Book Review: Hushed

He’s saved her. He’s loved her. He’s killed for her.

Eighteen-year-old Archer couldn’t protect his best friend, Vivian, from what happened when they were kids, so he’s never stopped trying to protect her from everything else. It doesn’t matter that Vivian only uses him when hopping from one toxic relationship to another—Archer is always there, waiting to be noticed.

Then along comes Evan, the only person who’s ever cared about Archer without a single string attached. The harder he falls for Evan, the more Archer sees Vivian for the manipulative hot-mess she really is.

But Viv has her hooks in deep, and when she finds out about the murders Archer’s committed and his relationship with Evan, she threatens to turn him in if she doesn’t get what she wants… And what she wants is Evan’s death, and for Archer to forfeit his last chance at redemption.-Goodreads summary

Publication Date: December 6, 2011.

Favorite Quote from the Book:

“Karma is a cruel mistress.”

My Thoughts:

Hushed is provided to me via Netgalley from the publishers in exchange for an honest and respectful review.

Upon reading about this book on Netgalley, I knew I needed to read this book.  A book about serial killers is right down my dark alley-horrible pun intended.  And, the book starts with a murder; like the victim, I found myself gasping for air as I quickly turned the pages throughout the book.

Unfortunately, this heart rate inducing writing sort of stopped as the main character, Archer meets his love interest, Evan, which is within the first 15 pages.  I am not one of those people who hate romance in a novel; in fact, I quite enjoy the books that give me the warm and fuzzy feelings amidst some drama as long as it appropriately fits in the plot line.  In this book, the romance did not overly enthuse me.  Mostly, I find it to be not explained.  Prior to Archer falling for Evan, he is madly in love-you could probably classify it as an unhealthy obsession-with Vivian.  Suddenly, Archer is attracted to Evan which is fine, but I find myself wondering when is Archer going to “come out” to the readers.  Simply, his romantic feelings are kind of random and not thoroughly explained.

This lack of explanation is certainly something that carries throughout the novel.  Besides the romance, I had many questions regarding the plot that I never feel like are fully answered.  Many of my questions pertain to the latter half of the book, especially the ending, and to those of you who wish to read the book, I will not disclose them.  Just be forewarned, the latter half of this book is full of holes that the author never really fills.

Regardless of my disappointments, this book has its good qualities.  The author does write some pretty great action-packed scenes, and she certainly knows how to capture her audience.  Despite the ending having its loopholes, it does contain some heart-gripping, rapid page turning moments which leave you breathless and desiring more.

Overall, it is a decent read; it is not my favorite, but it is good.   

My Rating:

★★★ 3/5 stars!

Recommendation:

I’d recommend this to those who enjoy mystery and thriller books!

Friday Reads (5/30/14)

Happy Friday!  It is time for a non-holiday weekend which means I can get some reading done!  Here are some books I hope to read this weekend:

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The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (currently reading)

Untraceable by S.R. Johannes*

Fever (book #2 in the Chemical Garden Trilogy) by Lauren DeStefano

What books are you planning to read this weekend?  Leave a comment below.  I’d love to hear!

* Book sent to me for reviewing purposes.

Book Review: If He Had Been With Me

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If he had been with me everything would have been different…

I wasn’t with Finn on that August night. But I should’ve been. It was raining, of course. And he and Sylvie were arguing as he drove down the slick road. No one ever says what they were arguing about. Other people think it’s not important. They do not know there is another story. The story that lurks between the facts. What they do not know—the cause of the argument—is crucial.

So let me tell you…-Goodreads summary

Publication Date: April 1, 2013.

Favorite Quote from the Book:

“I want to savor this wonder, this happening of loving a book and reading it for the first time, because the first time is always the best, and I will never read this book for the first time ever again.” 

My Thoughts:

Don’t be fooled by my favorite quote; this book is not about the love of books.  However, the main character, Autumn is an avid reader and writer so there are many quotes in this book dedicated to her two passions which I find most enjoyable.

I purchased this book on a whim from Amazon because it was priced for approximately $3—a bargain I could not pass.  Upon receiving the package, the book retired to my bookshelf for a year only to be picked up a couple of days ago.  As I have not heard much about this book, I went into the reading with little to no expectations.  Admittedly, I was hoping for a novel similar to 7 Souls, ones of my favorite books.  Yet, this book is far from that.  Rather than watching my protagonist try to defeat her death like in 7 Souls, Autumn discovers love and its implications and limitations.  Yes, very different than my slight anticipation.

Autumn is not a typical teenage girl.  She craves being different, enjoys being known as “the weird girl,” and is perfectly okay with settling.  Rather than find her irksome, the novel reveals reasons as to why she is so different from her peers, and it breaks the reader’s heart.  Throughout the novel, Autumn reveals pieces of herself to the audience which definitely demonstrates the many dimensions she has as a character.

While this revelation of Autumn is necessary, I, unfortunately, find it to be a bit too slow for my taste.  Many scenes were unnecessary.  There are frequent tense changes.  Other pivotal scenes are cut too short with little explanation.  Additionally, the ending, the most pivotal moment of the book, fell extremely short of my expectations.  I feel that Nowlin quickly wrote this ending scene and left it totally ambiguous that it is frustrating to readers.  Together, these elements make the novel a bit frustrating to me at times. 

Despite my frustrations, Nowlin’s writing is decently easy to follow and rather addicting.  While I read this book, I got lost for hours in this world many times.  This book is a great summer read that you can quickly finish.    

My Rating:

★★★ 3/5 stars!

Recommendation:

I’d recommend this to those who enjoy realistic and contemporary young adult fiction.

 

Book Review: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

A Winner of the Alex Award, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction, named a Best Book of the Year by NPR, Los Angeles Times, and San Francisco Chronicle

The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The customers are few, and they never seem to buy anything—instead, they “check out” large, obscure volumes from strange corners of the store. Suspicious, Clay engineers an analysis of the clientele’s behavior, seeking help from his variously talented friends. But when they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, they discover the bookstore’s secrets extend far beyond its walls. Rendered with irresistible brio and dazzling intelligence, Robin Sloan’s Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is exactly what it sounds like: an establishment you have to enter and will never want to leave. -Goodreads summary

Publication Date: October 2, 2012.

Favorite Quote from the Book:

“After that, the book will fade, the way all books fade in your mind. But I hope you will remember this:
A man walking fast down a dark lonely street. Quick steps and hard breathing, all wonder and need. A bell above a door and the tinkle it makes. A clerk and a ladder and warm golden light, and then: the right book exactly, at exactly the right time.”

My Thoughts:

As someone who identifies herself as a bibliophile, this book resonates deeply with me.  Mainly, the book reveals a deep dedication, admiration, and respect for books.  Many characters throughout the novel have some affiliation with books which plays an integral role in their past, present, and future.  This is largely seen in the protagonist, Clay Jannon.  Searching for a job, Jannon finds himself becoming a clerk at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore (by the way, why does a 24-hour bookstore not exist?).  Quickly, he finds himself succumbing to the power of books as he examines a strange group of frequent customers.  Unexpectedly, Jannon finds himself intermingling with a mystery involving books, secret groups, and potential immortality.  Wait, books can do that?  Yes, Jannon discovers they can!

Besides the look for books, I appreciated the way this story unraveled.  While I went into this book with no expectations, I had some preconceived notions with how this plot would ensue (basically, just accounts of owning a bookstore).  Essentially, this plot twists and turns in ways that one could never imagine.  Indeed, this is a sign that Sloan, the author, is aware of his audience and knows how to keep them anticipatory for the subsequent actions.  As the plot developed, the mysteries and characters developed; you just had to keep reading in order to get to the root of this chaos.  Admittedly, I got frustrated; I wanted to know what happened and did not possess the patience at times.  However, I am glad that Sloan wrote this book in this manner as it gave the novel interest.

Additionally, this book presents very interesting themes, themes which many books have not attempted to discuss.  For example, the theme of technology and its advancement is strongly emphasized in the book.  Sloan presents different arguments of how technology advances and hinders the human race.  This theme and others are thought-provoking and require the audience to engage in their own analyses.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, to say the least.  Everything about this book is enjoyable.  Even though I was excited for the book to end so I could figure out the “grand mystery,” I was sad to flip to the last page.  I had genuinely grown attached to the characters and plot that I wanted it to continue!  Sadly, it is over.  However, I am hopeful that Sloan may possibly write more in the future (or maybe he has published other books) because he is truly a talented author!

My Rating:

★★★★★ 5/5 stars!

Recommendation:

I’d recommend this for my fellow bibliophiles!

New App Lets You Read a Book in Less than 90 Minutes!

Recently, my Facebook friend posted an article on her wall.  Captivated by its claim to let readers read books in less than 90 minutes, I proceeded to read the article.  Upon scientific discoveries, app designers are working on an app which recognizes the “Optimal Recognition Point” (“ORP”) of each word.  This ORP enables readers to quickly recognize a word without fully reading a word from left to right, like you and I are doing now.  As individuals become more skilled with recognizing the ORP, readers can have the opportunity to increase the speed at which they look at these ORPs thus enabling them to “read” at rapid paces.  I highly encourage you to click the hyperlink and examine this technology!

I was intrigued.  How cool would it be to read books in less than 90 minutes?!  Think about how quickly we could cut back our TBR piles.

However, as I further studied these ORPs and looked at the article’s different examples, I found that this new technology may do more of a disservice to readers.  As someone who is studying English and Secondary Education, my courses heavily emphasize teaching kids how to critically read; this skill is especially emphasized in the newest standard of education, Common Core.  As I participated in the ORP activities, I found pressured (frantic, actually) to recognize these words.  If these ORPs were implemented in a classroom, I have in inclination that students would also feel similar feelings.  Simply, students are being discouraged to read critically because the emphasis is on speed and ability to quickly recognize words.  As someone who loves to find authors’ deeper meanings in texts, I am appalled by this new technology.

Unfortunately, I think this technology coincides with our society’s motto that “bigger and faster is better!”  I am not against efficiency, but I think the creators of these apps don’t fully understand or appreciate what reading offers those of us bibliophiles.  Therefore, I’m hesitant with these ORP discoveries and the ways they may impact our reading.

What do you think?

The iPhone of Books

You know the book model to which I referring.  Girl meets boy.  Boy is flawless.  Girl and boy begin an immediate attraction and relationship within the first 75 pages.  Bad boy enters scene.  Girl swoons over bad boy.  Girl begins a flirtatious escapade with bad boy while maintaining her relationship with angelic boy.  Girl must choose one boy.  Girl chooses who we all knew she was going to pick.

As someone who reads a lot of YA, I have become pretty familiar with this formula.  This model is so implanted in 70% of YA fiction that I’m beginning to reconsider deeming these novels as “creative writing.”

As certain YA books receive popularity, I see more authors yearning to receive similar attention; this is where the book model strengthened and multiplied.  Obviously, the popular authors must be doing something correct; therefore, aspiring authors must imitate.  Unfortunately, popular authors gain their recognition from developing innovating ideas.  It’s like when the iPhone hit the shelves.  It was a new touch screen smartphone capable of things that other phones never were able to do.  Other phone companies saw Apple’s raging success and sought to make similar smart phones.  However, let’s be frank.  the iPhone is always the smart phone because it was first.  Therefore, these other aspiring authors are falling in the shadows of the popular authors because readers have already read “this book” before.

To all aspiring authors, the writing process is discouraging.  However, readers appreciate the iPhone of books.  Do not be constricted to a book model; make your own.  Then, you’ll have everyone wanting to copy your book model.

Myth Busters: The “Reading Slump”

All over the internet, my fellow bibliophiles succumb to this virus known as the reading slump.  Before I continue, let’s broadly describe a reading slump as a period of lacking the desire(s) to read.  Anyway, many people use this term, reading slump, to blame their lower completed book counts.  At times, I find myself admitting that I’m in a reading slump.  Lately, though, this term has started to irk me.

A bibliophile is one who loves reading.  As a football players loves to play football, a bibliophile loves to read.  For us, reading offers temporary moments of escape from our chaotic lives.  Therefore, reading becomes a hobby and passion which means our moments to read should be enjoyable moments for us.  

Now, whenever I hear people use the term “reading slump” to describe their inability to currently read, I cringe.  To me, the use of this term subliminally alludes to reading being more a chore and less of a hobby and passion.  Unfortunately, I think many of us get caught up in the numerical book challenges and lose reading’s true intentions which is to provide pleasure.  Therefore, I think using the excuse, “Oh, I’m in a reading slump,” is a way for us find a scapegoat for our lack of reading to our fellow bibliophile peers.  This leads me to believe that reading slumps are not a “thing,” and I believe it is time we embrace the fact that we are human beings who have very busy lives.  Our hobbies and passions are not limited to one activity (reading).  Rather, we should embrace these different activities to become more well-rounded individuals.  So, what??  You haven’t read in two days but decided to watch the first whole season of Sherlock?  Good for you!  I hope you enjoyed your time!

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how many books you completed and how many pages you read in a month, what truly matters is the content that you read.  Perhaps you read a novel this month that filled you with an immense feeling of evangelical zeal that you cannot fathom picking up a new novel for the next few weeks for fear of disappointment.  Don’t worry about it!  Honestly, we read for the content, not the numbers.  So, fellow bibliophiles, happy reading!

The “Reading Slump”: BUSTED!!