This Is What Happy Looks Like: A Book Review

Book: This Is What Happy Looks Like

Author/Authoress: Jennifer Brown

“From: EONeill22@hotmail.com
Sent: Saturday, June 8, 2013 1:18 PM
To: GDL824@yahoo.com
Subject: what happy looks like
Sunrises over the harbor. Ice cream on a hot day. The sound of the waves down the street. The way my dog curls up next to me on the couch. Evening strolls. Great movies. Thunderstorms. A good cheeseburger. Fridays. Saturdays. Wednesdays, even. Sticking your toes in the water. Pajama pants. Flip-flops. Swimming. Poetry. The absence of smiley faces in an e-mail.

What does it look like to you?”  

This Is What Happy Looks Like

Cover: 5/5

I love the tiny boat which is probably similar to the one Ellie and Graham sailed in during Ellie’s ‘mission’ to find her father. I love the sun rising in the background which represents a happy time in their relationship but most of all I love the fact that the characters are silhouetted for their privacy- a major issue in this book. Another plus point needs to be given for the title. This Is What Happy Looks Like is not only a cute title but a fitting one too. Five on five for the cover.

Characters: 2/5

The characters in this book were not particularly strong which is peculiar for a young adult contemporary book.

Ellie is a normal small town girl who just so happens to be the illegitimate daughter of a famous politician. This is why she is constantly freaked out by paparazzi. She’s an aspiring writer, enjoys long walks on the beach and eating ice cream. I won’t criticize Jennifer’s writing style- it’s great, definitely the show not tell variety, but Ellie is such a cookie-cutter character. Quite honestly, she’s a cliché. There’s nothing really quirky or cool about her. Not her hair (which is a brownish red), her hobbies (mentioned above), her clothes (t-shirts, skirts and rubber flip flops) or her dreams. Maybe the ordinariness is part of her charm for some, but for me her normality was just boring.

Graham Larkin is kind of cliché too to be honest. He’s a bit of a stalker and goes into long tangents about why his fame is so annoying. But other than that, I did like him as a character. He was definitely more quirky than Ellie was (it’s funny how much I like character quirks)- He has a pet pig and  obsessed with finding a ‘whoopi pie’. I think this was part of what contributed to his sweet, lovable characteristic traits. When you look at all these details, do you really think that he’s the kind of guy to punch camera people? No, me neither. I was kind of annoyed when he started to go out of character; I liked him sweet and cute, dammit!

One thing I really, really, really disliked about this book was the absence of support characters. In the beginning of the book we are introduced to Quinn, a super short, super cute character who is the main character’s best friend and I thought she looked promising. My hopes were dashed, however, when she suddenly stopped being friendly with Ellie and just dropped off the radar. Olivia, Graham’s co-star had the potential to be either a great character or a bad character but Jennifer Brown doesn’t use her at all. She’s not a character at all!

The parents in this book are not that great either. Sure, Ellie’s mom is nice and protective but even then she doesn’t make much of an appearance. We get a huge backstory about Graham’s parents. About how they don’t really support him in his acting career, how his home life is a bit strained, how he moved away and is kind of glad they don’t visit, etc. But it all dissolves with a banal, trite phone call at the end.

Plot:4/5

If fate sent you an email, would you answer?

When teenage movie star Graham Larkin accidentally sends small town girl Ellie O’Neill an email about his pet pig, the two seventeen-year-olds strike up a witty and unforgettable correspondence, discussing everything under the sun, except for their names or backgrounds.

Then Graham finds out that Ellie’s Maine hometown is the perfect location for his latest film, and he decides to take their relationship from online to in-person. But can a star as famous as Graham really start a relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie want to avoid the media’s spotlight at all costs?

I dived into this book fully expecting a cutesy, fun, breezy read with cliché, cutesy, fun, breezy characters and a cliché, cutesy, fun,breezy plotline and that’s what I got more or less. This book doesn’t get any points for morality or profoundness. In fact it inclines slightly to the horribly cheesy. But the dialogue in this book is beautiful. It’s what you could expect from teenagers. Natural, light and beautiful in it’s simplicity.

“I’m not sure I’m quite finished saying hello yet.”

and

“Salutations,” he said, and she smiled.
“Good morning.”
“Yeah,” he said. “It really is.”  

and

“I never said I was good,” he told her, taking the pen. “Just that I liked doing it.”
“That’s the best kind of good.”   

See what I mean?

Romance: 2/5

It wasn’t insta-love. Or at least that’s what I tried telling myself. They had written e-mails to each other for almost three months, right? But, no matter how I tried to think about it, I couldn’t forget the fact that this story effectively takes place over the huge (sarcasm) span of five days. Definitely enough time to build a strong, stable romance. Yep, definitely.

I was so not on board with the whole damsel in distress thing either. I kind of wanted to jump ship when he made a bet (in her favour) for a thousand bucks so that she could use the money to go to a poetry course at Harvard. Feminism, anyone?

Plotholes: 2/5

No one accidentally pen pals a stranger who ends up being a movie star. But it’s just a book and this is excusable too anyone who’s just looking for a fun, easy, light read. I honestly didn’t have too much problem with this part. After all, if I can read books about vampires and witches without complaining that they’re unrealistic, I can do the same for this one.

The worst part of this book was the fact that as soon as problems reared their ugly head, they were smoothened over miraculously with very little effort on either of the character’s parts. Got caught and recognized by paparazzi as the illegitimate child of a famous politician? No problem, that’s only a tiny footnote in the article which exclaims boldly that you’re Graham Larkin’s girlfriend. Seeing your parents became rarer and rarer after you became a movie star and worrying that it’s your fault? It’s not because they disapprove of your career, it’s because the flashing lights of Hollywood are too much for them. Punched a cameraman? Oh it’s okay, your director says you need to look tougher for your role in your next movie. I kid you not, these were actual problems and solutions in the book ‘This Is What Happy Looks Like’. Though some things in life really do come together at the last minute with virtually no effort, most things do not. And this is not just unrealistic, it’s an unhealthy message too. You can not solve your problems by waiting, doing nothing and hoping for the best.

Overall recommendation: 2.5/5

I’m not even sure why I liked this book. I read this book within the week so it may be recent book syndrome. After all the character’s were boring, the romance was unrealistic and the plot was kind of cliché. But there’s other things about this book too. The sweet emails that were sent back and forth, the quest for ‘whoopi pies’ and the quick, natural banter all brought a smile to my face. I wouldn’t recommend buying this book but if you ever get a chance to borrow it, please do.

  

The Hunger Games: A Book Review

Book: The Hunger Games
Author/Authoress: Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)

Hunger Games is one of the best known dystopian young adult books and I loved it. It seems kinds of silly to me, that I dedicated this blog to young adult dystopian books and I still didn’t have a post about the Hunger Games over here. I guess I took it for granted that everyone’s read the series (and loved it too) but recently I wished a friend of mine ‘May the odds ever be in your favour’ in and got a blank look in return. To minimize my self-humiliation I  prompted them- “You know, the Hunger Games?” and got a smile and a ‘I haven’t watched the movie yet’…
I haven’t watched the movie yet?!? <Shakes head in despair>. You poor, poor deprived person.

So, here I am, reviewing the Hunger Games not just for the sake of the people who think it’s just a movie but also for people who I know have read and loved it. Be warned, this may turn into a fangirling session.

Cover:2/5

I don’t really go for the minimalist style for book covers. So the stark black background with ugly white letters proclaiming that the book’s name was ‘The Hunger Games’ and watermarks of targets didn’t really inspire much enthusiasm for me. But I can admire how the background makes the mocking-jay pin stand out. It’s probably the most recognisable young adult series just for that golden shiny pin which appears in some form or the other on every single book in the series. And for good reason too, that pin is important. Every single event in this book eventually boils down to that pretty golden pin.

Characters: 3.5/5

Katniss: The main character that everyone loves and even if you say you don’t love her, you know deep down you really do. Ever since her father died at the tender age of ten, she’s been shouldering the full load of her family almost single handily. She learnt how to hunt with a bow and arrow (actually let’s be fair to her father, he taught her before he died) and hunts illegally catching squirrels and rabbits neatly in the eye as well as bringing bigger game down. Like expected from such a character, she’s not squeamish about blood or even that squeamish about killing human living beings. To her, they’re just bigger prey. She’s suspicious and mistrusting (even of her own mother) but once you have her loyalty or do her a favour, she’ll do anything for you and do her best to get out of your debt. And her way of classifying everyone into predator and prey- totally charming.  But she has her flaws too. Can there ever be a good character without flaws? Never mind, that’s a rhetorical question. Katniss is hot-headed and stubborn and while this makes her undoubtedly cool at some times, it gets her into trouble as well. Besides that, she has the annoying tendency to see everything in black and white and label everyone and everything as evil and good. She doesn’t see blurry lines and grey areas. Another thing that annoys me about her is her priorities- they’re seriously messed up.

Prim: Prim’s the kind of cliché sweet baby sister character who the main character has to protect. But Suzanne Collins is not content to leave her flat and two dimensional. With the help of memories and Rue, Ms. Collins manages to string together an amazing back story which not only shows just how gentle, kind and sheltered Prim is but her healing genius and  tough inner strength as well.

Rue: Rue was a fabulous character. Just small and innocent enough for Katniss to protect and wise, clever and skilled enough to stand on her own. Through her, we learn more about the Capitol and through her death we develop a hatred for it. I’m not ashamed to admit- this is one death scene I actually cried for.

Cato: Is it weird that I actually liked this brutal, brain-washed Career from district 2? His intense temper and smug arrogance made me laugh, laugh, laugh. Suzanne Collins, would you please do a short story from Katniss’s archenemy’s of the 74th Hunger Games point of view?

Plot:5/5

In a dark vision of the near future, a terrifying reality TV show is taking place. Twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live event called the Hunger Games. There is only one rule: kill or be killed.

When sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen steps forward to take her sister’s place in the games, she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.

Honestly, how could I resist this plot?  It’s like a twisted mix of awful reality television, a promise of lots of action  and a chilling dystopian world. Just what I’ve always wanted.

Worldbuilding:4/5

The strange blend with old fashionedness (trains and phones as a novelty) and modern technology (mutated, genetically modified animals and food appearing at the touch of a button) that’s so common for these types of books worked fantastically for this one. The world building begins on page one of this book and continues on ’til the last page of the last book. It’s slow, gradual and inspired genius.

Action:5/5

You would think that with 24 deaths, eventually all of the action will get boring. That’s not true. Not true at all. Right now I’m thinking of death by tracker-jackers. Definitely not a fun way to go.  It seems weird to compliment Suzanne Collins on the imaginative deaths she thought up for her characters, but I have to. They were really innovative and cool in a gruesome sort of ways.

Romance:1/5

Peeta: For some reason Peeta really annoys me in this book. Despite him starring in a major part of the book either directly or indirectly, I feel that we’re not really given much information about him. Even the information we are given is in the form of telling and not showing. What we do know about him: he bakes bread, he likes camouflaging, he’s selfless, he’s a good actor (or the Careers are really dumb, either one or maybe both) he’s been in love with Katniss since he was five, he remembers everything about Katniss, he was too shy to tell her that he loved her for eleven years until he announced it on national television, he refuses to let Katniss put her life in danger for his sake, etc. etc.

I think you get my point.  A large part of his personality is based on Katniss’s. So much so, he’s almost defined by her.  If you take her away, you get a kind of cowardly guy who bakes bread and likes art. Not the dreamboat everyone thinks about.

Gale: We’re only treated to him for a couple of pages and it’s already obvious where this is heading. He’s angry, rash, masculine (which means he’s not into baking or art),  anti-capitol and truly, deeply and madly in love with Katniss although she doesn’t know it yet. Other than that, he’s remarkably similar to Peeta.<rolls eyes> Oh boy!

Disclaimer: I am sick of love triangles in which there are obvious winners and carbon copy characters. 

Plotholes:3/5

Just look up, the love in this book is riddled with plot holes.

Overall rating:4/5

I am reminded again why I do not read young adult dystopia for its strong,  gradual and beautiful romances. But I loved the world building, plot, most of the characters, and the action of this book. I would recommend reading and maybe even buying this book.

Ashfall:A Book Review

Book:  Ashfall
Author/Authoress: Mike Mullin

Ashfall (Ashfall, #1)

Cover: 1.5/5

The cover didn’t exactly drum up much enthusiasm for me. For some reason, I was reminded of Narcissus after seeing the cover. A mirror? Seriously? I know that teenagers can be self-obsessed and writers writing in first person need to have people look in mirrors so that their readers can get an accurate description of the main character,  but in the wake of an apocalypse why would people spend time staring at their face in mirrors? That’s a good question and one they don’t answer anywhere in this book because nothing like this ever happens in the book. I guess the other things on the cover are accurate enough, though.  For example, Darla really does wear a grey sweat shirt and she does have blonde hair. But I’m still hung up on the fact that their is a huge mirror which is hugely inaccurate and taking up all the space on the front cover.

Characters:4/5

The Main Characters move around a lot and rarely meet the same person twice so there’s not a lot of characters that I can really talk about. However, I can vouch for this: Mike Mullin has gone for quality over quantity. There are two main characters in the book and the author’s done a great job with their characterization.

The characterization is… realistic (there’s no other way to describe it. I hate to break it to you, but kids who face hardship don’t automatically become Enid Blyton kids. The girls don’t automatically learn how to wash dishes, sew clothes, make food and go on adventures. The boys don’t immediately launch into a crusade of adventures gone wrong where they have to rescue their friends and comfort the girls. Most post-apocalyptic books would have you believe that the kids who survive are either

a.) mean, tough kids who will not hesitate to shoot you, maim you, steal things, etc. etc.
b.) someone who the mean, tough kids care about
c.) abnormally and weirdly lucky enough not to be shot or maimed and even more lucky to find safety, shelter and food

Maybe they’re right. Survival is a tricky thing which does not really tie in with morality anywhere. But I’d like to believe that the progress we’ve made from an ape like thingy to a human over several million years can’t be erased in a day. Even if that day includes the eruption of a super volcano.

This book features a teenage guy ( words can’t describe how refreshing it is to have a strong, male main character for once) who is a real teenager. Sure, he’s selfish enough to want to stay at home and play computer games while his parents visit his boring relatives but he’s kind of selfless too. He cares for his family enough to go and make sure they’re all right even though several feet of ash cover the ground. He has a heart and he demonstrates his respect for human life over and over again as he meets several people through the course of the book. Sometimes this trait gets him into trouble while at other times it’s his saving grace.

Darla is one of my favourite female characters ever.  She is the ultimate woman (yes, woman- not girl). She’s intelligent, proactive and strong. More importantly, she’s resourceful, clear minded, determined and capable. Without her, the MC would have died several long, miserable deaths and she doesn’t mind reminding him of the fact several times. If Annabeth from Rick Riordon’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians ever grew up, I imagine she’d both look and act like Darla. In fact, I’d say Darla would be Mary-Sueish if not for the fact that she’s seriously lacking in empathy. Oh well, I guess you can’t have everything.

Plot: 4/5

Under the bubbling hot springs and geysers of Yellowstone National Park is a supervolcano. Most people don’t know it’s there. The caldera is so large that it can only be seen from a plane or satellite. It just could be overdue for an eruption, which would change the landscape and climate of our planet.

For Alex, being left alone for the weekend means having the freedom to play computer games and hang out with his friends without hassle from his mother. Then the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts, plunging his hometown into a nightmare of darkness, ash, and violence. Alex begins a harrowing trek to seach for his family and finds help in Darla, a travel partner he meets along the way. Together they must find the strength and skills to survive and outlast an epic disaster.

Now that I think about it, a supervolcano is actually a pretty novel idea for a book plot (pun intended). Mike Mullin delivered the plot amazingly well with strong characters and emotion evoking incidents.

Romance:4/5

The romance in this book was initiated by Darla and that’s a remarkable feat. In young adult books, why is it always the male who has to take initiative? Personally, I think Alex and Darla have a lot of chemistry. The romance is one of the best things about this book.

Action:5/5

 A fifteen-year-old boy left alone for the weekend. An attempt made by him to get to his family in the wake of the mother of all natural disasters. An eruption. Bandits.  Cannibals. Prison Escapees. Fighting. Snow. Choking ash.  More ash. Murder.  Rape.  More ash. Love.  Refugee camps. Escape. Marauders. More ash. This book has action of all kinds- physical, mental and emotional.  Mike Mullin must be a crazy kind of guy to imagine all of these things in the minutest detail. But I don’t mean he’s thrown in a bunch of stuff for shock value or to evoke a sense of disgust like Julianna Baggot did in Pure. It’s all plausible and beautiful in a twisted sort of way.

Plotholes:5/5

No plotholes as of yet. Or none that I could identify, anyways. I think I was a little too caught up in the story to notice any major discrepancies. Way to go Ashfall!

Overall rating: 4/5

Why are you still reading my review? This book was amazing times infinity. If you haven’t read this book yet, you don’t know what you’re missing out on. This book reminds me of why I love young adult dystopian post apocalyptic books so much. If you need a reminder or if you’re not truly into the genre yet, buy (or settle for reading) this book right away.

This Song Will Save Your Life:A Book Review

Book: This Song Will Save Your Life

Author/Authoress: Leila Sales

This Song Will Save Your Life

Cover: 3/5

An ordinary girl wearing huge headphones (on closer inspection, I realized that they’re the type that DJ’s wear) and glasses (which everyone somehow manages to connect to geeks) is featured on the cover. And, I guess it makes sense. I’m more annoyed with the huge title and how it manages to take up 95% of the cover. Besides I don’t really like the pink letters which spell out love- which is not the main premise of the story.

Characters:5/5

Elise, the main character, has spent her entire childhood knowing that she’s different. Maybe even weird. And she’s been ostracized for it. This book deals with bullying at a primal level. It deals with the desire to fit in and to have friends. And everything about this book is spot on. I really felt for Elise as she explained her reasoning to spend an entire summer learning how to be ‘cool’. How she spent exorbitant amounts of clothes and  researched and memorized  pop culture. At the same time I sort of wanted to shake her and ask her ‘Why the hell do you want to pretend to be someone your not?’ And the funny thing is, Elise answered my question perfectly. She wasn’t hoping for a miracle-to become popular. All she wanted was to fit in, find a group of friends and NOT be ostracized. Unfortunately, she manages to mess that up in school leading her to attempt suicide. She goes as far as to make a ‘dying’ playlist and slash her wrists before realizing she really does want to live and that this was just a call for attention. And it does give her attention. Negative attention from her parents and worse from the people at school. Someone starts writing a parody blog in her name about why she was so desperate to kill herself. She spends most of the book regretting her actions and wishing she could take it back and wondering if some parts of the blog are actually true. The other parts of the book she spends establishing herself at a club. Her love for music initially helps her to fit in but she soon learns that it’s her personality which helps her to make friends. And she learns that she has a huge talent for DJing. The fact that she was able to take her passion, music and become an amazing DJ was a huge inspration to me personally. I’d like to think that we’re all just talented enough to do what we love even if we’re much younger than traditionally expected. I think all of us can identify a little bit with Elise’s character, either to a greater or smaller extent. I’d  strongly suggest you read Emily May’s review of this book.  She’s explained Elise’s character much more eloquently and with more feeling than I ever could have.

I love Elise’s friends too.  Vicky is the practical, bubbly girl who plays in a band, Pippa is the partying wild child and Char is a mysterious, professional DJ. All of these characters were three dimensional. They were real people who had real lives. Another thing I loved was the fact that just having friends didn’t make Elise’s life perfect. Sure, they made her life easier but ultimately Elise was the star of her show. They don’t know about Elise’s harsh past which makes their connections plenty times stronger and a hundred times more believable.

Elise’s family was perfect too. Her parents are divorced and not particularly good terms with each other but both of them are very supportive of Elise. You can see the love and affection that binds them all together.  From the crazy, animal-pretending,over-achieving-carbon copy of her older sister, younger sister to her dad who used to be in a band, they really do support each other.

Plot:5/5

Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing.

Told in a refreshingly genuine and laugh-out-loud funny voice, THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE is an exuberant novel about identity, friendship, and the power of music to bring people together

Personally, I loved this book. And I have to say, Leila Sales gets kudos points for developing this plot. Parts of it were sad, parts of it were profound and parts of it were fun. But all of it was realistic. If I were to ever write a book, I’d like to keep this one as a yardstick to measure it against.

Romance:5/5

The romance was the slow ‘we became more than friends’ type and I loved it for that fact. Char and Elise’s romance was a complicated thing and it was beautiful while it lasted but it was riddled with problems. First of all, there was the age gap. Elise was 16 while Char was in his 20’s. Not to mention, his reluctance to give away the details of his non-DJ life.  Then, there was the fact that Elise found Char insensitive at times. And that her friend, Pippa was in love with him. When you look at all of these things, it’s not really surprising that they broke up. Although that’s not the reason Elise focused on. Elise felt that Char was happy with her only as long as she fit into the mould of the girl he wanted her to be. As soon as she became a more successful and popular DJ than him, he couldn’t see himself with her anymore. I can’t judge whether this was the main reason they broke up or not since the whole book was in Elise’s point of view but it definitely was a contributing factor. But Char somewhat redeemed himself towards the end when he wished her good luck for her debut as a real Friday night DJ. First loves rarely last but they are sweet as long as they do.

Overall Rating:4.75/5

You need to read this book as soon as possible. It’s beautiful and profound with an interesting MC and a great set of secondary characters. There are some books which stay with you forever and This Song Will Save Your Life is definitely one of them. I’ve already read it thrice and I expect I’ll read it several more times. It’s definitely ‘classic’ material.

Coldest Girl in Coldtown: A Book Review

Book: Coldest Girl in Coldtown
Author/Authoress: Holly Black

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

Cover: 1/5

You know how people always talk about budget movies and how cheap everything looked? Well that’s how I felt when I looked at this cover. It had the cheap look of a book who no one was willing to spend on. They definitely did not spend on the cover. It looks like someone took a picture of a hand and photoshopped a cheap looking smudged ‘The Coldest Girl in Coldtown’ onto it. Come on, publishers. Holly Black is not a cheap writer. We are talking about the woman who wrote the Curseworkers series- White Cat, Black Heart and Read Glove. By the way, that is an amazing series which you should read ASAP. Even if the book’s about vampires (as you might have guessed, I’m not a huge fan of vampires) none of Holly Black’s books deserve a cover as cheap and ugly looking as this one.

Characters:4/5

   If 10 is OMG! Unforgettable! and 1 is wait, which book? on the scale of book beginnings, this is an 11 on a scale of 1-10. This book begins with the Main Character, Tana waking  up after a party to a house full of dead bodies. Tana’s tangible fear made this even more engaging. Through her, Holly has fashioned a fresh and compelling narrative voice. Which is truly, the strength of the book. Although that’s only to be expected. If you’ve read anything by Holly Black , you’ll recognize the fact that she has a way of shaping characters into real, perfectly flawed, and down to earth individuals. And Tana is no exception. She has cracks in her exterior that aren’t hidden from us; There’s something so flawlessly human about the  way she giggles at the most inappropriate of times. She’s a strong character who’s faced a lot in her life but manages to stay selfless and determined through it all. And that’s a bad combo. Her selflessness and bravery keep getting her into trouble. But ultimately, she’s only human.
The characters Tana meets throughout this story all shine with charisma. One thing I found particularly refreshing was the fact that the villains were  portrayed as sick, bloodthirsty bastards who are conniving and vengeful – without any redeemable qualities. No tear jerking stories of how they were abused as children or how they did everything for ‘two wuv’,  this is how villains are meant to be portrayed.

Plot:4/5

Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.

You got that right. It is. ‘Nuff said.

Romance:2/5

If you’re worried after reading the blurb, you don’t need to be. There is no love triangle. Not even the pretence of one. That being said, the romance in here is pretty twisted and stupid. It goes without being said that you do not bite your tongue so hard that you can taste blood before kissing a vampire (unless you’re suicidal). Because, chances are the vampire will be able to taste blood too. Yet this is exactly what Tana does. Also, I was kind of annoyed/bored/feeling like ‘do stupid reasons like this actually exist in real life’ with Gavriel’s reason for liking Tana.If you want to know, it’s because she bothered to save his life. Stockholm syndrome much? But their love is kind of like teenage love. Passionate but stupid.

Plotholes:1/5

Holly Black spends so much time trying to get us to understand that though everyone outwardly hates vampires, they secretly (or not so secretly) want to become one too. I get it, immortality is tempting and beauty is seductive but a world where vampire and vampire hunters can co-exist in teenage girl’s lockers is confusing to say the least.

Another thing I had an issue with was the main character’s pushover ness when it came to her ex. The MC described her relationship with him as a competition to see who would freak out  first. That in itself is weird enough but the things that her ex does… Let me put it this way: He goes around kissing boys and girls (he doesn’t do discrimination) in front of her just waiting for her to freak out and break up with him. And let me make this clear- she watches and doesn’t say anything. BECAUSE SHE DOESN’T WANT TO LOSE THE COMPETITION! Sorry for the caps lock but it’s necessary. I mean, I’m the first one to poke fun at the jealous, insecure girls in books who spend half of the book feeling petty jealousy (Evermore) and the other half being reassured  by their shallow boyfriends that they are beautiful. But if your date kissing a boy is bad, then what’s the word for the guy who asks his girlfriend to kiss another boy in front of him? Is there even a word for the girl who promptly does so and then feels satisfaction when her boyfriend breaks up with her because she feels like she has finally won?

Overall recommendation: 3/5

I went into this book with mixed expectations. On one hand, it was a book by THE Holly Black. And on the other it had an ugly cover and was about vampires. And I came out of the book much the same way. There are tons of plotholes and the characters in this book just don’t capture your attention the way they did in her other series. But there’s something about Holly Black’s writing which is chock full of anecdotes and breezy, easy writing that didn’t make me mind all that much anyways. I’d suggest you read the book by borrowing it from a library or from a friend (or non-friend) but I wouldn’t recommend springing for it.

Three (Article 5 #3):A Book Review

Book: Three (Article Five #3)

Author/Authoress: Kristen Simmons

Note:

You may (or may not) have noticed that I’ve always tried to stick to reviewing the first book in the series. I’m not completely sure of my reasoning, but I think part of it is because I want to get new readers hooked onto a series. But I recently got Three by Kristen Simmons which is the third and final book in the Article 5 series from Net Galley (Thanks, by the way NetGalley) and I  just couldn’t hold myself back from reviewing it. Part of the reason is sentimental.  Article 5 was one of the first ‘good’ dystopias I read. It got me hooked onto this whole genre which I grew to love enough for me to actually start a blog about.

Cover: 5/5

This cover brings back lots of nostalgia. The same red, white and grey theme that was used in the past books is used again in this one. Personally, I think the colour scheme is perfect. Patriotic, dark and a little hopeless. Besides, what Article 5 cover would be complete without the city scene? But even from the cover, we can see that Three is not the type of book to lean on the success of it’s predecessors. The bright red slashes on the top add an edgy look to the cover and a whole new meaning to the title “Three”

Three (Article 5, #3)

Characters: 5/5

These books have seen the characters change and grow a lot.But what I love most about these character is the fact that they never lost their integrity. No OC’s in this book. If I didn’t know for fact that the American government wasn’t taken over by a bunch of crazy wackos who implemented several Articles, then I would have seriously thought that these characters were real people. There were no iffy decisions made by the characters for the sake of the plot and no ‘I have no idea what’s going on’ moments just so Three could have a few extra chapters.

Ember: She’s no longer naive and idealistic. By the end of this book she’s no longer in a position to judge other people. Nor does she.

Chase: Chase has grown in a way completely different from Ember. Something about the events he’s witnessed and the things he’s gone through have turned him into a more hopeful person and someone who’s willing to fight for humanity instead of against humanity.

Tucker: I knew that this guy would be an amazing character. Even though Three is not in his point of view, we can still almost feel the tumultuous roller coaster of emotions that Tucker rides through.  Who does he owe his loyalty to? Is he a traitor? Does he deserve redemption? It’s all explored in this book. I won’t tell you why he hates Chase or why he killed Ember’s mother. But I will tell you that Ember grossly underestimated him while other characters grossly overestimated him.  I’ll give you a slight spoiler. This book doesn’t give him his  happy ending (does any character in this book truly get one?) but no one will turn the last page of this book without being a Tucker Morris fan.

Chris’ Uncle: For some reason, Chris’s Uncle has an almost ‘Sirius’ like character. He’s the playful, un-serious,slightly secretive  trouble making sort of guy who is not really fit to be in any sort of parental position.Hotheaded, angry and rebellious he’s willing to sacrifice his life for the sake of his goal. And willing to sacrifice much more for Chase’s sake.

Plot: 4/5

Kristen Simmons’ fast-paced, gripping YA dystopian series continues in Three.

Ember Miller and Chase Jennings are ready to stop running. After weeks spent in hiding as two of the Bureau of Reformation’s most wanted criminals, they have finally arrived at the safe house, where they hope to live a safe and quiet existence.

And all that’s left is smoking ruins.

Devastated by the demolition of their last hope, Ember and Chase follow the only thing left to them—tracks leading away from the wreckage. The only sign that there may have been survivors.

With their high-profile, they know they can’t stay out in the open for long. They take shelter in the wilderness and amidst the ruins of abandoned cities as they follow the tracks down the coast, eventually finding refugees from the destroyed safe house. Among them is someone from Chase’s past—someone he never thought he’d see again.

Banding together, they search for a place to hide, aiming for a settlement a few of them have heard about…a settlement that is rumored to house the nebulous organization known as Three. The very group that has provided Ember with a tiny ray of hope ever since she was first forced on the run.

Three is responsible for the huge network of underground safe houses and resistance groups across the country. And they may offer Ember her only chance at telling the world her story.

At fighting back.

After I finished reading this book,  I was kind of surprised to find tears (actual tears!) running down my cheeks. I can’t believe this  is over. I just can’t. I loved this series and I have to say a huge part of it is because of the plot. It’s full of plot twists which seem to come together in the most beautiful of ways.

Action:4/5

This book takes the action up another notch. Heat seeking missiles, fist fights, guns, batons…This book has it all.
Not to mention the traitor (three guesses who it is) and all the suspense that mini-arc brings along with it.

Romance:4/5

The romance in this book is hot but tasteful. A good quarter of this book is spent on kissing (and more) and funnily enough I loved  the romance in this book. I have no idea how this  works but Kristen Simmons somehow managed to allude to everything without saying it flat out. It sounds annoying but trust me, it’s not.  The romance was sweet but not cloying. At the same time it was passionate without being hormonal.  Folks, that takes talent.

Overall Rating:4.5/5


This is one of the few books (and series) that I just wish would go on forever. New, intriguing plots. Realistic, exciting characters. Interesting worlds and fast-paced action. I really hope Kristen Simmons does some mini-stories or something that relates to this series. It goes without saying, that I’ll read her next book.  But I guess all good things must end.

The Selection:A Book Review

Book: The Selection (Selection #1)

Author/Authoress: Kiera Cass

Cover:3/5

The Selection (The Selection, #1)

 

The cover’s gorgeous but let me make it clear- it’s the only thing about this book that is. I guess it teaches me not to be lured in by fancy covers and false pretences. But if there was ever a time, I could be forgiven for judging a book by it’s cover- it’s this book. I saw a pretty but frivolous model wearing a pretty but frivolous dress on the cover and what do I expect? A pretty but frivolous book. Duh! What else was I supposed to think after this book claimed to be like the Bachelor? I expected a light fluffy read that you walked away from shaking your head but with a smile on your face anyways. As you might have guessed from my mini-rant, it wasn’t. Not even close. The selection was the kind of book you want to throw repeatedly at the wall until the cover which led you there fell off. Sadly, I wasn’t able to do this (I read an e-version of this book) so I’m contenting myself with writing a scathing review.

Plot:1/5

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself�and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

You know how people always say that satisfaction is the result of what you get divided by expectations?

I opened the book with very little expectations. I didn’t expect something profound and beautiful from the book. So how was it that what I got was even less than my expectations? I’ll tell you why.
Hmm… maybe it was the messed up plot? When I heard ‘the Bachelor’ heres what I thought of. Cat fights, makeup, eliminations, etc. And that’s clearly what Kiera thought of too but somehow she’s managed to mess it all up. I really couldn’t bring myself to care about the eliminations since I couldn’t bring myself to care about the characters. The makeup thingy- oh we were totally ripped off. Despite America being adamant she was just ‘average’, she refused to get a makeover. The cat fights were shallow, frivolous and totally fake.

Characters:1/5

Our MC, America Singer (have you seen a more pretentious name?) spends the first half of the book complaining about her doomed Romeo-Julietesque romance (more about that in romance) and the abject poverty her family suffers from.  Pasta and apples slices for dinner, two full wardrobes- and she claims that she is ‘poor’? Forgive me for not believing you, America Singer.

What else do I hate about her? Well for starters, America thinks she is ‘average’. Of course we all know that in the young adult world, ‘average’ means amazing and modest. ‘Average’ heroines are the ones who are as beautiful as the sun and stars put together, the ones who know how to play a thousand different musical instruments and knows a gazillion different languages. They are the ones who are assured and reassured by their love interest that they are not just ‘average’- they are beautiful and smart and kind and… the list goes on. (Rolls eyes)

So what does our main character have going for her? Oh yes! She just happens to be just pretty and talented enough to capture the attention of dearest Prince Charming. She gets the chance to be in the most retarded game show ever to win the hand of the most eligible bachelor ever- the aforementioned Prince Charming.  But because Kiera Cass doesn’t want to make out heroine sound money-grubbing and opportunistic, she takes the opportunity to add some more tension to the mix and make her heroine dead set against the idea of even entering the contest.

But that’s only the beginning. This book is an array of shallow narcissistic one dimensional characters.

Our MC’s mother is an overdone version of Mrs. Weasely. Pushy, shovey, red-headed and not above bribes to get her children to do stuff they should have had the common sense to do anyways. Face palm.

Everyone in this book from Prince Charming to the ‘villain’ Celeste is a huge stereotype. If you plan on reading this book, don’t read it for the characters.

Action: 1/5

There were supposedly some raids but the main action in this book is Celeste demanding America give her her dress. Stupid, shallow and…did I mention stupid?

Romance:1/5

Aaargggh! A love triangle. Between Prince Maxon and a childhood friend  boyfriend ex-boyfriend palace guard Aspen. I’ll give you a minute to stop laughing over the names.
Maxon- Prince Maxon was seriously one of the most awkward characters I’ve ever had the misfortune of meeting. He’s a walking stereotype in the fact that he’s a typical Disney Prince- Perfrct, nice, naïve, calling everyone ‘my dear’ and completely boring.

And at the same time, he’s so contradictory. He claims to be bad with women but then proceeds to charm his way through all of the beautiful contestants. Apparently they found his awkwardness and creepiness endearing. Or something. (Personally I found it creepy) But then it’s possible that they were charmed by the glittering crown on his head.

 His behaviour makes even less sense. America wrongly assumes that Maxon is about to rape her then she proceeds to knee him where it hurts and then he doesn’t even care? Pathetic and weird. Then she tells him that she’s here for the food and in love with someone else so she doesn’t even want to be the damn princess. Well, I’m guessing any sane, non-pathetic guy would have eliminated her on the spot. Even if he’s kind and caring-especially if he’s kind and caring because he’d give the chance to someone who actually wanted it.

But we’ve established that Maxon’s neither kind nor caring. So I shouldn’t have been surprised when he threatened to kick her out when she claimed that one of the other girls was sabotaging the rest of the girls. But…talk about double standards and ‘for the sake of the plot’ moves.

Aspen- Aspen’s even worse.  He’s a chauvinistic prig who just can’t stand his helpless, dainty woman lifting her delicate, unmarred hands to get him some food. He throws an immature, prissy tantrum and breaks up with her when she makes him dinner. Dinner for God’s sake. Personally, I think the only reason Kiera Cass made the duo break up was because she couldn’t stand the thought of her pure, innocent little MC actually cheating.

Worldbuilding/Plotholes: 1/5

Kiera Cass you shouldn’t even have gone there. Seriously. Your world building sucked. I have no idea what ‘poverty’ in The Selection World is like. Unless it’s chicken, pasta, apple and iced tea. I have no idea why the Chinese would want to attack the Americans for having a massive debt. Waging wars are expensive. Neither do I get why they would want to use Americans for labour. For decades, Americans have been using machinery and cheap imported labour. They wouldn’t know how to do real labour if their lives depended on it. And I have no idea why America would suddenly consent to being named after a man who supposedly greatly aided them in winning them their freedom from the Chinese (they only gave George Washington a state and the capital). Or for that matter why they would accept the shoddy caste system in which they are all ranked from 1-7. As the saying goes: More full of holes than Swiss cheese

Overall Rating:1/5

So, if you can see past the obvious plot holes and if you don’t mind the messed up plot or the contrived, fake romance or the  shallow, self-absorbed characters or the utter lack of action… then you truly deserve to be lured in by the misleading cover into this horrible toilet paper thing that’s masquerading as a book.