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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Fall Unhauls!

Hello all! Sorry for the lack of posts, I have hit a recent blog/reading/life slump. All I want to do when I'm not working is curl up and watch reality TV. Because of my terrible reading slump I have gotten rid of even more books, so here is the list of ones I have donated!

Books I Won’t Read Again

Brunette Ambition by Lea Michelle

Books I Didn’t Enjoy
Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics
Charm and Strange by Stephanie Kuhen (DNF’d)

Books I Have Lost Interest in Reading
The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove
No Place by Todd StrasserFear the Worst by Linwood Barclay
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Endgame: The Calling by James Frey
172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad
Hexed by Michelle Krys
Something Between Us by Jessica Martinez
Kiss, Kill, Vanish by Jessica Martinez
The Dinner by Herman Koch
Project Cain by Geoffrey Girard 
The Fall by Bethany Griffin
Renegade by J.A Souders
When She Woke by Hilary Jordan
A Thousand Cuts by Simon Lelic
Rooms by Lauren Oliver
Second Life by S.J. Watson

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Books I Did Not Finish

The following is four novels that I have DNF'd over the past couple of months. Let me know your thoughts on any of these books!


Looking for Alaska by John Green

I know, I know. I am not sure if it is just me, but I found this novel to be very bland. I was excited to pick up this novel because of all the hype, and the setting of a boarding school is not one I have read often. From the very beginning I was able to guess what this great tragedy was going to be, and was not something that I thought would get better (in my opinion). 

I gave this novel up after reading a little over half (I got past the “after”), and had still felt no connection to the character. Our main character Miles “Pudge” was an average character, who did not stand out for me at all. Reading his perspective felt like I was reading observations, and that neither him or I had any connection to the story. 

I appreciate what message was trying to be sent in this novel, but for me there were too many other distractions to really understand it. After reading this novel I have come to the realization that John Green novels are not for me. 


The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

This is another novel for which my expectations were very high. I have since heard that this is a novel that you either love or hate, but every review I had heard was very positive. 

When I first heard the plot for this novel, it was not very attractive to me. A teenage girl getting together with her now-dead sister’s boyfriend? No thanks. Even after reading 100 pages of this novel, and trying to understand Lennie’s grief, I could not get over her relationships. I found no appeal to either of the love interests, and wish instead that there was more focus on Lennie and her family recovering from the grief - it had been four weeks since the loss of her sister.

Because this novel is on the shorter side I had expected to be attached to the story very quickly, and was disappointed when that did not happen. 


Charm and Strange by Stephanie Kuhen

This is a novel that I had had on my shelves for quite some time, but had heard nearly nothing about. I know now why this was not as popular as other young adult fiction. 

This novel follows a young man who goes to boarding school in New England, because of some family tragedy that happened a couple of years back. I did not read enough of this novel to find out what the tragedy was, nor did I care enough to find out. There were different references to what could have happened, but if the cover and symbolisms are any indication - this guy thought he was a werewolf. I went into this expecting a psychological thriller, but instead I was just confused the entire time, not connected to any of the characters, and bored throughout. 


Night Road by A.M Jenkins 

This is a novel that I had not heard about before, and was interested in the cover when I saw it sitting in my library. When I started reading this I did not know that it was a vampire story, but was still interested because that is a sub-genre I don’t read very often. Maybe vampire stories are just not for me, because I really did not enjoy this novel.

I read about 100 pages of this 360 page book, and could not push myself any farther. It was told in third-person when I would have preferred first narrative so that we could get deeper into the mind of Cole, whose story we were following. I did not enjoy the way they were describing how the “heme’s” lived, and still never understood what kind of a business they were running. Overall it was a very easy decision for me to stop reading it and return it to the library.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Auto-Buy Author: David Levithan

Auto-Buy Author: David Levithan

Average Rating: 3.84/5 stars
Genres: Young Adult, LGBTQ


Top Three By This Author:

1. Every Day
2. The Lover’s Dictionary
3. Two Boys Kissing


David Levithan is one of the first YA authors that I started reading when I got back into my reading a few years ago. I fly through his novels so quickly, and are always diverse in both their plot and characters. All of the novels I have read from him are character driven, with interesting and developed plots, and pages you don’t want to stop turning. His first novel was not published until 2003, but reading his novels pretty close to publication order, it is clear how much he has grown and developed as a writer!

Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares is another one of my favourites, especially in the winter, but I didn’t include it in my top three because it is one that he co-wrote. All of his novels are so quotable, I hardly have a copy that doesn't have page flags sticking out of it! If you are looking for a light contemporary with heavier plot undertones, I would recommend this author!

I own about nine of his novels, with a couple additional ones he has co-written. Whenever David Levithan announces a novel release, I preorder it. 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Why Not Me? Review

Why Not Me?

Written by Mindy Kaling
Number of pages: 223

Average Rating: 3.89/5 stars
My Rating: 4/5 stars

Published on September 15, 2016
Read in August 2016


Summary according to Goodreads

In Why Not Me?, Kaling shares her ongoing journey to find contentment and excitement in her adult life, whether it’s falling in love at work, seeking new friendships in lonely places, attempting to be the first person in history to lose weight without any behavior modification whatsoever, or most important, believing that you have a place in Hollywood when you’re constantly reminded that no one looks like you.

In “How to Look Spectacular: A Starlet’s Confessions,” Kaling gives her tongue-in-cheek secrets for surefire on-camera beauty, (“Your natural hair color may be appropriate for your skin tone, but this isn’t the land of appropriate–this is Hollywood, baby. Out here, a dark-skinned woman’s traditional hair color is honey blonde.”) “Player” tells the story of Kaling being seduced and dumped by a female friend in L.A. (“I had been replaced by a younger model. And now they had matching bangs.”) In “Unlikely Leading Lady,” she muses on America’s fixation with the weight of actresses, (“Most women we see onscreen are either so thin that they’re walking clavicles or so huge that their only scenes involve them breaking furniture.”) And in “Soup Snakes,” Kaling spills some secrets on her relationship with her ex-boyfriend and close friend, B.J. Novak (“I will freely admit: my relationship with B.J. Novak is weird as hell.”)

Mindy turns the anxieties, the glamour, and the celebrations of her second coming-of-age into a laugh-out-loud funny collection of essays that anyone who’s ever been at a turning point in their life or career can relate to. And those who’ve never been at a turning point can skip to the parts where she talks about meeting Bradley Cooper.


My Thoughts

I need to start out with the disclaimer: I love Mindy Kaling. She is one of the most talented, multi-dimensional, interesting actors that I have ever come across. I have never watched The Office, which is something that she has written for and acted on, but I have seen every episode (at least three times) of her own show The Mindy Project. 

This novel is a collection of short essays, categorized mostly by life advice, and her past experiences. She talks a lot about relationships which I found to be honest and entertaining, as well as some harder moments in life such as losing her mom, battling with weight issues, and the struggle of trying to get her own show. After reading this novel I feel so much more respect for Mindy, because she has spent so many years building her career, and working hard to maintain it. She is in her late-thirties, but does not feel that she needs to change who she is in order to keep up with today’s standards. 

My only issue with this novel is that it was not as fast-paced as her first novel! I am not sure what the difference was, since both were told in short essays, but I found her previous release to be much more interesting. I cannot help but wonder if I would have given this novel a full five stars if I had been able to listen to it on audiobook (I had been on hold for months from the library) because she would be the one reading it. If I ever feel like reading this again, I will definitely be listening to it!

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel and might be an even bigger fan of Mindy’s. I feel as though you would be able to read and enjoy this novel, even if you have not seen some of her works on the Office or the Mindy Project. Make sure you check it out!


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Grownup Review

The Grownup

Written by: Gillian Flynn
Number of pages: 64

Average Rating: 3.55/5 stars
My Rating: 3/5 stars

Published on November 3, 2015
Read in August 2016


Summary according to Goodreads

A canny young woman is struggling to survive by perpetrating various levels of mostly harmless fraud. On a rainy April morning, she is reading auras at Spiritual Palms when Susan Burke walks in. A keen observer of human behaviour, our unnamed narrator immediately diagnoses beautiful, rich Susan as an unhappy woman eager to give her lovely life a drama injection. However, when the “psychic” visits the eerie Victorian home that has been the source of Susan’s terror and grief, she realizes she may not have to pretend to believe in ghosts anymore. Miles, Susan’s teenage stepson, doesn’t help matters with his disturbing manner and grisly imagination. The three are soon locked in a chilling battle to discover where the evil truly lurks and what, if anything, can be done to escape it.


My Thoughts

This was my first experience reading Gillian Flynn, which might come as a surprise when considering her popularity. I enjoyed the movie adaptation of Gone Girl, and was interested to see this novella sitting on the shelf of my local bookstore. The psychological thriller genre is one that I am new to, so felt I should give this a try because it is so short. 

The length did contribute to one of the reasons that I did not enjoy this story. I felt like there were too many scattered pieces to the story, a woman gives hand jobs for a profit and then is trying to ward off evil in someone’s house? Okay. I was fairly confused while reading this little novel, because I could never wrap my head around the plot. This story really messed with my mind which is why I’m giving it three stars, but nothing higher because I feel like it didn’t mean anything. It was just an easy way to help catch up on my reading challenge.

Overall, it was not something that I loved and wish I had not purchased. If you are interested in reading this story I would recommend checking your local library first, before spending the $10 on a hardcover copy.


Monday, August 15, 2016

Tilt Book Review

Tilt 


Written by Ellen Hopkins
Number of Pages: 608

Average Rating: 4.19/5 stars
My Rating: 4/5 stars

Published on September 11, 2012
Read in August 2016


Summary according to Goodreads

Three teens, three stories—all interconnected through their parents’ family relationships. As the adults pull away, caught up in their own dilemmas, the lives of the teens begin to tilt….

Mikayla, almost eighteen, is over-the-top in love with Dylan, who loves her back jealously. But what happens to that love when Mikayla gets pregnant the summer before their senior year—and decides to keep the baby?

Shane turns sixteen that same summer and falls hard in love with his first boyfriend, Alex, who happens to be HIV positive. Shane has lived for four years with his little sister’s impending death. Can he accept Alex’s love, knowing that his life, too, will be shortened?

Harley is fourteen—a good girl searching for new experiences, especially love from an older boy. She never expects to hurdle toward self-destructive extremes in order to define who she is and who she wants to be.

Love, in all its forms, has crucial consequences in this standalone novel.


My Thoughts

Ellen Hopkins is one of my favourite authors, and whenever I want to be captivated, she is the one I pick up. All of her novels deal with heavy topics, and is something that I have come to appreciate in YA literature. Halfway through reading this novel I discovered that it is a companion to Triangles, from different perspectives, but it did not hinder my experience reading this story. 

The plot lines in this story were so realistic, it was almost scary! Throughout my reading experience I really bonded with these characters, even the secondary ones! Mikayla’s story was not one that is unique in our society, that of a sixteen year old girl discovering an unwanted pregnancy. She begins this novel completely head-over-heels with her boyfriend, only to discover that first love is not always perfect. Shane’s story is one that I have not read much before, that being a young teen growing into his sexuality while living under a strong religious household. Discovering first love and the harsh realities of death, the reader can relate to Shane on so many different levels. Finally, Harley’s story portrayed first love and how far a young girl will go to impress the one she “loves”. She was my least favourite character to read, because she was filled with angst, and was constantly doubting herself wanting to impress a jerk who didn’t care about her. 

There was so much development between everyone, I am very happy with how the three stories progressed. If I had to pick a favourite character it would be Shane because it was encouraging to see a young man stand up for himself and who he is, even when it wasn’t the easiest thing to do. I related a lot to his mental struggles, and was compassionate when he dealt with them through self-medication. Life is not an easy journey, but Shane’s story felt the most real without the angst. 

This novel had quite a few plot twists, a few of which I did not anticipate. I wish I had been able to read this book in fewer time, but my work schedule kept me fairly busy. One of my favourite things about this novel, was although we followed three main perspectives, at the end of each we got a look into a character close to the one we followed (best friend, boyfriend, etc) - which made you feel like you were getting a complete story!

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and will continue to auto-buy Ellen Hopkins’ novels! If you enjoy young-adult novels that are written in verse, or deal with heavier plot lines, I recommend you looking into her books!


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Recently Purchased 2016 #3

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
     Goodreads: click here

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list. 


Lock In by John Scalzi
     Goodreads: click here

Not too long from today, a new, highly contagious virus makes its way across the globe. Most who get sick experience nothing worse than flu, fever and headaches. But for the unlucky one percent - and nearly five million souls in the United States alone - the disease causes "Lock In": Victims fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to stimulus. The disease affects young, old, rich, poor, people of every color and creed. The world changes to meet the challenge.

A quarter of a century later, in a world shaped by what's now known as "Haden's syndrome," rookie FBI agent Chris Shane is paired with veteran agent Leslie Vann. The two of them are assigned what appears to be a Haden-related murder at the Watergate Hotel, with a suspect who is an "integrator" - someone who can let the locked in borrow their bodies for a time. If the Integrator was carrying a Haden client, then naming the suspect for the murder becomes that much more complicated.

But "complicated" doesn't begin to describe it. As Shane and Vann began to unravel the threads of the murder, it becomes clear that the real mystery - and the real crime - is bigger than anyone could have imagined. The world of the locked in is changing, and with the change comes opportunities that the ambitious will seize at any cost. The investigation that began as a murder case takes Shane and Vann from the halls of corporate power to the virtual spaces of the locked in, and to the very heart of an emerging, surprising new human culture. It's nothing you could have expected.


You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan
     Goodreads: click here

Mark and Kate have sat next to each other for an entire year, but have never spoken. For whatever reason, their paths outside of class have never crossed.

That is, until Kate spots Mark miles away from home, out in the city for a wild, unexpected night. Kate is lost, having just run away from a chance to finally meet the girl she has been in love with from afar. Mark, meanwhile, is in love with his best friend Ryan, who may or may not feel the same way.

When Kate and Mark meet up, little do they know how important they will become to each other—and how, in a very short time, they will know each other better than any of the people who are supposed to know them more.


The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong
     Goodreads: click here

My name is Chloe Saunders and my life will never be the same again. All I wanted was to make friends, meet boys, and keep on being ordinary. I don't even know what that means anymore. It all started on the day that I saw my first ghost - and the ghost saw me.

Now there are ghosts everywhere and they won't leave me alone. To top it all off, I somehow got myself locked up in Lyle House, a "special home" for troubled teens. Yet the home isn't what it seems. Don't tell anyone, but I think there might be more to my housemates than meets the eye. The question is, whose side are they on? It's up to me to figure out the dangerous secrets behind Lyle House... before its skeletons come back to haunt me.


The Land of Stories: An Author’s Odessy by Chris Colfer
     Goodreads: click here

Since this novel is the fifth in a series, I will not be including a synopsis.


These are the books I have picked up recently! Have you read any of them? What were your thoughts? Let me know!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Perfection Duology Review

Perfection Duology

Written by Abbi Glines


Twisted Perfection
Number of Pages: 247
Average Rating: 4.26/5 stars
My Rating: 3/5
Published: April 8, 2013
Read again in July 2016







Simple Perfection
Number of Pages: 243
Average Rating: 4.26/5 stars
My Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Published: December 3, 2013
Read in July 2016


Twisted Perfection: Summary according to Goodreads

Life outside of her house was a new experience for Della Sloane. The dark secrets of her past weren’t something she ever intended to share with anyone. They would never understand. No one would ever get close enough to find out. There was always a change she’d go crazy sooner than they expected. 

Woods Kerrington had never been one to be attracted to fragile females. They seemed like too much work. He wasn’t in it for the work just the pleasure. A night full of naughty fun had been exactly what was on his mind when he’d laid eyes on the hot little number that didn’t know how to pump gas and needed some help.

What he didn’t know was she was as fragile as they came. The carefree girl who spoke her mind and didn’t care what the world thought of her was more breakable than he could ever imagine. 


My Thoughts

I first read Twisted Perfection in September of 2014, and originally rated it two stars. This was before I read any of the previous Rosemary Beach series novels, and was still relatively new to the new adult genre. I have since picked up the series from the first novel, and was not as in love as I was with the Fallen series. Woods is no Rush, that is for sure. 

This is a series based on dramatic relationships with heavy sex scenes, but I felt it was too much in this novel. Woods was very sexually aggressive and I was not a fan of that, nor his over-possessiveness to someone he just met. If I was Della, I would have found it creepy and not a turn-on. I would have much preferred to see them open up to each other more and develop a real relationship instead of just having a lot of passionate sex. Don’t get me wrong, they tried to be friends, but ended up finding other ways to get each other satisfied. 

I remembered the majority of the story from the first time I read it, except for the ending. That last paragraph came out of nowhere for me and made me want to pick up the next novel right away. Abbi Glines is amazing at getting the reader to constantly want more - if you remember my review of the Fallen series, I read them back to back right away. 

While reading the first novel I did not feel a strong connection to the characters, but that changed completely in the sequel. I was rooting for Woods and Della the entire time, both as individuals and as a couple. I loved seeing Della’s development as a character, finally taking her mental illness in her own hands and not feeling like a burden anymore. It is completely against popular opinion that I did not love Woods, even though I usually like the tough guy attitude! I am not sure what it is about him, maybe his constant possessiveness, but he is not one of my favourite book boyfriends.

There is not much that I can say about the plot of the sequel without spoiling anything, but just know that I laughed, I cried, and that this novel kept me on my toes. There was a moment where I thought that the plot would just be typical to every other new adult novel, but there were so many more layers than I was expecting. And what was that ending?! I have seriously never been as blindsided as I was reading a plot twist as I was in this novel.

Overall, these novels are such fun and light reads that they are perfect to read during the summer. I will be continuing on with book seven in this series, a duology following Grant who is a character I have wanted to know more about since he was introduced in the very first novel of the series.


Monday, August 8, 2016

The Picture of Dorian Gray Review

The Picture of Dorian Gray 

Written by: Oscar Wilde
Number of pages: 216

Average Rating: 4.04/5 stars
My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Published in June 1890
Read in July 2016


Summary according to Goodreads

Dorian Gray, a handsome and narcissistic young man, lives thoughtlessly for his own pleasure - an attitude encouraged by the company he keeps. One day, after having his portrait painted, Dorian makes a frivolous Faustian wish: that he should always remain as young and beautiful as he is in that painting, while the portrait grows old in his stead.

The wish comes true, and Dorian soon finds that none of his wicked actions have visible consequences. Realizing that he will appear fresh and unspoiled no matter what kind of life he lives, Dorian becomes increasingly corrupt, unchecked by public opinion. Only the portrait grows degenerate and ugly, a powerful symbol of Dorian’s internal ruin.


My Thoughts

“They say he has sold himself to the devil for a pretty face."

This is a classic novel that I have had on my shelf for a long time, having first heard about it in my tenth grade English class. I cannot recall reading other gothic novels, so this was a very interesting experience for me! I did enjoy the genre, and will be picking up more darker plot novels. 

I really enjoyed the depth into the human soul, how much power vanity has over us, and the importance of consequences. There was so much psychology buried within this novel, and it helped me to connect so much more to Dorian and the plot. 

There were many quotable lines in this novel, but one of my favourites is as follows; “You told me you had destroyed it.” “I was wrong. It has destroyed me.” When Dorian first discovered the magic behind the portrait, he took advantage of it because it had allowed him to continue his youthful appearance. This quote soon followed the turning point in the novel, and was a strong realization from Dorian - but not necessarily in a positive way.

One of the biggest reasons that I could not rate this novel higher was because of how many times when the plot dragged. It was very easy for me to pick up this novel and put it down after every chapter, not feeling the need to keep reading. I did not get completely engrossed in this novel until the end, where everything started to get more action-packed and captivating.

Another issue that I had with this novel was the passage of time. Reading in between the chapters I was sure that no more than a few days had passed, but it had actually been weeks.This made it a lot more difficult for me to read, and I would have enjoyed it a lot more if it had been more descriptive.