Review of ‘By the Book’ by Julia Sonneborn

By the BookBy the Book by Julia Sonneborn

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Though it happens to be a loosely based, modern-day adaption of Jane Austen‘s Persuasion, By the Book is entertaining with its fun, comedic timing, as well as a premise that had me engaged from beginning to end!


My Synopsis:

In By the Book, Anne Corey is the contemporary version of Persuasion‘s Anne Elliot, with a bit more ambition to fit in with the modern storyline. Like the latter, she’s still single after having allowed herself to be persuaded to break off an engagement with this story’s Wentworth, Adam Martinez some years earlier. But while she’s working on retaining a position as a professor of the college she’s currently employed with – as well as writing her first, full-length novel – she’s startled by the reappearance of her ex, who also happens to end up being the school’s newly appointed president… Though Anne feels she’s moved on, what with a new romance and all the busyness in her bustling life, with Adam in her sights, she can’t help but find it hard to ignore him and wonder if maybe he feels the same way, too.


My Thoughts:

By the Book really was an easy, entertaining read, and a lot of that definitely has to do with the fact that the characters were so well-written! I loved reading about Anne’s past with Adam, as well as her current romance with the suave, Rick Chasen. Obviously, I couldn’t help comparing events and peoples to those found in Persuasion, but I feel like Julia Sonneborn did a good job with putting her own spin on things, and I can’t even begin to say how much I loved Anne’s best friend Larry!!! He was hilarious, and brought with him some new elements that helped with the modernization of Jane Austen‘s story.

Another thing I personally liked, was that this Anne’s father wasn’t so unlikable. I found myself detesting Anne Elliot’s father because of how pompous he was and his narcissism, but this Anne’s father seemed to have more reasoning behind his actions and words, even if they didn’t end up bringing the outcomes we wanted to see.

I could go on with the things I liked about this book – for instance, all the hilarity involving one Jack Lindsey – but I think I’ll leave the rest for you to discover when you read this book, because yes, I do recommend it!

Thank you to Gallery Books, via Netgalley, for giving me this copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of ‘Fir’ by Sharon Gosling

FirFir by Sharon Gosling

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Fir is either my fourth or fifth book from the Red Eye horror collection, and so far, probably my least favorite – not that I would really classify it in the ‘favorites’ category, but you get my point. For starters, this book took forever to do just that, start. A good quarter of the book was some nonsense about trees needing to be harvested, children running around, and a particularly nasty housekeeper, but I honestly can’t say I remember if there was really anything actually going on to allude to this being a horror novel in this particular section of the book (besides the housekeeper, maybe). Then again, my being unable to remember could probably just be because this book never quite pulled me in…so, there is that.

Anyway, when this book finally starts to roll along into the horror aspect, I find that I’m already pretty detached from the story and its characters. The MC was alright, but there were also a lot of moments that had me wanting to shake some sense into her. And her parents? One is mostly absent throughout the novel, while the other chooses to either ignore MC’s concerns, or shut them down completely as nonsense. The only other character to really mention is the housekeeper, but she was more so nasty than scary to me, so it was hard to get any genuine horror from her, because I was more so annoyed with how horrible she was to the ones employing her.

So, besides a dislike for characters, I didn’t really care for the “scare tactics”. This book just did not scare me, and that has to be one of the biggest disappointments for me. I kept hoping for something, but even with the potential of creepy children, this book was just not scary. Even mentions of an old Scandinavian folklore plaguing the forest around the MC’s home ended up doing nothing for me. I feel like there were so many interesting ideas introduced, but maybe there just wasn’t all that much time for them to be executed, because apparently, what we needed more was “character development”, and to see the family’s day to day life before things begin to happen.

At this point, I think it’s safe to say that I didn’t like this book. The only reason it’s a two star for me is because I still find myself intrigued by the folklore, and wouldn’t mind looking into it further at some point.

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Review of ‘Strange Weather’ by Joe Hill

Strange WeatherStrange Weather by Joe Hill

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve decided that I’m going to sort of break down each novel into somewhat separate reviews, and give them each their own rating, since I definitely liked certain ones more than the others.


SNAPSHOT
– 2.5 stars
This one had to be my least favorite. I was very interested in the idea of a camera that steals away memories every time a picture is taken of someone, but I was so disappointed by how the story wrapped up. I feel like it could have either gone into more details explaining the camera’s origin, or maybe not have shown what was powering the camera at all, because it ended up leaving me unfulfilled. The story in itself was interesting enough, but the ending just ruined it for me, so this one is probably the one I liked the least.


LOADED
– 4 stars
Anyone who follows the news these days (even those who don’t necessarily do so by choice) will likely hear about some sort of shooting happening. For those of us who live in the US, we’re quite familiar (sadly) with such aggression, so this novel felt like it hit close to home. Loaded starts out with an experience that is so similar to that of Stephon Clark, that I couldn’t help but feel emotional reading it. It continues on with another shooting happening at a later time, though this one involves more casualties-one of which was super hard to read about-it instead is mostly centered on the man who becomes a media sensation for stopping a mass shooter. But this man is not as heroic as people think, and his murky mind definitely gave me the chills. This novel in general is a hard read, and I can’t say that I loved the content, but it’s enlightening and well-written.


ALOFT
-3.5 stars
This one was an interesting one for me. I found it to be a pretty unique story, as well as just plain strange. The MC is a young man who happens to go sky-diving with a group of friends, only to chicken out when it’s his time to jump. He’s forced to jump anyway, thus landing on the cloud that becomes the main setting of this story. The cloud begins a strange understanding with the MC, creating things for him out of its mist, but one cannot live without the necessities to sustain one’s life, so obviously his relationship with the cloud becomes strained, and he desires to leave it. While he’s on this cloud, he happens to think back on his “relationship” with the girl he likes and it seems that he also slowly comes to understand his role in her life. I wasn’t a big fan of this novel because I really didn’t like the MC. He didn’t seem to understand boundaries, and I felt overwhelmed by his eagerness to be close to the girl he likes. I think it’s mostly because I myself would have a hard time being around such a person, that I didn’t like him.


RAIN
-5 stars
This was my favorite novel in the book. I really liked the MC, Honeysuckle, and really, the whole sequence of events! Imagine that it rains one day, but instead of the normal rain one’d expect, the rain is literally made up of thousands of needles, and is even described as “ripping people apart”, the casualties from the first rain (yes, this type of rain happens more than once) are tremendous. Honeysuckle suffers a significant loss straightaway, and she has several journeys that have her coming across all types of things and peoples, leading to such an entertaining read!

Overall, I liked this book more than I didn’t. The two novels I rated higher far outweighed the two I found to be lacking. I’ll be glad to recommend the two I’d liked, and as for the other two…they weren’t bad, they just had something that ended up bothering me personally, so I can’t say if you’d feel the same.

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Review of ‘Restore Me (Shatter Me, #4)’ by Tahereh Mafi

Restore Me (Shatter Me, #4)Restore Me by Tahereh Mafi

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What started off as a slow read for me (I was at 16%, saying how boring this book was) turned out to be surprisingly more interesting!

**Please do not continue if you haven’t already read the previous trilogy. I won’t be writing any spoilers for this book, but I do mention some things from book 2 and 3. So please, continue at your own risk.**

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

That being said, in Restore Me, it’s only been a little over two weeks since the fall of Sector 45, and of Juliette crowning herself ‘Supreme Commander’ of it. For now, the fight against The Reestablishment seems to be on pause, and none of the other Supreme Commanders appear to be taking action against her, so for a good 25% of the book, NOTHING seemed to be happening. Juliette and Warner were being annoying, not really talking about the different things that were plaguing them about each other, so there was all this unnecessary back and forth between them until the real plot comes around.

We now have conflict! New characters! As well as new issues on the romantic front!

I mean, you had to have seen the latter coming, because we can’t have perfect romances in YA, can we?

But, back to the other two subjects!

Let’s first address the conflict:
As much as Juliette seemed to be enjoying her mundane days, there was always that knowledge that the other Supreme Commanders could choose to go to war with Juliette’s sector/region (North America in its entirety), so she had to be a bit on edge, wondering when something – anything – could happen, risking the safety of not only Juliette’s group of friends, but the soldiers and the families that make up Sector 45.
And then, Boom! Letters – that would eventually bring with them the senders themselves – arrive and Juliette learns that there is actually more to being a commander than just her strength. There’s politics, and all the other boring that comes with being in charge. But with arrival of an important letter, Juliette is introduced to a young man who is only the beginning of what is yet to come.

Now, for new characters:
I’m not sure how much I should still say about these new additions, so I’ll say that I’m definitely intrigued. I’m curious about their thoughts when it comes to The Reestablishment, and I look forward to seeing what roles they play – whether it’s ‘with’ or ‘against’ Juliette and her ideals. Should definitely be interesting…

Okay, so bypassing all this other stuff I began to vaguely run on about, the last quarter of this book was pretty intense! Juliette learns things about herself that she never could have imagined, and with these new discoveries comes the angst you come to expect from Juliette.
Oh well, I was starting to miss her nonsensical ramblings and the flowery descriptions of her feelings…

No, not really.

Anyway, as I’d stated earlier, this read ended up being much more interesting than I’d initially thought, and now I regrettably have to wait till next year to continue on from that cliffhanger of an ending! 😦

I’ll definitely recommend this to those who enjoyed the Shatter Me trilogy!

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Random Review of ‘The Retribution of Mara Dyer’ by Michelle Hodkin

The Retribution of Mara DyerThe Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’d originally read this book closer to it’s original publication (which was around two or three years ago), and for whatever reason, I remember liking it more than I do now. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve read the same cliches so many more times since then, but this book (this series, really) is so stereotypical, that I could’t get past how annoying it really was the second time around.

I’ll admit that I did enjoy the first two books–cliches aside–and even rated them fairly well, but man, this last book underwhelmed me, and honestly, if I hadn’t already known the series continued with The Becoming of Noah Shaw, I would have probably hated the ending more.

Why did I feel this way?

Because the first two books seemed to have all this build up, all this mystery, that promised what would be some very interesting answers, but when the answers came, seriously, I was so disappointed by how unfulfilling they were. They were revelations, sure, but I personally thought them stupid, and oh-so-typical of YA, in the sense of needing to make things more “tragic” than necessary…more “over the top”, so that our emotions will be more invested. Well, I’m pretty sure the emotions the author was hoping for probably weren’t annoyance and disappointment, but that could just be me, and I can’t speak for the general population.

Anyway, what else could I mention…? There was a good amount of purple prose that I was okay with initially, but started disliking when events and the people involved in them started annoying me. Because they’re tied up with spoilers, I won’t pinpoint particular moments, but let’s just say there were moments where I was rolling my eyes, or cringing at the cheesy, overly flowery writing…

At this point, what did I like? Right? I liked friendships…I liked getting answers (even if the answers themselves sucked)…and…?? I think I’ll just end it there, since I’m not sure there’s really much more for me to mention, in regards to things I actually liked.

If I was going to rate the trilogy as a whole, I’d probably rate it a 3.5, because of my liking the first two well enough, but as a whole, I don’t really like it all that much, so on that note, not one I will be personally recommending.

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Review of ‘This Darkness Mine’ by Mindy McGinnis

This Darkness MineThis Darkness Mine by Mindy McGinnis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Summary provided by publisher:
Sasha Stone knows her place–first-chair clarinet, top of her class, and at the side of her oxford-wearing boyfriend. She’s worked her entire life to ensure that her path to Oberlin Conservatory as a star musician is perfectly paved.

But suddenly there’s a fork in the road, in the shape of Isaac Harver. Her body shifts toward him when he walks by, her skin misses his touch even though she’s never known it, and she relishes the smell of him–smoke, beer, and trouble–all the things she’s avoided to get where she is. Even worse, every time he’s near Sasha, her heart stops, literally. Why does he know her so well–too well–and she doesn’t know him at all?

Sasha discovers that her by-the-book life began by ending another’s: the twin sister she absorbed in the womb. But that doesn’t explain the gaps of missing time in her practice schedule or the memories she has of things she certainly never did with Isaac. As Sasha loses her much-cherished control, her life–and heart–become more entangled with Isaac. Armed with the knowledge that her heart might not be hers alone, Sasha must decide what she’s willing to do–and who she’s willing to hurt–to take it back.

Edgar Award–winning author Mindy McGinnis delivers a dark and gripping psychological thriller about a girl at war with herself, and what it really means to be good or bad.
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This is going to be hard to review! So many of the things I want to mention are spoilers, but because I’d decided a long time ago I wouldn’t post them, even if they are hidden, then I will have to review this book the best that I can without giving away anything crucial.

So, I will start off with our MC, Sasha Stone. As you’ve already learned, she is pretty much as perfect as one could get without getting Biblical, and initially, her “perfection” and “high standards” just come off as annoying. She’s such a snob, and she forces her ideology onto anyone who dares to speak to her. All in all, she sounds like a real winner when it comes to the MC lottery, am I right?? Well, she doesn’t become likable or anything close to that, no, it’s all in the fact that her character became more interesting to me. I still hated her guts, and would likely have pushed her into the path of a moose or bear if I needed a distraction to save my life (I live in Alaska, so, yes, this can be relevant), but I became more intrigued by this idea that she’s missing time, and happens to find out she’d absorbed her twin in the womb. Now, I hope you’ve Sherlocked your way into realizing that these various hints mean that because she’d absorbed her twin, she absorbed everything from her…including her personality. And if you hadn’t figured that out and think I’ve given away a spoiler, then I don’t think this book is for you…
Anyway, so because of this “introduction” of a twin to this story, Sasha definitely began to interest me more, leading to my enjoying this book way more.

Then there are the people in Sasha’s life. I’ll only mention some of them, because to say anything about the latter few will be too telling of a something big that happens, so henceforth, vague I shall continueth to be!

Where was I again?
Oh, people in Sasha’s life, right.
Okay, so there exist her parents, a mother and father each. Each have their roles, though neither seem to impart the warm and fuzzy feelings that come with being a family, they seem to be good enough people and take care of our annoying MC as well as parents can.
Then there are her two friends, Brooke and Lilly. Brooke is way more interesting than Lilly, and I think it mostly has to do with her fascination of morbid things. In comparison, Lilly is milk toast. She’s boring and I’m not really sure what she brought to this trio’s friendship?? Besides that, she does exist in this book for a reason, and that I do understand.
Finally, we have Isaac (there does happen to be a “perfect” boyfriend, named Heath, but I don’t really feel there is any need to talk about Señor Douchelord, so I won’t). Isaac is the “bad boy” who is thrown into the mix because that’s what you do in YA books. You have to have a guy who “sees what others cannot…who brings out the best in you” and all that yadda yadda, so of course he’s introduced as a possible romantic interest, because wouldn’t that make the book more interesting?!
But, of course.
I liked Isaac and have nothing bad to say about him, though I did question his thought process when it came to a few things…a few things I won’t be mentioning… (Again, cause as the fantastic River Song would say, ‘Spoilers’.)

I really feel like this book kept me hooked. I was surprised when I’d read so many reviews in which people either did not like this book, or chose to DNF it, because once I’d started it, I was committed to finding out what Sasha’s deal was, and more about the absorbed twin. And the more I kept reading, the more I realized where this book was going. And the ending? I LOVED it! I really wish I could say why, but I will say that it helped reinforce my dislike for Sasha, and if you read this book to the end, you’ll likely see why.

Honestly, I’m not sure you’ll like this book, judging by how many seem not to, but I really liked it and just found it to be really entertaining! So if my review interested you at all, then you should definitely read this book and let me know what you think of it!

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Review of ‘All the Crooked Saints’ by Maggie Stiefvater

All the Crooked SaintsAll the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Ugh. I can’t even begin to tell you how disappointed I was by this book. Honestly, the only reason I gave it two stars is because I was still slightly impressed by Maggie Stiefvater‘s ability to tell a story in the most colorful way possible.

1. But colorful isn’t always an indication for amazing literacy. Nope, not when you’re reading a book and happen to come across a line like:
‘She had been wearing artificial eyelashes in the womb and when they had fallen off in the birth canal, she had lost no time in replacing them.’


???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

This wasn’t even written as a joke to somewhat tease this character for being described as ‘the most beautiful woman in Colorado Springs’, no, this pretty much only served to show you how quirky Stiefvater’s writing could be, and how unique/interesting the Soria family were supposed to be. It’s not like having a Saint in the family–with the ability to perform actual miracles–wasn’t already interesting enough or anything like that…

Why don’t we move on to other things I didn’t like? Yeah?

2. Boring characters
It’s kind of sad when not one character really stood out to me. The Soria cousins are pretty much the MCs of this tale, but the book never really centers on any one of them. We get some random moments with each, to incorporate them in to the moving storyline, but then we’re soon onto the many secondary characters that either belong to the Soria family, or those who are considered pilgrims.
Just a side note: These pilgrims are the ones who’ve had a miracle bestowed upon them, only to come to find out that miracles come in twos–the second taking much longer to accomplish. So the pilgrims are these people who live side by side with the Sorias, though contact by either side is not permitted (for reasons told in the book).
Like I said, none of them really stood out to me, so that made it harder for me to feel any sort of attachment to any of these characters, or to their stories.

3.Here is a thing I want:, Here is a thing I fear:
These two statements were attached to most(?) of the characters, and I found them to be unnecessary. Who cares if Judith wanted two gold teeth that no one could see but that she’d know were there? Or that she feared having to fill out medical forms before appointments? Not me.

4.Pacing getting thrown off by some random, nonsensical moment
Yes, please explain to me the process of how Antonio attempts to grow black roses, and the steps he takes when it comes to gathering seeds or how he marks the flowers that will be used–because I care.

Finally:

5.The ending
What an unsatisfying end to a very unsatisfying book. Sure, it was a real ending that didn’t leave you with a cliffhanger, but again, it was so boring! I really feel like this book just coasted all the way through, then suddenly we’re closing in on the end, so it’s like ‘hey! The book is ending now, let’s gather everything together and call it a day’, so then the end is wrapped up in a neat, little bow of boringness, and thus, I’m left unsatisfied.

At this point, you’re probably wondering: What did I want from this book? I pretty much said it was boring/boring/more boring, so why did I even bother at all? For starters, I felt like I had to finish a Maggie Stiefvater book, it’d be a travesty not to. But then, after I’d slowly realized how much I was disliking this read, I felt it necessary to finish it so that I’d be able to write my own review of it.

So there, I sacrificed myself for you.

I think it’s safe to say at this point that I wouldn’t recommend this book, but who am I to stop the curiosity of a Maggie Stiefvater fan?

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