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!

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!

Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars

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Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

Publication Date: January 10, 2012.

Favorite Quote from the Book:

“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.” 

My Thoughts:

Sadly, I did not fall for the hype of this book like so many others.  To me, it was an average book.  It is not awful, but I do not deem it a favorite like so many others.

One aspect of this book that I can appreciate is John Green’s overall writing-style.  Having read Looking for Alaska (and also deeming it an “average book”), I can see how much Green has developed as a writer and author.  The prose in this book is phenomenal and some of the best in Young Adult literature.  Sentences and metaphors (which seemed to annoy many people) seamlessly flow together creating a relatively pleasant read for readers.

However, I could not let Green’s beautiful prose distract the content within the book.  Mainly, I have an issue between the romance of Augustus and Hazel.  Sadly, I would have to label their relationship as the stereotypical “insta-love.”  Since Green is such a renowned writer, I never believed he would stoop to writing insta-love in his stories, but I appear to be wrong.  In my opinion, I think the novel would have been better if Augustus and Hazel remained friends.  For a majority of their relationship, they acted as merely best friends and less like lovers.  I feel as though Green included the romance element in the book to make the story more heart-wrenching.  Simply, the romance is a distraction for a majority of this plot.

One of the biggest issues Augustus and Hazel face is their battles with cancers.  However, one is not completely aware of the severity of their cancers and what exactly their cancers entail.  Rather, the book placed a lot of emphasis on the “sick lovers” aspect.  When a child is diagnosed with cancer, falling in love is one of the last things on their mind.  There’s issues of treatments, finances, and death.  These are so overwhelming that a sick child cannot even begin to comprehend or tackle a relationship in the way Augustus and Hazel did.  I hate to say this, but it is a rather unrealistic portrayal of children with cancer; I know Green is highly praised for his realistic portrayal of teens, but this just wasn’t cutting it for me.

Additionally, I found the dialogue between Hazel and Augustus to be unlikely for two teenagers.  Do not get me wrong, Hazel and Augustus’s conversations are beautifully written and make great quotes, but no teenager talks so eloquently.  Admittedly, I cringe for the day when I will read the word “swag” in a young adult book, but at least that’s how some teenagers talk.  A majority of the young adult population talks in slang, and many do not possess the knowledge or vocabulary that Augustus and Hazel exhibit throughout this book.  In my opinion, Augustus and Hazel are character versions of Green himself; I have nothing against Green, but there is a slight generation gap between him and teenagers which make his “typical conversations” very improbable to the conversations high school students have.

I do not want people to get me wrong.  I appreciate this book.  In fact, I firmly believe there need to be more books written about cancers, diseases, and illnesses.  Unfortunately, many Young Adult authors write books with perfect characters, perfect worlds, and perfect situations when this is hardly the case in many teens’ lives.  Many teenagers struggle with a variety of imperfections, and Young Adult authors should strive to demonstrate the commonality that exists in their problems.  After all, reading unites us!  However, I think that The Fault in Our Stars, while it details the account of two children with cancer, fails to completely recognize that life isn’t always perfect.  I applaud Green for his attempt, and I encourage him and others to continue to write books to the younger generation that demonstrate the imperfections we all face.

Overall, this book is an average contemporary read for me.  It is probably not one that I will reread in the immediate future, but I will always appreciate it as it is the first novel that I have read about cancer.

My Rating:

★ ★★ 3/5 stars!

Recommendation:

I would recommend this book searching for a contemporary novel detailing illnesses.  I would not recommend this book to those wanting to read a beautiful love story as I feel like the relationship between Augustus and Hazel is more of a friendship.

Book Review: Too Fast

Sorry about the lack of posts this past week!  I have been extremely exhausted from work.  Anyway, today is Saturday so that means it is time for a book review.  Saturday Book Reviews are part of my Daily Post; to learn more about it, click here.

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Twenty-year-old Savannah enjoys a one-time one-night stand because a real relationship would never fit into her busy schedule. Working two jobs and pursuing her degree takes all of her time. Besides, the guys she has dated haven’t been much better than the random barfly.

It’s a good thing Luke’s body is honed by the long hours of carpentry and construction because he carries the weight of his family on his shoulders. School hasn’t been an option for him since he dropped out to make the house payments his mother had failed to make.

Luke finds what he’s been longing for in a night with Savannah. She’s determined to stop with a one-night stand, but he wants more. Neither can deny the perfection of their passionate interludes, but with such imperfect lives, do they have any chance for a future together? Suddenly she’s losing her heart and it’s all happening much too fast.

Not recommended for readers under age 18 due to language and sexual content.-Goodreads summary

Publication Date: July 16, 2013.

Order your copy now: Amazon

Favorite Quote from the Book:

He stood, walked around the booth and pulled me to my feet.  ‘I love you too, Savannah.  So much.  And I know it’s fast.  Too fast, but so good.’  He pulled me against him, brushed my hair out of my face, and said, ‘Too damn good to stop now.’

MY THOUGHTS:

Judge the Book by its Cover:

To be honest the cover does not do this book any sort of justice; it makes the book look a trashy erotica novel.  I’m not a huge fan of this cover.

Things that Made Me Happy:

Well, this was officially my first New Adult novel, and I’m extremely pleased.  As a college student, I found this to be quite the perfect genre for me, as I sometimes find young adult books to be too immature and adult books tend to be irrelevant to my life.

First, I absolutely adored every character in this novel, particularly Savannah and Luke, our lovers.  I’m always hesitant when reading romance because 90% of the time the characters are cloaked with extreme desperation for love and acceptance, which make them look rather pathetic.  However, Savannah and Luke were some of the toughest and truthful romance characters that I have ever read.  They both have serious skeletons in their closets, which affected their daily lives, but they found comfort and solace in the other’s company.  When one was suffering, the other was supporting, which reflected a relationship’s idealistic qualities.  Moreover, the characters’ flaws made the relationship more believable.  No relationship is perfect!  Therefore, Savannah and Luke learned to confront their problems and remained true to the other.

As previously stated the relationship felt believable.  Savannah and Luke underwent a series of fortunate and unfortunate events that they confronted together; additionally, I experienced the heartwarming and heartbreaking moments with them.  While times got tense, Savannah and Luke were able to find the comfort within their relationship.  As this is how most healthy relationships work, I was extremely satisfied with these romance elements.

Overall, Too Fast was short and sweet but an impactful romance that offered beautiful glimpses into the powers of love, loss, and companionship.

Things that Made Me Unhappy:

Nothing!  I loved this book; it was such a surprise!

My Rating:

★★★★ 5/5 stars!

Recommendation:

I’d recommend this book to those who enjoy New Adult Contemporary Romance.

*This book was sent to me via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review!* 

 

Book Review: Projection

It’s time for a book review!  Tuesday Book Reviews are a part of my Daily Post; to learn more about it, click here.

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When 13-year-old Gretchen Harris’s mother is murdered at Gretchen’s 8th Grade graduation party, everyone in the town of Delphi, California, suspects a power struggle within the Oculus Society: Delphi’s version of the Junior League.  Gretchen’s best friend, Jessica Shaw, might even hold the key to finding the culprit with The Plotinus Ability: the Oculus Society’s jealously guarded secret power to trade souls, which hinges on a kiss. Gretchen’s hope at finding the murderer ends in tragedy when Ariel Miller—the class outcast—stalks Gretchen and Jessica and surreptitiously films them exchanging a kiss to test if the Plotinus Ability is real, not knowing their motives. The ensuing YouTube video (“Popular Girls = Secret Lovers”) goes viral, Gretchen’s and Jessica’s lives are further shattered, and they vanish from Delphi.

Flash forward two years later: Ariel is suddenly the most popular junior in town, but wracked with guilt over what she did to Gretchen and Jessica.  When both girls reappear after their mysterious absence, Ariel finds herself pawn, suspect, and key player in their scheme to bring the murderer to justice.-Goodreads summary

Expected Publication Date: September 3, 2013.

Preorder your copy here: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | BookDepository

Favorite Quote from the Book:

‘Our trust and our faith shall bring justice…This is the promise we solemnly keep.’

MY THOUGHTS:

Judge the Book by its Cover:

While I think the girl and overall design is beautiful, the book’s cover holds no relevance to the story.  In fact I believe that it is just a typical pretty YA cover designed with the intention to sell more books when it’s published.  It’s okay but not one of the best.

Things that Made Me Happy:

I absolutely loved how this book was told through dual plots: the ancient Romans’ invention and use of projection and the modern society’s continuation of projection.  Creatively, Green conceived this magical act of projection, the power to trade souls with another person, in the early Roman Empire.  While women were suppressed in this society, this power gave them a sense of sovereignty against the men’s oppressive authority.  Since then, women had secretly passed this power among generations, where it was found in the modern times of this book.  Still, women honored this power and found it was fundamental to their lives.  Both the ancient women and current women created a strong sense of female empowerment that made for a great read.

This book was full of many plot twists, which were unexpected by readers.  Combined with the tense mystery element, the plot’s zigzagged development constantly kept the audience on their toes in anticipation for what was to come. Nothing was predictable, which made for an overall entertaining read.

Wow, what a gripping ending.  Initially I was concerned within the last 50 pages because I felt that the novel would end unresolved; however, the novel quickly pieced together that created an intricate sub-plot story, which was entertaining and riveting. 

Things that Made Me Unhappy:

At times I felt that there were inconsistencies to the personalities of the characters, as if they were not fully developed.  While their development was not terrible, I believed that Green had the potential to create more three dimensional characters.  Considering this book was a mystery novel, implementing deeper well-developed characters would have further enhanced the mystery element and generated more suspicions.  Overall, their actions and mannerisms never fully created genuine characters, which was frustrating.

Lastly, Green overemphasized the true criminal.  Suddenly, all of his or her actions became suspicious, which aided in my belief that the people in this book sometimes acted out of character.  It was upsetting, as I was hoping for a more unsuspecting mystery.  While placing together the final pieces of the puzzle and capturing the criminal were fantastic, the suspect’s actions became increasingly annoying as they were too obvious and detracted from the mystery elements, which created more of a suspense novel.

My Rating:

★★★★ 4/5 stars!

Recommendation:

I’d recommend this book to those who enjoy simplistic young adult suspense and mystery novels.

*This book was sent to me via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review!* 

Book Review: Sweet

It’s Saturday, so that means that it is time for a book review!  Saturday Book Reviews are a part of my Daily Post; to learn more about it, click here.

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Witnessing a brutal murder at work is only the beginning of Celia’s problems. The fact that the victim is a vampire only proves to complicate her life even more. The vampires of New England have always had an undetected existence among humans but with the unprovoked death of one of their own, the lust for revenge has begun. Celia’s concerns are magnified when a hunter from Dallas arrives in town. With Jay’s sexy smile and rugged ways, Celia finds herself wanting to spend time with him despite being mysteriously linked to the nest that is threatening to become extinct if Jay gets his way. When four bodies are found drained of blood; Jay teams up with a local bunch to take out all the undead which coincidentally, includes her boyfriend Victor. Celia won’t stand seeing anything happen to Victor but refuses to hurt Jay as well. Confusion, lust, rage and violence intertwine as worlds collide. Celia will soon discover that her neat little existence is not what it seems as her cryptic past and present start to unravel.-Goodreads summary

Favorite Quote from the Book:

‘Anything gets tough, you push it away.  Anything that threatens your little bubble, you lash out ’cause that’s the only way you know how to handle it.’

MY THOUGHTS:

Judge the Book by its Cover:

I’m not the biggest fan of this cover.  In addition to the plot summary, I find it to be misleading.

Things that Made Me Happy:

Wilkerson wrote in a way that was easy to comprehend; her writing reflected a conversational tone, which made it a quick and easy read. 

The last 30 pages of the novel were tense, and I wanted to read to the book’s conclusion.

Things that Made Me Unhappy:

Oh, I hate when I struggle to find pros for a book but can assert numerous cons…well, here we go.

As mentioned, the writing style of this book was extremely rudimentary.  While it made this an easy read, I found there to be a complete disregard for basic grammar and mechanics.  Had these errors been contained to just the dialogue, I would not have felt quite so perturbed, as the conversation would reflect typical slang formatting.  Rather, the writing style, primarily in the non-dialogue passages, was too lackadaisical and unprofessional.  In fact every page of this book had at least one error, which made me, an English major, cry.  I could not believe that the publishing company had such a disregard for all of these mistakes.

Additionally, I was not a fan of any of the characters-both the ones that readers were supposed to like and the ones that the readers were supposed to dislike.  First, I found the main character, Celia, to be too much of an annoyance and quite contradictory.  Frequently, she snapped at other characters and created havoc.  However, at one point in the book she stated, “‘Believe me, I do not like drama.'”  I could not even take that line seriously because up until that point she had started every fight with her boyfriend, Victor, and other love interest, Jay, for ridiculous reasons, and believe me, there were many arguments.  Additionally, she treated men terribly.  All she ever stated about Victor and Jay pertained to their looks and how desperately she wanted to sleep with them, which made all the romance elements of this book to be laugh-worthy.  Speaking of romance, let’s focus on her boyfriend, Victor, as a character.  He was probably the guy your parents don’t want to meet.  He was manipulative and had to be the person in control at all times.  If there ever was a moment where he felt inferior, he disappeared-just like Celia (reference above quote).  He was detestable.  Equally repulsive was the love interest Jay.  Surprise, surprise, there was a love triangle in the book.  Jay mirrored every quality of Victor, which made Celia’s rash decisions to run to Jay every time Victor upset her completely bogus.  No rational person would surround himself or herself with an individual who was identical to his or her enemy.  Regardless, these three made a stereotypical love-triangle, which made readers either be Team Victor, Team Jay, or Team You Should Probably be Single because You Seem Slightly Unstable, Celia.  Why does this sound eerily familiar?

That’s right!  It sounds familiar because this plot has been executed many times: girl has guy; new guy comes into the equation; old guy and new guy are enemies; girl has feelings for new guy, while still leading on the old guy; girl chooses who we all know she will choose.  This book was just too much like every other post-Twilight and Twilight fanfiction that I have ever read.  I was disappointed because I appreciate an author’s boldness to step outside the boundaries and create a fantastical world, but that does not happen in Sweet.

My Rating:

★★ 2/5 stars!

Overall, this book was a disappointment.  I was anticipating a new vampire world only to be greeted by one that I have visited many times.

Recommendation:

I’d recommend this book to those who enjoy Twilight fanfiction.  I would not recommend this book to those who enjoy paranormal/vampire novels, as I feel this book would greatly aggravate you for its lack of originality.  

*Please note, I was provided this book from the author and publisher via Read it and Reap in exchange for an honest review.*