Book Review | King of Fools by Amanda Foody

#GirlGang #GIRLGang #GIRLGANG

You guys, the girl gang is back and I AM HERE FOR IT.

If you’re new here, you should probably know that last year one of my favorite books was Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody. I can’t justly describe to you how excited I was to get my hands on King of Fools.

And yet, even in my excitement for this book, I still didn’t read it immediately upon release.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Indulge your vices in the City of Sin, where a sinister street war is brewing and fame is the deadliest killer of them all…

On the quest to find her missing mother, prim and proper Enne Salta became reluctant allies with Levi Glaisyer, the city’s most famous con man. Saving his life in the Shadow Game forced Enne to assume the identity of Seance, a mysterious underworld figure. Now, with the Chancellor of the Republic dead and bounties on both their heads, she and Levi must play a dangerous game of crime and politics…with the very fate of New Reynes at stake.

Thirsting for his freedom and the chance to build an empire, Levi enters an unlikely partnership with Vianca Augustine’s estranged son. Meanwhile, Enne remains trapped by the mafia donna’s binding oath, playing the roles of both darling lady and cunning street lord, unsure which side of herself reflects the truth.

As Enne and Levi walk a path of unimaginable wealth and opportunity, new relationships and deadly secrets could quickly lead them into ruin. And when unforeseen players enter the game, they must each make an impossible choice: To sacrifice everything they’ve earned in order to survive…

Or die as legends.

A Little Too Political

Almost the entirety of this novel centers around a political election. I’m not normally opposed to this, but I felt like it almost took away from the magical elements I expected from the second book in a newfound favorite series.

I guess my whole thought process behind this being almost too political is it’s supposed to be centered around street wars. It didn’t feel like that for me. I wanted it to be more street war and stealth, but it felt more like this novel skirted around all the tensions between the gangs. In this sense, I felt the story was lacking.

Lady Friendship!

One of the best parts of this second installment is the progression of Enne’s friendship with Lola. I adore the Lord of the Spirits and her second and was THRILLED when we are introduced to the third in the #GirlGang. Honestly, this may very well be my favorite aspect of the novel. The strength of friendship among these gang of women is wonderful and fresh. I loved it.

I also really loved that it wasn’t so focused on Levi and Enne. I mean, don’t get me wrong, the relationship aspect was there, but it wasn’t the most important issue and it was nice to see Enne branch out from Levi more.

The Irons

I am all about the Irons. If I had to choose a gang to be a part of, besides the Spirits, I’d want to be an Iron. I love Levi and I love Jac. But I didn’t love the Irons in this book. It didn’t feel like the gang was as tightly knit as in Ace of Shades. It hurt my heart a little to see a weakening in this group of young adults.

And I really didn’t like that Levi and Jac basically spent this ENTIRE book apart and were pretty much always angry at each other. It seemed wasteful to have the Iron’s second away from the Iron Lord for the vast majority of the book, but I get it. Jac HAD to go away for his mission, but it doesn’t change the fact that I hated that he had to go.

Also, I’m still really mad about Mansi, but I LOVE the newest addition to the Irons!

Love Interests

Like I’ve said, Levi and Enne’s relationship isn’t the focal of this novel. In fact, romantic relationships aren’t the center of the novel, but they’re still there. There’s basically someone for everyone and it made my heart happy.

And while I enjoyed a break from Enne and Levi pretending not to be in love, I was frustrated that they weren’t together. Obviously, they’re perfect for each other.

General Thoughts and Opinions

In general, I thought this was an excellent follow up to Ace of Shades. I didn’t love it as much, but it was still captivating, for the most part. I did find certain parts to be a bit… anticlimactic which was slightly disappointing for me.

But I will say this, though, the ending SHOOK me to my core. Honestly, now I can’t wait for the next book!

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Overall, I enjoyed my time reading this. I probably would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t been so worried about grad school grades.

Let’s chat!

Which of the street gangs in New Reynes would you want to join? I’d want to be an Iron or a Spirit! The Doves scare me too much lol.

Mini Book Reviews | After Series by Anna Todd

Traditionally, I would break my book reviews for a series down into individual reviews because I have thoughts about each book that are long enough in length to warrant individual reviews. In the case of the After series by Anna Todd, my thoughts were TOO MUCH to deep dive into reviews for each (so much so, I wanted to make a video about the series also). [Stay tuned for that shitshow]

In general, this series was probably not for me – but I read it anyway. I guess, if I had to categorize these books, they’d be under my “Love to Hate” category. The thing is, I devoured these books in a hate filled rage, but somehow still managed to enjoy myself while reading them. They’re infuriating, funny, and deeply disturbing all wrapped up in a pretty little “Romance” package.

Below, you can find my brief thoughts on each book in the series. Video will follow.

After (Book 1)

The first book in the After series captivated me. I don’t mean this in a good way. It’s full of manipulation, abuse, and serial rudeness. I kept reading it because, for some reason I can’t quite put my finger on, I was enraptured by the characters. Don’t get me wrong here, I didn’t like anyone in the book, but I was having so much fun laughing at them that I couldn’t stop reading.

I think part of what made this reading experience so fun is the prudishness of the main character. I read this book over the course of a weekend. It’s a pretty hefty book, too.

After We Collided (Book 2)

When I purchased After, I bought it individually. I didn’t think I’d hate enjoy the book so much, but when I ended up NEEDING more, I headed to Amazon and bought the rest of the series (read: NOT Before). In hindsight, I should’ve just bought this one and borrowed the other two books because this when I finished After We Collided, I was done.

I found this one slightly more annoying and slightly less enjoyable, but it was NOTHING compared to the last two books.

After We Fell (Book 3)

While After We Collided could have easily been IT for me (IT being THE END) I decided to further punish myself by reading the third book in the series. At this point, I was so sick of Hardin and Tessa’s back and forth bull shit, I almost gave up. 800 odd pages later I made it through and felt like I gained nothing from the experience other than Tessa’s dad is a fucking dirtbag. Oh, and Hardin has “anxiety” – I try not to judge, but his “anxiety” is covered through rudeness and breaking up with Tessa over the stupidest things.

I was done, but I persisted. It took me over a month to read this book (I actually blame THIS book for why I started reading three books at a time again).

After Ever Happy (Book 4)

After We Fell was a literal nightmare. As I read the first three books, I was annotating through tabs. By the time I reached this book, I flat out gave up. I just wanted to finish because I was sick of the same storyline over and over again. It still took me forever to get through this book (even though it’s the shortest one) and I can’t even explain the joy I felt when I finished.

The thing is, this could have been a good one BUT we literally sped through the rest of Hessa’s life together and I was mad as hell.

Literally, the author built up this entire backstory to speed us through the last book of the series. I hated this one for this fact.

Overall thoughts on the series

Honestly, I’m not mad that I wasted my time, I’m mad that I wasted my money. Alas, now I have to go watch the damn movie….

Let’s chat!

Did you read this series? Have you seen the movie? Let’s discuss some bullshit down in the comments.

Book Review | Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

You know whose writing I absolutely love? Riley Sager.

You know whose books I’ll always buy, before even reading the synopsis? Riley Sager.

You know who might very well be my favorite thriller author of all time? You guessed it.

RILEY FRICKIN SAGER.

This man honestly blows me away with his writing. He hooks me. Ropes me in even, and makes it damn near impossible to focus on anything else BUT HIS BOOKS when I have a crapload of school stuff I should be doing.

So yeah, I guess you can say I’m obsessed with this man’s work, but hey. If you love something, you love something.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

No visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents, all of whom are rich or famous or both. These are the only rules for Jules Larsen’s new job as an apartment sitter at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan’s most high-profile and mysterious buildings. Recently heartbroken and just plain broke, Jules is taken in by the splendor of her surroundings and accepts the terms, ready to leave her past life behind.

As she gets to know the residents and staff of the Bartholomew, Jules finds herself drawn to fellow apartment sitter Ingrid, who comfortingly, disturbingly reminds her of the sister she lost eight years ago. When Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems and the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her, Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story—until the next day, when Ingrid disappears.

Searching for the truth about Ingrid’s disappearance, Jules digs deeper into the Bartholomew’s dark past and into the secrets kept within its walls. Her discovery that Ingrid is not the first apartment sitter to go missing at the Bartholomew pits Jules against the clock as she races to unmask a killer, expose the building’s hidden past, and escape the Bartholomew before her temporary status becomes permanent.

Alfred Hitchcock meets American Horror Story

Let me shoot it to you straight for a second. This book was basically the equivalent of Alfred Hitchcock directing a season of AHS (pre-Coven, of course). It’s scary and disturbing and everything that I would expect in this season of AHS. 

But seriously, it gives off really creepy vibes that I was living for while trying to solve the mystery of the Bartholomew. 

Predictability factor

Look, one of the main things I go into thrillers looking for is predictability. It was not difficult for me to figure out who was in on the secrets of the Bartholomew. What was hard for me to figure out was exactly what was going on in the building. I couldn’t figure it out and it was a definite surprise to me at the end. 

Buuuttt I wish it had ended differently… 

Yep. I didn’t like the end of this novel. There were some open storylines that I didn’t like and I definitely didn’t like the weird, boring turn of events AFTER Jules thought she figured out what was up at the Bartholomew. I wish Sager had stuck with what she thought because it would’ve been a much more thrilling closure to an otherwise interesting novel. I’m not mad, just disappointed. 😝

Character development

As usual, Sager developed lifelike and believable characters. Not only did he spend time developing Jules, it clearly shows he spent time developing characters who don’t dominate the story (i.e. Chloe). This is yet another reason I love his novels.

I would consider this book very character driven and I liked that. I also enjoyed not really getting physical descriptions of characters. It was much more interesting to see the characters through the eyes of Jules in what they were wearing, rather than build, skin-tone, and eye color (i.e. Leslie Evelyn and her Coach suits). I liked this aspect of the story a lot. And sure, there were some physical descriptions, they just didnt dominate the storyline.  

Generally speaking

This story didn’t really disappoint me. I enjoyed the ride. Sure there were things I’d change, but it didn’t really take away from my enjoyment of the novel. I wouldn’t say I love it like I love The Last Time I Lied – I still think about this one every day – but it was enjoyable nonetheless. 

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟💫

It doesn’t quite live up to my expectations to get that 5 star, but it was still soooo good. Mr. Sager still sits firmly on his throne as King of Thrillers for me and I will continue to automatically buy every book he publishes.

Let’s chat!

What books are you most looking forward to in the remaining months of 2019? Have you read any really good thrillers this year? 

Book Review | Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan

I make efforts to read diverse books.

I especially like books with non-straight narrators or characters, but the selling point for me was not that the main character was bi-sexual. The selling point was the setting.

An amusement park in summer? I can’t think of a more perfect summer reading option than a book set in summer at an amusement park.

I mean, I live pretty close to a pretty large chain amusement park (this is a thing right?) but I grew up near a local amusement park and my days at this park were always some of the best.

Reading this book was almost like vicariously living through a character to live out my high school dream of being able to work at my local amusement parks.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Elouise (Lou) Parker is determined to have the absolute best, most impossibly epic summer of her life. There are just a few things standing in her way:

* She’s landed a job at Magic Castle Playland . . . as a giant dancing hot dog.
* Her crush, the dreamy Diving Pirate Nick, already has a girlfriend, who is literally the Princess of the park. But Lou’s never liked anyone, guy or otherwise, this much before, and now she wants a chance at her own happily ever after.
* Her best friend, Seeley, the carousel operator, who’s always been up for anything, suddenly isn’t when it comes to Lou’s quest to set her up with the perfect girl or Lou’s scheme to get close to Nick.
* And it turns out that this will be their last summer at Magic Castle Playland–ever–unless she can find a way to stop it from closing.

Jennifer Dugan’s sparkling debut coming-of-age queer romance stars a princess, a pirate, a hot dog, and a carousel operator who find love–and themselves–in unexpected people and unforgettable places. 

Elouise and Seeley

They have the best version of best friendship. I loved Seeley’s character. She’s much more than her wild colored hair and I just loved her sassy, sarcastic attitude.

Elouise was not always my favorite but in all fairness, most leading ladies never are my favorite. There’s always something about the leading ladies in YA novels that makes me want to shake them and say “LOOK BITCH!” Elouise is no exception. She’s incredibly dense, but so lovable. I was rooting for her the whole time, even though I was rooting against what she thought she wanted.

A teensy tiny bit of cliche

There’s a fake relationship in this novel.

If you’ve read To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before you know how this goes.

I’ll leave it at that.

Bi Girls Date Girls for Boys Attention?

This is something I’ve read a lot of on Goodreads lately, especially in regards to this book. I don’t see it that way at all though. If Elouise fake-dated someone for the attention of her crush, don’t you think she’d be walking around in all her PDA glory for said attention? Or is that just me? Spoiler alert: that’s totally not the case.

I don’t get some of the internet critics so if you are one, can you enlighten me please?

Overall thoughts

You all know I love a good debut. This one was decent. Totally a cutesy summer story about love and friendship and it was exactly what I needed when I picked it up.

Overall, I wasn’t disappointed and if Jennifer Dugan writes another book I’d read it. She has a really sweet writing style that I can’t stop thinking about.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟💫

This was v cute (my goodreads review lol).

Let’s chat!!

What’s your favorite childhood summertime memory? It doesn’t have to be childhood, but a favorite summertime memory in general.

My favorite summer memory involves a trip to San Diego to visit my bestie when I was about 24. We went to Disneyland on that trip and it was one of the best days of my life.

Book Review | More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

I fell into a reading slump at the end of my first term of library school. I was stressed about my portfolio – which I’ll be writing about later this week – and worried that I wasn’t good enough to make it through my remaining 5 terms.

This is the vicious cycle my anxiety takes me through. I’m anxious because of school and I’m anxious without school because I’m anxious about grades and new terms and meeting new professors and classmates. It’s endlessly draining.

So when I fall into a slump like this, I always find it best to turn to an author I know I love.

When I discovered Mr. Silvera’s writing, it was not through his debut novel – it was, in fact, through the much raved about They Both Die at the End. I saw it on sale, picked it up, and discovered a new favorite author.

Until recently, Silvera’s other two novels have been sitting on my TBR cart – patiently waiting for my cycle of anxiety to bring me back.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Part Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, part Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Adam Silvera’s extraordinary debut confronts race, class, and sexuality during one charged near-future summer in the Bronx. 

Sixteen-year-old Aaron Soto is struggling to find happiness after a family tragedy leaves him reeling. He’s slowly remembering what happiness might feel like this summer with the support of his girlfriend Genevieve, but it’s his new best friend, Thomas, who really gets Aaron to open up about his past and confront his future.

As Thomas and Aaron get closer, Aaron discovers things about himself that threaten to shatter his newfound contentment. A revolutionary memory-alteration procedure, courtesy of the Leteo Institute, might be the way to straighten himself out. But what if it means forgetting who he truly is?

Delayed Flight = More Time to Read

This was one of two books I took on my weekend trip to DC to visit my bestie, her daughter, and her dog. The night I left, my flight was severely delayed. The flight was only two hours, but I was stuck at the airport for an extra hour while I waited for my flight to depart. Weather always takes its toll on my plans when I’m flying, haha.

I decided to make the most of this though. Knowing I wouldn’t get much reading done on the plane because the delay reset my departure for close to sunset in inclement weather, I sat my butt down by my gate and read about 75 pages in one sitting.

Yinz… I was hooked.

Character Development

You all know I love a good character description, but the thing I love most about Mr. Silvera’s writing is I don’t need to know what the characters look like to feel connected to them. Immediately, I felt a connection to Aaron that I can’t really explain. He’s just so damn likeable.

Even the characters you’re not meant to like (i.e. Brendan, Me-Crazy) are so well developed. The book is really character driven and I love that about Silvera’s writing. The plot is important, but all of his characters drive the plot along so well.

The Tough Stuff

Look, reading books that deal with suicide and depression are really hard for me – I’m sure they are for most people. But when I got to the third part of this book, I had to take a break from reading before I full on wept in front of a full plane of people. This book is heartbreakingly devastating and I couldn’t bring myself to stop reading for very long. Even through the tough parts of this book, I kept wanting a happy ending for Aaron, Gen, and Thomas.

I’m not even exaggerating when I say it was devastating. This seems to be a running theme in Silvera’s writing.

A Mandatory Read

Yes, you read that right. I’m just going to come right out and say it – if I were teaching English today, I would make this book mandatory for sophomores to read. I don’t care if it’s curriculum or not – THIS WOULD be on my summer reading list for my students.

The thing about this is, I don’t care WHO or WHAT you are, this book teaches about acceptance. Not just of people who are different than you, but it teaches you the importance of accepting yourself for WHO YOU ARE and that is something I see a lack of in a lot of YA I’ve read.

But Did I Cry

No. It was close though. Had I been in the comfort of my own home, I would have straight up bawled my eyes out. I don’t think it’s socially acceptable to sob into a paperback on a plane quite yet.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

This was another great contemporary. I’m so happy to have finally read it and I can’t wait for the day I can discuss it with my children.

Let’s Chat!

When’s the last time you flew somewhere? Are you as unlucky as me when it comes to flights being delayed? Which of Adam Silvera’s books is your favorite? Leave me a comment so we can chat!

Book Review | Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

There’s just something about Rainbow Rowell’s writing that makes me so happy. I loved Eleanor and Park (can’t believe we’re getting a movie) and that in itself prompted me to pick up more works from the author.

Fangirl was not high on my list of Rowell books to read though. Fanfiction really isn’t my thing – I’ve read one fanfiction series and cringed hard – so I wasn’t really tempted to pick this up.

But I found a copy of Fangirl for a really good price at Half Price Books and thought “why not?” I couldn’t find any other Rainbow Rowell books while shopping, so I grabbed a copy of this and put it on the backburner for months.

And then I read (and disliked) The Spectacular Now and knew I needed to pick something that would quickly engross me. Fangirl had been sitting in my book cart since I purchased it and something about the cover called out to me.

I finally read it.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan..

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

Levi + Cath

Since Cath’s relationships seem to be a forerunner of this novel, I wanted to talk about Cath and Levi first. From the moment we’re introduced to him, I suspected he would be a love interest. It was not an unexpected surprise that they ended up together to me.

Honestly, I felt like Levi was the perfect love interest for Cath from the moment we met him. He’s sweet and funny and so supportive of Cath. That she would believe he was dating her roommate was really funny to me because I thought it was so obvious he cared for Cath. I really, genuinely, loved Levi.

Cath + Wren

Ugh. Twins? Cool. Named Cather and Wren – WHY?

I didn’t mind the twin thing. Honestly, Cath and Wren might be my favorite twins since the Weasleys. I did mind that Wren was an absolute jerk to Cath for a large portion of the book. I get it, but I’m still mad about it.

Mental Health, Writing Relationships, and More!

As a young woman who has struggled with anxiety her whole life, it made me happy to read a book that centers around mental health – particularly mental health in college aged students. Mainly my anxiety started to manifest when I went away to college – change is especially difficult when managing my anxiety so reading about Cath and her issues with her mental health made her feel incredibly real to me.

Also, what the heck was the deal with Nick? I’m so confused about his character. He was developed and not important enough to get more about him, but I’m curious about why he is the way he is.

Regan was probably my favorite in how she dealt with Cath. Sometimes we all need an abrasive friend to get us out of our shells (Ryan, if you’re reading, you’re that friend!). I loved the dynamic between these two because the friendship seemed so unlikely – in the very best way.

Concluding Thoughts

Rainbow Rowell certainly is one of my favorite writers. Something about the way she writes helps the characters feel so real. She leaves me wanting more from the characters and I feel sad when her books are over and I know there’s no sequel. Honestly, I feel like as long as she publishes books, I’ll be over here devouring them. Her writing is so dang compelling to me.

In essence, I loved this. It was sweet, smart, and engaging. Relatable on a level I didn’t expect. Honestly, I am Cath, Cath is me.

I didn’t even mind the snippets of fanfiction…

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟💫

Let’s Chat!

What’s your favorite Rainbow Rowell book? How about your favorite character from Rowell’s work? Let me know in a comment.

So far my favorite has been Eleanor and Park with Park as my favorite character. Cath is a close second!

Book Review | The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

Books can often sit on my TBR for years before I reach for them. I decided to pick up The Spectacular Now when I saw the movie adaptation on Netflix. I wanted to go into my reading experience blind, so I did not watch the movie until after I finished the book (I still haven’t, actually).

I have some thoughts.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

SUTTER KEELY. HE’S the guy you want at your party. He’ll get everyone dancing. He’ ll get everyone in your parents’ pool. Okay, so he’s not exactly a shining academic star. He has no plans for college and will probably end up folding men’s shirts for a living. But there are plenty of ladies in town, and with the help of Dean Martin and Seagram’s V.O., life’s pretty fabuloso, actually.

Until the morning he wakes up on a random front lawn, and he meets Aimee. Aimee’s clueless. Aimee is a social disaster. Aimee needs help, and it’s up to the Sutterman to show Aimee a splendiferous time and then let her go forth and prosper. But Aimee’s not like other girls, and before long he’s in way over his head. For the first time in his life, he has the power to make a difference in someone else’s life—or ruin it forever.

Miles Teller’s Voice

This is the weirdest part of the review – I promise. The whole time I was reading this book, I could hear Miles Teller’s voice. I know I kept picturing Miles as Sutter because I know he plays Sutter in the film adaptation. It’s weird because at time of writing this part of the review (and at time of reading the book and writing this review) I haven’t seen the movie….

What was the point?

Honestly, this is my biggest qualm with the book. I enjoyed the writing, but when I finished, I was a little confused about what the point the author was driving home was. It seemed… pointless. This is fine, but I take issue with it because this book was a National Book Award finalist. I’d like to understand why. I mean, I get it…

Normally, as a book draws nearer to the end, I feel sad – I couldn’t have been happier to finish this book. I legitimately DID NOT get the point the author was trying to drive home. All I could really see, surface level, was the teenage boy from high school who doesn’t care about anything but drinking and smoking weed. The book honestly made me super sad.

Body image

You might be thinking, “Brittany, why are you bringing up body image on a male narrated book?” Well, reader, I’m bringing it up because I HATED that Sutter kept pointing out that his (ex) girlfriend was fat. Like, he literally references the size of Cassidy almost every time he mentions her and it got on my last nerve.

I didn’t expect this to be such a trigger for me, to be frank. But I just can’t get on board with a male author and male narrator pointing out a woman’s weight every time she’s mentioned. I wanted more about Cassidy (hell, Aimee for that matter) than body or image types. I wanted more about their character – not their physical appearances. Personalities matter too, y’all!

Concluding thoughts

Remember #probablynotforme? This probably fits the bill for that. I think I hated this book. Not quite bane of my existence level hatred, but I did not enjoy this and can’t see myself reaching for another Tim Tharp novel anytime soon. I did enjoy the writing style, but found the characters SO damn annoying; I couldn’t look past this!

Rating: 🌟🌟

Let’s chat!

Did you read The Spectacular Now? Maybe you’ve seen the film… In any case, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave me a comment below!

Book Review | The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Yikes. That’s all I can say, y’all.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Mara Dyer wants to believe there’s more to the lies she’s been told.
There is.

She doesn’t stop to think about where her quest for the truth might lead.
She should.

She never had to imagine how far she would go for vengeance.
She will now.

Loyalties are betrayed, guilt and innocence tangle, and fate and chance collide in this shocking conclusion to Mara Dyer’s story.

Retribution has arrived.

Where the hell was Noah?

Hodkin lead us to believe for 95% of the final installment of Mara’s chapter that Noah was dead. I didn’t believe it, and (SPOILER) I was right, but seriously. Where the hell was he? She never really explains to us where he was the whole time – and maybe I’m mad out of turn and that’s the whole point of The Shaw Confessions – but seriously if that’s the case how is him being missing for Mara’s last book going to be drawn out into another trilogy?

I’m mad because I actually like Noah and I wanted to get more of his character to really hone my opinion of him! I get that this was necessary, but like, let a girl know WHAT he is doing while he is missing and HOW he ended up being missing in the first place. Like who took him? Does he remember anything?

Weird boning scenes

The sexual relationship between Noah and Mara built up over two books (Books 1 and 2 obviously) and then she finds him and we get a weird, weird bunch of scenes where they’re describing their encounter through colors. I hated it. It was just super weird.

Also, Daniel was in the house with their inconsiderate selves. Rude.

General Thoughts

It wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t a thrilling conclusion. I wasn’t even that busy while reading this and I still took more than a week to finish this. I was bored for most of it because my favorite character was MIA for most of the book. I like Mara, but she wasn’t as interesting to me as Noah. It was just really hard for me to get through this one. Ultimately, I would read more by Michelle Hodkin though because the concept behind this story is actually something that interests me.

On another note, I liked the flashbacks Mara had. They were almost more interesting than Mara running around trying to kill people with her mind. It was interesting to read about her grandmother, but I am still a little confused. Was Mara’s grandmother’s name actually Mara or is this just her chosen name? If her name wasn’t actually Mara isn’t it weird that Mara’s name became Mara? I don’t know what this was all about, but some ‘splaining would be great!

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟

This was my least favorite in the trilogy. A SHOCKING TWIST. I liked this, but it wasn’t a good enough ending for Mara (despite my weird love/hate relationship with the character).

Let’s chat!

How do you feel about Noah? I understand he’s not perfect, but I honestly think he’s great. Maybe not the best boyfriend material, but I’d definitely befriend him. Leave me a comment letting me know what you think about Noah (or just the Mara Dyer trilogy in general).

Book Review | The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Sequels. You love them or you hate them and typically, there’s no middle ground. This sequel is definitely a middle of the road novel and I wanted to talk through some feelings I have about it today.

Mara Dyer is in the running with Emma Carstairs for most infuriating females leads, in my opinion. Let’s talk about it!

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Mara Dyer knows she isn’t crazy. She knows that she can kill with her mind, and that Noah can heal with his. Mara also knows that somehow, Jude is not a hallucination. He is alive. Unfortunately, convincing her family and doctors that she’s not unstable and doesn’t need to be hospitalised isn’t easy. The only person who actually believes her is Noah. But being with Noah is dangerous and Mara is in constant fear that she might hurt him. She needs to learn how to control her power, and fast! Together, Mara and Noah must try and figure out exactly how Jude survived when the asylum collapsed, and how he knows so much about her strange ability…before anyone else ends up dead!

The Flashbacks?

The first thing I wanted to talk about today in regards to this book is the flashbacks. I understand the Ms. Hodkin is working on world-building with these, but it was hard for me to be on board with them because it’s explained away as “genetic memory” and there’s not really a clear explanation as to what exactly this is. I’m of average intelligence, but I wasn’t having this explanation. It felt… really made up, almost like the author was grasping at straws to explain why Mara was having these weird flashbacks. I thought they were interesting, but I wanted more of an explanation. I understand there is another whole book in Mara’s story so I’m sure it’s explained further in there, but the explanation in this book fell short for me.

The Jude of it all

I don’t know how to feel about Jude’s role in this book. Obviously he’s alive, but I didn’t think he was the sole terrorizer of Mara. He had to have been getting help from someone and I definitely saw it coming with who was helping him out. Phoebe didn’t seem to fit the bill as anything more than an assistant in Jude’s plan – or maybe an expendable resource is the better way to describe her. I didn’t like her character at all (no surprise) but I did feel bad about her really unrequited situation. Seriously, people complain about Noah being awful, but when we consider how damn atrocious Jude is… I don’t get this!

Essentially, I hate Jude and I hate that he played such a big role in this book. I guess he’s a good villain, but still!

Noah + Self Harm + Relationships

I firmly believe there is no good way to cover self harm. Noah harming himself just because he could was not a good look, like, at all. I hated this aspect of the story and I hated how adamant he was about Mara not being able to hurt him when CLEARLY she could. The relationship in this novel was entirely too frustrating for me – it’s like “Oh hi, my name is Mara and this is my boyfriend who I never kiss because I might kill him”. It felt too angsty for my adult self and so, yeah, I have some complaints about it. I wanted to scream at them to cut the crap and figure their life out already. It was insanely frustrating. And very Edward (Twilight) esque. (Re: “I could kill you” “That’s okay. I don’t mind”).

Redemptions

There are two distinct redeemers of this novel. One:  Jamie. I don’t care what anyone says, I love him. I love his friendship with Mara. I was sad to see him go in the first book and SO happy to see him return for this one. It felt gross that Mara only had Noah and her family as allies so I  was happy Ms. Hodkin brought Jamie back. Two: Daniel. The sweetness of his speech to Mara KILLED ME. I cried. I love his big-brotherness and it makes me want my own big brother.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

It was almost as good as the first.

General Thoughts

Okay, okay. I didn’t love this as much as the first book, but I still thought it was good enough to continue the trilogy. I’m invested in the past that Mara’s experiencing and I want to know more about WHY she’s having these visions.

Let’s chat!

Are you a fan of flashbacks or visions in books? Why? Do you have a favorite book that encompasses these elements? Let me know in the comments!

Book Review | The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

I like a lot of books that fall into a series. I think I’ve been pretty open about that. Anyway, the Mara Dyer trilogy has been sitting on my TBR for well over a year and I decided I wanted to read something… paranormal – which is the category this trio is most often sorted into on Goodreads.

For the longest time, I couldn’t figure out why. Sure I understood that Mara sudden developed powers over the course of the first book, but still… She just seemed so… normal, I guess. Or rather, as normal as a sufferer of PTSD can be.

Spoiler alert: I actually really liked this book, so let’s talk about it!

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Mara Dyer believes life can’t get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.

It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her strangely unharmed. 

There is.

She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love. 

She’s wrong.

Let’s talk about Mara

I went through a kind of tumultous relationship with Mara in this book – first I liked her, then I didn’t, then I did again. She annoyed me a lot – which isn’t unusual for a YA heroine, but at certain points I couldn’t bear how annoyed I felt with her. Honestly, I think one of the few redeeming qualities of Mara is that her family seems to keep her grounded.

Otherwise, she seemed like an average girl. There was nothing spectacular about her – other than the fact that she, you know, might have accidentally murdered some people.

Also, one thing I really didn’t like was the immediate hatred toward Mara simply because the “HoTtEsT bOy In ScHoOl” was instantly attracted to her. Jealousy isn’t cute – in real life or in fiction – so I could totally do without that. I get it. They’re teens, but I feel like the “I can only be friends with boys because there’s less drama” is so overdone and cliched. Give us some powerful girl on girl friendships, please.

Noah Shaw – The Bad Boy

Ask me if I know what Noah looks like – the answer is only kinda. He didn’t exactly leap off the page for me. Sure, I understand that he’s typical wonder bread and I guess that’s fine. I just can’t picture him in my head, but I sure can hear him.

Nearly every review I’ve read describes Noah as a jerk. It’s true. He is. But when it comes to Mara, it becomes very clear that he cares about her. A lot of reviews I read indicate a point in a restaurant where Noah orders for Mara. She seems annoyed then, but quickly changes her attitude when the food arrives and it’s actually delicious. It might be rude. It might be inconsiderate. All I’m saying is – I wouldn’t mind so long as the food was good.

I didn’t hate Noah and I actually refuse to hate Noah because he seems like a typical teenage boy. He’s an exciting love interest for a somewhat boring heroine. Nothing really stands out to me about Mara other than she may have a mind ability so it was at least nice to have someone interesting around.

General Thoughts

Overall, I thought Michelle Hodkin’s writing was addictive. Maybe a few mediocre points, but we all have those, right? The book had decent pacing and I was invested from the start. Like I said, I didn’t necessarily hate anyone in the book – except maybe Jude which is too bad because I like his name and Anna because I have no room for mean girls – and overall thought the concept of the story was interesting.

As I write this, I’m preparing to read the next book and if that’s as captivating I’ll continue binge reading the trilogy (and maybe even jump into the Shaw confessions!).

Rating: 4

It fit everything I was looking for when I decided to read it.

Let’s chat!

I know people either love these books or they hate them so I’d like to know your thoughts. Do you have a review that goes in either direction? Leave me a comment (and link your review if you have one!) so I can hear more from you!