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?

Currently Reading: The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

18044277.jpgThe Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

So, you may have remembered how in an earlier post I mentioned how I have not yet read a single 5-star book in 2016.

Yup, you heard me right.

I have not read a single 5-star – or even 4.5 star – book in 2016.

In fact, the last 5-star book I read would have to be Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson, which was way back in November.

Why haven’t I been reading any 5-star books lately? There are plenty of possible explanations for this, but that’s another topic for another time.

My point is, I think this book might be my breakthrough. It’s one of those books that I knew I was going to fall in love with just based off of the title, cover, and Goodreads synopsis. But for some strange reason, I didn’t end up reading it until now.

This book sucked me in from the first sentence. I mean, come on. There’s no way I couldn’t be instantly captivated by a book with an opening paragraph like this:

We went wild that hot night. We howled, we raged, we screamed. We were girls – some of us fourteen and fifteen; some sixteen, seventeen – but when the locks came undone, the doors of our cells gaping open and no one to shove us back in, we made the noise of savage animals, of men.

Sounds intriguing, no??

I honestly don’t know what genre this book is, and I’m not going to look it up, either, because that might be a spoiler. It’s giving me a kind of psychological-thriller feel, but I’m sensing that there may be some paranormal elements involved as well….I really don’t know. The Goodreads synopsis is pretty vague, so I went into this book knowing pretty much nothing. Which is definitely part of the reason why this book has kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time – because I have absolutely no idea what’s going on.

The writing is absolutely gorgeous as well. The prose flows so well that it almost seems poetic in some parts.

We were alive. I remember it that way. We were still alive, and we couldn’t see how close we were to the end.

Even now, my hands are literally itching to get my hands back on this novel. I’m definitely looking forward to (hopefully) having some of my many questions answered and reading the rest of Nova Ren Suma’s works!


So tell me: have you read The Walls Around Us? What did you think? Have you read any of Nova Ren Suma’s other books? What are you currently reading?

 

October TBR List | My Plans to Scare My Socks Off This Halloween

So, it’s October, and you all know what that means: Halloween! And like I said in my Monthly Recap, my goal this month is to read scary books, eat lots of candy, and dress up as a book character that none of my friends have ever heard of. Sounds like a plan, doesn’t it?

So, in order to get in the Halloween spirit, I compiled a list to show you which books I’m dying to read this October.

12810834172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad- This book is of the horror genre, but it’s set in space. How cool is that? I’ve heard many good things about it, and it’s supposed to be terrifying.

Three teenagers are going on the trip of a lifetime. Only one is coming back. It’s been more than forty years since NASA sent the first men to the moon, and to grab some much-needed funding and attention, they decide to launch an historic international lottery in which three lucky teenagers can win a week-long trip to moon base DARLAH 2.

-Goodreads.com description

19732381Dangerous Boys by Abigail Haas- I read Dangerous Girls and loved it, and I’ve been dying to get my hands on a copy of this book ever since. It’s more of a thriller than horror, but I’ve heard that it’s still really scary and suspenseful, which is exactly what I’m in the mood for!

Three teens venture into the abandoned Monroe estate one night; hours later, only two emerge from the burning wreckage. Chloe drags one Reznick brother to safety, unconscious and bleeding; the other is left to burn, dead in the fire. But which brother survives? And is his death a tragic accident? Desperate self-defense? Or murder?

Chloe is the only one with the answers. As the fire rages, and police and parents demand the truth, she struggles to piece together the story of how they got there-a story of jealousy, twisted passion, and the darkness that lurks behind even the most beautiful of faces…

-Goodreads.com description

16299 And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie- Once again, this isn’t really a horror book, it’s more like a mystery or thriller, but I’ve heard that it’s supposed to be spine-chilling. It’s not Young Adult, either; it’s an Adult novel but it was described as being appropriate for younger readers.

First, there were ten – a curious assortment of strangers summoned as weekend guests to a private island off the coast of Devon. Their host, an eccentric millionaire unknown to all of them, is nowhere to be found. All that the guests have in common is a wicked past they’re unwilling to reveal – and a secret that will seal their fate. For each has been marked for murder. One by one they fall prey. Before the weekend is out, there will be none. And only the dead are above suspicion.

-Goodreads.com description

24396858 The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich- I’ve been seeing this book all over lately, and it seems exactly like the kind of book that I would like.

Three students: dead.
Carly Johnson: vanished without a trace.

Two decades have passed since an inferno swept through Elmbridge High, claiming the lives of three teenagers and causing one student, Carly Johnson, to disappear. The main suspect: Kaitlyn, “the girl of nowhere.”

Kaitlyn’s diary, discovered in the ruins of Elmbridge High, reveals the thoughts of a disturbed mind. Its charred pages tell a sinister version of events that took place that tragic night, and the girl of nowhere is caught in the center of it all. But many claim Kaitlyn doesn’t exist, and in a way, she doesn’t – because she is the alter ego of Carly Johnson.

Carly gets the day. Kaitlyn has the night. It’s during the night that a mystery surrounding the Dead House unravels and a dark, twisted magic ruins the lives of each student that dares touch it.

Debut author Dawn Kurtagich masterfully weaves together a thrilling and terrifying story using psychiatric reports, witness testimonials, video footage, and the discovered diary – and as the mystery grows, the horrifying truth about what happened that night unfolds.

-Goodreads.com description

764347 Unwind by Neal Shusterman- I haven’t read anything by Neal Shusterman, but this trilogy sounds like a good place to start. The cover and synopsis both sound terrifying, and I’ve had it recommended to me countless times.

Connor, Risa, and Lev are running for their lives.

The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child “unwound,” whereby all of the child’s organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn’t technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state, is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.

-Goodreads.com description

9378297 Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake- I purchased this from the bookstore yesterday, so I’m definitely reading this soon.

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

Yet she spares Cas’s life.

-Goodreads.com description

23014725Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn- I also bought this one yesterday, and I’m super excited to read it!

From the Morris-Award winning author of Charm & Strange, comes a twisted and haunting tale about three teens uncovering dark secrets and even darker truths about themselves.

When nearly killing a classmate gets seventeen-year-old Sadie Su kicked out of her third boarding school in four years, she returns to her family’s California vineyard estate. Here, she’s meant to stay out of trouble. Here, she’s meant to do a lot of things. But it’s hard. She’s bored. And when Sadie’s bored, the only thing she likes is trouble.

Emerson Tate’s a poor boy living in a rich town, with his widowed mother and strange, haunted little brother. All he wants his senior year is to play basketball and make something happen with the girl of his dreams. That’s why Emerson’s not happy Sadie’s back. An old childhood friend, she knows his worst secrets. The things he longs to forget. The things she won’t ever let him.

Haunted is a good word for fifteen-year-old Miles Tate. Miles can see the future, after all. And he knows his vision of tragic violence at his school will come true, because his visions always do. That’s what he tells the new girl in town. The one who listens to him. The one who recognizes the darkness in his past.

But can Miles stop the violence? Or has the future already been written? Maybe tragedy is his destiny. Maybe it’s all of theirs.

-Goodreads.com description

7728889The Diviners by Libba Bray- I read this book a few years ago and loved it, and I think it’s time for a reread before I read the second book in this series, Lair of Dreams.

Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.

Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.

As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.

-Goodreads.com description

16060716Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray- I loved The Diviners so much, and it was the perfect Halloween read. Hopefully this one will be just as good!

The longing of dreams draws the dead, and this city holds many dreams.

After a supernatural showdown with a serial killer, Evie O’Neill has outed herself as a Diviner. With her uncanny ability to read people’s secrets, she’s become a media darling, earning the title “America’s Sweetheart Seer.” Everyone’s in love with the city’s newest It Girl…everyone except the other Diviners.

Piano-playing Henry DuBois and Chinatown resident Ling Chan are two Diviners struggling to keep their powers a secret—for they can walk in dreams. And while Evie is living the high life, victims of a mysterious sleeping sickness are turning up across New York City.

As Henry searches for a lost love and Ling strives to succeed in a world that shuns her, a malevolent force infects their dreams. And at the edges of it all lurks a man in a stovepipe hat who has plans that extend farther than anyone can guess…As the sickness spreads, can the Diviners descend into the dreamworld to save the city?

In this heart-stopping sequel to The Diviners, Printz Award-winning andNew York Times bestselling author Libba Bray takes readers deeper into the mystical underbelly of New York City.

-Goodreads.com description

So…those were the books I’d love to read this October! I’m probably going to end up reading only two or three of these, but a girl can dream, can’t she? What are you planning to read this month? Any spooky recommendations that I should add to this list? OH, and most importantly, what are you dressing up as for Halloween? I’m planning on being some kind of book character, but I don’t know who! Any ideas? 

Review: Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

22465597 Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

Published by HarperCollins on March 10th 2015

Pages: 357

Genre(s): YA Contemporary, Psychological Thriller, Mystery

Rating: 4 stars

New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver delivers a gripping story about two sisters inexorably altered by a terrible accident.

Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before the accident that left Dara’s beautiful face scarred and the two sisters totally estranged. When Dara vanishes on her birthday, Nick thinks Dara is just playing around. But another girl, nine-year-old Madeline Snow, has vanished, too, and Nick becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances are linked. Now Nick has to find her sister, before it’s too late.

In this edgy and compelling novel, Lauren Oliver creates a world of intrigue, loss, and suspicion as two sisters search to find themselves, and each other.

“Alarming and uplifting, a rare psychological thriller that has a kind heart at its center. Read it with all the lights on.” — E. Lockhart, author of We Were Liars.

-Goodreads.com description

The Characters: I LOVE sister relationships in books. It’s something that I don’t think YA has enough of. It’s also by Lauren Oliver, who I love, so I was ABSOLUTELY POSITIVE that I was going to love this book. Which I did.

Dara and Nick are two sisters (and the main characters) in Vanishing Girls. I absolutely loved their relationship, and how they each grew and matured in their own way. I liked how Oliver portrayed all the intricate layers of love and jealousy that the sisters had for each other in a very believable way. Dara is bold and intense, while Nick is quiet and intelligent.

The Plot: A lot of people say that Vanishing Girls was to predictable, or that they saw the ending coming from miles away. However, I didn’t see it coming at all, and I was completely shocked and confused. The last few chapters were so intense! It took me a while to process the conclusion.

Basically, the story reads as a pretty slow-moving contemporary. It describes the sisters’ relationship before the accident, and how they drifted apart over the years. I can see how some people would find the ending predictable, because there are some reoccurring themes in YA psychological thrillers, but I guess I just didn’t realize that when I was reading it.

One problem I had with the plot was that while the synopsis makes it seem that Dara’s disappearance came early in the book, the “disappearance” didn’t actually come until I was about 3/4 of the way through. By this time I had almost lost interest.

The Writing Style: I love Lauren Oliver’s Delirium series and Before I Fall. Her writing is so beautiful and realistic. The book is told in Dara and Nick’s POVs before and after the accident. Each of the characters felt so genuine and authentic, and I related to them so much over the course of the novel.

Quotes:

“Sometimes people stop loving you. And that’s the kind of darkness that never gets fixed, no matter how many moons rise again, filling the sky with a weak approximation of light.”

***

“That’s what life is, pretty much: full of holes and tangles and ways to get stuck. Uncomfortable and itchy. A present you never asked for, never wanted, never chose. A present you’re supposed to be excited to wear, day after day, even when you’d rather stay in bed and do nothing.”

***

“You broke my heart.
I fell for you and you broke my heart.
Period, done, end of story.”

***

“This is it: somehow, in these pictures, the mystery of the accident is contained, and the explanation for Dara’s subsequent behavior, for the silences and disappearances. Don’t ask me how. I just do. If you don’t understand that, I guess you’ve never had a sister.”

***

“And for a split second I find her, silhouetted by the sky, arms outstretched like she’s making snow angels in the air or simply laughing, turning in place; for a split second, she comes to me as the clouds, the sun, the wind touching my face and telling me that somehow, someday, it will be okay.”

Final Thought: Overall, I really enjoyed reading Vanishing Girls. I did find that the first half of the story was really slow-moving and dragged on and on, but the ending seemed to make up for that. I loved the writing style and the depth and complexity of each character, as well as the shocking conclusion. I would recommend to anyone who liked We Were Liars or Before I Fall.

Happy reading!