Review: Things We Know By Heart by Jessi Kirby

 17571215.jpgThings We Know By Heart by Jessi Kirby

Published by HarperTeen on April 21st 2015

Page Count: 304

Genre(s): YA, contemporary, romance, coming-of-age, grief

Format: Hardcover, library copy (but will be purchasing a shiny hardcover copy of ASAP!)

Would I recommend? Yes, absolutely. This is by far the best book I’ve encountered this year and one of the most perfect books I’ve ever read. A unique concept, lovely characters, and a brilliant, long-lasting effect. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone.

Rating: ★★★★★


When Quinn Sullivan meets the recipient of her boyfriend’s donated heart, the two form an unexpected connection.

After Quinn loses her boyfriend, Trent, in an accident their junior year, she reaches out to the recipients of his donated organs in hopes of picking up the pieces of her now-unrecognizable life. She hears back from some of them, but the person who received Trent’s heart has remained silent. The essence of a person, she has always believed, is in the heart. If she finds Trent’s, then maybe she can have peace once and for all.

Risking everything in order to finally lay her memories to rest, Quinn goes outside the system to track down nineteen-year-old Colton Thomas—a guy whose life has been forever changed by this priceless gift. But what starts as an accidental run-in quickly develops into more, sparking an undeniable attraction. She doesn’t want to give in to it—especially since he has no idea how they’re connected—but their time together has made Quinn feel alive again. No matter how hard she’s falling for Colton, each beat of his heart reminds her of all she’s lost…and all that remains at stake.

-Goodreads.com description

My Thoughts

I really, really tried to word a review that would do this book justice, but I just couldn’t. Not in my typical review format, anyway. One of my blogging resolutions for 2016 was to play around with some different review formats, so who knows, maybe I’ll try doing something like this again in the future! There’s no need to worry about spoilers in this review; as always, there is none. Hopefully reading this post will give you a little insight as to why I loved and needed this book so much.


Dear Jessi,

I went into Things We Know By Heart with pretty high expectations. After you completely stole my heart with your lovely novel In Honor, how couldn’t I? When I was perusing Goodreads one day and stumbled across your latest novel (and this was before I even knew you existed, mind you), I instantly fell in love with the title, cover, synopsis, everything. I knew from that day that Things We Know By Heart would be a definite 5-star read, and I certainly wasn’t wrong.

Things We Know By Heart was a beautiful, utterly perfect novel. I honestly couldn’t have asked for anything more. I read some reviews and noticed that a few people said that the novel’s concept is a bit cliche or stereotyped, but really, how could it be? There may have been a few common tropes I recognized, but every novel has those. The concept in its entirety is so unique, so brilliant, that I don’t think any other author has ever written anything like it before.

I already knew from reading In Honor that your writing style is gorgeous, Jessi, but Things We Know By Heart gave a whole new definition to amazing writing. Your prose is so seamless and flows so well that I found myself reading every sentence twice in effort to savor every word. There was also lots of dialogue, which I adored. What struck me most about your writing, though, was the descriptions. I absolutely loved how you described the setting of the novel in such a powerful and poetic way that left me thinking, hey, I want to go there! A few days ago in English class, we were discussing how setting can make such a big impact on the overall effect and theme statement of a book, and I really saw this aspect come into play with your novel. A big part of your book took place at a beachy setting, which I really appreciated because I could relate to Quinn’s and Colton’s connection with nature on a very personal level.

When I read this novel, I was in a pretty tough place. It was near the end of the year and I was stressing out about all the assignments teachers were piling up, I hadn’t read any good books lately, I hadn’t gotten a chance to go on an ocean swim recently, swim practice was super stressful. Honestly, I was just really tired. I felt like I needed a long break, like life was this never-ending cycle of stressfulness and tough situations and I had to fight to make it through every day. This is why I was so, so thankful that I read Things We Know By Heart when I did. I needed to read that novel desperately just then, and you, Jessi, allowed me to do just this. So thank you. Thank you so much.

Although I thankfully hadn’t ever gone through an experience similar to the one Quinn had to go through, I still related to her and empathized with her so much. You have a way of carving out characters that manage to find their way into your heart within the first few chapters, and I’m so grateful for this. I’m so grateful that I had the pleasure of meeting Quinn, and of learning about – no, living – her incredible story. She is such a strong, unique, and very real character, and I genuinely felt while reading this book that I experienced some degree of every emotion she went through. I understood her, I empathized with her, I cried with her. At first glance you might think that it’s unrealistic and naive for a young character to be going through this much grief after the death of a boyfriend, but once you get to know her and understand the bond she and Trent shared, it makes so much sense. I feel like going looking for Trent’s heart recipient was exactly what I would have done if I was in her shoes. I understand why she wanted to look for Colton in effort to find a piece of one of the people she loved the most. She was incredibly strong, but she definitely had some flaws, too. Her mistakes and weaknesses were what really made me be able to love her and relate to her so much.

Alright, now I should talk about Colton. Earlier in my review I talked about some of the aspects of your book that made such a lasting impact on me, but in all honesty, Colton’s character was what really made the difference. I started this novel feeling small, tired, and relatively insignificant. I finished this novel feeling empowered, inspired, and ultimately fulfilled. This was the result of having the pleasure of meeting a lovely character by the name of Colton Thomas.

Colton’s character was just wonderful. He was one of the most real, fleshed-out characters I had ever met, and definitely one of my favorites. He’s sweet, quirky, idealistic, weird, observant, and independent. He cares so much for Quinn and his family, and he’s a real gentleman. He’s strong, flawed, and pragmatic. He has had to go through so many tough experiences, and these experiences have helped shape the lovely person he is. What struck me most about his character, however, was his passion for nature. He literally lived every day like it was his last because his experiences had taught him to, and he taught Quinn to do the same. He fed his passions boldly and fearlessly, and invited others to do the same. He had such a deep connection with nature – the ocean, in particular – that it immediately made me want to put on a bathing suit and dive in to the 56 degree surf.

In fact, that’s just what I did after finishing this novel. I put your book down, careful not to bend any of the pages, slipped into my favorite one-piece, drove down to the beach, and plunged into the frigid ocean. I floated out there for a while, feeling the waves lap against my body, feeling the seaweed thread in between my fingers, watching the way the sun set over the water, feeding my passion boldly and fearlessly just as Colton had. This book was one of the most powerful, inspirational, impactful books I’ve ever read.

So thank you, Jessi. Thank you for creating characters that I could empathize with and relate to. Thank you for your beautiful writing that made me want to get up at 6am every morning to read it. Thank you for making me smile, cry, laugh, swoon, think, and act. Thank you for creating such wonderful relationships between your characters and your readers (AKA me). Thank you for inspiring me and moving me in a way that no book has ever inspired me and moved me before. I appreciate it so much. If you ever end up reading this letter, Jessi, I hope it gives you even the smallest insight to how much I loved and appreciated you book. Really, it meant the world to me.

Love, Paige

Rating: 5/5 Stars


Woah, that was a long post. To everyone who managed to get to the bottom of all that: thank you so much! I hope you enjoyed it, despite my rambles.

Let’s talk: have you read Things We Know By Heart? What did you think of it? What is your favorite Jessi Kirby book?

Review: Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby | A Letter to Jessi Kirby

 17571215.jpgThings We Know By Heart by Jessi Kirby

Published by HarperTeen on April 21st 2015

Page Count: 304

Genre(s): YA, contemporary, romance, coming-of-age, grief

Format: Hardcover, library copy (but will be purchasing a shiny hardcover copy of ASAP!)

Would I recommend? Yes, absolutely. This is by far the best book I’ve encountered this year and one of the most perfect books I’ve ever read. A unique concept, lovely characters, and a brilliant, long-lasting effect. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone.

Rating: ★★★★★


When Quinn Sullivan meets the recipient of her boyfriend’s donated heart, the two form an unexpected connection.

After Quinn loses her boyfriend, Trent, in an accident their junior year, she reaches out to the recipients of his donated organs in hopes of picking up the pieces of her now-unrecognizable life. She hears back from some of them, but the person who received Trent’s heart has remained silent. The essence of a person, she has always believed, is in the heart. If she finds Trent’s, then maybe she can have peace once and for all.

Risking everything in order to finally lay her memories to rest, Quinn goes outside the system to track down nineteen-year-old Colton Thomas—a guy whose life has been forever changed by this priceless gift. But what starts as an accidental run-in quickly develops into more, sparking an undeniable attraction. She doesn’t want to give in to it—especially since he has no idea how they’re connected—but their time together has made Quinn feel alive again. No matter how hard she’s falling for Colton, each beat of his heart reminds her of all she’s lost…and all that remains at stake.

-Goodreads.com description

My Thoughts

I really, really tried to word a review that would do this book justice, but I just couldn’t. Not in my typical review format, anyway. One of my blogging resolutions for 2016 was to play around with some different review formats, so who knows, maybe I’ll try doing something like this again in the future! There’s no need to worry about spoilers in this review; as always, there is none. Hopefully reading this post will give you a little insight as to why I loved and needed this book so much.


Dear Jessi,

I went into Things We Know By Heart with pretty high expectations. After you completely stole my heart with your lovely novel In Honor, how couldn’t I? When I was perusing Goodreads one day and stumbled across your latest novel (and this was before I even knew you existed, mind you), I instantly fell in love with the title, cover, synopsis, everything. I knew from that day that Things We Know By Heart would be a definite 5-star read, and I certainly wasn’t wrong.

Things We Know By Heart was a beautiful, utterly perfect novel. I honestly couldn’t have asked for anything more. I read some reviews and noticed that a few people said that the novel’s concept is a bit cliche or stereotyped, but really, how could it be? There may have been a few common tropes I recognized, but every novel has those. The concept in its entirety is so unique, so brilliant, that I don’t think any other author has ever written anything like it before. And if you do know of a book that deals with a similar topic, please point me in its direction!

I already knew from reading In Honor that your writing style is gorgeous, Jessi, but Things We Know By Heart gave a whole new definition to amazing writing. Your prose is so seamless and flows so well that I found myself reading every sentence twice in effort to savor every word. There was also lots of dialogue, which I adored. What struck me most about your writing, though, was the descriptions. I absolutely loved how you described the setting of the novel in such a powerful and poetic way that left me thinking, hey, I want to go there! A few days ago in English class, we were discussing how setting can make such a big impact on the overall effect and theme statement of a book, and I really saw this aspect come into play with your novel. A big part of your book took place at a beachy setting, which I really appreciated because I could relate to Quinn’s and Colton’s connection with nature on a very personal level.

When I read this novel, I was in a pretty tough place. It was near the end of the year and I was stressing out about all the assignments teachers were piling up, I hadn’t read any good books lately, I hadn’t gotten a chance to go on an ocean swim recently, swim practice was super stressful. Honestly, I was just really tired. I felt like I needed a long break, like life was this never-ending cycle of stressfulness and tough situations and I had to fight to make it through every day. This is why I was so, so thankful that I read Things We Know By Heart when I did. I needed to read that novel desperately just then, and you, Jessi, allowed me to do just this. So thank you. Thank you so much.

Although I thankfully hadn’t ever gone through an experience similar to the one Quinn had to go through, I still related to her and empathized with her so much. You have a way of carving out characters that manage to find their way into your heart within the first few chapters, and I’m so grateful for this. I’m so grateful that I had the pleasure of meeting Quinn, and of learning about – no, living – her incredible story. She is such a strong, unique, and very real character, and I genuinely felt while reading this book that I experienced some degree of every emotion she went through. I understood her, I empathized with her, I cried with her. At first glance you might think that it’s unrealistic and naive for a young character to be going through this much grief after the death of a boyfriend, but once you get to know her and understand the bond she and Trent shared, it makes so much sense. I feel like going looking for Trent’s heart recipient was exactly what I would have done if I was in her shoes. I understand why she wanted to look for Colton in effort to find a piece of one of the people she loved the most. She was incredibly strong, but she definitely had some flaws, too. Her mistakes and weaknesses were what really made me be able to love her and relate to her so much.

Alright, now I should talk about Colton. Earlier in my review I talked about some of the aspects of your book that made such a lasting impact on me, but in all honesty, Colton’s character was what really made the difference. I started this novel feeling small, tired, and relatively insignificant. I finished this novel feeling empowered, inspired, and ultimately fulfilled. This was the result of having the pleasure of meeting a lovely character by the name of Colton Thomas.

Colton’s character was just wonderful. He was one of the most real, fleshed-out characters I had ever met, and definitely one of my favorites. He’s sweet, quirky, idealistic, weird, observant, and independent. He cares so much for Quinn and his family, and he’s a real gentleman. He’s strong, flawed, and pragmatic. He has had to go through so many tough experiences, and these experiences have helped shape the lovely person he is. What struck me most about his character, however, was his passion for nature. He literally lived every day like it was his last because his experiences had taught him to, and he taught Quinn to do the same. He fed his passions boldly and fearlessly, and invited others to do the same. He had such a deep connection with nature – the ocean, in particular – that it immediately made me want to put on a bathing suit and dive in to the 56 degree surf.

In fact, that’s just what I did after finishing this novel. I put your book down, careful not to bend any of the pages, slipped into my favorite one-piece, drove down to the beach, and plunged into the frigid ocean. I floated out there for a while, feeling the waves lap against my body, feeling the seaweed thread in between my fingers, watching the way the sun set over the water, feeding my passion boldly and fearlessly just as Colton had. This book was one of the most powerful, inspirational, impactful books I’ve ever read.

So thank you, Jessi. Thank you for creating characters that I could empathize with and relate to. Thank you for your beautiful writing that made me want to get up at 6am every morning to read it. Thank you for making me smile, cry, laugh, swoon, think, and act. Thank you for creating such wonderful relationships between your characters and your readers (AKA, me). Thank you for inspiring me and moving me in a way that no book has ever inspired me and moved me before. I appreciate it so much. If you ever end up reading this letter, Jessi, I hope it gives you even the smallest insight to how much I loved and appreciated you book. Really, it meant the world to me.

Love, Paige

Rating: 5/5 Stars


Woah, that was a long post. To everyone who managed to get to the bottom of all that: thank you so much! I hope you enjoyed it, despite my rambles.

Let’s talk: have you read Things We Know By Heart? What did you think of it? What is your favorite Jessi Kirby book?

7 Reasons Why I’d Recommend Love Letters To The Dead by Ava Dellaira To Anyone

18140047Love Letters To The Dead by Ava Dellaira

I first read Love Letters to the Dead three years ago, and I absolutely loved it. It was the book that first got me into YA Contemporary, which is now probably my favorite genre. Because of the fact that I read this book three years ago and I don’t remember very much of it, and because I’m too lazy to write a full review on it, I decided to compile a list of why I think everyone would benefit from reading this amazing book.


The Writing. 

Seriously, I can’t even begin to explain how gorgeous Dellaira’s prose is. I found myself scrambling throughout the entire book for my quote notebook and my highlighter. (Yes, I highlight my books. Don’t hate, okay?😉 )

Laurel.

I love a narrator that I can really understand and sympathize with, and Laurel definitely has these qualities. Her voice was mature, but not too unrealistic, and her decisions and actions were often flawed, which I think is very important.

ALL THE FEELS. 

I know there’s people that specifically avoid books like this for that very reason, but I, particularly, happen to find myself attracted to tear-jerkers. Grief is a very difficult subject to write about, and Dellaira definitely handled it well. In my opinion, the best kind of books are the ones that really make you feel something.

The Unique Concept!

I mean, come on: who isn’t intrigued by the idea of writing letters to dead people? This topic is really interesting to me, and it’s cool to see what a strong role all these people had in both Laurel’s and May’s lives. I also loved this unique format, because I normally don’t read books written in letter format, but I really enjoyed how Dellaira handled it.

The Romance.

I loved, loved, loved Laurel and Sky’s relationship! There was no insta-love, and I really enjoyed watching the characters gradually get to know each other. While I didn’t love Sky as a character, I loved to see him with Laurel.

May and Laurel’s Relationship.

Strong sister-sister relationships are something I’d love to see more of in YA, and it was done beautifully in this novel. Laurel’s voice describes some of her past experiences with May, some of them random, and some of them completely magical, which I think mirrors how relationships are in real life.

The Theme. 

One of the most important elements in a good book is the theme. This book really made me think, and caused me to view grief in a different way.


So….let me here your thoughts! What did you think about Love Letters to the Dead? If you’ve read this book, were there any specific quote(s) that resonated with you? What book have you read recently that you’ve found particularly quotable? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!:)

Mini Reviews | March 2016 Edition

Yes, I do realize that it is no longer March. But I was hoping to do some sort of round-up of all the books I didn’t get to review in March….so I’m doing mini reviews! Grab your beverages and get cozy, guys, because this is going to be a long post.


11588.jpgThe Shining by Stephen King

This book took me a while to get through, because, you know…..I’m not that experienced with Adult books. I did love it though! I had extremely high expectations for this one because Stephen King is considered to be one of the greatest writers of modern times, and I was certainly not let down. The only thing I wasn’t really expecting – and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing because I don’t like to get too freaked out – is that it didn’t scare me as much as I expected it to. I’m not saying that I didn’t get scared at all, because I did. I’m just saying that although I was pretty scared while reading this book, it didn’t have much of an effect on me after I finished it. I think it’s just one of those “it’s not you, it’s me” situations.

Rating: 4/5 Stars


22205.jpg This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen

I had pretty mixed feelings about this one. I mean, it is Sarah Desssen, so it was extremely well-written and quite adorable. I guess I was just let down a little bit by the plot. I guess it felt a little slow to me for the first half of the book, so I didn’t get into it until much later on. Also, the main character, Remy, really bugged me with all her negativity and selfishness. The plot seemed pretty cliche with the whole “girl who doesn’t believe in love meets boy who changes her life” trope. It was a cute book, though, and while I didn’t necessarily like the characters individually, I loved them together.

Rating: 3/5 Stars


228965514.jpgNone of the Above by I. W. Gregario

None of the Above is an extremely important book, and I’m so, so glad I read it. It centers on a teenage girl, Kristin, who has to reevaluate everything she thought she knew about herself after being told she was intersex. Admittedly, this book did make me a bit uncomfortable, but not because of the subject matter at hand. The way people reacted to Kristin’s situation and completely betrayed her just broke my heart. The sad thing is that before reading this book I had no idea what it meant to be intersex – and that is one of the reasons this book is so necessary. Lovely writing, realistic and fleshed-out characters, and unique, important subject matter. Highly recommend!

Rating: 4/5 Stars


22489107.jpgFairest by Marissa Meyer

This one was okay. I mean, I guess it was kind of interesting to learn about Levana’s background and how she became so evil and everything, but for the most part, I feel like it didn’t add much to the series. Readers that actually liked Levana’s character to begin with might enjoy this book, but I personally don’t see the appeal. Some parts felt more like a chore to get through than actually reading for pleasure.

Rating: 2.5/5 Stars


6654313.jpg Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

I actually wrote a review on this book a few weeks ago, which you can view here. Basically, while the writing was still gorgeous and the story was somewhat enjoyable, I had some issues with the plot. By that, I mean: literally nothing happens throughout the course of the entire novel. Nothing. It was also pretty predictable, and I wasn’t a huge fan of the new characters that were introduced. Overall, a fast-paced, fun read, but I found it lacking in a few areas.

Rating: 3/5 Stars


12425532.jpgOf Poseidon by Anna Banks

I wasn’t a fan of this one at all! The premise sounded promising because I’ve hardly ever encountered any YA mermaid novels and I was in the mood for a good beach read, but unfortunately, it didn’t deliver. The writing style is what about 80% of my ratings are based off of, and I didn’t enjoy the writing style in this one at all. The sentences felt kind of choppy and contrived and there wasn’t much sentence variety, and it felt like the book was geared towards a much younger audience than “young adults.” I also had some serious issues with the characters, starting with Emma. Emma just seemed so whiny and naive, and she bugged me so much throughout the novel! Galen just seemed way too creepy and stalkerish and possesive for my taste. Insta-love is one of my least favorite romance tropes, and it was painfully present in this book. I could go on with all the things I didn’t like about this novel, but it’s supposed to be a “mini review,” so I’ll just stop right here….

Rating: 1.5/5 Stars


180442773.jpgThe Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

Loved, loved, loved! The first 3/4 of the novel is really, really confusing, but the confusion is well worth it. This book centers on the lives of 3 teenage girls: Amber, Orianna, and Violet. It tells the stories of these super messed-up girls and the crimes they did or did not commit. The way Nova Ren Suma wove these stories together in such a beautiful, seamless way was honestly awe-inspiring. The lyrical writing was absolutely gorgeous – almost poetic. This book will seriously mess with your mind, and while I do admit that this book isn’t for everyone because of the dark subject matters at hand, I thoroughly enjoyed it and would highly recommend it.

Rating: 4/5 Stars


 

13455498.jpgAnything But Ordinary by Lara Avery

I wrote a review on this one a few days ago, which you can view here. This book had lots of potential, but unfortunately, I wasn’t a huge fan of the execution. I suppose the first half of the book was pretty enjoyable, but there were too many aspects in the latter half that left me rolling my eyes and wanting to throw the book across the room in frustration to overlook. The writing was okay, but nothing special. The characters were boring and felt pretty unrealistic. The plot was shockingly predictable, and the ending felt really cheap and unsatisfying. A quick, fast-paced read, but I definitely had some issues with it.

Rating: 1.5/5 Stars


 

16068341.jpgThe Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

For anyone who has ever been bullied, The Truth About Alice is an absolute must-read. This book explores the effects of an extreme case on the bullying spectrum in an incredibly honest and raw perspective. The book is in the POVs of four characters: Kelsie, Alice’s ex-best friend; Kurt, the boy next door; Elaine, who hosted the party and is the most popular girl at school; and Josh, the best friend of the boy who Alice supposedly “killed.” The writing was amazing and I loved how Mathieu used 4 unique perspectives to piece together what truly happened that night. The only issue I have with this book was the extremely stereotyped and cliche characters. These stereotypes included: “the nerd actually really likes Alice” and “the best friend betrays Alice to fit in with the popular crowd” etc., etc. This did get a bit annoying, but besides that, I didn’t have any issues.

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars


18806240.jpgBone Gap by Laura Ruby

This one was probably my favorite read of the month! I mean, I wasn’t MIND-BLOWN or anything, but I’m really, really glad I read it. The concept is so unique and unlike anything I’ve ever read before, and it kept me on the edge my seat the whole time. I’ve read an embarrassingly small number of magical realism books, but of the ones I’ve read, this one certainly takes the cake. Oh, did I mention how incredibly unique and quirky and WEIRD the characters are?! I completely fell in love with all of them within the first few chapters. Also, the writing style is quite gorgeous.

Rating: 4/5 Stars


Gosh darn it, that took a long time to write. Still no 5-star reads for me this year, but I have had some solid 4-stars. Anyway, I hope you guys enjoyed! 🙂

Let’s chat: Which of the books on this list have you read? What did you think? What was your favorite book you read in March?

Review: Anything But Ordinary by Lara Avery

13455498.jpg Anything But Ordinary by Lara Avery

Published by Hyperion Books on September 11th 2012

Page Count: 326

Genre(s): YA, contemporary, romance, paranormal

Format: Hardcover, borrowed from library

Would I recommend? Nope, definitely not. I suppose the first half of the book was kind of enjoyable, but there were just too many aspects in the latter half that left me rolling my eyes and wanting to throw this book across the room in frustration. The writing style is good, but nothing special. The characters were boring. The plot was predictable. The concept itself was unique, but poorly executed.

My Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

An inspiring, bittersweet love story about making every day count.

Bryce remembers it like it was yesterday. The scent of chlorine. The blinding crack and flash of pain. Blood in the water.

When she wakes up in the hospital, all Bryce can think of is her disastrous Olympic diving trial. But everything is different now. Bryce still feels seventeen, so how can her little sister be seventeen, too? Life went on without her while Bryce lay in a coma for five years. Her best friend and boyfriend have just graduated from college. Her parents barely speak. And everything she once dreamed of doing—winning a gold medal, traveling the world, falling in love—seems beyond her reach.

But Bryce has changed too, in seemingly impossible ways. She knows things she shouldn’t. Things that happened while she was asleep. Things that haven’t even happened yet. During one luminous summer, as she comes to understand that her dreams have changed forever, Bryce learns to see life for what it truly is: extraordinary.

-Goodreads.com description

My Thoughts

This book had a lot of potential. Although I had never heard of it before the cover caught my eye in the library a few days ago, I was still looking forward to reading about this unique concept. I wanted so much to love this book…and while I did enjoy parts of it, I had several glaring issues that were too big to overlook.

The writing style was pretty good. It wasn’t crazy-beautiful or anything, but it wasn’t bad. This was one thing I was a bit worried about going into this novel because I felt like the writing in the first chapter  felt a bit forced and unnatural, but it definitely improved over the course of the novel. I did feel like the dialogue was a bit flat and contrived, but that might have just been because of my huge dislike for the characters.

This leads me to one of my biggest issues: the characters. This aspect bugged me so much! When I’m reading a book, I want to read about realistic, flawed, captivating characters. I want to meet characters that I can identify with and relate to their struggles. This, my friends, is the exact opposite of Bryce, our main character. Bryce is beautiful, smart, athletic, social, friendly, and funny. Bryce is also perfect in every way and all the guys like her. She has no problem fitting in to a crowd and appears to have no insecurities whatsoever.

Otherwise known as, Bryce is boring.

BOOOOO-RING!

And it’s not like Bryce is the only character like this. Her best friend Gabby is described as being beautiful, charismatic, intelligent, and popular. Both love interests are depicted as being sweet, smart, funny, and having gorgeous abs. It might be just me, but honestly….do you really think this is realistic?

I THINK NOT.

Another issue I had was that this book seemed extremely…..unorganized, to say the least. Between Bryce recovering from her accident, discovering her so-called “paranormal powers,” navigating her tricky love life (oh my gosh, two guys love me at the same time! What’s a girl to do?), fulfilling her high school bucket list, and weird uses of symbolism that I STILL don’t understand….I felt like this book had way too many concepts going on, with none of these concepts actually being explored and explained to their full potential.

The plot was also shockingly predictable. I mean, normally predictability isn’t a huge issue for me because it doesn’t take away much from my enjoyability of the book, but there is a point where it REALLY gets on my nerves. When I’m able to predict everything from the cliche dialogue to the major plot twists, I know there’s something wrong.

Another thing that bugged me were all the diving references. Like, I get that Bryce’s greatest passion is diving and I DO want to learn more about diving, but when Bryce is comparing her emotions to “drowning in a pool and having no one to pull her out” every other page, it does get a bit tiresome.

OH, and the ending? DON’T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON THE ENDING. I can’t really tell you what happens if you haven’t read it yet because, you know, spoilers…..but just know that it caused me to physically throw the book across the room in frustration. And guys, trust me: I NEVER throw books.

Final Thought

A unique and original concept, but poorly executed. A fast-paced and somewhat-enjoyable read if you can get past the cliche plot twists and 2-dimensional characters. I read this book in one sitting in the span of about 3 hours….so if you’re looking for a book purely to get back on track of your Goodreads challenge, this book might be for you! Otherwise, don’t bother.

Rating: 1.5/5 Stars


Have you read Anything But Ordinary? What did you think? I’d love to hear what you guys have to say in the comments!

 

3 Reasons Why I Love The Perks of Being a Wallflower (And You Should Too)

5 Reasons Why I Love The Perks Of Being A Wallflower 2.jpg

Earlier today, it crossed my mind that it had been exactly a year ago since I first read my favorite book of all time. I know I say this about a lot of books, but most of these novels come and go. There’s always one book that I keep coming back to. One book that gives me goosebumps whenever the mere title of it is mentioned. One book that I have quotes from written down on dozens of sticky notes that I put in my binder so whenever I open it up it gives me a smile. This book, my friends, is The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.

You’ve probably read it before. Or at least heard of it. Perks is one of the most popular and well-known YA books of all time, and it’s no wonder why so many people fell in love with it after its release. So, to celebrate the fact that I read my all-time favorite book exactly a year ago, I decided to write a post highlighting the top 3 reasons I first fell in love with this beautiful novel.


The Long-Lasting Effect

It deals with some heavy topics such as life, love, friendship, acceptance, and growing up in a very light-hearted and matter-of-fact way so that you’re not overwhelmed, just touched. I’m not saying this isn’t a sad book – because trust me, you’ll be sobbing bucketfuls. What I’m saying is that while it does manage to take some really important issues into account, the effect it will have on you is ultimately very uplifting and inspiring.

It’s So Relatable

This is another reason Perks made such a lasting impression on me – how insanely relatable Charlie’s voice was for me. Throughout the entire novel, I literally wanted to shout out, “Oh my gosh, SAME!” Charlie and I have so much in common – we’re both an introvert, or “wallflower;” we both appreciate the small things in life; we both have fierce passions we wouldn’t give up for the world; we both are extremely observant and insightful – the list goes on and on. Although I’ve never (thankfully) had to go through any of the traumatic experiences Charlie went through, I still connected and related to him on so many levels.

The Writing

In my opinion, an incredible writing style is by far the most important thing when it comes to a good book. Stephen Chbosky’s novel is one of the most beautifully-written books I’ve ever read, and it contains some of my favorite quotes. The writing style is very simplistic and matter-of-fact, but it still flows wonderfully. This prose captures Charlie’s unique personality in a way that makes you empathize, understand, and relate to him. The following is one of my all-time favorite quotes from Perks:

“So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.”

Beautiful, isn’t it? And so darn relatable.


Have you read The Perks of Being a Wallflower? What did you think of it? Can you think of any books that are somewhat similar to Perks that you would recommend to me? 

Review: Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

6654313.jpg Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

Published by Scholastic Press on June 13 2010

Page Count: 360

Genre(s): YA, fantasy, paranormal, romance

Format: Hardcover, library copy

Would I recommend? Um…I suppose so, if you’re a fan of the first book. I did have some issues with it, but the writing style is really beautiful and the story is still pretty enjoyable.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

 

the longing.

Once Grace and Sam have found each other, they know they must fight to stay together. For Sam, this means a reckoning with his werewolf past. For Grace, it means facing a future that is less and less certain.

the loss.

Into their world comes a new wolf named Cole, whose past is full of hurt and danger. He is wrestling with his own demons, embracing the life of a wolf while denying the ties of being a human.

the linger.

For Grace, Sam, and Cole, life a constant struggle between two forces–wolf and human–with love baring its two sides as well. It is harrowing and euphoric, freeing and entrapping, enticing and alarming. As their world falls apart, love is what lingers. But will it be enough?

-Goodreads.com description

My Thoughts

“She made her home in between the pages of books.”

Linger was a book I had super high hopes for. I mean, how couldn’t I? I absolutely fell in love with Shiver last year, and I’ve been desperate to get my hands on the sequel ever since. I had read some pretty mixed reviews on Linger, but my expectations were still through the roof because of how Shiver left me. Unfortunately, I was left disappointed and underwhelmed.

Don’t get me wrong; Linger isn’t a bad book. I mean, I’m still convinced Maggie Stiefvater is an absolute genius and can do no wrong. Almost everything was there that I normally look for in a novel: a gorgeous writing style, fleshed-out and realistic characters, a unique concept, a slow-burn romance. Which pretty much leaves out one thing: the plot. Which, in my experience, is a pretty important part in a good novel. Some say that it’s the most important thing, which I agree with, after the writing style. This is the area that I found Linger to be a little lacking in.

Our story is introduced right where Shiver left off, except this time there’s a new character introduced: Cole. I wasn’t a huge fan of the new POVs that were added in (Cole and Isabel) in addition to Grace and Sam. Also, the book sometimes changed POVs in the middle of a chapter, which really bugged me. I definitely preferred Shiver‘s format and the way it changed POVs every chapter.

“This is a love story. I never knew there were so many kinds of love or that love could make people do so many different things.

I never knew there were so many different ways to say goodbye.”

Cole kind of bugged me for the majority of the novel, but he kind of grew on me by the very end of it. I guess my main problem with him was that he wasn’t relatable at all, and I couldn’t fathom anyone thinking about or doing some of the things he did. I suppose Stiefvater was going for some major character development, but frankly, I just found it annoying and unrealistic. I guess that’s why I ended up not hating him as much in the end: he seemed way more….well, human.

My main issue with this book was the plot. I’m just going to be outright with my opinion on this: throughout the entire 360 pages, literally nothing happens. Stiefvater uses romance as a convenient way to get the nearly nonexistent plot rolling. And trust me, I’m not saying that I’m against romance – I love myself a good slow-burn romance. I loved Sam and Grace’s romance in Shiver because they were just getting to know each other and they were so adorable together. I was looking forward to learning more about the world Stiefvater created and also to having some of my questions answered, but I was pretty let down in this aspect.

Another part of this book that kind of bugged me was the predictability of it all. We were literally told what was wrong with Grace within the first couple of chapters, and then we were expected to be shocked by it at the end after the “big reveal.” This aspect didn’t taint my enjoyment of the book too much because it isn’t one of the main things I look for in a book, but it is an area that I think Stiefvater could have improved on.

“And some days I just can’t live with that. But I do. Because that’s life, Cole. Life’s pain. You just have to get over as much of it as you can.”

Alrighty, enough with the negativity! I may have emphasized a little too much on my negative opinions on this book in the first part of my review, but honestly, 3 stars is still a pretty good rating. Although I did definitely have some things that bugged me, it was an enjoyable read overall. There were many parts of this book that I absolutely loved. Like, for instance, Cole and Isabel’s relationship. While I wasn’t necessarily a huge fan of either of these characters individually, their relationship was quite adorable and pretty realistic. Also, Stiefvater’s writing style was as beautiful as ever. Her prose reads so smoothly and beautifully; it’s almost like poetry.

Similarly to Shiver, I also really appreciated Stiefvater’s unique take on the whole werewolf thing. I haven’t really read any werewolf books unless you count Twilight, but I really liked how she incorporated the paranormal aspect with her lyrical prose and her extremely character-driven plot, which isn’t something you see too much of it YA fantasy.

Final Thought

Overall, a solid and fairly entertaining read but not too memorable for me. I will definitely be finishing up the series, but my seemingly-endless TBR pile might fall over and squash me in my sleep before I ever get to that point – oops.

Rating: 3/5 Stars