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Monday, August 6, 2018

#Murdertrending | Book Review

#Murdertrending

Written by: Gretchen McNeil
Number of Pages: 352

My Rating: 1 / 5 stars

Published: August 7, 2018
Read in August 2018


Summary According to Goodreads

Welcome to the near future, where good and honest citizens can enjoy watching the executions of society’s most infamous convicted felons, streaming live on The Postman app from the suburbanized prison island Alcatraz 2.0. 

When eighteen-year-old Dee Guerrera wakes up in a haze, lying on the ground of a dimly lit warehouse, she realizes she’s about to be the next victim of the app. Knowing hardened criminals are getting a taste of their own medicine in this place is one thing, but Dee refuses to roll over and die for a heinous crime she didn’t commit. Can Dee and her newly formed posse, the Death Row Breakfast Club, prove she’s innocent before she ends up wrongfully murdered for the world to see? Or will The Postman’s cast of executioners kill them off one by one?


My Thoughts

I received an e-arc copy of this novel to review from NetGalley, but that does not influence my opinion. 

Oh man, did I hate this book. So many times I was tempted to give up and call it a day, but I am not a quitter when it comes to reviewing books. The synopsis of this novel caught my attention immediately when it was announced, and I was so excited to have been approved for the arc, but now I regret having wasted my time. The idea of changing the criminal justice system in this way stuck out to me as something that seems realistic in our future, but the tone and the setting were very much set a decade behind our times. 

The story is told from a third-person narrative, which makes it less thrilling and more cliche. At the end of most chapters we get sneaks into the reality show aspect, showing tweets from viewers remarking on what had been streamed. Most of the time I skipped reading the comments because I found them unimportant to the development of the story, and I was already becoming so detached from the plot that I just didn’t care. 

Our main character Dee is your typical character in a dystopian - starts off as unimportant and then of course she becomes the centre of everything and all of her friends give up their safety for hers. She was such a boring character to read that didn’t see any gradual development, and instead just seemed to change overnight. For the first while of the novel she was timid and shy, flying under the radar, and the next minute she’s leading her posse ready to start a jail break. There was no transition, so development, and no interest from me. 

One of the first “rules” that Dee is first introduced to is to not trust anyone, because no one is your friend. So what does she do? Befriend and trust four people within her first day in the prison. Nyles is the first of these friends that she encounters, your typical potential love interest with an added bonus: he’s British! Griselda is the typical blonde bitch that everyone thinks is gorgeous, and her co-worker Blair who is the caring sweetheart. And finally, the piece that every successful young-adult novel needs - the dumb jock. Ethan is the typical hot guy, with the diversity of him being a gay character pursuing a relationship with Griselda, and I couldn’t stand having him in the story. He gave me such a headache with his naivety, and movie quotes, and what really pushed me over the edge was one line in particular where during an argument he legitimately says; “come at me bro”. I’m sorry, did I somehow go back to high school in 2009? 

SPOILER ALERT: Can someone explain to me how Dee lives on an island with about 20 convicted murders and never runs into any of them? Or how about eight experienced killers and executioners met their demise by a teenage girl? It was all so convenient in order for our character to survive. And what killers are going to host a runway show with one of their (shirtless, might I add) victims?

This novel was so unrealistic and over exaggerated, and the only reason it was so long was because the author used the same descriptive sentences over and over and over again. Overall, this was a terrible read and I have to (regrettably) say that I won’t be picking up another one of Gretchen McNeil’s works in the future. I was so looking forward to finding a young adult horror/thriller author, but this was beyond juvenile for my taste. I really wanted to enjoy this, but without the proper depth and development, it’s not worth the read. 


Keep Holding On | Book Review

Keep Holding On

Written by: Susane Colasnti
Number of Pages: 224

Average Rating: 3.85 / 5 stars
My Rating: 2.5 / 5 stars

Published: May 31. 2012
Read in July 2018


Summary According to Goodreads

Noelle’s life is all about survival. Even her best friend doesn’t know how much she gets bullied, or the ways her mom neglects her. Noelle’s kept so much about her life a secret for so long that when her longtime crush Julian Porter starts paying attention to her, she’s terrified. Surely it’s safer to stay hidden than to risk the pain of a broken heart. But when the antagonism of her classmates takes a dramatic turn, Noelle realizes it’s time to stand up for herself - and for the love that keeps her holding on.


My Thoughts

The central theme of this novel is bullying, and the author did an amazing job getting that across. The narration felt so pure and real, however I think I would have related better to it if I had read it a few years ago. 

Unfortunately I wasn’t impressed with our main character Noelle, and preferred some of the side characters more such as her best friend. Noelle was constantly complaining about the limited options of food and clothing that she had at home, but chose to spend her babysitting money on a top from Forever 21. If that had been me and I only had $15, you’d be finding me at the food bank or the grocery store. She makes her mom feel terrible for making her dinners of “mushy spaghetti”, boiled hotdogs, or McDonalds, but doesn’t appreciate the fact that she isn’t actually going hungry. Another issue that I had with Noelle was her attitude. She was constantly reminding the reader how horrible her life was and how no one wanted to be her friend, but when a fellow victim named Ali tried to be her friend, she said that although she thought they’d be good friends, she couldn’t risk being friends with her because it would make her life even more miserable because Ali was a bigger loser than she is. She seemed too ungrateful and overreactive for my taste. 

I really wanted to love this novel and rate it highly because of how impactful it has the potential to be on readers, however it wasn’t strong enough. There wasn’t a huge plot or story line supporting this story, and instead each chapter is written almost as a diary leading up to the end of her junior year in high school. 

My first reaction was to give this novel three stars, but the more I discussed my opinions I had to knock it down by half a star. I think that the strongest reasons that I didn’t hate this novel where the fact that it was such a quick mindless read, and that there were a couple redeemable side characters. Overall, this isn’t a book I would recommend to anyone struggling with financial issues as it could seem privileged, but it is an interesting and uplifting story to read about a girl being bullied.


Friday, July 27, 2018

As She Fades | Book Review

As She Fades

Written by: Abbi Glines
Number of Pages: 270

Average Rating: 3.70 / 5 stars
My Rating: 2.5 / 5 stars

Published: April 3, 2018
Read in July 2018


Summary According to Goodreads

On the night of her high school graduation, Vale McKinley and her boyfriend Crawford are in a terrible car accident that leaves Crawford in a coma. They were supposed to spend the summer planning for college, for a bright future full of possibility. Together. Instead, Vale spends long days in the hospital, hoping Crawford will awaken.

Slate Allen, a college friend of Vale's brother, has been visiting his dying uncle at the same hospital. When he and Vale meet, she can't deny the flutter of an illicit attraction. She tries to ignore her feelings, but she's not immune to Slate's charm. Slowly, they form a cautious friendship.

Then, Crawford wakes up... with no memory of Vale or their relationship. Heartbroken, Vale opts to leave for college and move on with her life. Except now, she's in Slate's territory, and their story is about to take a very strange turn. 


My Thoughts

I have had some fair success with Abbi Glines in the past, so this one quickly made its way onto my list of anticipated releases. However, I was quite disappointed with this story as it was different than the synopsis leads you to believe. 

This novel is split into two parts, and without spoiling anything, I will say that I hated that she did that. It was almost as if she wanted to write two novellas and finish neither of them. I loved the first part of the story, although it took me a while to get into. Our main character Vale was nothing special, but I was intrigued by Slate (the love interest) and Know (her brother). The second part of this book was just a huge disappointment, and I would rather have seen the first part continued. If I am being completely honest, I skimmed the last half of the second part because my frustration made me too detached from the plot. 

As with all of her novels, this was a basic YA/NA contemporary that was a very quick read. In a contemporary novel, I expect the characters to carry the story - but too many of them were flat for that to happen. As I mentioned earlier Vale was fairly typical - blonde haired, blue eyed, girl everyone wants to be friends with - and I was more interested in her family than I was in her. Everything came easy to her, but she was unnecessarily dramatic. 

Also unnecessary? The excessive slut-shaming. The love interest Slate was a pretty typical "bad boy" player, but showed at least some growth. Ironically, I cared more about how Slate was feeling and what he was going through than I did about Vale. 

Overall, this novel was very disappointing and I regret having pre-ordered it. If the synopsis caught your attention as it did mine, ignore it, because it is very misleading to what actually happens. I don't know if it was just ignorance or deception, but it was very inaccurate. I would recommend this if you don't have any other contemporaries to read this summer - quick read, but not completely worth it. 



Sunday, July 22, 2018

My 7in7 Readathon TBR

Hi!

So I'm about nine books behind on my Goodreads challenge for 2018, so I decided that I would participate in this readathon! I adore readathons (as you'd know since I co-host my own monthly) and thought this would be the perfect opportunity to start catching up!

The main purpose of this readathon is to read seven things in seven days. This can include newspapers, magazines, graphic novels, anthologies, or whatever else floats your boat. It is all about reading! 7in7 starts at midnight tomorrow (Monday July 23rd) and runs until Sunday night at midnight for whatever time zone you are in. 

My reading has been all over the place lately, but there are a ton of things I want to get to, so I'm not 100% sure I'll complete all of the challenges, but I will do my best. 


THE CHALLENGES

1. Read seven things

     - Scarlet Angel by S.T. Abby

2. Read a book with yellow on the cover and/or spine

     - Prep School Confidential by Kara Taylor

3. Read something outside of your comfort zone


     - Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno

4. Read a book that starts with your first initial

     - Keep Holding On by Susane Colasanti

5. Read something outside OR read something that takes place outside

     - The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney

6. Pick a book based on your favourite food/drink

     - Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

7. Read something that takes place in your home (country or city) or by an author from your home (country or city)

     - The Masked Truth by Kelley Armstrong

Friday, July 20, 2018

The Risk | Book Review

The Risk

Written by: S.T. Abby
Number of Pages: 107 (ebook)

Average Rating: 4.56 / 5 stars
My Rating: 5 / 5 stars

Published: December 1, 2016
Read in July 2018


Summary According to Goodreads

They took too much. Left too little. I had nothing to lose...until him. 

Ten years ago, they took from me. They left me for dead. They should have made sure I stayed dead. 

Now I'm taking from them, one name at a time. I've trained for too long, I've been patient. I can't stop now. 

Revenge is best served cold. 


My Thoughts

"I'm just the typical American woman. Or is it the typical American psycho?"

I downloaded this ebook a few years ago when it was free on Kindle because I loved the idea of having a huge ebook library, but BOY am I glad I gave this a chance because it is on my list of favourite books of 2018. 

I am not usually a big fan of sexy romance, but this one was actually more tame than the cover led me to believe it would be. I will warn that this novel does contain some sexual scenes sand some gory descriptions, but if you are fine with those kinds of things I would recommend checking out this series.

This was such an addicting story, and the dual perspectives added so much more dimension to the plot. I think I loved this so much because it was like an adult version of my favourite series, The Naturals. Our main character Lana is getting revenge on a group of people that tortured her and left her for dead, laying low on the radar of suspects. For the first time since her attack ten years ago, she is starting to develop feelings for a man named Logan, only to discover that he is the lead investigator for the serial murders she is committing. I could not stop turning the pages on this one, and was constantly on the edge of my seat!

Overall, if you are looking for an intense quick read - please consider this one!


Saturday, July 14, 2018

Time Bomb | Book Review

Time Bomb

Written by: Joelle Charbonneau
Number of Pages: 352

Average Rating: 3.66 / 5 stars
My Rating: 3 / 5 stars

Published: March 13, 2018
Read in July 2018


Summary According to Goodreads

A congressman's daughter who has to be perfect. A star quarterback with a secret. A guy who's tired of being ignored. A clarinet player who's done trying to fit in. An orphaned rebel who wants to teach someone a lesson. A guy who wants people to see him, not his religion. 

They couldn't be more different, but before the morning's over, they'll all be trapped in a school that's been rocked by a bombing. When they hear that someone inside is the bomber, they'll also be looking to one another for answers. 


My Thoughts

This novel was one of my most anticipated releases of 2018, but I was quite disappointed - maybe I hyped myself up for it too much. In terms of  the plot and characters I would say that this novel rates at more of a two star, but because it was such a quick read I had to bump it up. 

Joelle Charbonneau is most well-known in the YA community for her "Testing" trilogy, but I am one of the few who haven't read those books. I enjoyed her writing style in this novel and found it to read very quickly, however I didn't like the way that she told the story. It felt very flat, and I never felt any rushes of adrenaline or anxiety wondering if any of them weren't going to make it out. While reading this novel I also had a fairly strong idea who the bomber was, and was not at all surprised by the ending. I think that it was because we read from all five of their perspectives that we didn't get that suspicious thrill, and instead I think having a single perspective would have made the reveal more shocking. 

In novels such as this it is so important to have strong, developed, and distinct characters - which this one didn't. I felt disconnected from them all, and was more annoyed by how generic and cliché it all was. Each of these five characters was a walking stereotype, a couple of them were irrelevant to the development of the plot, and none of them displayed any type of complexity.

Overall, I appreciate the author's attempt at writing about a controversial and important subject, but this fell too flat for me. As I said earlier, I was not surprised by the reveal of the bomber, but am still confused as to their motivations. The ending was just a quick info-dump to get it over with, but there were some aspects that don't add up for me.




Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Books I DNF'd in 2018 | Part One


Books I DNF’d: 2018

We are officially halfway through the year, and looking back on my reading of these past six months I've realized there are quite a few books I've given up on! Today I'm going to share with you what those books were and why I gave up on them, but of course I mean no offence if these are some of your favourites. 



January:

• Wonderland by Stacey Derasmo

     - Read 46 pages 
     - The writing style did not mesh well with me, it felt too forced and too heavy. 
     - The plot wasn’t something I usually read, and although I’d like to branch out more this wasn’t the one for me. It was boring and I couldn’t see where the plot would go. 




February:

• Dead Men Walking by Christopher Berry-Dee

     - Read 40 pages / 5 cases
     - I find true crime novels to be fascinating, but I just didn’t care for the authors commentary that came with the background on the cases. I was interested more in what these people did to land them on death row, and not the authors personal opinions on them. 
     - I am going to hold onto my copy as I do think this is something I will pick up again sometime. 





• Find You in the Dark by Nathan Ripley

     - Read 35% of the ebook, equating 130 pages
     - I received an e-arc of this to review from NetGalley, and I was really hoping to love it. I couldn’t get into the writing style, or the plot. 
     - It was really just too many things going on at once. There weren’t smooth transitions or a consistent sequence to the perspectives. I was easily confused on where the focus was supposed to be, and wasn’t able to connect to any part of the stories or characters. 





March


• My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

     - Read 60 pages while also listening to the audiobook. 
     - I found this story to be insanely boring and flat. I didn’t care about the characters and got confused on who most of them were. Not my type. 







April
 
• Room by Emma Donoghue

     - Listened to 55 pages of the audiobook, and couldn’t handle the child narrator
     - I’m very interested in the story, so I’ll likely still watch the movie since I’ve heard good things
     - I really wanted to love this story, but I do also have an ebook copy on my iPad if I ever change my mind 


June:


• Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

     - I was so excited to read this after loving The Long Walk, and was so disappointed in how bland this one was. I got about 140 pages into it, trying to both read it physically and listen to the audiobook, but I was never interested.
     - It was not suspenseful or thrilling because we read both the detective's perspective, and the killer's (whose identity was revealed very early), and this made it very hard to get through because I was bored almost the entire time.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

We Rise, We Resist | Book Review

We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices

Edited by: Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson
Number of Pages: 74

My Rating: 4 / 5 stars

Expected Publication: September 2018
Read in June 2018


Summary According to Goodreads

What do we tell our children when the world seems bleak, and prejudice and racism run rampant? With 96 lavishly designed pages of original art and prose, fifty diverse creators lend voice to young activists. 


My Thoughts

I received an advanced readers copy of this anthology from BEA, but that does not affect my opinion in any way. 

I really enjoyed this collection, it was a very quick read that I picked up while waiting to board my flight home from NYC. There were a lot of writers and creators I hadn't seen or read from before, so I am interested in checking out some more works from a few of them! What I enjoyed the most about this anthology was its diversity in theme and presentation, each entry was unique and I loved getting more exposure into some of the poetry and artwork styles that were included.

Overall, I really enjoyed this anthology and would recommend it to readers of any age! It is short which makes it a very quick read, and bright and colourful in a way that makes you want to keep turning the page. If you are looking for a fun but important coffee table book, I would recommend this one!


Saturday, May 19, 2018

The Long Walk | Book Review

The Long Walk

Written by: Richard Bachman
Number of Pages: 416

Average Rating: 4.11 / 5 stars
My Rating: 5 / 5 stars

Published in July 1979
Read in May 2018


Summary According to Goodreads

In the near future, when America has become a police state, one hundred boys are selected to enter an annual contest where the winner will be awarded whatever he wants for the rest of his life.

Among them is sixteen-year-old Ray Garraty, and he knows the rules - keep a steady walking pace of four miles per hour without stopping. Three warnings and you’re out - permanently. 


My Thoughts

“He seemed to have put in as many miles in his brain as he had with his feet."

I loved it! I had been wanting to pick it up for years, and I was in Chapters one day and decided to just give in and pay the full price for it. I started reading it the day that I bought it, and off all of the Stephen King novels I’ve read, I read this one the fastest - I just couldn’t put it down!

At first I couldn’t understand why these boys would willingly sign-up to participate in this walk, but the more you read the clearer the motives become. I interpreted “The Long Walk” to symbolize more than just a hundred boys walking for days, but also how no matter how far you push in life there’s so much more road to travel. It only ends when you decide that it’s over.

It is written in third person narrative surrounding Ray Garraty, but it all felt so genuine and real that you could find a connection to all of the boys. I had some genuine favourites, and it was heartbreaking sometimes because you know that only one boy is coming out of this walk alive. 

I’m not going to say anything about the ending for spoilers sake, but it’s one you have to sit on in order to understand why he wrote it that way. This was such a unique story that I’m still thinking about a week after finishing, and is one that I would recommend to everyone interested in Stephen King’s works. This novel not only makes my favourites of 2018, but makes my favourites of all time!

It also helps that reading this book motivated me to go to the gym more!



Thursday, May 3, 2018

Unraveling Oliver | Book Review

Unraveling Oliver

Written by: Liz Nugent
Number of Pages: 258

Average Rating: 3.83 / 5 stars
My Rating: 2 / 5 stars
 
Published: February 6, 2018
Read in May 2018


Summary According to Goodreads

Oliver Ryan, handsome, charismatic, and successful, has long been married to his devoted wife, Alice. Together they write and illustrate award-winning children’s books; their life together one of enviable privilege and ease - until, one evening after a delightful dinner, Oliver delivers a blow to Alice that renders her unconscious, and subsequently beats her into a coma. 

In the aftermath of such an unthinkable event, as Alice hovers between life and death, the couple’s friends, neighbours, and acquaintances try to understand what could have driven Oliver to commit such a horrific act. As his story unfolds, layers are peeled away to reveal a life of shame, envy, deception, and masterful manipulation.


My Thoughts

I received an e-arc copy of this novel to review from NetGalley, but that does not influence my opinion.

I’m not sure how I feel about this book, since I didn’t really like it but I also couldn’t stop reading it. I was never truly sucked into the story, and didn’t find any mystery or thrill. Reading this novel was very much like reading a true-life story or even a psychological assessment; a little dull but an interesting message overall. 

There were many different perspectives and time frames described in this book, and some of them I enjoyed more than others. My opinion on Oliver didn’t change too much through the histories revealed, but instead I developed an understanding for his motives. He is generally an unlikeable character, and I couldn’t find myself caring about his life. 

My biggest complaint about this novel would have to be in the writing. I said earlier that I was never sucked into the story, but I also never felt any connection to the characters. Each chapter changes perspectives, giving us background on Oliver throughout the years, but I didn’t find any of them to have a distinctive voice.

Overall, this was just alright and I decided to give it two stars instead of one because it was a quick read regardless of my boredom. It wasn’t awful, but I didn’t take anything away from it either. There wasn’t anything shocking about it, since you know from the very beginning that Oliver kills his wife and everyone around him can’t believe it. t went into it expecting something more thrilling or mysterious, and am a bit disappointed with what I got. 


Monday, March 26, 2018

Then She Was Gone | Book Review

Then She Was Gone

Written by: Lisa Jewell
Number of Pages: 368

Average Rating: 4.37 / 5 stars
My Rating: 2 / 5 stars

Originally Published: July 27, 2017
Re-released: April 17, 2018
Read in March 2018


Summary According to Goodreads

Ellie Mack was the perfect daughter. She was fifteen, the youngest of three. She was beloved by her parents, friends, and teachers. She and her boyfriend made a teenaged golden couple. She was days away from an idyllic post-exams summer vacation, with her whole life ahead of her. 

And then she was gone. 

Now, her mother Laurel Mack is trying to put her life back together. It’s been ten years since her daughter disappeared, seven years since her marriage ended, and only months since the last clue in Ellie’s case was unearthed. So when she meets an unexpectedly charming man in a cafe, no one is more surprised than Laurel at how quickly their flirtation develops into something deeper. Before she knows it, she’s meeting Floyd’s daughters - and his youngest, Poppy, takes Laurel’s breath away. 

Because looking at Poppy is like looking at Ellie. And now, the unanswered questions she’s tried so hard to put to rest begin to haunt Laurel anew. Where did Ellie go? Did she really run away from home, as the police have long suspected, or was there a more sinister reason for her disappearance? Who is Floyd, really? And why does his daughter remind Laurel so viscerally of her own missing girl?


My Thoughts

I received an e-arc copy of this novel from NetGalley to review, but that does not influence my opinion.

I love thrillers, and I was immediately intrigued in this novel after reading the synopsis. The beginning of the novel started strong, but then slowly began to weaken. Her writing was not anything extraordinary or addicting, and was something I would have expected from a debut author. 

My biggest issue with this novel was its predictability. I was able to guess from early on where the plot was going to go, and where the twists would lead - and that took away from the suspense of my experience. I was never sitting on the edge of my seat, because it was an overall flat story. It is classified as a mystery and thriller, but I would consider it to be more of an adult fiction with dark themes. In my opinion, there was nothing mysterious or thrilling about it.

I found our main narrator, Laurel, to be flat and bland, although I do assume her emotional detachments come from losing her daughter all those years ago. Her character did not make a lot of sense to me, describing herself as introverted and wary of everyone, but then all of a sudden diving headfirst into a relationship with someone she only just met. She talked to this man more than she talked to her children, and considering she’d already lost one I was discouraged by how distant she was from her other two.

This novel did grip me in the beginning being told in the “before” and “after” of the kidnapping, and it was nice to get the perspective of Ellie in order to sympathize with what happens to her later. I felt sorry for Ellie and what she went through, but I could not have cared less about any of the other characters. They didn’t feel real, they felt like every generic family you would see on a talk show after one of the members goes missing.I think if the author had done more research on this topic, and rounded out her characters a bit more, she would have had a much stronger novel.

Overall, I was disappointed in this read. It is difficult to write in the thriller genre, so I appreciate the effort, but she didn’t bring anything original to the table with this novel. I am not in a rush to go out and pick up another one of her books, but I will keep an eye out in case any sound interesting enough.