Book Revew: I Was Here by Gayle Forman

Title: I Was Here

Author: Gayle Forman

Page count: 288 pages

Released: January 27th, 2015

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance

Type: ARC, eBook

Rating: 4 stars

“When her best friend Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything—so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, who broke Meg’s heart. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can’t open—until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question.

I Was Here is Gayle Forman at her finest, a taut, emotional, and ultimately redemptive story about redefining the meaning of family and finding a way to move forward even in the face of unspeakable loss.”

my thoughtsI’ll just admit it – this is my first Gayle Forman book. I really wasn’t sure what to expect, what with her being such a high profile right now, but I’m beginning to see why. How well do we really know people? I Was Here takes a really good look at how messed up our world can be and how easy it is to lose yourself – in sadness, in friendship, and in cats.

loved that Cody starts out as this kick-ass, definite Buffy type girl who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to be rude, but I loved even more than she could admit her wrong doings. It takes a lot to try to set things straight, but it takes even more to admit you done wrong. I loved the characters, I loved the town, and I’m probably never going to look at a motel the same way. Without spoiling anything, the one slip up that took my rating down to a 4 is a certain roadtrip that Cody took towards the end of the book – I thought it was unnecessarily irresponsible, and not something her character would do.

Regardless, I can’t stop thinking about this book. I loved it! Definitely go buy it when it’s released in January!

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Book Review: Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout

  Title: Don’t Look Back

Author: Jennifer L. Armentout

Page count: 369 pages

Released: April 15th, 2014

Genre: YA, Mystery, Romance

Type: eBook

Rating: 3 starshalf star

Goodreads | Amazon

“Samantha is a stranger in her own life. Until the night she disappeared with her best friend, Cassie, everyone said Sam had it all-popularity, wealth, and a dream boyfriend.

Sam has resurfaced, but she has no recollection of who she was or what happened to her that night. As she tries to piece together her life from before, she realizes it’s one she no longer wants any part of. The old Sam took “mean girl” to a whole new level, and it’s clear she and Cassie were more like best enemies. Sam is pretty sure that losing her memories is like winning the lottery. She’s getting a second chance at being a better daughter, sister, and friend, and she’s falling hard for Carson Ortiz, a boy who has always looked out for her-even if the old Sam treated him like trash.

But Cassie is still missing, and the facts about what happened to her that night isn’t just buried deep inside of Sam’s memory-someone else knows, someone who wants to make sure Sam stays quiet. All Sam wants is the truth, and if she can unlock her clouded memories of that fateful night, she can finally move on. But what if not remembering is the only thing keeping Sam alive?”

my thoughts

There was a lot of good in this book, but also a lot of bad. Admittedly, after the last book in the Lux Series, I didn’t have high expectations for this, though I like to think I had an open mind. So let me talk about the good…

First things first – the main character wasn’t annoying! Hallelujah. When the character is struggling with memory loss, I do find it difficult not to loose my patience because I think it takes up too much plot, but this was more than bearable. I was particularly pleased that the main character here, Sam, decided that staying on the good track was the right option – even after she started remembering things.

I also have a huge soft spot for Scott. He’s the loving brother every girl wishes she had, and he was the one constant; his character never faltered… (And, okay, Carson is pretty perfect. No denying that.)

Which brings me to the characters who did change and falter, and therefore the bad parts. I felt like the rest of Sam’s family and town, high-school, pretty much everything, was extremely exaggerated and fake. I just cannot imagine a genuine American high-school being like that, which knocks off a few points.

The writing was a little bland, too, which brings me to my main point – the ending. Without spoiling anything, wow. Didn’t see that one coming! While it was definitely unexpected and I’m glad Jennifer L. Armentrout didn’t go for the easy option, it was very, very rushed. This all came out in the last 4 or so pages, and I wish it would have happened sooner so we could have longer to adjust and find out what happens after.

Pretty mixed feelings about this book right now, but I definitely enjoyed it, so I do recommend!

Book Review: Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

Title: Open Road Summer

Author: Emery Lord

Page count: 342 pages

Released: April 15th, 2014

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance

Type: eBook

 Rating: 3 stars

Goodreads | Amazon

“After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking. A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.”

my thoughts

Open Road Summer is a strange one. My initial thoughts were that it was a teen book rather than YA, and while I still stick by that, I enjoyed it nonetheless. Me, hater of teen books, get-them-away-from-me-that’s-embarrassing, don’t-tarnish-the-YA-name, do-you-even-know-the-difference, enjoyed it. 😀

Let me talk about what I didn’t like. I didn’t like the similarities between Lilah Montgomery and another certain blonde-haired country artist we all know; it made for a real fanfiction-y feel. And Matt Finch? Didn’t he sound like another well-known artist in a family band? (No, not Michael Jackson – I meant The Jonas Brothers.) These similarities were really hard to forget about, but there’s more than just that. I also really hated Reagan’s family life – it just didn’t click. It felt very fake.

However, I truly adored Reagan’s character. I admire her for trying to set her life straight, and I admire her ability to be honest about herself. She knows she’s bad news, she knows she messes up, and she knows how people should treat her. I loved that she was this rock of a character, always there for Lilah, even though we got to see her break down every now and then. I love that she let herself break down. But most of all, I love that she got her boyfriend’s super-expensive car towed just because he wouldn’t shut up.

I also really loved the romance – Matt Finch was a bit of an empty character, but cute nonetheless. His snarkiness and teasing just made him all the more lovable. There was the usual issue of Reagan “needing” a boy to make her better, but it wasn’t the main focus, so I’m letting it slide.

All in all, Open Road Summer is a cute day read that you should definitely take on your next holiday! (Or on the train ride down to the city to see your favourite band.)

Top Ten Tuesday (#3)

top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature/weekly meme hosted over at The Broke and Bookish.

September 16: Top Authors I’ve Only Read One Book From But NEED to Read More

1. Rick Yancey, author of The 5th Wave – I’m actually reading the sequel to this which came out today, The Infinite Sea, as we speak – but I haven’t finished it, so techncially this is still valid… I’m really interested in reading his Monstrumologist series though!

2. Rainbow Rowell – Obviously! I can’t believe I’ve only read one book by her (Fangirl). Her other books look just as good, and I keep eyeing them when I browse my local bookshop, but so far I’ve resisted.

3. Jodi Meadows – I really enjoyed her book Incarnate, but have never got around to reading the sequel. This is high on my list.

4. Rosemary Clement-Moore – I was completely in love with The Splendor Falls when I first read it and it earned one of my very rare 5 stars, so I can’t wait until October when I start my Halloween-themed readathon and read her other book, Texas Gothic!

5. John Green – To read more of his books, or not to read more of his books… That is the question. I’ve only read The Fault In Our Stars, since I managed to lose Looking For Alaska within hours of buying it, and then never found the interest to read it. John Green is a controversial topic and I think the only way for me to find out who I agree with, is to read one more.

6. Carrie Ryan – I was intruiged by her distant, descriptive writing throughout The Forest of Hands and Teeth, so I’d like to venture further into that series.

7. Lisa McMann – Lots of her books are on my TBR list! All but the first of the Dream Catcher series, and Cryer’s Cross also has a place on my Halloween-themed readathon.

8. Leigh Bardugo – Why do I finish a book, but not finish the series? Why? 

9. Danielle Steel – I have to. It’s a rule.

10. Similar to above, Nicholas Sparks – I’ve seen most of the films and enjoyed the one book of his that I did read, so why not try for some more?

Book Review: Thunder by Bonnie S. Calhoun

 Title: Thunder (Stone Braide Chronicles #1)

Author: Bonnie S. Calhoun

Page count: 432 pages

Released: October 7th, 2014

Genre: YA, Dystopia

Type: ARC, eBook

Rating: 3 stars

Goodreads | Amazon

“In post-apocalyptic America, Selah Chavez is crouched in long grass on a shore littered with the rusted metal remnants of a once-great city. It is the day before her eighteenth Born Remembrance, and she is hunting, though many people refuse to eat animal flesh, tainted by radiation during the Time of Sorrows. What Selah’s really after are Landers, mysterious people from a land across the big water who survive the delirium-inducing passage in small boats that occasionally crash against the shoreline. She knows she should leave the capture to the men, but Landers bring a good price from the Company and are especially prized if they keep the markings they arrive with.
Everything falls to pieces when the Lander Selah catches is stolen by her brothers–and Selah wakes up the next morning to find the Lander’s distinctive mark has suddenly appeared on her own flesh. Once the hunter, Selah is now one of the hunted, and she knows only one person who can help her–Bohdi Locke, the Lander her brothers hope to sell.”

my thoughts

This book had a lot of promise, but it didn’t quite pull through. The first hundred pages were difficult to read and I very nearly stopped; it didn’t pick up until almost halfway through. When it did, though, it was considerably improved.

The first problem I had with this story was that it didn’t flow. Scenes were choppy and rushed, and it bothered me that in a post-apocalyptic world where things like mobile phones don’t exist, people are still using words like “jerk” and “loser”. It just seemed sonormal, when the setting was not. The second thing that bothered me were the characters, all expect one. The main character, Selah – she was annoying, so plainly so. When she wasn’t demanding to be treated like an adult, she was whining, complaining and crying, and that’s really where I lost interest. Three other noticeably bland characters were Selah’s mother, and two doctors that we see a lot of – Dr. Everling and Ganston. They’re 60 year old men, yet there was an actual scene where they were throwing insults at each other across the room as if they were school children trying to initiate a scrape. It bothered me, but I persevered.

The character that I did love was Bohdi – you know how people always say they should put one character in a musical that has no idea what’s going on? Bodhi was like that. He was the love interest yet he didn’t care to be there, didn’t care what happened to the people he was with – he was there for himself, to find solutions to his own problems. I liked watching him grow and become softer throughout the story, but I definitely loved his indifference to everything.

The second half of this book was very, very similar to Divergent, not that that’s a bad thing. I liked the way all the characters we’d been following throughout the book came together, but I just wish there had maybe been more background information added to the story. I expect the next book, Lightning, might have more of that and will be a better read.

I realise it sounds like I’m stomping all over this book, but I do think it deserves it’s 3 stars! I don’t see myself reading this again anytime soon, though I’m adding the sequel to my TBR list. If you’re interested in this story, maybe borrow it from your library or a friend instead of buying it. 🙂

Showcase Sunday #3

showcase sunday

As a whole, the second week of September has not been good to me – neither in the reading sense nor the I’m-now-a-full-time-student sense. It was my first full week of college and, as to be expected, lots went wrong. I missed trains, went to wrong classrooms, almost left the class entirely and also missed Thursday/part of Friday because my Chronic Fatigue got a little too much. Not to mention the horrendous migraine at the beginning of the week – who wants a migraine before the week even starts?

Last Sunday I “showcased” five books I acquired at the weekend, though this week I’ve sadly only read two – one of which wasn’t even on that list! I read and reviewed Solitaire and Lola and the Boy Next Door, but the rest are still sitting in my library bag, glaring at me through the plastic.

I did receive these four books on NetGalley this week; I’m currently reading Thunder (my review should be up tomorrow!) and I’m hoping to read Puppet next because not only am I delighted that it’s a retelling not about a princess, but the cover is also gorgeous.

I also devised a plan for note-taking… When I read a book, I think up all these descriptive sentences and feelings towards what is happening right then and there, and like the idiot I am, trust myself to remember them. I never do. The note option on my Kindle isn’t sufficient for a handful of reasons so I decided to use one of my many untouched notebooks to write things down as I think them. Does anybody else do this? It seems like a logical solution… and definitely makes me seem cooler when middle-aged men on the morning train glare at my book while they hold a crossword puzzle.

Book Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door (Anna and the French Kiss #2) by Stephanie Perkins

Title: Lola and the Boy Next Door (Anna and the French Kiss #2)

Author: Stephanie Perkins

Page count: 338 pages

Released: July 9th, 2013

Genre: Teen, Contemporary, Romance

Type: Kindle Edition

Rating: 3 stars

Goodreads | Amazon 

“Lola Nolan is a budding costume designer, and for her, the more outrageous, sparkly, and fun the outfit, the better. And everything is pretty perfect in her life (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the negihborhood. When Cricket, a gifted inventor, steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.”

my thoughts

 

Let me kickoff by letting you know that I am one of those people who differentiate teen from YA, and that this was 100% teen. I didn’t actually realise that before I downloaded it but regardless, I read on.

Lola is 16 when we’re introduced to her. She has two dads, a delightful dog, and an exquisite wardrobe. She adores making her own clothes, wearing wigs and dresses from different eras, and doesn’t believe in wearing the same outfit twice. 

Then along comes Max, her boyfriend-in-a-band 22 year old love interest. To say the least, he’s a bigoted jerk. A close friend of mine adored his character and much preferred him to the other love interest, Cricket (yep, love triangle alert), but I just thought he was rude. Admittedly he tries with Lola’s parents, doesn’t force her to do things she doesn’t want to and even writes her songs, but he was unquestionably surly. He was rude to Lola’s best friend, rude to every guy that stepped within a ten meter radius of her, and really only considered himself. 

Next, onto the twins next door. I was surprised that Lola only had her best friend and boyfriend but no casual friends, so I was happy when her ex-best friend moved in next door. Of course, she had also been in love with him and was enemies with his sister. I tend to dislike literal problematic boy-next-door situations particularly when they involve a disapproving family, because I think it’s cheap and easily done – yet I still found myself looking forward to their late night window conversations. 

My main problem was just that I couldn’t relate to Lola at all. I loath love triangles purely because I feel it’s wrong to string two guys along, especially when this one was so obvious; but I also felt she was very selfish and I didn’t like that at all. 

I did, however, very much enjoy the presence of Anna and St. Clair from Anna and the French Kiss. I found myself really looking forward to their scenes! They were as adorable as ever and I liked that they treated Lola like a sister, taking her in and protecting her, which was a little different from how they treated their own friends in their book. Moving on, Lola’s two dads – that was a pleasant surprise. Stephanie Perkins definitely didn’t overdo the “gay dads” stereotype and even addressed it through Lola’s character many times. Everyone around them was comfortable with not a question asked, and I loved that. 

I didn’t dislike Lola’s character, I just can’t see myself tolerating her in real life. Despite that, I did enjoy a lot of the other characters (especially the twins and one of Lola’s dads, Andy) and the book itself was fast-paced and easy to read. I really felt that Lola redeemed herself towards the end as she made an effort to make herself a better person, and I enjoyed seeing her go through the transition after realising she was a out of line. The last few chapters of this book were definitely my favourite! 

I’m not crazy about this book, but it does deserve it’s 3 stars. According to my rating system, that means you should definitely give a try! You don’t have to read Anna and the French Kiss to understand this, though that was an even better book, so you should go ahead and read that regardless! 

 

(Note: Approxiametly 70% of my brain is asleep right now. I’m sleep deprived and exhausted from college so I tried my best to correct any mistakes in this review, but I do apologise if it doesn’t make sense! I may or may not completely re-write this at the weekend. Thanks for sticking with me through my tiredness!)