"I spent my life folded between the pages of books." -Tahereh Mafi

Some of my reviews are normal non-spoilery reviews. But some of reviews contain lots and lots of spoilers to help you (and me!) remember what happened when the next book in the series finally comes out. Both review types are clearly marked.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

This review is spoiler free!!

4/5 stars

So many feels! The author obviously understands grief and how it feels to lose someone you love. There's a lot to identify with for anyone who's experienced loss. If you are lucky enough to have not yet lost someone you love, this book will give you a glimpse of what it's like. And if you have experienced that type of loss, there's so many times you'll say "yep, that's it."

When Ty first died, she was there every time I turned around, her eyes worried and bloodshot with crying. "Are you okay?" she'd ask, over and over and over. No, moron, I'd think. I am not okay. My brother's dead. But I'd suck it up and say, "Yeah, I'm okay," which after a few days gave way to a weak nod, and then she'd say something like "Let me know if you need anything" or "I'm here if you want to talk." Which, after a while, I figured out was what she really wanted me to do. She wanted me to talk about Ty. About his death. About my feelings about his death. And suddenly I got the distinct feeling that she wanted me to cry, so that she could be my shoulder to cry on. She wanted me to break down so that she could build me back up, so she could be my stellar bestie who got me through the worst.
True story - 8 years after my mom's death, I still refuse to spend Mother's Day with my extended family because everyone looks at me like I should be sobbing the entire day. No thanks. 

I loved the main character. She's geeky, but not unrealistically so. She's consumed with grief and guilt over her brother's suicide so she ends up pushing away all the people who care about her. Her best friends, her boyfriend, her parents, everyone. There's some great friendships and there's a sweet little romance. The romance definitely isn't over the top and it's not like the guy "saves" her from grief or anything stupid like that. They were in love before her brother died and she pushed him away. 

Find at Goodreads

The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson

This review is spoiler free!!

3/5 stars

This wasn't bad, but it wasn't great. I really just feel indifferent about it. I feel indifferent about all the characters. I feel indifferent about the plot. 
After Andrew's family dies at the hospital following a car accident, he stays at the hospital because he doesn't want to deal with real life. He gets involved in many of the lives of the staff and patients. But I found most of the characters and their stories boring. And predictable. 

It's not that I hated the main character but I just didn't really care what happened to him. I didn't really care about any of the characters. There was just nothing here that grabbed me. At all. There's nothing bad here though, so that's the good thing.

Solitaire by Alice Oseman

This review is spoiler free!!

My rating: 3/5 stars

In case you're wondering, the blurb lies - this is a love story. Which, btw, I'm totally okay with - I love love stories! And it isn't too romance heavy, but it's definitely there and it's definitely one of, if not the, main storyline in the book. So if you're looking for no romance, look elsewhere.

The best thing about this book for me was the characters. Michael is basically the manic pixie dream boy, which I'm a sucker for. Tori is an uber-introvert. I'm an introvert, but she really takes it to the extreme. In her own words, she's a "pessimist introvert psychopath."

Sometimes I still feel that I might be the only person with a consciousness, like a video game protagonist, and everyone else are computer-generated extras who have only a select few actions, such as "initiate meaningless conversation" and "hug."
Agreed! lol This is a ya novel, so of course she grows throughout the novel.

The plot was pretty boring actually. There's this random group called Solitaire and they're pulling a bunch of pranks in Tori's school. And eventually she decides she wants to figure out who and why. But she doesn't really do a lot of investigative work or anything - the answer basically just falls into her lap.

link to Goodreads

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Glass Arrow by Kristen Simmons

This review is spoiler free!!

My rating: 4/5 stars

 A standalone dystopian!!

I know, it's crazy!! The really insane thing is that she totally could have stretched this out into a trilogy. Hell, she could have made it into a trilogy with 2 novellas, not because it was necessary but just to squeeze more money from us (cough) The Selection (cough). But she didn't and I totally appreciate that.

This isn't your typical dystopian. What sets it apart is mostly the end so I won't share it here, but you can read my Goodreads review and click on the spoiler tag if you want to know. 

This book will make you angry and disgusted in the way a good dystopian should. The world is bleak and horrible things happen, especially to women. There were numerous times that I wanted to crawl into this world and murder everyone.

Women are treated like property in this world and it's just awful. It's the kind of book that should make you mad. This is definitely not a light and fluffy book.

Find it on Goodreads

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Duff by Kody Keplinger

This review is spoiler free!!

My rating: 4/5 stars

I'm planning on seeing the movie tonight (the theater near me does $5 ticket Tuesdays!! How can I resist that?), so obviously I had to read the book first. The trailer looks good but totally and completely different from the book. So please don't judge this book on its movie!!

I was expecting another shallow, vapid YA contemporary. Which, admittedly, I do like. But this was so much better than my expectations!

The plot is a bit predictable and not totally original, but it was still awesome. It felt very real. It's about a lot more than just her low self-esteem and romance. There's a lot of family drama that she has to deal with. Or more accurately, she avoids dealing with it. Which obviously doesn't work very well, but come on - she's a teenager! She shouldn't have to deal with an absent mom and an alcoholic father!

The romance aspects were totally predictable. But it was still cute. Even though Wesley is kind of a jerk, I still found myself rooting for him. And the strong anti-slut shaming message had me cheering.

Calling Vikki a slut or a whore was just like calling someone the Duff. It was insulting and hurtful and it was one of those titles that just fed off of an inner fear every girl must have from time to time. Slut, bitch, prude, tease, ditz. They were all the same. Every girl felt like one of these sexist labels described her at some point. So, maybe, every girl felt the Duff, too?

And it's always nice to see genuine female friendship in YA books. Mostly because it's so rare. :/ I was talking to my husband about this book and he assumed (I guess from the movie trailer or from the book title) that this book was about an ugly girl that was chosen by her friends especially for that reason so they would look better. No, not at all. In the book, Bianca isn't ugly; she's just not as hot as her friends. Although, more accurately, she just doesn't put in the same effort to look hot as her friends do. And when she finally gets around to opening up to her friends about this duff stuff, this is her bff's reaction:

"I'm the Duff.""Sorry. The what?""Duff.""Is that even a word?""The designated ugly fat friend," I sighed. "The unattractive girl in the group. That's me.""That's stupid.""Is it?" I snapped. "Is it really that stupid, Casey? Look at you. Look at Jessica. You two look like you jumped out of an issue of Teen Vogue. I can't compete with that. So, yea, I'm the fucking Duff.""Seriously, Bianca," Casey said. "You are not the Duff. If any of us is the Duff, it's me.""Funny.""I'm not joking," she insisted. "I'm still made at you, so why would I got out of my way to be nice? I mean, I'm like freaking Bigfoot. I'm six one now! Most guys have to look up to see my face, and no guy likes being shorter than a chick. At least you're cute and petite. I'd kill to be your height... and to have your eyes. You have way prettier eyes than me."