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REVIEW: The Goodbye Girls

REVIEW: The Goodbye Girls

The Goodbye Girls

by Lisa Harrington 

4/5 stars

“It’s weird, knowing something about someone they don’t know themselves. He had no idea what’s coming”

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36973951-the-goodbye-girls

Lizzie Turner wants nothing more than to travel on the class trip to New York. Of course, that sounds easy until she realizes how much money it will cost to go – money that Lizzie and her family certainly don’t have. When she notices a trend among the students at her school she turns it into a business to save money for the trip. The business? Breaking hearts. Lizzie and her best friend, Willa, deliver “break-up baskets” to students, hired anonymously to break up on behalf of a classmate. Everything becomes more complicated when someone tries to sabotage them and they end up as some of the most hated people in the school.

The Goodbye Girls is an entertaining read, displaying a dramatic and exciting twist to the regular high-school narrative. Harrington creates a dynamic situation with characters that are dealing with both typical problems like having a crush just out of reach and very un-typical circumstances like knowing someone is going to broken up with before they do. The combination of these things made for a very compelling and fun read.

The characters were well written, though I did not find any of them particularly likable. This was not a pitfall, as they were realistic due to their flaws but I found this to bring forward a lack of proper motivation for some of their actions.

Overall, I found the book to be a fun read with some thought-provoking moments. I found the ending to be abrupt, not nearly giving closure on all the storylines that were presented in the novel and left many of the climax points open-ended and wish there had been a bit more of a wrap-up. This is a great read for students in middle-school and high-school or anyone who wants to enjoy a fun read about getting through hard times, dealing with siblings, or growing up.

REVIEW: Unwritten

REVIEW: Unwritten

Unwritten 

by Tara Gilboy

4/5 stars

“we can be whoever we want”

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36431261-unwritten?ac=1&from_search=true

Twelve-year-old Gracie Freeman knows that she is a storybook character, she sees flashes of that life in her dreams, of the fire and the gorgeous Queen Cassandra. When her mother found out that her daughter was destined to die in the story, she fled to a new world with one of the pages of the magical book. When the author comes to Gracie’s small town she is overwhelmed with curiosity for her world and her story. Little does Gracie know when the author disappears before her eyes, that she has alerted the Queen to their position and she will have to enter her story and face who she was suppose to be, questioning who she wants to be in the process.

This was a fun, very short read. I really enjoyed the fresh, unique concept of a fairy-tale character walking around our world and was not disappointed. What made this book for me was that Gracie struggled with how her past was going to affect her future and who she was as a person and in doing so she came to realize that our choices define us, nothing else. I think this is a great message for readers, all packaged up in a quick and fun read for middle-grade readers. The writing and setting made this an even more fun and interesting read, whimsy running through every page.

It was not a very long read and I think it could have used a little bit more detail as I was not entirely sure of the Queen’s motivations or much of the side-story that Gracie was from, but I think it was a great read with a great message.

 

REVIEW: Geekerella

REVIEW: Geekerella

Geekerella

by Ashley Poston

4/5 stars

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30724132-geekerella?ac=1&from_search=true

Geekerella is a fresh and dynamic approach to the classic Cinderella tale. Set in the twenty-first century, this version incorporates the struggles of Cinderella’s classic character arc – stepsisters, stepmother, loneliness, etc – and spins them with the use of modern technology and every-day life in a digital world. Danielle (Elle) is a huge fangirl for the Starfield series, a sci-fi franchise she shared a love for with her parents before their deaths. The series is set for a reboot and, much to Elle’s distaste, the lead is to be played by 18-year-old soap opera heartthrob, Darien Freeman. Mistaken connections lead Elle and Darien to become friends through text, sharing their love for Starfield. Elle’s ticket to freedom comes in the form of her Dad’s brainchild, ExcelciCon, where Darien will be in promotion for the movie. Elle and Darien have no idea that their dreamy texting connections are closer than they know.

We all know the story of Cinderella… I would think. There have been adaptions upon adaptions for this classic story and it is a very difficult thing to stand out among the pile of neverending Ellas. I thought that Poston did an excellent job making her characters current and the story as unique as possible. The thread of Starflight was an exciting piece of the story, giving the story more depth than a simple contemporary YA.

I was surprised that I enjoyed Darien’s character the most, as many of Cinderella’s princes have very little story-line beyond being the love-interest. Elle seemed like a less dynamic character than Darien, and throughout the novel, I didn’t get a lot of her personality of personal preferences as I would have liked. That being said, I thought that that for the amount of story – it was not a very long book – this glazing over the characterization didn’t affect my reading experience (mainly because I was so engrossed by the sci-fi aspect).

My overall thoughts on this novel were that it makes for a fantastic read when you might desire something a bit lighter and yet unlike the cleanse that so many contemporaries also provide, this one is spun through with an intriguing sci-fi thread. If you never get sick of the Cinderella story, then you’ll absolutely love this one as well.

ps. Ashley Poston’s new sci-fi novel makes a lot more sense now. I was confused at her complete 180 in genre but am now very excited and more likely to read her new work, Heart of Iron.

 

REVIEW: The Cruel Prince

REVIEW: The Cruel Prince

The Cruel Prince 

by Holly Black

4/5 stars

“I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.”

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26032825-the-cruel-prince

Jude has been stolen away alongside her twin sister Taryn and older sister Vivienne. As young kids, Vivienne’s biological father kills their parents and spirits them away to the faeries realm under the hill. Treated as gentry, they want for nothing, except that as full humans, they are treated as lowly by peers. Jude decided that one day she’s had enough and fights back against Prince Cardan and his cruel sneers. In an attempt for a power of her own, she is ensnared in a plot for the crown and has to bargain and lie, making choices that will change the path of everyones lives.

I knew I was going to love this book on the basis that A. Faeries B. Holly Black… that’s it, that’s all it took for me to be completely head over heals for this book! The imagery of Holly Black’s faeries are so beautifully crafted, they are human-like but always so creatively different and magical, this book was no exception.

SPOILERS:

The sisters: Jude, Taryn, and Vivi all had very different personalities but all had their flaws and irks. Jude, the main character, is bloodthirsty for a world that she matters, I think her reaction to the world and her circumstances was reasonable, even if some of her decisions and actions I didn’t agree with. I thought her progression into being a killer was a little abrupt and unfeeling, but overall I found Jude was someone I wanted to root for (for now). Taryn drove me crazy, I would have thrown down in a battle with her too! I found her to be a pathetic character, not pathetically written, just pathetic. Her secrecy and wishy-washy feelings was a little confusing, and I hope there is more explanation in the next book to why she is the way she is. Vivi we didn’t get much information from but she filled out the role of big sister very well and I think her character was the most likeable of the three, even being the rebel she was.

The dipwad: Locke, you dipwad.

The princes: We all love bad boys? right? I found that Cardan toed the line between being overly cruel and understandably so given his circumstances. He also flopped to a completely different character when held captive, much more swoon-worthy and less morally repugnant. I am interested to see more of this side of him in the next book, because at the moment he still sounds like a spoiled brat with no depth. Dain… what a puzzle, I was sure he was going to turn out to be evil and he was? I think? He definitely did some bad things, but he wouldn’t have been that terrible of a ruler. Balekin just seems like an altogether awful guy, not only does he keep humans in a horrifying way and beat his brother, he just seems like a bad ruler and horrible choice for the throne. I hope he dies.

The story: The story was a nice flow of action and world-building. I thought some of the transitions were a bit fast and could have been drawn out more, but maybe thats me just wanting more book… I am excited to see what happens next, as much of this books felt like a prequel to the real story. I feel as if The Cruel Prince brushed the surface of everything: characters, plot, story, and I’m hoping theres more in the next instalment.

Overall I enjoyed the book and the story it told immensely and I am ready for the next one, which is out… no time soon.

 

REVIEW: My Lady’s Choosing

REVIEW: My Lady’s Choosing

 

My Lady’s Choosing

by Kitty Curran

 

4.5/5 stars

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36054958-my-lady-s-choosing

“The carriage arrives at your destination, and you are shaken by your gloomy thoughts – if only for a moment. Perhaps tonight will be the night that everything changes?”

This choose-your-own-adventure incorporates your wildest fantasy of joining the cast of a Jane Austen book and the nagging sense of mystery and adventure. You get to be your own heroine, making your own choices and dealing with the consequences. This book is great for those who find themselves yelling at their romance novel heroines for picking the wrong guy or ending up in an unfortunate circumstance.

The journey begins in a second-person perspective walk-through of your characters and your desires. You are given the chance to get into character before making any big decisions on behalf of your new persona. This introduction was handled very well and piqued my excitement to continue through the book. You are also first introduced to several of the main characters, who may become love interests to you, should you choose them and their adventures. When first reading the book, I thought that these were the only love interests available, but going through my first read-through that proved not to be true, as I ended up somewhere completely different and with someone completely different than I had first thought I would.

I loved that the choices were made with a wit and hilarity that made the book so much more enjoyable to read. I found myself laughing and giggling at the choices and the way they were presented. The only pit-fall for me in this book was that there was no way to back-track. Losing your page is not an option because there is no “came from page so and so” at the top if you wanted to reread a section. Other than that I found it very readable and the page flipping grew my anticipation to further the story.

Another thing I was overjoyed about was the possibility of a LGBTQA+ relationship in the mix. So many stories blatantly disregard minorities and this book allows for your own sense of choice, taking into consideration that not everyone falls into the mould that victorian life perpetuates.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for something a little different as a way to spice up their reading and make their romantic hearts flutter (giggling along the way). It is a fun read that can take you 45 minutes or several days to complete. I, for one, will be going back in to see who I may end up with next time… a handsome rouge perhaps? a wealthy and witty lord?

 

REVIEW: Emergency Contact

REVIEW: Emergency Contact

Emergency Contact

by Mary H. K. Choi

5/5 stars

” “Even so,” she said. “You’re the best person I ever met. And my favorite.” “And you’re mine.” “

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35297272-emergency-contact

Penny, newly starting in university, is excited to get away from her MILF mother and become the Sci-fi writer she has always dreamed of being. Sam is still hung up on his beautiful ex-girlfriend and needs to get his life together. The two of them seem to find themselves by finding each other and they lean on one another, over text of course (because IRL is scary and who needs human contact?), through the hardships they are both facing. This book is laugh-out-loud funny at times and heart-wrenchingly real in others, blending to make a current and familiar story of moving through pain and learning to grow.

It has been a very long time since a book has pulled at my soul the way this one has. It is achingly real and current, the dynamic, flawed characters and the intense relationships that bond them bringing an insight into connections in a digital era and our own insecurities. Each chapter felt like a journey that I was both living in my own life and watching happen to a friend. I think the relationships and concerns in this novel are relevant to everyone growing up and coming to terms with their own pitfalls, which, incidentally happens to be most of the population. Everyone at one point has likely found themselves in a time of loneliness and struggle, held things back from the people around them or pushed people away because it all seemed “too much”. This novel does an excellent job at showcasing the desperate need to lean on others and to open up even if it is terrifying, even if you aren’t particularly close with anyone.

Penny was relatable, I could se myself in some of the decisions she made. She was far from perfect, but unlike some other contemporaries where the flaws make the characters “quirky”, Penny’s flaws made her real. As an individual that keeps everything in her bag from band-aids, to snacks, to lysol wipes, I could relate to Penny’s scattering brain and need for structure. I enjoyed that the texts between her and Sam weren’t flirty or serious, but everyday things that come to ones mind, meaningless and nonsensical. Penny was clearly a character that was continuing to develop even as the book came to a close, not neatly wrapped up with some sort of epiphany at the end, making for a satisfying and hopeful character arc. Sam was much the same, still figuring things out throughout the novel and past the end of the book. I enjoyed that Sam felt like a typical contemporary “bad boy” but in a more realistic way. He wasn’t stereotypically masculine and it was clear that he struggled with self identity among other things, giving him depth. Overall I felt the characters, even the side characters, had very real struggles, not just plot devices, which was refreshing to see in a contemporary novel.

REVIEW: Emma Ever After

REVIEW: Emma Ever After

Emma Ever After

by Brigid Coady

3/5 stars

“The swooping feeling of being on a rollercoaster flew through her and for the first time she wanted to take her hands off the bars and let it take her on the ride.”

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36006849-emma-ever-after?ac=1&from_search=true

Emma Ever After is a contemporary novel based of Jane Austen’s Emma. In this version, Emma Woodhouse is a planner, a hard worker, and quite the control freak. She manages fake relationships – or fauxmances – at Mega! Management to help build the media coverage and popularity of celebrity clientele. She has a plan to stick to and refuses to deviate from that, even if she might be just a little bit completely in love with her roommate and former boyband superstar George (Gee) Knightly. While on a high profile assignment to set up a boyband with girlfriends she runs into some trouble when the boys refuse to cooperate. Emma tries everything she can to make everyone stick to her plan, but along the way is faced with the daunting ask of looking at her life from a different angle, one that tips her world.

Overall, the novel was very readable, it was light and quick and uncomplicated. I find many contemporaries to be predictable, and since I had already known the story of Emma, this fell under that category as well. However, I found it a nice book to read for relaxing as nothing was too high-stakes. The setting of the novel is in England, but beside the occasional mention for media purposes, there was not a lot of description with the setting. This was disappointing as I would have enjoyed a bit more of a backdrop on Emma’s life, but it did not take away from the story.

The characters and the plot were the focus of this novel. The plot was a little repetitive and tedious but flowed together really well with the events of the story and the timeline of what was happening. I enjoyed that the author decided to address the topic of biphobia within her novel as it is an incredibly important topic and usually overlooked by the general public. That being said, the main character is the one being biphobic most of the time, having a very ignorant outlook on the LGBTQA+ community, therefore some of her thoughts were uncomfortable to read because I did not agree with her. This can be tricky as every reader should be mindful that the characters they are reading about are flawed and not always good examples, as the case is with Emma. I think the author generally handled it well and I enjoyed the end notes they provided that focused on the stigma on bisexual people, but I think there could have been more dialogue and turmoil in Emma’s interior monologue to suggest her dynamic change regarding the subject throughout the novel.

Something that was unfortunate regarding the characters was that Emma was almost the only female in the entire novel and was most certainly the only female with any shred of sense. Understandably, being based off a novel where women had very little agency, there would be threads of that, but I found it to be incredibly disappointing that in a novel about a woman seemingly empowering herself, there would be other women around. I did enjoy that there were LGBTQA+ characters and thought that it brought a lot to the novel, but it seemed unrealistic that all of Emma’s friends were gay or bi men and I would have liked to see more female representation.

 

Overall, I found this to be a very different and unique retelling of Emma and was entertained throughout the novel (if a little frustrated with her character). Reading about the boyband and the way that Emma regarded relationship and the medias purpose within them was really thought provoking and eye opening. The work that she does throughout the novel is important in societies current use of social media and our views on celebrities. It was a interesting, back-stage approach to the media and how our lives and relationships have been affected by social media and the internet.

 

 

REVIEW: Furyborn

REVIEW: Furyborn

Furyborn

by Claire Legrand

3.75/5 stars

“Hot points of energy surged away from her fingertips, like needles stabbing their way out of her skin. The gold flooding the room careened away in spinning whorls of light.”

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34323570-furyborn

Furyborn is an epic high fantasy that spans a thousand years, from the fall of the great empire to the beginning of the uprising. Two queens were prophesied; one of blood and one of the sun. This novel follows Rielle, struggling to gain control of her immense power and fight against the angels that are breaking their way back into her world. Elaina, a thousand years later, an assassin for hire, goes on an unexpected journey to find her mother who has been taken by a group of elusive beings who have been stealing women and girls away for months. This novel follows both these incredibly strong women in their fight for themselves, those they love, and their world.

The plot/structure: The novel is a dual perspective high fantasy, each chapter switching perspectives back and forth between the two main women. When world building, this can be really jarring and confusing and I found the first bit to be hard to get into as the perspectives were a thousand years apart and thus there were almost two completely different worlds being built at the same time. That being said, this didn’t take away from the content of the novel and the interesting way the events unfolded. After the first bit, the perspective switching was something that kept me engaged, as I was so into both stories.

The characters: Both protagonists were strong women and that was evident right from the beginning. Rielle was complex, trying to push back against all the prejudice against her from a young age. I thought she handled her situation very well and admired her ability to fight for herself and those she loved despite all the challenges she faced. I found Elaina to be strong as well, but in a very different way. Her character was suppose to come off as “badass” but fell a little short and almost came off as unfeeling or psychotic. As the book went on it seemed that her character changed to make her a little more realistic, but those changes seemed to come from nowhere. I enjoyed her kickass nature nonetheless and was excited to see her character develop. The characters I enjoyed the most were the side characters: Evelyne, Ludivine, Remy. I thought they would be interesting to get to know and I was happily surprised by the depth some of them had.

The story: I enjoyed the story quite a lot, though it was similar to some other high fantasy novels I have read, it had many elements that intrigued me. The concept of these angels trying to escape and take over was a terrifying impending doom for the characters. It was interesting that the reader gets the ending before the beginning, the story working toward that prologue. This gave a good connection to the two perspectives but was a tad frustrating, knowing the fate of the characters. I am interested to see what happens in the next book to both of the protagonists.

 

REVIEW: The Little Clan

REVIEW: The Little Clan

The Little Clan

by Iris Martin Cohen

3/5 Stars

“She wondered why, in the reflected glow of the scenery she had worked so hard to create, she felt a small internal deflation, a sigh, a hesitation; it didn’t quite feel as satisfying as she had expected.”

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35457939-the-little-clan

This novel follows a young woman with an old soul, lost in her own life, running while staying in the same place. Never leaving her comfort zone and never trying new things, she works in the library of the Lazarus club and lives in the apartments above. Her best friend Stephanie, ambitious and a little over the top, comes barreling back into Ava’s life one day and they decide (Stephanie decides and does everything) that they are going to open a literary club. Filled with Great Gatsby themes and the journey to self-discovery, getting out of ones comfort zone, this novel is a fun and thought-provoking read.

SPOILERS:

Ava: I was intrigued by Ava at first. A lover of classic novels (only written by men), and a true introvert, she clashed with the back-drop of New York City life. I found Ava to be prudish, selfish, and a “better than thou” attitude. She dressed differently and played heavily on her unique attributes, succumbing to what I would call “special snowflake syndrome”. Her tendency to put herself above others did not, however, take away from the realism of her character. Ava was not a character I was hoping would grow up throughout the novel and branch out from her inner thoughts to care about the people around her. In the end, she did change in minute ways but continued to feel self important throughout the novel. This made her a frustrating character to root for.

Stephanie: The back story of Stephanie was intriguing and gave great insight into her motivations. I found her to be a dynamic and interesting character that I wanted to know more about. Because the story was told through Ava’s eyes for the most part, Stephanie was antagonized during certain sections of the novel. I found Stephanie’s story to be tragic and realistic and I was rooting for her throughout the story to grow and become a more well rounded individual.

Story: The overall story was beautifully written and laid out wonderfully. The progression of the story and the way the writing flowed was very well done. The New York scene was an interesting setting that helped the story to progress in a fast-paced and chaotic manner. While there were parts of the story that dragged, the majority of the story had a natural and fun progression and it was an enjoyable and dynamic book.

REVIEW: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

REVIEW: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

by Mackenzi Lee

5/5 Stars

“If the Good Lord didn’t want men to play with themselves, we’d have hooks for hands”

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29283884-the-gentleman-s-guide-to-vice-and-virtue

Lord Henry Montague (Monty), a lover of revels and vices, is going on his last hurrah, a trip to the continent with his best friend, Percy, and his sister, Felicity. Afterward he is to settle into his role as the eldest son of his house. Only problem is, he is madly in love with Percy and can’t stand to be around his annoying sister. And of course, as any story goes, the plan doesn’t exactly go the way it was supposed to. Filled with awkward moments, hilarious dialogue, the occasional pirate and a few scandals, this novel is a fun trip around Europe.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue had me laughing and swooning from the first chapter, that continued throughout the novel and right up until the very last page. Within moments of beginning the novel, I was hooked. The writing and witty banter made me want to revel in the moment, emerging myself into the story.

SPOILERS

Monty in a self-centered, mess of a young man. He can’t seem to keep himself from trouble, whether its with the drink, the ladies, or the lads, he always seems to get himself into the worst situations. While Monty may not have been someone I wanted to idolize, he had several characteristics that made me love him. The dimples. Yup. the amount of times he whipped those beautiful things out was hilarious, and I will be honest, I would probably have swooned too. He may have been cocky, but there is something very magnetic about a character that loves themselves – even if it may have been a tad too much. His love for Percy, and occasionally Felicity, was a contrast to his actions. Despite his reckless attitude, he truly wanted to be better for his loved ones. Monty was a dynamic, hilarious character that had flaws (a lot of them) and became a living being through Lee’s writing.

The plot was a hilarious road-trip fantasy gone wrong and done right. I couldn’t seem to stop thinking about these characters and what would happen next. On top of the wonderfully dynamic characters and scenic setting, the writing flowed with the perfect tone of the novel and rose and fell with the characters and the way the plot was progressing. It may have been a fun read, but sewn into it were some really difficult topics like gender inequality, homophobia, racism, abuse, and illness. It seems that Lee was able to create a world that was fun and engaging by entwining such relevant and pressing societal and economic topics into a somewhat silly narrative. The way it was all handled was done so well and it made for a very real novel and characters that were engaging and easy to relate to.

Overall, I couldn’t say enough about how wonderfully written the characters, struggles, and adventure plot was done. It was a movie playing in my mind that I would read over and over again.