Tag Archives: 3.5 Birds

Review of Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter Me (Shatter Me, #1)

Shatter Me (Shatter Me #1) by Tahereh Mafi

Published: November 15, 2011
Genre: Young Adult Dystopia
Pages: 338
Source: Bought

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior. (Goodreads)

mythoughts2

I’m pretty late to read this book, seeing as it was one of the big releases of 2011, combined with all the amazing things I’ve heard about it. Unfortunately, for me, Shatter Me was a bit of a disappointment.

For once in my life I took notes while reading, so I can actually pinpoint exactly what I didn’t like about this book. That being said – I didn’t hate this book. Far from it, actually. I’m still giving it 3.5 stars because even though I found many flaws in the book, I have to admit that the story did capture me, and I didn’t wanted to put this book down. It was fast paced, with lots of action, and I’m pretty eager to read the next book. But… if this book hadn’t been fast paced, I think I probably would have DNF’d it simply because I was unhappy with most of the characters and plot.

Let’s talk about Juliette, our main character. In the beginning of the book, she’s pretty damn pathetic, but you can’t really blame her because of where she is, and what her circumstance is. Then she meets Adam, and when you see her try to do that thing called social interaction, it’s clear that she’s not just pathetic, she’s hopeless. Juliette, how are we, the reader, supposed to know your story if you just mumble things incoherently and repeat everything you hear/think/say? Honestly, the first few chapters could have been about a rock named Juliette for all I know. She was basically non-existent. Then finally as the story progresses, we see so many opportunities for Juliette to become a stronger character – but she doesn’t. Okay, so she finally starts talking, but other than that she was just so whiny. Yes, it must be awful to kill everyone you touch, but that doesn’t mean you can’t look in a mirror!  She literally won’t look at herself because she doesn’t want to see the monster that she is (and then plays the part of Extremely Stunned Girl when people tell her she’s pretty). Was this supposed to show how humble/broken Juliette is? Because it just irritated me.

After reading about Juliette, I’m reminded of Katniss. Not because they are alike, but because they’re exact opposites. I longed for a character as strong and kick-ass as Katniss when reading about Juliette. Yes, there is definitely something to be appreciated in a flawed, broken character, but for me, Juliette was just pathetic. For example, there’s a time when Juliette has basically just escaped with her life, and instead of forming a plan or just being thankful to be alive, she starts questioning whether the love interest actually likes her. It was just so trivial and unnecessary that I wanted to shake her. She actually says that she wants this love interest to say explicitly, and I quote, that “we’re together official, exclusively”. Like he hasn’t proven himself with all he’s gone through for you, Juliette? Actions speak more than words, but Juliette is sulking because between saving her life and making out with her, he never stopped to say they were “exclusive”. Are you kidding me?

I’d like to touch on the writing in Shatter Me, because it’s sort of unusual. It involves a lot of strike throughs and numbers, and at first I thought this was an interesting style, but by the end I had grown tired of it. Some phrases, like, “He’s wrong he’s so wrong he’s more wrong than an upside-down rainbow,” seemed like they belonged on Tumblr rather than in a book. But there was also a kind of flow to her words that kept me reading, and sometimes I would read 50 pages without even realizing it because I just kept turning the pages.

A bit of a side note, but do you remember when A Reader of Fictions discovered the extreme prevalence of The Evil Sentence? Well, turns out they were right. There were two times in this book that Juliette either forgot to breathe or was involuntarily holding her breath. Yikes.

Lastly, I want to say that although it seems I have a lot of negative points for this book, I did not hate it. I really loved Adam’s character, and by the end of the book (although I wasn’t really happy with the ending – it was a bit too cliched and convenient for me) I could see that Juliette was finally moving past her sack of potatoes phase and actually becoming a person. I will read Unravel Me, because I think there’s potential for me to like it more than I liked this one, but if the things I’ve heard about Chapter 62 are true, then I will be very, very angry.

 3.5 birds

Mhm. Okay. Flip a coin. Heads – bird wins. Tails – it’s mine.

Review of A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee

A Spy in the House (The Agency, #1)A Spy in the House (The Agency #1) by Y.S. Lee

Published: March 9, 2010
Genre: Young Adult Mystery/Historical Fiction
Pages: 335
Source: Bought

Rescued from the gallows in 1850s London, young orphan (and thief) Mary Quinn is surprised to be offered a singular education, instruction in fine manners — and an unusual vocation. Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls is a cover for an all-female investigative unit called The Agency, and at seventeen, Mary is about to put her training to the test. Assuming the guise of a lady’s companion, she must infiltrate a rich merchant’s home in hopes of tracing his missing cargo ships. But the household is full of dangerous deceptions, and there is no one to trust — or is there? Packed with action and suspense, banter and romance, and evoking the gritty backstreets of Victorian London, this breezy mystery debuts a daring young detective who lives by her wits while uncovering secrets — including those of her own past. (Goodreads)

 

mythoughts2

This is one of those books that I sort of dread writing a review for because although I enjoyed it, it didn’t leave a lasting impression on me and I don’t have much to say about it. I’ve been interested in reading this book for a while, and a lot of people have said they love the series. It sounded like something different from what I usually read, so I picked it up on a whim.

I think the first thing that I noticed is the time period. As soon as I started reading it I was reminded of (yep, you guessed it), Downton Abbey (the only thing I talk about on this blog as of late). I guess it’s just because they’re around the same era, so it was the first thing my mind connected to. I also noticed that the book as a whole felt a bit immature and young. I think this has something to do with the reservedness and simplicity of the time period this book is set in, as well as the writing. I would easily recommend this one to preteens as well as teens because it was relatively uncomplicated and light.

Like I mentioned before, nothing about this book was particularly memorable. The characters were interesting enough, and the plot was intriguing,  but the whole thing felt rather juvenile. It wasn’t boring, though. Seeing as mystery a genre I don’t often read, and am not very interested in, this book did a god job keeping  my attention. It was not predictable and I never dreaded picking it up (although I could just as easily put it aside for a while). It’s one of those books where you don’t have to think very hard, and I could count on it to be a quick escape.

Personally I would recommend this to younger teens, but I’ve heard many adults say they enjoy the series as well, so who am I to call it juvenile? I also think this is an excellent book if, like me, you don’t read much mystery but are ready to try something new. It’s a nice blend of historical fiction and mystery, and is an easy and light read. I doubt I’ll remember much from this book, but I’ll definitely consider picking up the sequel next time I’m looking for a fun, different read.

3.5 birds

Mhm. Okay. Flip a coin. Heads – bird wins. Tails – it’s mine.

Review of Anatomy of A Single Girl by Daria Snadowsky

Anatomy of a Single Girl (Anatomy, #2)

Anatomy of a Single Girl by Daria Snadowsky

Published: January 8, 2013
Genre: Young/New Adult Contemporary
Pages: 240
Source: Received from author in exchange for an honest review

After everything that happened—my first boyfriend, my first time, my first breakup—jumping back into the dating game seemed like the least healthy thing I could do. It’s not that I didn’t want to fall in love again, since that’s about the best feeling ever. But as a busy college premed still raw from heartbreak, which is the worst feeling ever, I figured I’d lie low for a while. Of course, as soon as I stopped looking for someone, an impossibly amazing—and devastatingly cute—guy came along, and I learned that having a new boyfriend is the quickest way to recover from losing your old one.

The moment we got together, all my preconceptions about romance and sex were turned upside down. I discovered physical and emotional firsts I never knew existed. I learned to let go of my past by living in the present. It was thrilling. It was hot. It was just what the doctor ordered.

But I couldn’t avoid my future forever. (Goodreads)

 

mythoughts

A few years ago I read Anatomy of a Boyfriend, the first book in this little pairing. Although I can’t remember much about it, I do know that the two main characters go to different high schools but still stay best friends. My own best friend and I read the book at the same time back in elementary school, and now that we’re at different high schools we kind of think of ourselves to be like the best friends from these books. So when I found out that there would be a sequel, I was eager to read it and visit those characters again. Just an FYI, this review contains spoilers for the first book – but if you’re reading this one without reading the first book (which you totally can), you’re going to find out these spoilers anyway.

I would say that this book easily falls into the New Adult genre that everyone’s freaking out about. Dom, the main character, has just returned home for the summer from her first year at university. She’s still getting over the break up with her high-school boyfriend, she’s got a volunteer position at a hospital, and she’s finding that things with her old best friend aren’t quite the same anymore.

I think that this book is definitely geared toward older teens and mature readers. It’s not a difficult book to read, but the story is about Dom starting to date a new guy over the summer, and she’s kind of figuring out that not all relationships are going to end in marriage, but does that mean they’re not worth it? So the story talks a lot about sex in a pretty descriptive way. Not excessively, just descriptively. I think the easiest comparison to make with this book would be Judy Blume’s Forever. Anatomy of a Single Girl was for me, a modern version of Forever. I’m not one for banning books (read: I think banning books is an atrocious practice), but I also wouldn’t put this in an elementary school library. I could definitely see it in my high school library though, because it talks about things in such an upfront way that I think most teens would appreciate.

I liked the characters in the story, and I didn’t mind that Guy wasn’t perfect (although it kind of bugged me that his name was Guy). He was more realistic than most other boys in books; during his and Dom’s relationship he said some things and did some things that were just plain stupid and so fundamentally male things to do, but I could forgive him for it because at least he was realistically portrayed, and he was a good guy/Guy in the end. He’s not a character that I’m going to remember, because there was nothing special about him, but I’m glad he was written the way he was.

I do wish that the story hadn’t revolved so much around Dom wanting to be with a guy, and then just being utterly depressed when she wasn’t with a guy. Can she only be happy when she’s in a relationship?

Overall, I think more than anything I’ll remember the upfront writing this book had. Snadowsky didn’t shy away from the subject matter, and like I said, she wrote a book that I think is just as valuable in a high school library as Judy Blume’s Forever. Other than that, I won’t remember much from this book, but it was a fun story to read nonetheless.

3.5 birds

Mhm. Okay. Flip a coin. Heads – bird wins. Tails – it’s mine.

Review of Titanic: Voices From the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson

Titanic: Voices From the DisasterTitanic: Voices From the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson

Publisher: Scholastic
Release Date: April 1st 2012
Pages: 304
Reading Level: Upper MG/Early YA
Buy the Book: Amazon
Source: Received ARC in exchange for honest review

Critically acclaimed nonfiction author Deborah Hopkinson pieces together the story of the TITANIC and that fateful April night, drawing on the voices of survivors and archival photographs.Scheduled to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the tragic sinking of the TITANIC, a topic that continues to haunt and thrill readers to this day, this book by critically acclaimed author Deborah Hopkinson weaves together the voices and stories of real TITANIC survivors and witnesses to the disaster — from the stewardess Violet Jessop to Captain Arthur Rostron of the CARPATHIA, who came to the rescue of the sinking ship. Packed with heartstopping action, devastating drama, fascinating historical details, loads of archival photographs on almost every page, and quotes from primary sources, this gripping story, which follows the TITANIC and its passengers from the ship’s celebrated launch at Belfast to her cataclysmic icy end, is sure to thrill and move readers. 

I am a really big fan of historical fiction, and in this case, even non-fiction. The Titanic is so fascinating, and the way Deborah Hopkinson pieces everything together makes it very easy to understand what happened, and even imagine yourself in that awful situation. I can see this book being aimed at readers probably in grade 6 or 7, perhaps 8, but even for older readers it is very informative and interesting.

A big part of this book is the wonderful pictures and illustrations. They are dispersed throughout the whole book, and for non-readers, or younger readers with shorter attention spans, these pictures are a really great way to keep them interested. They definitely grabbed my attention as I was reading. As well, at the back of the book, there is a whole section explaining the people mentioned in the book, other famous figures, and giving many interesting facts about the Titanic.

The fact that it was non-fiction, yet managed to incorporate personal tales and experiences, made the book quite unique and all the more interesting.

My only quip with this book is that there were some facts I’d heard previously that I thought were true, that weren’t mentioned in the book. For example, the book talks about the air lock doors that sealed off the bottom of the boat into sections when the flooding started. I had heard that when this happened, it trapped many third class passengers. That was never mentioned in the book, though. A few different things like that – commonly heard rumors that weren’t addressed – bugged me.

Overall
This book is really good for anyone (especially tweens) looking to learn more about the Titanic, and read true accounts of what happened that night, as well as view pictures and documents associated with the Titanic. I just wish a couple more rumors were addressed.

3.5 birds
Sweet read! Would maybe knock out a few birds for this one.