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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall Book Review

The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall

Written by Katie Alender
Number of pages: 329

Average Rating: 3.94/5 stars
My Rating: 2.5/5 stars

Published August 25, 2015
Read in April 2016

Summary according to Goodreads

Delia's new house isn't just a house. Long ago, it was the Piven Institute for the Care and Correction of Troubled Females - an insane asylum nicknamed "Hysteria Hall." However, many of the inmates were not insane, just defiant and strong willed. Kind of like Delia herself.

But the house still wants to keep "troubled" girls locked away. So, in the most horrifying way, Delia gets trapped. And that's when she learns that the house is also haunted. 

Ghost girls wander the halls in their old-fashioned nightgowns. A handsome ghost boy named Theo roams the grounds. Delia finds that all the spirits are unsettled and full of dark secrets. The house, as well, harbours shocking truths within its walls - truths that only Delia can uncover, and that may set her free. But she'll need to act quickly, before the house's power overtakes everything she loves. 

My Thoughts

This novel is categorized as horror, but I considered it to be more of a thriller. Unfortunately I went into this story expecting to be scared, and came out of it very disappointed. The premise of being set in an abandoned insane asylum was very appealing and showed a lot of promise, but did not end up being as strong as it could have been. I was very happy with the basic plot, but not so much with the characters. 

As mentioned, this is set in an asylum which was very creepy, and at the beginning seemed like it would be a scary story. Things in the house moved, messages were left, sounds were heard, etc. The writing was done well in that I wanted to keep reading, however I did not find it to be descriptive enough. When Delia would walk through the building, I had a hard time envisioning how it was set up. It was a quick read but I understood the characters better than the setting. 

The characters were nothing special and did not see any significant development throughout the novel. I did appreciate our main character, Delia's attitude as it kept her on her feet and led her to discover some key things. The other ghost characters I found to be very dramatic, and seemed to act a lot like the "high school girl" type. If they were bitter about their death I would understand the emotion, however they were selfish and catty, which was not necessary. The backgrounds of each girl trapped in the asylum came together in the end, and revealed something about each past that made the character who they were in death. 

The ending of this novel was expected, and nothing that excited me. Unfortunately I enjoyed the buildup of this story a lot more than the climax or ending, as it was something that could have been done much better. 

Overall, I was not blown away by this novel even though my expectations were not very high. This was not the first book I have read by this author, and I am afraid it might be my last since I have not enjoyed any of them so far. It is a good story but don't expect much out of it except a quick read!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Illuminae Book Review

Illuminae Book Review

Written by: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Number of pages: 599

Average Rating: 4.31/5 stars 
My Rating: 4/5 stars 

Published: October 20, 2015
Read in March 2016

Summary according to Goodreads

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she'd have to do. This afternoon her plant was invaded. 

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that's little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra - who are barely even talking to each other - are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit. 

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results: the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what's really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again. 

My Thoughts

Reading this novel was one of the most unique experiences that I have had in a long time. This story is told through instant messages, government files, transcripts, and even the AI's system. It did take me a while to get into this plot, whether it be through the format or that I never read science fiction. This novel was a page-turner, both because of the ploy and because not every page had words from top to bottom. I never felt daunted by the size of the novel, and instead feared it would not be long enough to cover all of the questions I had remaining. 

Within the first few pages I was very hesitant about this novel, because of the whole "ex-boyfriend" turn in the plot. However this relationship did prove to be useful to the general plot, and I found myself connecting to these characters - even though they were sometimes foolish and full of teen angst. 

I was very impressed with the characters in this novel, through all of the collective development, and how each one had a very distinct voice. Reading through files and transcripts I never forgot whose perspective it was, even when reading the Artificial Intelligence until, it had it's own voice. 

As I mentioned, it does take a while to get into the plot, but it is worth it to continue on. Even now that I have finished reading, I do not fully understand what Illuminae is, and hope those questions will be answered in the sequel (which I cannot wait for!) I am slightly disappointed that the sequel will surround different characters, but know this will not be the last time we see Kady. 

Overall I was very impressed with this book, and know you will be too! I had thought I was getting over the young adult genre, but this novel brought me back into it. I am also now more interested in science fiction, where I had previously thought it would be boring and not my genre. How wrong I have been! I enjoyed this plot so much, and will be picking up more from this genre, and authors, in the early future. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

This Is Where It Ends Book Review

This Is Where It Ends

Written by: Marieke Nijkamp
Number of pages: 285

Average Rating: 3.65/5 stars
My Rating: 2/5 stars

Published: January 5, 2015
Read in March 2016

Summary according to Goodreads

10:00am. The principal of Opportunity, Alabama's high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve. 10:02am. The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class. 10:03am. The auditorium doors won't open. 10:05am. Someone starts shooting.

Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student's calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival. 

My Thoughts

I really wanted to enjoy this novel, as I am usually a fan of psychological stories. I am a psychology major, and find issues such as school shootings, and the mental illnesses that affect the attacker, victims, and surrounding community. Teenager violence and mass shootings are far too common, and is something that society needs to figure out how to prevent. I have read many novels about this topic, both fiction and non-fiction, and at one point plotted my own novel. Unfortunately, this one did not meet my expectations. 

The writing of this novel was very scattered, and it took a while before I was able to understand the relationships between the characters. I can understand the fear that these students had, but I could not relate to them emotionally as I never felt connected to them - even at the end of the novel. 

The main character and shooter, Tyler, was not well developed or understood neither by the reader nor the characters. There was hardly any detail on his past, what led him to this moment, and why he chose that day to destroy lives. When writing a story with as difficult a topic as this, it is important for the author to devout a reason this happened, an opportunity where it could have been prevented, a silver lining in all of it - things this novel lacked. 

The only positive I can give to this novel is that it kept my attention, and made me want to keep reading. It is a short read in comparison, and was not thought-provoking, so it was a very quick read. I borrowed this as an ebook from my library, so reading it on my Kindle helped me to turn the pages very quickly. As well, I have to give some serious cover love to the novel, because the design and symbolism is fantastic. 

Overall, I did not find this novel to be at all insightful or sensitive to real life events, and instead focused too heavily on the character's personal relationships and life outside of what was happening in the auditorium. I would have preferred to see more of the lead-up to this event, with any flashbacks showing readers events relevant to what would happen in the future. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Perfect Book Review


Written by: Ellen Hopkins
Number of pages: 622

Average Rating: 4.35/5 stars
My Rating: 4/5 stars

Published: September 13, 2011
Read in March 2016

Summary according to Goodreads 

Everyone has something, someone, somewhere else that they'd rather be. For four high-school seniors, their goals of perfection are just as different as the paths they take to get there. For Cara, perfect means rejecting her parents ideals to take a chance on a new kind of love. Kendra covets the perfect face and body - no matter what surgeries and drugs she needs to get there. To score his perfect home run - on the field and off - Sean will sacrifice more than he can ever win back. And Andre realizes that to follow his heart and achieve his perfect performance, he'll be living a life his ancestors would never understand. 

Everyone wants to be perfect, but when perfection loses its meaning, how far will you go? What would you give up to be perfect?

My Thoughts

It is important to note that Perfect is a sequel/companion to Impulse, and I would recommend reading that novel before this. There are a lot of references to Cara's brother Conner, whose story is told in Impulse, and sets the tone for this story and their family.

Impulse was a fantastic read, and is one of my favourites both by Ellen Hopkins, and favourable overall. I had very high expectations for this companion, which were met but not exceeded. It was captivating right from the beginning, and I struggled to put it down. Thankfully I read this during my March Break from university, and was able to get completely absorbed in this story.

The four main characters in this novel were written so well, I could believe that I was reading real high school students. I connected to each one on an emotional level, and felt for their struggles and hoped they would all end up healed. However, the character that I identified with the most was Kendra and her need to be perfect and impress everyone. We both share self-esteem issues and body shaming, and it was her character that I wanted to see get the most help. Unfortunately my least favourite character was Jenna, Kendra's younger sister, as she was very selfish and manipulative, and overall a negative person. 

As with Ellen Hopkins other novels, this one is no exception to grabbing a hold of your emotions, and not letting go until the story is over. I found myself in tears reading this novel, both through joy and heartbreak. 

Overall, I am very happy I picked this novel up, and hope to own my own copy soon (I read this one from the library). This is not a story for young readers, as it deals with mature content - but is something I would recommend reading. Ellen Hopkins is an amazing storyteller, as she makes the plot and characters real. This will not be the last of her books that I read.