Book Reviews: Half Bad, Popular & We Were Liars

Hello! I’ve read 3 books so far and we’re only 4 days into the new year. I am very surprised! I chose to read some really engaging books, so I’m guessing that may be why I’ve read them so fast. Instead of doing one post for each book I decided to knock them all out since I finished them all so quickly. Let’s get to the reviews.

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I really liked this book. It is a memoir written by Maya, who was thirteen during the time about her life being a geek. Her father bought a book a long time ago about popularity, style, and etiquette for teens. Maya found it while rummaging through things. Then she got the idea to follow the popularity guide and document her life throughout her 8th grade school year. I thought this book was very honest. When people review this book they only say it’s about a young girl following a popularity guide from years ago, but it’s a lot more than that. She tells us a lot about her life living near the Texas/Mexico boarder, the dangers that come with her place of residence, the socioeconomic statuses of her family and those around her, race, class, and the community she grew up in. There’s a lot more to this book than a young girl following a popularity guide.

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I absolutely adore it! I couldn’t put it down. I cannot wait for book two, Half Wild. It’s set to release in March. I normally don’t pick up books about witches. I’m really glad I picked this one up. The story is so fresh and nothing like I’ve ever read before. First of all, the story takes place in England. This is interesting. To put it simply, it’s not the typical witch book. This story is about a boy named Nathan who is a half white witch and half black witch. Needless to say he is not liked by many people. When he turns a certain age he has to get his gifts, if not then he will surely die. However, since he’s a half black witch in a society that is ruled by white witches he has a chance of dying anyway. If that wasn’t bad enough, Nathan is the son of the most famous and strongest black witch there is. Yes. Very interesting story. There is a lot of backstory, so it didn’t get interesting to me until the middle of the book, then things started to pick up from there. The ending left me hoping the second book would release earlier than expected.

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Where do I start…. I was expecting so much more from this book because everyone has been raving about it. The concept was interesting, but it was poorly written. I can’t say much about it because (here we go again) everyone says it’s better if you don’t know anything about this book before you read it. I didn’t find not knowing to help me find this book entertaining or mysterious. It didn’t help at all. I think it’s more of a marketing ploy to get people to buy and read it. The metaphors are terrible. There was no defined climax. The ending was mediocre. If you really want to know what I’m talking about give the book a try. I must say the first chapter, well first couple of pages took me off guard. That was it for the shock factor.

Those are the books I’ve read between December 31, 2014 – January 3, 2015! I’ve never had such a good set of books (minus We Were Liars) that I’ve read ever! Really happy about it.

Last Book Haul of 2014!

Around Thanksgiving and Christmas I get super excited because the deals on books are never ending. I bought books during the Black Friday event and the Boxing Day event (the Friday and Saturday after Christmas) that were both hosted through book outlet. The books that you will see in this post were books I ordered during the Boxing Day event, so here’s what I bought!

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Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: A Graphic Novel

I read my first graphic novel this year and I was immediately hooked. I’m starting to build my graphic novel collection and I’m really excited! If you are a frequent reader of my posts, then you’ll know and understand that I love dark and gory books! So, this pick shouldn’t be a surprise. There isn’t much to explain about Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Everyone knows! The same story in graphic novel form. 

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Hunger by Knut Hamsun

A true classic of modern literature that has been described as “one of the most disturbing novels in existence” (Time Out), Hunger is the story of a Norwegian artist who wanders the streets, struggling on the edge of starvation. As hunger overtakes him, he slides inexorably into paranoia and despair. The descent into madness is recounted by the unnamed narrator in increasingly urgent and disjointed prose, as he loses his grip on reality. (Summary from Amazon.com)

I cannot WAIT to read this! What intrigued me about this book is the struggling writer trying and failing to sell his written work to those who publish journals. A story that tells you the dark side of pursuing your passion and knowing where it gets you, but you carry on anyway. Amazing.

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Good to a Fault by Marina Endicott

Good to a Fault follows a divorcee who has to come to grips with her husband and family being almost non-existent in her life. One day she gets into a car accident with a family who is homeless and living in a car. She decides to help them, while leaving her family puzzled about her actions towards people she does not know. Through all of this she forms a new relationship and more decisions she has to make about her life and the life of the family she’s taken responsibility for.

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The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani

I am a huge fan of stories involving women (as lead characters) that take place in different countries around the world. I’ve been reading about these women and social taboos they were faced with. This story is about a 14 year-old Persian girl who thinks she will be married within a year, but her fate changes when her father dies. Soon after, the girl and her mother are homeless without money and without a dowry for marriage. A rug becomes their salvation and the story unfolds from there.

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The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

The Bone Season is incredibly popular in the book community. I’ve read and watched enough reviews of this book to buy it. On the other hand, I’m a bit scared to start reading overhyped books because I may end up not liking them, but I will give this one a try.

This is the first book in a dystopian trilogy and it takes place in 2025. The lead character is a girl who is capable of dream walking. She gets snatched away and taken to a secret prison where she discovers there are creatures who are out to capture and kill individuals like her.

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The God of War by Marisa Silver

The year is 1978. Ares Ramirez, age 12, lives with his mother, Laurel, and his younger brother Malcolm in a trailer at the edge of the Salton Sea, an unintentionally man-made body of water in the middle of the Southern California desert. It is a desolate, forgotten place, whose inhabitants thrive amidst seemingly impossible circumstances.

Ares’ struggle with the burden of responsibility — to himself and to others — draws him into a world of drugs, violence, and sex that he is not prepared for, launching him into a very personal battle for his own identity, one that has a lethal outcome. (Summary from Amazon.com)

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Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me by Ellen Forney

Marbles is another graphic novel I purchased. I thought it was really cool because it’s a memoir by Ellen Forney in an art form, which makes sense since she’s an artist. Ellen tells her story about being a crazy and creative cartoonist as well as stories of other bipolar artists and writers.

This wasn’t included in the boxing event order. I bought this a few days before. There was only one left and I always managed to miss out on buying it before it sold out, so I didn’t miss out this time. I bought the last copy!

Book Review: Look Behind You by Sibel Hodge

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Published: May 3, 2014

Length: 238 pages

Mystery/Psychological Suspense

My Goodreads rating: 3 stars

Chloe Benson wakes up kidnapped and bound in an underground tomb with no memory of how she got there.

She escapes through deserted woods with her life, but no one believes her story.

And when she suspects her husband is lying to her, Chloe is forced to retrace her past, following in her own footsteps to find the truth and stay alive.

But who is following Chloe?

Look Behind You. You never know who’s out there.

Review

This book was only interesting in first few chapters and the last two chapters. The middle of the book was a bit boring. I thought it was going to be a complete drag because the first and second chapters were written like the novel Shatter Me that I didn’t like at all. I wish it would have had a different series of events and a different outcome.

The author didn’t pay enough attention to the climax. The story building was great, but the climax was very weak. It should have been a lot more detailed and not as quick. I feel this story would have been 10x better if the person who did the kidnapping would have been someone else that we NEVER would have guessed (Sorry, I don’t want to spoil it for those who are interested in reading).

I didn’t like Chloe’s husband very much. He’s chauvinistic. I didn’t like the local law enforcement and health professionals as much either. It was too easy for them to write her off as some crazy lady. The gender roles and the social context for me were ridiculous. I also didn’t like how the author wrote the main character, Chloe in this story. I was waiting for a comeback, but she was helpless throughout the entire story.

I don’t want to say too much about it! All in all, I wouldn’t recommend this book.

Black Friday…Er, Thanksgiving Book Order!

So! Of course I had to get some books during all the black Friday craziness, but that’s not quite what happened! I didn’t buy anything on black Friday! Some online book stores began their sales on Thanksgiving day! On Thanksgiving morning, I ordered a few books from Book Outlet because I knew the books I wanted wouldn’t have been available if I waited longer! Every book was 30% off. Here’s what I bought:

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I have to say this is the best group of books I’ve ordered online so far. I’m very excited to receive them and I haven’t gotten a shipping confirmation yet. I’m too anxious! There are 5 hardcovers and 3 softcovers in this group. I paid $23 and some cents for 8 books in brand new condition. I normally don’t like reading books in hardcover form, but I couldn’t resist the sale, so I will just have to deal with it. I will talk more about them once they are read and I publish a review. If you have read any of these books, tell me your thoughts!

Review: The Cellar by Natasha Preston

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The Cellar by Natasha Preston

Release Date: March 1, 2014

Length: 360 pages

For months Summer is trapped in a cellar with the man who took her—and three other girls: Rose, Poppy, and Violet. His perfect, pure flowers. His family. But flowers can’t survive long cut off from the sun, and time is running out…

The Cellar is about a 16 year old girl named Summer who was kidnapped by a man. Colin has longed for a perfect family since his mother died and he has his own issues with society. The book begins with Summer feeling unhappy with her appearance and being totally in love with her boyfriend and not exactly grateful for her parents. Summer leaves the house to attend a gig. She meets up with her friend and they get separated leaving Summer by herself walking through the park. Soon she hears a man call her Lily and he kidnaps her. Summer’s life will not be the same for months.

While locked in his cellar, Summer meets three other girls in which he named Poppy, Rose, and Violet. Summer was the last girl he had to kidnap to complete his family and she is Lily now. Quickly Summer learns that Colin is more than a kidnapper. He is a man of dark secrets that haunt him every day.

While reading this book I thought it had a lot of potential. The concept is great, but I think it was poorly written. It wasn’t terrible, but it could have been better. The organization was off and the book was longer than it should have been. I do not like when characters have their own chapters representing their points of view. The reader was able to see Colin’s point of view which I think was great, but it should have covered more. Summer and her boyfriend, Lewis had their own chapters as well. I think it would have been better if the author limited the point of views to Summer and Lewis or Summer and Colin.

Summer went from viewing herself as something that needs to be worked on to be seen as perfect when she was locked in Colin’s cellar. Again, I get the story the author was trying to tell. However, it was written in a way that left a lot of gaps and a little awkward to read because of it. The last two chapters weren’t needed. It took away from the ending. I would have liked for the girls to get their own revenge on Colin, but they didn’t. They were overpowered until the end. The author failed to mention what exactly happened when Summer and the girls were found. Who found them? What happened after Summer lost her senses? How did one of the girls die? Why did the girls not eventually know why Colin was doing it in the first place? If it didn’t take so long to get to the climax, I would have better feelings about this book. By the time the reader would have gotten to the climax, they would have lost interest because there was too much backstory and not enough of what was going on presently. I wish more moments in this book were more developed than they were.

Would I recommend this book to read? No. I would not recommend it solely because I believe it was poorly written and unorganized. If you just want something to read to pass the time, then give it a try. I did like Summer’s feisty personality and the love she shared with Lewis. That could have been the book itself. Honestly, I wish it was the book.

 

Review: What You Wish For by Mark Edwards

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What You Wish For

Mark Edwards

Released: June 24, 2014

Publisher: Tom & Mercer

Length: 271

Synopsis

Marie Walker has vanished from the face of the earth…

Her besotted boyfriend, newspaper photographer Richard Thompson, vows to find her, convinced that Marie’s unusual beliefs hold the key.

But a shocking discovery makes him question if he ever really knew his girlfriend. And when people around him start to die, Richard is plunged into terrible danger.

Drawn into the world of a sinister cult and the darkest corners of the Internet, Richard finds himself increasingly out of his depth as he discovers just how far people will go to protect what they believe in…

Review

What a surprise! Surprise! Surprise! If I knew this book was about aliens and people obsessed with them, then I probably wouldn’t have read this book. I saw the advertisement on my Kindle and read the synopsis. I thought I would like it, so I bought it for $4.99 in the Amazon ebook store.

The whole book is about a guy, Richard whose had a dry life as a photographer in the past and after meeting this girl, Marie, she changes his view about life and love. He soon finds out that Marie is obsessed with aliens and is able to hear their voices. He’s a cynic, of course. One day Marie disappears and he devotes all of his time to finding her. In his desperation of trying to find his love, Marie, Richard gets himself into a very strange, dark, and dangerous world of alien cults and finds out that those people aren’t as loving and “hippish” as they claim to be.

I would recommend this book for people who enjoy reading about aliens. This book is about aliens and Richard’s obsession, but it also holds a deeper meaning about faith and belief about anything, specifically religion, if you can read between the lines. The book is interesting. After reading it, I wouldn’t have paid $4.99 for it. …more like $2.99, but I bought it on impulse and it’s based solely on what I like reading and aliens aren’t at the top of my list!

Review: The Gordian Knot Undone by Valerie Benzley

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The Gordian Knot Undone

Valeria Benzley

Publisher: Five Star

Released: March 2014

Length: 236 pages

Synopsis

My mother killed my father. Not only that, she also murdered my stepfather, my grandmother, and my baby brother. There, I’ve said it. Now, what do you think about me? Are you imagining that I must be a damaged, suffering mess of a person? Does it cross your mind that I might be the murderer in the making? Perhaps I’ve turned to prostitution or drugs to ease the pain of my unconventional upbringing.

You’d be wrong on all counts. I’m married to a wonderful man, I have there lovely children, and I work as a kindergarten teacher in our pleasant little town. I’m active in our church and have a wide circle of friends. Of course, none of the people in my life know about my mother. She remains my own private demon, my secret that I choose not to share–with anyone.

Review

I went to the library on Friday after work and this is one of the books I chose to check out in the new release section. I read this book slower than I normally read because there isn’t a lot of action. It’s about a woman named Jess who was tormented by her mother, Dolly her whole life. She knows her mother killed multiple people and she has been trying to get over it. As an adult, Jessie moved on with her life, got married, and birthed 3 little girls. Years later she finds out via mail her mother will be getting out of jail for murder and would need a place to stay. Dolly moves in and Jessie figures out that she is still up to her old ways. Jessie even notices that her older daughter, Amelia is just like Dolly and the drama unfolds to a very unhappy ending.

It is an okay book. If I would have chose another book to check out in its place, I wouldn’t have been upset about it. What I do like is the short chapters. When I am interrupted by other things, the chapters are short enough to read quickly and easy to pick up once I get back to reading. The relationship between Jessie and Dolly does get tiring after a while. Jessie is a very anal person that likes to control everything and she will threaten anyone to get what she wants. What I found really interesting about this book is how the author made Jessie seem normal. She is far from normal! And you begin to see that the more you read.

There is not a real story line. You’re just reading the book to get to the end. There aren’t any questions to be answered. I had to force myself to continue reading. I think the book had a lot of potential, but the author didn’t develop it well. I feel there should have been suspense and mystery. The book is labeled as a psychological suspense novel. I get the psychological part of it because they’re crazy! The suspense, I don’t get. Usually when I read suspense novels, my heart races. I didn’t get that while reading this novel. Concluding, it’s okay if you do read it and it’s okay if you don’t. I’m on the fence.