Fiction, Fiction Reviews, Reviews, Young Adult books, Young Adult Reveiws

Review: Wink, Poppy, Midnight

Wink Poppy Midnight

This novel was weird. Like imagine Lana del Ray singing at an Adams Family Reunion kind of weird. It was haunting.

It was annoying, too. We never find out what the MC’s real name is, she is just simply called River because that’s the name she calls herself in her head. Quite honestly, the whole book is about ‘River’ fangirling over a family of maybe witches. It reminded me of Twilight.

The summary from Goodreads:

Every story needs a hero.
Every story needs a villain.
Every story needs a secret.

Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.

What really happened?
Someone knows.
Someone is lying.

Like? I read this novel a little while ago, and I didn’t post the review because I could not think of anything positive to say. The writing itself is good, but the story sucks balls, man. The cover is pretty.

So… yeah.

Sold on Amazon ($6.99) here.

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Fiction Reviews, Netgalley/ARCs, Reviews, Young Adult books, Young Adult Reveiws

Review:”Kissing Ted Callahan and Other Guys” by Amy Spalding

*This title was provided free of charge by the publishers through Netgalley in return for an honest review. 
3 of 5 stars ★★★☆☆

Pub. Date: April 7, 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

You want a cute, light read about a girl who’s spunky, awkward, and out for love or something like it and is willing to chronicling it with her guy best friend, then look no further. This book is similar in tone and feel to Louise Rennison’s books (albeit not as funny)and if there’s ever a movie version, our MC Riley could easily be played by Emma Stone. If you’re going to the beach and need a light read or feeling down and need a pick me up, this will meet your criteria. Here’s the summary via Goodreads:

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist meets Easy A in this hilariously realistic story of sneaking out, making out, and playing in a band.

After catching their bandmates in a compromising position, sixteen-year-old Los Angelenos Riley and Reid become painfully aware of the romance missing from their own lives. And so a pact is formed: they’ll both try to make something happen with their respective crushes and document the experiences in a shared notebook.

While Reid struggles with the moral dilemma of adopting a dog to win over someone’s heart, Riley tries to make progress with Ted Callahan, who she’s been obsessed with forever-His floppy hair! His undeniable intelligence! But suddenly cute guys are popping up everywhere. How did she never notice them before?! With their love lives going from 0 to 60 in the blink of an eye, Riley and Reid realize the results of their pact may be more than they bargained for.

It’s super cute. Stephanie Perkins and Courtney Summers are mentioned in the acknowledgements. This is not a deep book or anything that will make you think. It’s basically “New Girl” in book form. What else do you need? Read this book and feel better about life.

Fiction, Fiction Reviews, Reviews

Review: “Hippopotamus” by Stephen Fry

3 stars of 5 ★★★☆☆

Stephen Fry is a god amongst mortals. He has said some of the wittiest, cleverest, most British things ever spoken and lucky for us, he’s even written some of them down. His really is a splendid author, and his novels that I’ve read have entertained me, had me nodding my head in agreement, and shaking in laughter. All that said, this is not his finest work. It’s great, but it’s not Stephen Fry good. It’s just Stephen Fry okay. Here’s the summary(via Goodreads which in this case isn’t a real summary, but nevertheless):

“I’ve suffered for my art, now it’s your turn.” So begins the tale of Ted Wallace, unaffectionately known as the Hippopotamus. Failed poet, failed theater critic, failed father and husband, Ted is a shameless womanizer, drinks too much, and is at odds in his cranky but maddeningly logical way with most of modern life. Fired from his newspaper, Ted seeks a few months’ repose and free liquor at Swafford Hall, the country mansion of his old friend Michael Logan. This world of boozy dinners, hunting parties, and furtive liaisons has recently been turned on its head by miracles, healings, and phenomena beyond Ted’s comprehension. As the mysteries deepen, The Hippopotamus builds into “a deliciously wicked and amusing little fable” (The New York Times)

If you like to laugh at people’s absurdities, at people’s willingness to believe anything as long as it helps them, at the English aristocracy, then you’ll enjoy this book. It has a ring of Nancy Mitford’s work, but with more gross detail (be forewarned: there’s some hanky-panky in detail and it includes a farm animal). It’s hilarious at times and highly entertaining, so if you’re not easily shocked, give it a go.

Fiction Reviews, Reviews, Series Reviews, Young Adult books, Young Adult Reveiws

Review: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

3 stars of 5★★★☆☆

Okay. Okay. Okay. I was sort of/but not really expecting that ending. I mean, I’m not going to spoil anything, but I had my suspicions about Celaena’s ancestry. I knew about the hook-up (thanks untagged Tumblr posts). Dorian’s and Celaena’s secrets? Nehemia?…No, I did not see those coming.

Those parts of the novel were really entertaining, and I devoured those sections. The sections in between, meh. It just was not as gripping as Throne of Glass. There could have been more exciting things in this novel  but on the whole, it was good. Here’s the summary( via Goodreads):

From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.

Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.

Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena’s world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie…and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

So, if you enjoyed Throne of Glass, hells yeah buy, borrow, or loan this book ASAP. I mean, it’s got a kick-ass girl assassin that is also feminine and a platonic relationship between a girl and a boy(yeah, said boy was kind of in love with said girl, but he got over it), not to mention the whole political chasm that’s opening around the characters. So, if you’re looking to be entertained, look no further.

Other books in the Throne of Glass series:

Fiction Reviews, Reviews, Series Reviews, Young Adult books, Young Adult Reveiws

Review: “The Shadow Cabinet” by Maureen Johnson (Shades of London, bk 3)

3 stars of 5 ★★★☆☆

I discovered Maureen Johnson last year, through the recommendation of one of my friends, and I was not disappointed (this is also the friend that recommended The Raven Boys. She’s a good friend.) I will try toreview this novel without giving away too much detail, so those that haven’t read the first two in the series( you should) won’t hate me after reading this. Here, have a summary (via Goodreads):

The thrilling third installment to the Edgar-nominated, bestselling series.

Rory and her friends are reeling from a series of sudden and tragic events. While racked with grief, Rory tries to determine if she acted in time to save a member of the squad. If she did, how do you find a ghost? Also, Rory’s classmate Charlotte has been kidnapped by Jane and her nefarious organization. Evidence is uncovered of a forty-year-old cult, ten missing teenagers, and a likely mass murder. Everything indicates that Charlotte’s in danger, and it seems that something much bigger and much more terrible is coming.

Time is running out as Rory fights to find her friends and the ghost squad struggles to stop Jane from unleashing her spectral nightmare on the entire city. In the process, they’ll discover the existence of an organization that underpins London itself—and Rory will learn that someone she trusts has been keeping a tremendous secret.

I loved the first book in the Shades of London series. It was so amazing to me because the main character, Rory, is from the Southeastern part of the US, and yet she gets to go to high school in London, England. That was my dream as a teenager (now it’s just my dream to live there or go to grad school there. Times change) so that part endured me. Then y’all, guess what? Jack the Ripper shows up. I’m not kidding. This is a contemporary novel, but Jack the freaking Ripper from 1888 makes an appearance (one of my obsessions is Jack the Ripper FYI). I won’t go into detail, but needless to say, there are ghosts, scary ghosts, and after a seriously awkward near death experience, Rory can see them.

This changes her life and in the first two books, she deals with Jack the Ripper and a ghost-hunting squad and it’s complicated and it’s good. There’s also a weird pot-dealing therapist in the mix. Watch her. She’s a crafty one.

So everything’s good, everything’s fine THEN the end of the second book punches you in the throat. You’re given this cliff-hanger and you patiently (ha) wait for this, the third book, The Shadow Cabinet.

I begged my mom to buy it for me for Valentines Day (because I’m poor and I’m pitiful) and she did. I read it in basically one sitting and here’s my honest opinion: The first book was amazing. The second book was good. There third book was ‘aight. Honestly, only ‘aight. I would have read it if it have been horrible, because I love the world MJ created and the characters are so realistic, but there’s a major relationship in the making and it honestly was not dealt with enough(because right now it feels like inst-love in the making and MJ usually doesn’t do that). I’m sorry that’s vague, but I don’t won’t to spoil it for anyone. Just, there was not enough kissing. There. I said it.

Moving on…I will be reading the fourth book, and I hope it’s as good as the first one. Character development just wasn’t there for me in the third one, and the plot kind of when in a weird direction, but I trust MJ. She’ll see us through.

Other books in the series:

 

Fiction Reviews, Reviews

Review: “Gods Behaving Badly” by Marie Phillips

3 stars of 5 ★★★☆☆

I liked this book. It’s kind of like Rick Riordan for adults in that it’s funny, there are Greek Gods, mortals that are sometimes in their way, and then sometimes extremely helpful. Here’s the summary:

The twelve Greek gods of Olympus are alive and well in the twenty-first century, but they are crammed together in a London townhouse–and none too happy about it. For Artemis (goddess of hunting, professional dog walker), Aphrodite (goddess of beauty, telephone sex operator), and Apollo (god of the sun, TV psychic), there’s no way out–until a meek housecleaner, Alice, and her would-be boyfriend, Neil, turn their world upside down.
When what begins as a minor squabble between Aphrodite and Apollo escalates into an epic battle of wills, Alice and Neil must fear not only for their own lives, but for the survival of humankind. Nothing less than a true act of heroism is needed–but can these two decidedly ordinary people replicate the feats of the mythical heroes and save the world?

I appreciated Philips’s representation of the gods. It felt very American Gods-Gaiman-esque, but with a lighter, slap-stick feel. Philip’s mentions in the Readers’ Pick Guide(that’s the edition I have and the one featured above) some the books that made her laugh and unsurprisingly, Good Omens, The Eyre Affair, and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe are on the list all influences one can see in Gods Behaving Badly (there were others on the list, but those are the ones I’ve read and can see similarities).

Artemis is by far my favorite Olympian in this story, simply because I’ve always liked her and like Philip’s active-go-get-them representation of her here. The other gods are represented fairly well, and Hera’s brief appearance was great. There’s romance for those who want that, but not too much for those that don’t. It’s really just a great romp through mythology set in modern day London.

The story was original enough, funny, entertaining. It’s not one of my favorites, but I’d recommend it.

Fiction Reviews, Reviews, Series Reviews, Young Adult books, Young Adult Reveiws

Review: “Dark Triumph” by Robin LaFevers (His Fair Assassin, bk2)

3 stars of 5 ★★★☆☆

I don’t know, I just wasn’t blow away by this one. Even though Goodreads praised it to be better than Grave Mercy, it didn’t live up to the hype for me. Here’s the summary, via Goodreads:

When Sybella arrived at the doorstep of St Mortain half mad with grief and despair the convent were only too happy to offer her refuge – but at a price. The sisters of this convent serve Death, and with Sybella naturally skilled in both the arts of death and seduction, she could become one of their most dangerous weapons.

But her assassin’s skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to the life that nearly drove her mad. Her father’s rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother’s love is equally monstrous. But when Sybella discovers an unexpected ally she discovers that a daughter of Death may find something other than vengeance to live for…

Don’t get me wrong, I liked Dark Triumph. I liked Sybella and Beast, I liked the overall plot, but the whole D’Albert thing, I don’t know. It felt like it was an easy way to get things moving and the abuse/rape/monstrous Lord-thing felt so generalized. I’m not going to delve into all of D’Albert’s horribleness, largely because it’s problematic, and because I would end up giving too much of the story away.

I will say this, though. LaFevers should have foreshadowed D’Albert’s behavior a little more in Grave Mercy and less people should have been surprised when Sybella describes life in his household, even if they still denied it being true (because people(men) really do discredit rape victims stories all the time so that would ring true). How reasonable is it that one almost rape in GM (not to discredit that horribleness. Any rape is horrible) accounts for how horrible D’Albert and his entire army/staff turns out to be in DT? We should all have seen it coming, or at least had it hinted at a little more. Readers should have learned that Sybella was in his household and gasped, gone ‘Nonononono!” and then when they find out that she’s his daughter and has been forced by the Convent to return, felt rage. None of these thoughts came to me while reading, though. There was a point were he’s described as beating a puppy, and I just though, of course he did. He is evil personified. There is literally nothing good about him. He poops evil spirits, drinks failed dreams and ambitions for breakfast. He is one-dimensional evil. And that’s not as terrifying as say, someone who rapes and kills at will, but is fiercely protective of his oldest son, favorite dog, mother, whatever. Evil characters need to be balanced with something that’s on the other side of monstrous, something that shows they are scared, hurt, whatever. That makes them so much scarier to me. I mean, Voldemort had Nagini, and his caring for that horrible snake was scary because it showed that he still had something human in him, even though he was a monster! It’s the human in the monster that scares us.

Anyway, enough of my tirade. I liked the book regardless of all that above. Give it a try if you liked the first one.

There’s one other book to this series. I’ll be reading it soon. Click the picture below for more information.

Fiction Reviews, Reviews, Young Adult Reveiws

Review: “Montmorency: Thief, Liar, Gentleman?” by Eleanor Updale

3 stars of 5

This book was okay. It was a really fast read, and the setting was intriguing. The story could have been developed more, though, making it a really great read. Here’s the summary:

When a petty thief falls through a glass roof while fleeing from the police, it should have been the death of him. Instead, it marks the beginning of a whole new life. Soon he has become the most successful — and elusive — burglar in Victorian London, plotting daring raids and using London’s new sewer system to escape. He adopts a dual existence to fit his new lifestyle, taking on the roles of a respectable, wealthy gentleman named Montmorency and his corrupt servant, Scarper.

It’s part of a series, but I don’t think I’ll read the next one. I was really expecting a deeper, more thought-out story than what I got. I’d recommend it for kids 8-12.

Reviews

Reveiw: Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

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Rating: 3 stars

This book has had some hype behind it since early this year, so I was excited to give it a try.  A likeness to Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, the title being an obviously play on the word, was what intrigued me to read Belzhar in the first place. I first read SP’s only novel earlier this year and immediately fell in love it, which I should have figured since I’ve loved her poetry for years now. It’s a novel that does what little other novels have done: It shows the breakdown and rebuilding of a young woman’s mental health in a realistic fashion (it’s so realistic because it’s largely autobiographical). This novel was promised to take readers on a similar journey, so I made sure the library ordered a copy.

For those interested, here’s the summary:

If life were fair, Jam Gallahue would still be  at home in New Jersey with her sweet British  boyfriend, Reeve Maxfield. She’d be watching  old comedy sketches with him. She’d be kissing  him in the library stacks.

She certainly wouldn’t be at The Wooden Barn, a therapeutic boarding school in rural Vermont, living with a weird roommate, and signed up for an exclusive, mysterious class called Special Topics in English.

But life isn’t fair, and Reeve Maxfield is dead.

Until a journal-writing assignment leads Jam to Belzhar, where the untainted past is restored, and Jam can feel Reeve’s arms around her once again. But there are hidden truths on Jam’s path to reclaim her loss.

From New York Times bestselling author Meg Wolitzer comes a breathtaking and surprising story about first love, deep sorrow, and the power of acceptance.

Meg Wolitzer has written tons of books that have been generally well received (Although, I’ve never read any of them), so I had reasonably high hopes. The beginning of the novel starts out interesting. You’re given Jam’s major life-altering event; her super-hot British boyfriend is dead. He’s dead and she’s derailed, no longer caring about anything but the fact that he’s no longer with her. Her parent’s do what any parents would do(especially if they’re tired of dealing with a  depressed teenager) and ship her off to a boarding school in Vermont for intelligent, fragile teens.

Everyone there has had some horrible sh*t happen to them, but no one wants to talk about it and they all mope around. Then Jam learns from her roommate, that her Special Topics English Class is actually, really and truly, special. Like Dead Poetry Society special. Jam’s roommate is so jealous that Jam is in this really cool class and she’s not. Jam doesn’t care.

But Jam begins to care once class gets going. The readings and the journal Jam’s given by Special Topics teacher, Mrs. Q, are really making an impact on the students, and really making them open up about their pasts, all except Jam and one sullen dude named Griffin.

As the semester wears on, the journals become a big deal. A really big deal, in terms of recovery and relationships. And that’s where I’ll reign this summary in because I don’t want to give away too much.

This book was an okay read. It wasn’t particularly great, mainly because there are some mental health tropes that are trotted out and used repeatedly, like the “always chipper handicap person” and the “something bad must have happened to make you depressed” types. Mental health is much more complex than that, and Jam’s mental health (if she were a real person) would be a lot more complex than is portrayed. The characters were all fairly flat, too, especially the British bf, who loves everything that’s quintessentially British (even though there might be a slight reason behind that one).

If you’re looking for a quick read that’s different, I’d go for Belzhar. It’s not horrible, in fact it’s enjoyable at times, but it’s definitely not on the same level as The Bell Jar.