Category Archives: Fiction

Book Review- Beauty Queens

beautyqueens

The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and compete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea, crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eyeliner.

What’s a beauty queen to do? Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program – or wrestle snakes to the ground? Get a perfect tan – or learn to run wild? And what should happen when the sexy pirates show up?

This is one of the funniest books I have read in a very long time! The characters are full of silly quirks, for example, Miss New Mexico has a lunch tray embedded in her forehead for the entirety of the novel from the plane crash. Doesn’t that just make you want to read this book?

It took me a few chapters to figure it out, to really get into the writing style, though. It almost reminded me of Jellicoe Road in that you kind of have to push yourself at the beginning. Most of the book is told in a satirical tone that is very hard to describe. For example, at the beginning, Bray talks in a voice similar to the one you read in the summary above. But the farther you read, the more the depth of the characters becomes obvious. They are real, relatable people with problems and fears and prejudices just like we are.

There is no *one* romantic plot, as there are something like 16 girls stuck on the island, and about as many pirates. Libba Bray does a wonderful job of making the group of seemingly shallow beauty queens as diverse as people are in current America. There is no typical relationship in the novel, and I like that, because what is a ‘typical’ relationship, anyway? (hint- it doesn’t exist)

A lot of people complain about “excessive” footnotes in this novel, but I didn’t think it was excessive at all. I mean, compared to some stuff David Foster Wallace writes, there were no footnotes at all. It’s just part of the novel’s style to have a lot of footnotes.

This book is unlike any I’ve ever read, in a good and a bad way. It is a book that I certainly wouldn’t recommend to everyone, but one that many will like and identify with. The writing and plotting is impressive and advanced, and just all around a great read! As long as you try to come into reading this book without preconceptions or expectations, I believe you’ll enjoy it.

Olivia

PS. I forgot to mention- this is a classic case of why you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover. The cover reflects the bubblegum-esque, shallow style of the earlier parts of the novel, not the novel itself. Don’t let it put you off of the book!

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Filed under Contemporary, Fiction, Modern Fiction

Book Review- Invisibility

invisibility

When I saw this book on the shelf at my library, I recognized it (as people deeply involved in book culture are wont to do). I met David Levithan at YALLFest last year, and he was super nice and down to earth. At that time, I hadn’t read any of his books and was only purchasing one of them (Every Day- one of my favorites of all time). I had a feeling that anything written by him would be amazing, but this book only lived up to and exceeded that expectation!

Stephen has been invisible for practically his whole life — because of a curse his grandfather, a powerful cursecaster, bestowed on Stephen’s mother before Stephen was born. So when Elizabeth moves to Stephen’s NYC apartment building from Minnesota, no one is more surprised than he is that she can see him. A budding romance ensues, and when Stephen confides in Elizabeth about his predicament, the two of them decide to dive headfirst into the secret world of cursecasters and spellseekers to figure out a way to break the curse. But things don’t go as planned, especially when Stephen’s grandfather arrives in town, taking his anger out on everyone he sees. In the end, Elizabeth and Stephen must decide how big of a sacrifice they’re willing to make for Stephen to become visible — because the answer could mean the difference between life and death. At least for Elizabeth.

I love this book so much!! When you read a lot of books, you come to expect a lot, especially from a book about something as seemingly simple as invisibility. But the farther into the book you read, the more you discover that there is an entire world hidden behind the seeming simplicity of invisibility, and Elizabeth holds the key. I finished this book in mere hours, because once I started, it was impossible to walk away. The writing was beautiful and haunting, but readable, and I thought Levithan’s writing was extraordinarily empathetic with an invisible boy. It’s hard to understand what I mean without reading it- how can someone know what it feels like to never have been seen?- but he pulls it off.

The magical world behind Stephen’s invisibility curse is complex and thought provoking. The curse, itself, is also so. Many people wish to be invisible, it is widely regarded as something cool, you only have to look at Harry Potter to see what people idolize. Power, invisibility, and eternal life. But this gives a whole new spin on the idea of not being seen- for someone like Stephen who has been invisible since birth, it is not a blessing. The whole issue was delicately handled, and I like that.

The romance was slow and sweet, but passionate, and the ending was heartbreaking. I think it was actually the best part, even though it was sad in a certain way. I highly, highly recommend this book for most anyone, especially for fans of David Levithan or Andrea Cremer (his co-author), YA fans, or those who like a healthy dose of magical realism. (and really, who doesn’t?)

Have a great day, everyone!

Olivia

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Filed under Contemporary, Fiction, Magical Realism

Book Review- The Madman’s Daughter

madman'sdaughter

I missed reading thrillers and I forgot exactly how much I enjoyed them until I read this book. I have heard raving reviews about it for a while, but now I know firsthand how great it truly is!

Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself in London—working as a maid, attending church on Sundays, and trying not to think about the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumors about her father’s gruesome experiments. But when she learns he is alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the accusations are true.

Accompanied by her father’s handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward—both of whom she is deeply drawn to—Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the depths of her father’s madness: He has experimented on animals so that they resemble, speak, and behave as humans. And worse, one of the creatures has turned violent and is killing the island’s inhabitants. Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father’s dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it’s too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father’s genius—and madness—in her own blood.

One thing I love about thrillers in general is that when they’re well written, you can never see the surprises coming. This book was done really well in that regard. It also kept me on the edge of my seat, and I couldn’t put it down from the minute that I picked it up until I finished it. Even before Juliet reaches the island, her story is exciting.

The animals made my blood crawl, and as the plot unfolded I became more and more emotionally invested in the story. Sometimes I’ve noticed that when romance is involved in creepy plotlines like this one, I only get more attached to the characters and their romance. Speaking of which, there is a love triangle in this book, but it felt soft and well done, not annoying like most of the ones you read are. There isn’t a love triangle for the sake of one, there is a girl drawn to two different men in a natural way. That is okay, in my book. I thought it added to the story.

The ending broke my heart into little pieces, but maybe I’m just sentimental. I absolutely CANNOT WAIT to read the rest in the series (I believe there’s three?) and spread the word about these great books.

Highly recommended for anyone not looking for the typical YA and lovers of gothic horror and old timey literature.

Happy Spring!

Olivia

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Filed under Fiction, Modern Fiction, Romance

Book Review- Unravel Me

unravelme

My hopes were SO high for this book, especially because I absolutely adored the first one. (it stands one of my favorite books ever) I went in with plenty of expectations, most of which Tahereh laughed at and turned upside down. But for the first time in a long time, I wouldn’t have it any other way. (caution- slightly spoilery synopsis ahead)

Juliette has escaped to Omega Point. It is a place for people like her—people with gifts—and it is also the headquarters of the rebel resistance.
She’s finally free from The Reestablishment, free from their plan to use her as a weapon, and free to love Adam. But Juliette will never be free from her lethal touch.
Or from Warner, who wants Juliette more than she ever thought possible.
In this exhilarating sequel to Shatter Me, Juliette has to make life-changing decisions between what she wants and what she thinks is right. Decisions that might involve choosing between her heart—and Adam’s life.

I just… wow. Where do I start? Let me just say that even those who weren’t *huge* fans of Shatter Me will love this. Trust me, I’ve recommended it to plenty of friends who ended up disliking it because they didn’t like the florid language, or thought Juliette was spineless, etc etc. But in Unravel Me, Juliette really comes into herself. Unlike some 2nd books in trilogies (i like to call them “bridge books”), it is vital to the series and even better than the first at times. (I can’t believe I’m saying that) The language is just as brilliant as the first time, yet not trite, and more readable. Before, I realize, the strikethroughs and Juliette’s insecurities were hard to get through for some. But it is beautiful, I think, the utterly human and real way Juliette’s rough edges begin to smooth.

Now for the romance. This is a bit of an embarrassment for me, almost. I now include a quote from a review I wrote of Unravel Me that I wrote sometime last year, after I finished Shatter Me.

“If Juliette and Adam do not end up together {in Unravel Me}, I will throw this book in the garbage”

Yeah… oops. I’m not telling you that Warner and Juliette suddenly get together, but Unravel Me definitely made me consider my unwavering commitment to Adam and Juliette that most people forge in Shatter Me. That is what I get for reviewing prematurely, I guess. Because now my entire heart has done a 180. Yep, I’m Team Warner. I never, EVER thought that would be me. When I finished Shatter Me, I didn’t even think there WAS a Team Warner because no one could possibly like a ruthless man with no heart! I can’t explain it, because a lot of my reasons in this sudden conversion lie in things I wouldn’t dare spoil for you. But I think I learned my lesson about writing characters off.

Before I wrap this review up, two things:

1) even if you didn’t like Shatter Me, I BEG you to read Unravel Me. I think you’ll love it just as much as I did. And if you haven’t read Shatter Me yet, do it! It is one of my favorite books ever, and one of the most beautiful I’ve ever read, too.

2) if you have already read Unravel Me, please express to me in the comments the extent of your feels about Chapter 62. And whether you’re Team Warner or Team Adam.

Love, all!

Olivia

PS.- my absolute favorite book on the planet, Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, is on sale on the Kindle store for only 1.99! That’s half the price of a latte, and I swear you’ll appreciate and love it for much longer. This book will change your life. (reviewed here) (buy it here)

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Filed under Fiction, Modern Fiction, Romance

Book Review- Ten

I wouldn’t normally read this book. I get terrified very, very easily. At random stuff, at actual scary stuff, it doesn’t matter. I’m a big fat scaredy cat. But I had heard great things about this book, and I decided to go for it. I wasn’t disappointed!

Ten teens. Three days. One killer.

Meg and her best friend Minnie are super excited to go to a party on Henry Island. Only the coolest kids are invited, and it’s going to be the greatest weekend ever- no parents, just fun. But when the rest of the party doesn’t show up, and a storm begins to rage outside, they get nervous. With no connection to the outside world, things start to get downright creepy. A strange DVD in the T.V., and then people start dying off. Meg is racing against the clock to find the killer before they’re all dead. Is it one of the ten kids or someone else? (my apologies for the crappy summary. Here’s Goodreads’ if you’d rather: link)

Creeptacular! It’s just as bone-chilling as it sounds. I really enjoyed how the author managed to make it more than pure frights. It was so much more than a bunch of dead teenagers. They each have a story, and as we find out throughout the book, they each have a reason the killer wants them dead. It was a mystery in addition to all the creeps and thrills. By the end, I had absolutely no idea who the killer was, except that it couldn’t be any of the people who were already dead.
There was a nice romance between Meg and T.J. I was impressed that they were able to focus on each other for even a moment given all of the people dying and whatnot. But while I would normally protest that romance is completely unbelievable in life-or-death situations, I liked it. Meg really needed someone to talk to, because as it progresses, the weekend gets more and more frightening. I would need someone to talk to, too, if all of my friends were dying.

I can see why this novel was pretty hyped up. It was well written, suspenseful, and will fit well in todays teen market. The majority of teens really enjoy stuff that creeps the heck out of them, and even for adults this will do the trick. I love the ending, and I think the entire book was very well thought out. Not to be missed for anyone who loves or is writing a thriller or horror! Or maybe even someone like me, who avoids it like the plague. Great for the reluctant teen reader in your life.

Just make sure not to read it at night.

Olivia

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Filed under Fiction, Modern Fiction

Book Review- Crewel

So, this book was AMAZING. WITH ALL CAPS LOCK. I’m in shock. I was lucky enough to win it in a signed ARC off of Twitter, and I also have signed matching bookmarks. Matchy matchy! So cool. I’m very lucky.  (as always with bigger ARC’s, I’m sticking to the GR summary)

Incapable. Awkward. Artless.
That’s what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: she wants to fail.
Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she’s exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen as a Spinster is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to embroider the very fabric of life. But if controlling what people eat, where they live and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested.
Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and wove a moment at testing, and they’re coming for her—tonight.
Now she has one hour to eat her mom’s overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister’s academy gossip and laugh at her Dad’s stupid jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape.
Because once you become a Spinster, there’s no turning back.

Sounds unebelievable. Y’all know I’m always wary of books that are too hyped, because nothing kills your love of books like reading a book where you expect it to be great and it stinks. (Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, I’m talking to you) This book wasn’t what I expected, it was BETTER.

First, lets talk about the writing style. Gosh, do I love Gennifer’s way with words! This is such a delicate story; a genius idea and great world building, but without the breathtaking and poetic writing style, I wouldn’t be anywhere near as impressed. It could have been one of those novels you love the idea for, but the excecution was terrible. But it wasn’t, and thank goodness for that! Right from the start, I was hooked by the gorgeous prose. And after a couple pages, the plot captured me, and the rest is history.

The world buiding is eeriely believable. With such a specific topic, it would have been easy to do something characteristic of James Patterson and forget the details you wrote earlier, thus making the reader very, very lost. I was absolutely glued to this book for all of yesterday and didn’t give up until I finished.

I love how this book has me thinking about weaving. I can almost see the weave of that walls around me (not really, I wish). Made me really thing about the scarf I’m crocheting, and what if I was using a thunderstorm for yarn instead, or the gold time thread, or water, or a person. People have threads, too. It especially reminds me of a yarn I’m crocheting that scarf with right now. It’s called The Wedding Job from Nerd Girl Yarns. (I think they should rename it Crewel, but…)

The romance is great. There is a sort of love triangle, but not in the usual tear-your-heart-apart-everyone-ends-up-sad way. The realistic kind, I wouldn’t be surpised if it happened in real life. The boy Adelice eventually chose was the one I (and a lot of other people too, I think) was rooting for from the beginning. The other boy isn’t too torn up about it. Whenever they were together, I got this silly smile on my face, because as terrible as the situation is, they were still really adorable.

The whole plotline is tangled up, and the way it unravels is truly awe-inspiring. The ending is very…. whoa. There were way more sci-fi and thriller elements in it than I expected, but I was not disappointed! The way the end was worded was a little bit hard to understand, but once I understood what had happened I couldn’t find the words to talk about it. I can’t…. she totally surprised me. The second book isn’t even officially OUT yet and I’m already dying for it!

Crewel releases October 16th, and you can pre-order it here! Recommended to everyone. Really great book. And if you would like to try it first, the first 5 chapters are available free on Kindle!(Link)

Hope everyone liked the review! 🙂

Olivia

P.S. Have y’all seen my new header? I love it! It was designed by my friend @alliebbooks. I’ll be adding contact info for her on my bio soon.

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Filed under ARC, Fiction, Modern Fiction, Romance

Book Review- Jellicoe Road

 

I am making it a life goal to read every single book Melina Marchetta publishes ever, because that’s how much I loved this book.

Jellicoe Road tells two tragic stories; one set in the present and one set in the past. They weave together in such a delightful way that you are emotionally invested in each one, and finally seeing the connection at the end shatters your heart. The present story focuses on Taylor Markham, who was abandoned at a Seven-Eleven on Jellicoe road six years ago. The past story focuses on five friends who attended the same school as Taylor does now; Narnie, Webb, Tate, Fitz, and Jude. 5 friends with a iron friendship only rivaled by the one several years later.

This book is set in the Australian bush (which is really awesome, except the author lives in Sydney so I have to wait extra time to get her new books!) Most of Taylor’s life and the life of her classmates revolves around a war with two other facctions (for lack of a better word) near their school. The Townies and the Cadets, which are pretty self explanatory. But when she’s elected leader of their school, she has to negotiate with the curious Jonah Griggs, a boy from her past and leader of the Cadets. She knows something happened with him, but her mind doesn’t quite let her remember.

This book…. I can’t put it into words, y’all. That’s how astonishing it was. I read this a week ago and I still can’t get the characters and their stories out of my head. Every single little detail means something, and has stuck with me all this time. I can’t get it out of my head.

Keep in mind that this isn’t only a romance. This is two stories, unbelievably interwoven, heartbreaking, beautiful, breathtaking, life-changing. This isn’t a book that you read to escape reality. You read this book to remember how blessed we are to have friends, to have love when we look for it, and to realize that sometimes pain makes the happy moments even sweeter. It’s an adventure. It will make you think it is a fantasy at the beginning, but you have to remember that it is real.

I felt different after reading this book. It might have something to do with the large number of tears that I had shed by the end of it. You know how sometimes, when you cry over a book, you feel awful afterwards? When I cried at the end of this for a couple of minutes, I felt refreshed. Like I had cried out the world’s problems. I was close to tears about 6 times over the course of reading this. It’s not a sad book per se, but sometimes you read something so beautiful and true that your eyes well up a little bit.

The one drawback is that the first 100 pages are ridiculously confusing. If you can get past it, it is so, so, SO worth it. Basically, you need to remember that

A) the italics are the past story, told in the form of a manuscript.

B) It is contemporary, not fantasy. Just keep that in mind.

C) Remember that everyone else is confused too, and that if you stick it out the rest of the book is completely unbelievable. The beginning is great too, just a bit cryptic.

Everyone, please read this. I’m afraid I haven’t conveyed how emotional a review and read this was for me. I cried, I burst into laughter, I melted. Like Kirsten Cashore, the romantic scenes are few but the type that make you believe in humanity, melt, cry, smile, dance, sing, and laugh. I picked it up thinking it was a light MG book, but there is not one person in the world that wouldn’t benefit from this book. It’s the opposite of preachy, full of everything lovely and broken in the world. You can’t lose with this read. I’m getting a copy as soon as possible and it will live on my shelf forever.

Hope your weekend is lovely. I’m afraid my reviews are more sporadic lately because I don’t have much time to read, but I’m doing my best. Head out and enjoy this book in the gorgeous (almost) October weather! {Wordpress is being a butt right now and won’t let me add a link, tags, or the cover photo. I’ll get it up ASAP. Sorry guys!}

Olivia

“Hold my hand because I might disappear.”

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Filed under Fiction, Modern Fiction, Romance