her to sneak out to a party after curfew on their very first night. Thus begins a comedy of errors involving alcohol, a "cooler" alter-ego and an "emergency only" cell phone being used for texts with strangers. The unlikely pair strike up a deal: Julia will help them with their assignments on the trip and Jason will help Julia out with the mysterious texter. This leads them on a whirlwind tour of the city, all the while leading her to the revelation of what exactly is meant to be.
This was an adorable contemporary story. It evokes the same feelings as that of, say, Anna and the French Kiss - a cute YA romance set abroad in a foreign country. At a glance, the characters seem like your stereotypical high school types: the book worm, the loyal BFF, the queen bee, the class clown. (Although I could do with a little less use of "Book Licker", Jason's nickname for Julia.) However, Morrill develops the cast to be more than a one dimension caricature, through the scenarios that they find themselves in.
My only hang-up about some YA contemporaries, and this being one of them, is that it tends to be quite predictable in its storyline. To be honest, I had a general idea of where it was going but the driving narrative did throw me for a few surprises. That being said, half the fun is seeing how the whole thing plays out among the characters. It's not necessarily the end result but the journey that the reader goes on. A cute & entertaining trip to London!...more
Camille Hart is the founder of a successful matchmaking business in New York City so whThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil Lost
Camille Hart is the founder of a successful matchmaking business in New York City so when she is told that her cancer had come back, she only felt it fitting to use her skills on the most difficult client of all: her own husband. In a loving marriage with two kids, Camille worries about the future of the family she will leave behind so she goes about trying to find the perfect woman who can replace her once she’s gone.
The interesting premise was what initially got my attention. What an intriguing, yet morbid, way to look at this situation. The moral and even ethical dilemmas that the characters are faced with are well fleshed out in Goudge’s writing. The husband who, obviously, isn’t too pleased with his wife’s dying wish shows a wide range of emotions at the difficult situation he finds himself in: oppose his dying wife’s last wish or humour her to keep the peace – and at what cost?
The old adage “be careful what you wish for” rings particularly true for the characters in The Replacement Wife but I find “if you love something, then let it go” to be even more apropos. Goudge manages to weave in some lighthearted moments into what would otherwise be a dark & sombre subject matter. In a way, it forces the reader to reflect on the relationships that they know, and what it truly means to have love and happiness. Does the end always justify the means?
The Replacement Wife is a captivating read that keeps you enthralled in this family’s story, wondering how it will all play out in the end....more
Kitty Tylney and Catherine Howard have grown up in theThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil' Lost
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ (4.5/5 stars)
Kitty Tylney and Catherine Howard have grown up in the household of the Duchess of Norfolk, surrounding themselves with games, mischief and boys. When Catherine captures the attention of King Henry VIII, their girlish dreams of going to court are realized. Among the glitz and glamour of court life, Kitty soon realizes that she may be in over her head with the secrets, scandals and lies that are around every corner. Her feelings and loyalty are conflicted, forcing Kitty to put herself before her best friend for once.
I love historical fiction, especially surrounding the reign of King Henry VIII. Perhaps it’s the familiar names and characters that are prevalent throughout these types of books, across different authors penning them. Gilt was the first YA historical fiction in this time period I had read and I absolutely loved it. It worked so well with the setting that many of us know so well from TV shows like The Tudors to movies/books like The Other Boleyn Girl.
Longshore is exceptional at painting a picture of the dark & light sides of courtly life; from the opulence to the backstabbing. And the characters – oh the characters. They were so vivid and had so much personality that it stirred up a lot of emotions within me. Catherine was so ridiculously outrageous and selfish that I often wanted to toss the book at her. How Kitty could have been friends with that girl is beyond me. And Kitty… young, impressionable Kitty with her flirtations of such bad timing with William, were just gut-wrenching to witness. Those swoon-worthy scenes also made me want to throw the book at the two of them to get their act together already and stop fooling themselves!
Overall a really enjoyable & fantastic read. I would have wanted a bit more resolution to certain storylines and perhaps that might be in the cards for future installments, although the second book in The Royal Circle series, Tarnish, will focus on Anne Boleyn instead. Highly recommend for those that love a good romance, a bit of debauchery and the court of Henry VIII....more
Diagnosed with cancer at the young age of 12, Hazel miraculously lives to see 16 as tThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog, Just A Lil' Lost
Diagnosed with cancer at the young age of 12, Hazel miraculously lives to see 16 as the tumors in her lungs shrink - thanks to the help of some trial medication. One day, at a children-with-cancer support group, she meets Augustus who takes an interesting in her. Introduced to the support group via Hazel's friend Isaac, another teen who's diagnosed with cancer, the three become close friends - bonded over this common thread they have. It is through Augustus' vitality and love of life that they discover their own mark that they will leave on this planet.
To be honest, I hadn't heard of John Green or this book until a few weeks ago when Twitter was all a-twitter about this new book of his. My curiosity got the better of me, and I went out and picked it up. And am I ever glad I did. It's a fantastically profound read, mixing in humour with the conventionally-morbid subject matter. It is philosophical and thought-provoking, causing the reader to reflect on their own views on "making a difference" in the world. I am often uneasy with the topic of death, and the writing in TFiOS felt so real to me that it made me quite uncomfortable thinking about it and how I'd feel if I were in that situation.
I loved the depiction of the support group members' dynamics. One moment in particular stood out to me, where Green writes about how these children are beating cancer yet it becomes like a competition, trying to beat each other with their stories as well. You see that kind of one-upsmanship in all facets of life with all different types of people, which doesn't exclude those who are terminally ill. And although the main focus is the developing friendship of Hazel and Augustus, I found myself really loving the dynamic between Augustus and Isaac. The bromance they had throughout the book is such a simple & supportive one, free of any complications that their illnesses may cause to their physical bodies.
Although it didn't necessarily "change my world" and I didn't shed any tears (I don't often cry with books or movies), I can see where moments in TFiOS can really pull at your heartstrings. It is a witty, poignantly-written book that tackles some tough issues with grace, charisma and some joie de vivre....more
When Hadley misses her plane by 4 minutes, she’s forcedThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil' Lost
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ (4.5/5 stars)
When Hadley misses her plane by 4 minutes, she’s forced to spend her time waiting in a crowded airport for the next available flight. As luck (or fate) would have it, she befriends Oliver, a charming British boy who is on the same flight that she ends up getting on. They immediately hit it off but end up losing track of each other when they land. Hadley is preoccupied with thoughts of the boy while trying to come to terms with being in her father’s second wedding.
What a delightfully cute story. The whole story takes place in the span of 24 hours, each chapter being a time-check on the day. Both Hadley and Oliver were completely likeable, and I found myself constantly rooting for them to meet up again. The humour and banter between the two characters immediately show the chemistry that Smith has so brilliantly conveyed. There’s just one moment in the story that I don’t believe gets explained at the end, which left me wondering what was actually being discussed. Otherwise, my only gripe is that the book was too short! At 236 pages, it went by way too quickly. An easy & captivating read, the speed at which I read this book almost felt like getting caught up in the whirlwind of Hadley and Oliver’s busy day.
Some people say delays happen for a reason, and Statistical Probability is a perfect illustration of that mantra. It’s definitely one of the better contemporary romances in a story that I’ve read, being a lot more believable than most. It’s quirky and cute, while staying away from the uber cheesy factor of it all. ...more
Manga-loving Violet is to stay with her artist dad for the summerThis, and other reviews can be found on Just a Lil Lost
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ (3.5/5 stars)
Manga-loving Violet is to stay with her artist dad for the summer while her mother is away. The Yamadas, his latest clients, find their priceless van Gogh artwork to have been stolen and everyone is a suspect. Her dad’s job, and the investigation, takes them overseas to Japan where he has been commissioned to do a large scale painting by the Yamada’s nephew. Violet turns to her manga drawing and, with the help of her friends, attempt to solve the crime before the Japanese mafia, or yakuza, get their hands on it – and them.
Art heist in a foreign setting? Very intriguing. I was really excited for this book as it’s not that often that YA reads are set outside of North America. Not only does it mostly take place in Tokyo, Renn has infused so much Japanese culture into the story as well. With elements of manga, traditions and vocabulary, I felt like I was learning a bit about the culture while going along with Violet’s crime solving. Another element I really enjoyed was the reference to actual works of art. That was one of the main reasons why I enjoy Dan Brown’s novels, because he makes use of actual landmarks & artwork. I found myself searching online to see for myself what the van Gogh paintings looked like, to get an even better idea of how it fit into the story.
While I enjoyed the cultural aspect, as well as the story itself, many of the characters really irked me. Save for maybe Violet and a handful of others, everyone else felt a bit one dimensional and wasn’t overly relatable. Her dad and gal pal bugged me immensely. Reika & Violet are supposed to be teenage BFFs yet Reika’s behaviour speaks otherwise. In Violet’s narration, she speaks of her best friend constantly abandoning her when a hot guy is around, even so much as plotting to chat up Yamada’s much-older (I’d imagine 30′s or 40′s) nephew rather than reconnect with a friend she hadn’t seen in a while. Her actions just didn’t seem to suit the age she was supposed to be.
That being said, Renn is like a magician in that she does a really good job of misdirection. By keeping the reader constantly guessing and suspecting different people, it allows the narrative to keep moving and the story to keep unfolding. There were times when I could have sworn I had it all figured out only to be swayed in another direction moments later. Tokyo Heist is an entertaining whodunnit book that is a fairly quick & easy read. At over 360 pages, it flies by because you want to keep reading to find out what happens....more
Madeleine is a mute, having never been able to speak. SheThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil' Lost
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ (3.5/5 stars)
Madeleine is a mute, having never been able to speak. She is hidden away by her family, strapped to her bed in the night to prevent her from wandering off as she follows the voice she constantly hears in her head calling for her. When her brother banishes her out of the house, she wanders the woods before encountering mysterious and somewhat intimidating company.
I enjoyed that the premise of Titan Magic was really unique. Lamm has fleshed out the origin and history of her characters quite well, creating a realistic world of fantastical elements. She has developed a world of titans and golems, filled with a rich back story with intrigue and ulterior motives.
That being said, I had a challenging time trying to picture what each of the characters looked like. I felt that sometimes the physical descriptions didn't match their mannerisms or behaviour, which made it a bit difficult to buy the idea that so-and-so was doing this or saying that. In particular, I found many of the male characters in Titan Magic to be on the creepy side. With the comments and actions made towards Madeleine, regardless of their age or relationship to the girl, the dynamic left me feeling a bit uncomfortable for her. Another pivotal moment in the book felt a bit left askew where - without giving away major spoilers - Madeleine is to summon for help with the next time she "says" a certain person's name, however his name comes up several times without anything happening, as if the story's forgotten that important plot point.
It's been a while since I've read a full-on fantasy-genre book, often favouring ones that are a blend of realism with fantasy/paranormal elements. Despite my previously mentioned challenges, I did really enjoy the story. The characters will keep you guessing till the end as to their motives in this well-paced novel by Lamm. ...more
If I Stay is about a girl whose musically-enriched life is forever changed in the blinThis and other reviews can be found on my blog, Just a Lil Lost!
If I Stay is about a girl whose musically-enriched life is forever changed in the blink of an eye. Precariously balanced between life & death, she reflects upon her life and all that she has lost versus what she will still have to live for. A simple story, eloquently and beautifully written.
To be honest, I hadn't heard of If I Stay until the sequel, Where She Went, won Best Young Adult Fiction on Goodreads for 2011. I picked this first book up at The Strand Bookstore in NYC (for a ridiculously good price) and thought I'd give it a shot. Although the book (pleasantly) surprised me, it was nothing like what I was expecting. Based on a slightly different synopsis on this Goodreads page, it led me to believe that she had amnesia about the accident and couldn't remember anything about it. Based on the quote by USA Today right on the cover that this book "will appeal to fans of Stephenie Meyer's TWILIGHT" was equally misleading. Other than the fact that her consciousness is floating around, contemplating whether she should stay or go - there really is no other "paranormal" aspect about the book. No vampires, no werewolves, no real connection between Twilight fans and those who would like If I Stay.
Initial impressions aside, I flew through this book. It's an easy read, jumping back and forth from pre- & post- accident. Flashes of her life are reflected on and have moments that will make you tear up, tug at your heart strings, and appreciate what you have.