Search This Blog

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Giant Days | Book Review

Giant Days

Written by: Non Pratt
Number of Pages: 288

My Rating: 2.5 / 5 stars

Published: August 21, 2018
Read in August 2018

Summary According to Goodreads

Giant Days follows the hilarious and heartfelt misadventures of three university first-years: Daisy, the innocent home-schooled girl; Susan, the sardonic wit; and Esther, the vivacious drama queen. While the girls seem very different, they become fast friends during their first week of university. 

And it’s a good thing they do, because in the giant adventure that is college, a friend who has your back is key - something Daisy discovers when she gets a little too involved in her extracurricular club, the Yogic Brethren of Zoise. When she starts acting strange and life around campus gets even stranger (missing students, secret handshakes, monogrammed robes everywhere), Esther and Susan decide it’s up to them to investigate the weirdness and save their friend. 

My Thoughts

I received both an e-arc copy of this novel from NetGalley, as well as a physical arc when I attended BEA in New York - but that does not effect my opinion. 

I picked up this novel and was anticipating reading it because I am a fan of Non Pratt - Trouble remains in my top five favourite books that I’ve read this year,  but I’d never heard of the Giant Days graphic novels. 

I was expecting so much more out of this story, as I didn’t find it either enthralling or funny as the synopsis said it would be. My biggest complaint is that the plot felt very scattered and rushed in parts. There is a lot going on in the beginning, a very slow middle, and then a crammed ending that leaves more to be desired. The chapters weren’t divided up in a way that made sense to the progression of the story, and I felt that the plot lacked any sense of excitement or adventure (for my taste). From the beginning it was obvious that Daisy was getting herself involved in a cult-like group, but it was overshadowed by Esther trying to impress a goth-girl and Susan becoming overwhelmed studying medicine. 

This story follows three characters; Daisy, Esther, and Susan, who become best friends since they all share the same university residence. I understand the motive behind this friendship, but the three don’t really have anything in common and it hard for me to picture them all together. Daisy grew up home schooled but was written to be so overly-naive that it became more annoying than endearing, and Susan was blunt and forceful enough to make me roll my eyes a few times. Of the three I would have to say Esther was my favourite, because she went through the most character development, and came out stronger on the other side. Plus she’s just kind of a bad ass. 

Overall, I think you would be more likely to enjoy this novel if you have read the Giant Days graphic novels or at least know their plot. In hindsight I really wish I had gone read at least the first collection of stories before picking this up so that I would better understand the characters and have a better idea of the world that was created.  I will say that this novel made me very nostalgic for my early university years, and I had to give it credit for that. This will not be the last book by Non Pratt that I pick up, but I’ve definitely learned that I prefer her original stories opposed to adaptations. 

Also… can someone who read the comics tell me what happened between Susan and McGraw because I totally missed that. 

Monday, August 6, 2018

#Murdertrending | Book Review


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.