Book Review | LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE by Jessica Knoll

5/5 stars

As a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. Now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiancé, she’s this close to living the perfect life she’s worked so hard to achieve.

But Ani has a secret.

There’s something else buried in her past that still haunts her, something private and painful that threatens to bubble to the surface and destroy everything.(c) goodreads

Thank you to Simon and Schuster and Netgalley for providing me an ARC of this novel!

Let me say that I was very pleasantly surprised by this novel. Based on the synopsis, I went into it expecting a very different outcome. Also, with the cover, I definitely didn’t prepare for the suspense and mystery this book contained. If you’re turned off by the cover and feel like you won’t enjoy this novel because of the synopsis, go pick up the book. It’s amazing, and I’m going to tell you why.

First of all, the writing style was so captivating. There were many flashbacks, where Ani, our main girl, went back and relived her moments in high school. Knoll was able to seamlessly weave these scenes together, and manage to keep the back and forth very smooth and understandable.

I loved how intricate Ani was made. I feel like it actually represents how a lot of people think and act. The way she had a different face for different kinds of people was relateable, and I knew where she was coming from. Manipulating the way Ani saw people, we were able to glean several different traits and qualities of other characters as well, which just made it even easier for the reader to get absorbed into the story.

The story starts off almost casual, and as you get further along, you realize how twisted everything is, and all the secrets Ani has. As you gain more knowledge about Ani and the incident, everything starts to make sense, and you begin to notice things that you wouldn’t have earlier in the book.

Overall, I very much enjoyed this novel, and I recommend it to anyone who wants a Gone Girl-esque novel, with secrets and suspense hidden behind plastic faces.

Advertisements

Book Review | DOROTHY MUST DIE by Danielle Paige

4.5/5 stars

Sure, we all know the story of Dorothy. She gets caught up in a cyclone, kills a witch, goes to Oz while making some friends, and then goes back home to Kansas. But we don’t know what happened after. We don’t know that Dorothy came back. We don’t know how sideways the land of Oz has turned. Amy Gumm gets transported to the land of Oz in a similar fashion that Dorothy did. But she doesn’t have the same experience at all, no way. She is recruited by the Order of the Wicked with one mission in mind: Dorothy must die.

I received this book as a gift for a Secret Santa book exchange, and I had been wanting to read it for a while so huge thanks to my Secret Santa for sending this to me! As by the rating, you can tell that I really did enjoy this book a lot. I love the original The Wizard of Oz and this novel really went its own way beautifully. It’s funny and witty, as well as twisted and gory – it’s the perfect mix.

The pacing of this novel is really quick, with enough slow parts in between so that you don’t feel too rushed. The beginning was the slowest part, as there was a lot of setup needed. The world is beautifully created, linking elements from the original story and Paige’s own twist.

One of the problems that I had with this novel is that Dorothy’s outfit upon appearance is described as “somewhere between haute couture and French hooker”. I’m getting really sick of having girls be described as fake because of how they dress. You can be sexy AND smart. You can be sexy AND kind. These things aren’t mutually exclusive.

This was book was in Amy’s POV, and that statement above made me kind of annoyed at her. Until about halfway through the book, I found Amy a little pretentious until I finally warmed up to her. The rest of the characters I found to be very well characterized, and could easily imagine them as real people. The constantly repeated phrase “Don’t trust anyone, including me” left an air of suspense and intrigue upon everyone, because who could you trust? Who actually had Amy in their best interest?

Overall, I loved this book. I had to force myself to stop reading, so I could enjoy the book for longer. It’s a wonderful blend of action and magic, and just a hint of romance, and I would recommend this novel to any fantasy lover or Oz fanatic.

Book Review | THE BANE CHRONICLES by Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson, and Sarah Rees Brennan

3.5/5 stars

We’ve seen Magnus Bane appear and disappear in the previously published Shadowhunter Chronicles, and always leaving a trace of glitter. In this new installment of previously e-book only short stories, we can see Magnus’ past in a way never experienced before. 

There are a lot of people accusing Cassandra Clare of “milking the cash cow” by repetitively going into the Shadowhunter world to write books. I don’t really have a stand on this, but I can see their point, as Magnus’ stories didn’t have to be published in paperback as they were already e-books. Physical copies give them more exposure, i.e, more can be bought. Again, I’m kind of neutral in this issue, because as long as they’re good books, I’ll read them.

Moving on to the actual review, I did enjoy this book. Of course, it didn’t really live up to the Mortal Instruments series, but that was a full series with six novels, and this was a collection of short stories.

It took me a bit to get into this book. Maybe the reason was because they were short stories, and I’m not really used to that format. Also, some of the stories didn’t really interest me? I found myself skimming a lot.

The writing style is nice and familiar, and although Clare wasn’t the only one writing these stories, they really resonate with her tone. We also get to see another side of Magnus, as all of it is in his point of view, and behind the layers of snark and glitter, we see an extremely sensitive person. Not especially to his emotions, but to others. This creates a nice balance in the perspective as we read, getting a mixture of comedy and deeper emotions.

Something I really enjoyed was the artwork. Before each story, there was an excerpt of it quoted, and the other page would have the art on it. Here is an example:

This was part of the last short story, The Voicemail of Magnus Bane. Although, it wasn’t really a short story, it was a compilation of Magnus’ voicemail, as obvious by the title, it was my favorite. Probably because my homegirl Isabelle was in it, and I didn’t know how much I missed her. And also, it was just easy to read through, and after reading through the stories, it was nice to just quickly read the little blurbs.

Overall, I enjoyed the book because of the reference to the TMI series, so I could have a little backstory with what happened, but other than that, for me, it wasn’t too spectacular.

However, I am excited for Clare’s new series the Dark Artifices, and I will definitely be doing book reviews for those books!

Book Review | The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

4.5/5 stars

Wallflower (noun)

a shy or retiring person who remains unnoticed at social events, especially a woman without a dance partner

Charlie is a freshman in high school, and he has noticed that things are changing. His friends have either moved away or moved on, and that leaves him starting school alone, and by himself. That all changes when he meets Patrick and Sam. Together, they show Charlie the wonders of being young and wild. They show him that it’s okay to be yourself. They show him the importance of friendship. And most of all, they show him that the past doesn’t have to influence your future.

I surprisingly enjoyed this novel. The first time I “read” this novel, I didn’t really read it, I just listened to the audio book of it while driving, and I guess just the way the narrator spoke, I couldn’t really get into the story. I absolutely hated the audio book, and proceeded to watch the movie, because Emma Watson is my goddess, and I couldn’t just not watch it.

I enjoyed the movie, but not as much as people were raving. I hated the audio book, so I was baffled to why people were obsessing over this franchise. Well now that I’ve actually read the book, I understand it.

Chbosky’s writing really draws you into the story. Somehow, he has mastered the art of writing as a teenager, and sounding like a teenager. Charlie isn’t a normal teenager, but somehow Chbosky can convey this through his writing, and still make it sound believable.

The characters are really what made the story for me. Just the way that everyone had a role to play, and everyone had so much detail; they all came alive. I love the idea of Charlie “being a wallflower”, because it really worked with this type of point of view. He could see the flaws in everyone. He knew everything that was going on, and yet, most of the times, if it didn’t concern him, he didn’t do anything about it. He knew to stay out of it, it wasn’t his business, but he told a story.

The relationships that grow in this novel truly makes me nostalgic. I’m a senior in high school, and the fact that I have to say good bye to most of my friends in the fall… It makes me feel so terrible, yet happy that I could have such strong relationships with people. Something that Chbosky does really well is seamlessly tie the plot together. Everything made sense.

If you haven’t read this novel, I highly recommend it. It surprisingly enjoyable for me, and maybe you will find it too.

Book Review | The Waiting Room by Alysha Kaye

4/5 stars

What happens after death? This is a question that mankind has questioned since the beginning of time. The possibility of an afterlife has created different religions and beliefs, and many radical theories. Kaye’s novel joins the group of fiction novels that challenges and creates the idea of a life after death.

After his death by car crash, Jude is stuck in the waiting room, as are numerous others. After a while, their names are called, and they vanish. Everyone, except for Jude. He doesn’t know why he’s special. No one knows what’s going on. So he waits.

I actually just started following Alysha Kaye’s blog a little while ago, and if you want to check out her blog as well, I’ll have it linked. ( Alysha’s blog )

I first want to start off talking about the plot and premise of the book, because that’s what I enjoyed most about it. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered an idea like this before. That after death, you don’t get a life, you wait in the waiting room, until it’s time for your next one… it’s an original twist on an overused idea, and I loved it. I also really liked the structure of the book, how there were flashbacks cut in between the story. It gave more depth, and it made sense.

The characters however, I didn’t love so much. They felt static to me, some characters more than others. Jude was my favorite character, and at first I thought he was going to be plain and perfect, but as the plot progressed and more conflicts arised, you could see how developed he was as a character.

Kaye’s writing style is very smooth, and there’s something about it that drives the story along. It’s silky, but not dull, and exciting, yet not rash. The tone flows throughout the story, and makes you want to keep reading. I just have one complaint; as the POV switches between the characters, I sometimes found it hard to distinguish between Nina and Jude. The way that Nina thought was along the same wavelength as Jude, while her words were completely different. It threw me off a little bit.

Overall, I enjoyed this story, and I recommend it to anyone that wants a quick read that is full of emotions (not going to lie, I cried at one part).

Book Review | Enchantment by Orson Scott Card

3.5/5 stars

Everyone’s heard the story before. The man wakes up the princess with a kiss, and everyone lives happily after. But what happens after that? Using this base, Card develops a story that stems from the after, which doesn’t prove to be so happy.

We follow the story of Ivan, from the moment he sees Katerina atop of the pedestal, beautiful, and sleeping. The first time he sees her, he runs, because of a mysterious creature lurking beneath the leaves. As an adult, he finds his way back to her, and this time, he does not run. He catapults into a story filled with magic, deceit, and romance.

This is only the second book I’ve read by Orson Scott Card. The first I’ve read of his was Ender’s Game, which was phenemonal, and truly enjoyable. I know that there are companion novels to that book, so I will definitely be picking them up. In the mean time, I read Enchantment, which I enjoyed, but not as much as I thought I would.

Compared to other books that I’ve rated, perhaps a 4/5 stars would be a more accurate rating for this novel, but I expected more from this novel, and I guess I was a little disappointed. Nevertheless, it was still a good read.

The pacing was a little slow for my taste. If you’ve seen the book, you’ll know that it’s quite thick, and the print is fairly small. There were parts that I believed were unnecessary, and made me want to put the book down.

His writing style though is incredible. It draws the reader in. There’s something so melodic about it, yet he can transform it into the character’s perspective. Each character has a distinctive voice, while still keeping in tune with the lyrical style of Card’s.

Speaking about the characters… They weren’t my favorite. Ivan was a good guy, but he seemed too plain. He was nice, and that was all he was. His mother, had a very intricate background, and I would have liked to see more of her perspective throughout the novel. There were only a few characters that I was actually interested in, and most of them were minor characters, so I wasn’t really invested in my emotions.

However, what made up for that was the concept of this novel. I love learning about different cultures, and different religions, and seeing it from a view from the past, and the present, was really interesting. I also really enjoyed the mix of fairy tales, it was a fresh spin on an overused idea.

Overall, I do recommend this book to anyone who’s contemplating reading it, just bear in mind that it’s not his best (it’s still great!).

Book Review | The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr

3/5 stars

Lucy used to have her life figured out. She used to be the star. But at 16, with her piano performance life behind her, she’s adjusting to become a regular, average, teen, content with having her ten year old brother in the spotlight. She doesn’t even look at the piano anymore, let alone touch it. Suddenly, a new person comes into her life; Gus’ piano teacher. And he’s determined to bring back Lucy’s love of music back.

May I just say that cover is absolutely stunning! It’s so simple and clean, that I can’t stop looking at it. Also, it really does relate to the storyline very well, and the pink nail polish on the girls’ nails makes it that much more hard hitting.

I really enjoyed Sara Zarr’s writing style. I haven’t read any of her other books, so I can’t make comparisons, but wow, I felt like I was part of the story. Not only are the characters believeable, but the plot (although sometimes quite predictable) flowed smoothly.

Lucy actually seemed like a teenage girl. Sometimes in YA novels, authors have trouble with relating to the teenage angst (ha ha), but Zarr achieved it very well. There was a mix of confusion and anger, blended with love and pride. Her characters weren’t static. All of them were well rounded with the ability to feel emotions. They were believeable.

That being said, there were some things that bothered with me this novel. First of all, Lucy’s “affair” (though it wasn’t really an affair) with Will (Gus’ teacher). I felt that it was unecessary, and it was too ironic that it related to Reyna’s parents. Also I felt like Carson’s place in the plot wasn’t continuous. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but after we find out about something, nothing really comes of it, and I honestly am very curious about it.

Overall, it was a light and easy read, and perhaps because of my background with classical music, it was very relatable to me. I’ll definitely be picking up more of Sara Zarr’s books!