Book Review: Wink Poppy Midnight

WINK POPPY MIDNIGHT

Author: April Genevieve Tucholke

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery

Goodreads Score: 3.42

My Score: 4

Things I Disliked: Plot could be confusing at times.

Things I Liked: Voice, voice, voice.

Review in a sentence: Watch as poor, sweet Midnight tries to find out what the fuck is going on.

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From Goodreads

“Every story needs a hero. Every story needs a villain.  Every story needs a secret. 

Wink. Poppy. Midnight.

Two girls. One boy. One summer. 

One bad thing. 

What really happened?

Someone knows. Someone is lying.” 

(From book flap)

I’m interning at two different jobs this summer. One is for a small publishing press, and the other is a book scouting position. Because of this, I am constantly submerged in all things books (living the dream!), and as a result, my TBR list has grown to be about a million miles long.

However, while WINK POPPY MIDNIGHT wasn’t actually on my list, the cover (a colorful mix of icons against a black background) and title intrigued me enough that I read the first page. I bought it immediately.

April Genevieve Tucholke writes with such a distinctive voice–clear and eloquent, not overly verbose, but somehow melodic. The book is first person narration told from the alternating viewpoints of the three title characters (yes, Wink, Poppy, and Midnight are the names of the characters, not some strange code) and each character is written with a strong, clear, very Them style that you can immediately recognize. I was hooked from chapter one, and continued to be hooked.

That was the highlight of the book.

The plot itself was strange. Which doesn’t mean bad. Just…interesting. Essentially, we have a total mean girl named Poppy who likes to play people just for kicks. Poor Midnight, so sweet and clueless, has been in love with Poppy for a long time, and she alternates between mocking him and sleeping with him. Towards the beginning of the book, Midnight moves from Poppy’s neighborhood to a house next to Wink, who is the local oddball. Midnight starts to shake off Poppy’s nefarious clutches as he becomes closer to Wink, but Poppy does not approve. The not-so-love triangle comes to its peak one night in the forest, in an abandoned house rumored to be haunted. There, something happens…but nobody knows quite what.

From the cover, we know that there’s a hero, a villain, and a liar in the book, and as the book is told in first person, it’s clear we have a classic case of the Unreliable Narrator. This provides tension as we wonder who has the nerve to be lying to us in their own thoughts–or, if not lying, at least deflecting the truth.

But when truths start to be revealed, I was left doing the whole ‘wuuuuuuuh’ thing. Not in an ‘oh my God, wait WHAT, WHAT, WHAAAAT. AMAZING PLOT TWIST’ sense. More like in an ‘I’m so confused, but ok, cool. That’s fine. I’m fine’ way.

In a sense, the blurry surrealism of the plot mimics the eccentricities of the characters, and after the book I was left feeling thoughtful, torn, and ready to find another one of Tucholke’s works.

Have you read WINK POPPY MIDNIGHT? If so, what’d you think? What books are on your TBR lists? What are you favorite books with unreliable narrators? Let me know in the comments below! 

Currently Reading: STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN by Roshani Chokshi and COURT OF MIST AND FURY by Sarah J. Maas 

Recently Finished: NEVERWHERE by Neil Gaiman 

 

Book Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses

A Court of Thorns and Roses

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Goodreads Score: 4.3

My Score: 4

Things I Disliked: Pacing could be a little uneven at times.

Things I Liked: Loved the Fae world, romance had me like ahhhhhhh.

Review in a sentence: YA Fantasy inspired by the tales of Beauty and the Beast and Tam Lin with great worldbuilding and plenty of romance, but uneven pacing at times.

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“When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.
As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it… or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.” 

(Goodreads)

As I write this review, I’m also in the middle of another of Sarah J. Maas’ series–the Throne of Glass books. Which are awesome and witty and great and evidently in high demand right now, as the third book was disappointingly missing from my local B&N. But then I stumbled onto A Court of Thorns and Roses and I didn’t feel so disappointed anymore.

A Court of Thorns and Roses is the first in a new series by Maas, and the first book is inspired by both Beauty and the Beast and the story of Tam Lin. I’ve always had a fondness for Beauty and the Beast retellings–Stockholm syndrome aside–and so was already excited even before the first page.

As always, Maas’s writing is captivating; it’s hard to set her books down. I finished A Court of Thorns and Roses in one day, staying up past four in the morning because how could I not?! The book set off at a good pace, but once the protagonist, Feyre, made it to Tamlin’s estate, the action lulled, with most of the intrigue-factor in the middle of the book stemming from the romantic tension between the two leads. Speaking of romance, it was an edgier notch up from Throne of Glass…especially when it came to certain faerie rituals (you’ll definitely know what I’m talking about once you read it). I loved reading about the different species of faeries and just delving deeper and deeper into the beautiful world that Maas created. I think it’s a testament to her great writing that after I finished the book I immediately wanted to read everything I could find about the fair folk.

The main character, Feyre, was neither annoying nor a favorite of mine. Protagonist + tragedy + heavy responsibilities + stubbornness + skilled with a particular weapon. It’s a popular formula…but then, there’s a reason for that. Tragic pasts lend depth, stubborn characters tend to be more interesting than those who take orders blindly, etc. Perhaps my lack of passion for Feyre wasn’t from any particular quality she had, but the lack of anything that truly made me want to cheer her on. On the other hand, two of my favorite characters were Feyre’s sister, Nesta, and Lucien, another faerie, mostly because their personalities both intrigued me. I really wanted to know more about their pasts–so here’s hoping we’ll find out more in the sequel.

One gripe I had with the book was the overall pacing. Like I said earlier, sometimes the middle felt too languid. But then it was non-stop action for the last hundred pages. Literally non-stop. But I do like that Maas spent so much time in the evolution of Tamlin’s and Feyre’s relationship, so I guess either way would have been a trade-off.

All in all, I would definitely recommend A Court of Thorns and Roses if you’re into romance and fantasy. When I first finished it, I was wriggling with feelings and all ‘ohmygosh I love this, must tell friends’. I think a lot of that was because the passion was palpable and gorgeous, smoldering faeries and whatnot. Now that I’ve had a week or two of distance, I still really like it and will probably re-read it at some point, but I’ve also gained enough objectivity to realize that I prefer Throne of Glass, which has the same signature Maas-style romance, but also more of a witty edge…and, of course, an assassin.

Have you read A Court of Thorns and Roses? Do you agree or disagree with my review? What books have you been loving/hating? Let me know in the comments! 

 

Book Review: Geek Girl

I wasn’t supposed to buy any books this week. I told myself this. My logical overseer had a very civil talk with the mischievous imp that sometimes lives inside of me.

LO: Erin. Listen. You are a broke college kid who routinely goes over budget. No books.

MI: But–

LO: No. No arguments. No books.

MI: No books?

LO: Yes. No books.

MI: Yes books?

LO: No. No books. You are not to buy any books.

MI: I see. I see…buy books.

LO: NO. LISTEN, you will not buy ANY books until at least after your essays are turned in, is that clear? And while you’re at it, start writing those essays. And clear your desk off. And stop eating dessert for breakfast.

MI: *sigh*

With that important conversation over, a very chastened me had to go to the bookshop just to, you know, cheer myself up, and then I just  happened to see the Night Circus which was buy one get one half off, and I got so excited that I lost all monetary reasoning, and clearly this is not my fault, and I FEEL NO REMORSE, alright?!

Where was I? Oh, yes. So anyways, I bought Night Circus and because Geek Girl was also buy one get one half off I bought that too. In this case, two wrongs might just make a right

Book: Geek Girl 

Author: Holly Smale

Goodreads Score: 3.88 

My Score: 4.0 

Genre: YA contemporary 

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Harriet Manners knows that a cat has 32 muscles in each ear, a “jiffy” lasts 1/100th of a second, and the average person laughs 15 times per day. She knows that bats always turn left when exiting a cave and that peanuts are one of the ingredients of dynamite. 

But she doesn’t know why nobody at school seems to like her.

So when Harriet is spotted by a top model agent, she grabs the chance to reinvent herself. Even if it means stealing her best friend’s dream, incurring the wrath of her arch enemy Alexa, and repeatedly humiliating herself in front of impossibly handsome model Nick. Even if it means lying to the people she loves.

Veering from one couture disaster to the next with the help of her overly enthusiastic father and her uber-geeky stalker, Toby, Harriet begins to realise that the world of fashion doesn’t seem to like her any more than the real world did.

As her old life starts to fall apart, will Harriet be able to transform herself before she ruins everything?

(Taken from Amazon)

I really don’t know what’s been up with me, but for some reason I’ve been on a row with YA contemporary lately, even though I usually find myself gravitating toward the YA science-fiction and fantasy and all that stuff. I’m loving it, too, even if I do sometimes expect daring sword fights to break out in the next chapter… Geek Girl, however, differs from my recent YA picks because it’s neither sad, soul-searching, or emotionally wrenching. Instead, Geek Girl is a fun, fast read from page one–the kind of book you read with chocolate and a blanket when you’re feeling sad. Yes, it deals with some weightier issues such as bullying (what is Alexa’s problem anyways? Much like how many licks it takes to get to the center of a tootsie-pop, the world may never know), family drama, and the like, but it’s the kind of book where you know that everything’ll turn out right in the end.

As for plot? Well, the modeling world as portrayed in literature can make for a fascinating and fun read, but what really enticed me into buying the book was simply the author, Holly Smale’s, voice. Harriet Manner may be clueless at times, but she’s endearing throughout and I loved reading all the quirky fun facts she intersperses throughout the book (like the true origin of the word ‘geek’…but I’ll leave that for you to find out).

That said, while Geek Girl was fun and fluffy, the basic premise of the book (nerdy girl transforms herself inside and out) has been done many times before, and Holly Smale didn’t deviate much from the standard, ensuing that most plot lines were resolved as soon as they popped up. The characters themselves often fell into categories that felt constrictive. Arch enemy Alexa is mean girl bully because she is mean girl bully. I also found Harriet, no matter how endearing, frustrating at times–especially since she seems to dramatize things just so that the book can have a plot.

Finally, the romance?

Well, the first meeting between Nick and Harriet was great:

“Do you often hide under furniture?”

“I don’t make a habit of it. Do you?”

“All the time.”

But it felt rushed towards the end and fourth-of-july corny. (Cuz of all the corn on the cob? Get it? No? Well, it’s late.) I’m also nervous to see how the romance will progress in the next couple of books, as, honestly, the two didn’t spend all that much time together in the first.

Of course, maybe some of the corniness and other gripes will be lost on the age group that this book is aimed at. Although I certainly enjoyed it and am planning on reading the sequel, I’d say that Geek Girl is probably marketed at middle grade. To sum up my feelings on the book, at its best, Geek Girl is a novel brimming with laughs, excitement, and fun. At its worst, it’s stereotypical and cliche. However, as quick of a read as it is, the latter two are minimum risks for you to take on the book, especially when you’re feeling down.

Have you read Geek Girl? What did you think about it? Have any books to recommend? Let me know in the comments below! 

Book Review: We Were Liars

Book Review: We Were Liars

By: E. Lockhart

Goodreads Score: 3.90

My Score: 3.4

Highlights: Lyrical Writing Style, Psychological Aspects

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So, I saw this book at Barnes and Nobles a few months ago, when they only stocked it in hardcover. The title, summary, and first page all intrigued me…but, as a hardcover book, it was over twenty dollars, and it didn’t intrigue me that much. So, I left Barnes and Nobles with two paperbacks instead and forgot all about it for a while.

Then I started seeing reviews crop up all over the blog-o-sphere. Everyone and their pet Chihuahua was reading this book (don’t worry–I know that Chihuahuas can’t read. Let me rephrase: everyone and their pet German Husky). Still, I might not have picked it up…except for the fact that everyone’s opinions seemed so polarized. Many bloggers were absolutely raving about We Were Liars, while others were bemoaning it with a burning hatred that clawed at them from the insides out.

And of course, we’ve all heard about that Major Plot Twist. Or, at least, it’s literally all I’ve heard about the book. When I asked other people what it was about, a typical answer was, “Well, there’s this huge plot twist near the end.” And I kind of understand why, now. Because the plot of this book isn’t one easily summed up. If you asked me, I’d probably say something along the lines of, ‘well, there is this family obsessed with appearances, and there re three teenagers in this family, and one outsider, who spend a lot of time with each other, and two of these teenagers have a flawed romance going on, and all the adults are manipulative, and the teens think about life and generosity and what it means to be good, and oh, yeah, there’s some dogs in there, too.’ It’s not exactly a description that makes you want to rush to the bookstore. The real plot lies (ha!) somewhat deeper, in a series of flashbacks of the Liars, in the manipulation and greed that defines the Liars’ parents, and in Cadence’s struggles and revelations.

So, basically, the book was pretty, but it was also directionless at times, and there were a couple of points where I was just like ‘where is this even going?’. If you like your books to have a solid direction and lots of clarity (you know who the antagonist is, there is a clear conflict, etc.) then We Were Liars will definitely feel too free-floating for you.

Because I had heard so much about the (in)famous plot twist, I was keeping a close eye on the book as I went along, trying to guess what it could be before I got to it. I was actually keeping little notes as I read, and for those of you who don’t mind a potential spoiler, I’ll post them a few lines down. After, of course, issuing a firm:

*SPOILER ALERT. SPOILER ALERT. AVERT YOUR EYES, QUICKLY SCROLL DOWN UNTIL YOU SEE ME SCREAMING AT YOU WITH MORE CAPS. THANK YOU. *

Highlight the below text. It should show up. Yay for technology. And magic. Honestly, I’m not sure which one this is.

Page 51: Ohmygosh, is everyone dead? Ohmygosh, everyone is actually dead. 

Page 51 1/2: Oh, so Gat dies, leaving her alone, and that’s why he never answers anything. I see. 

Page 74: And now I’m just confused. Like, what the fuck is this? The Liars are still on the Island, and actually seem happy to see her, soooo…did everyone just abandon her? Agh! I just don’t even know anymore.  

So, as you can see, I was a bit indecisive. I did, however, hit close to the mark. But even though I was sort of expecting it, I was still shocked when I realized that one of my two guesses was actually right. 

*SPOILERS DONE. NOT THAT YOU COULD SEE THEM ANYWAY, BUT JUST SO YOU COULD AVOID THE TEMPTATION OF IT ALL, YOU KNOW?*

Anyways, I’ll zoom in a little and focus less on the book as a whole, and more on the characters. There’s the Sinclairs. Rich, attractive, composed, and united. Hahahaha. Right, so there’s the Sinclairs: Squandering away their money, fighting with and manipulating each other, and breaking into a thousand tiny pieces.

Well, when I say that, I really specifically mean the second generation of Sinclairs–the parents of the Liars.

But let’s zoom in a little bit more, and talk about the Liars themselves. Each one of them comes from a different immediate family. There’s the main character: Cadence Eastman. Then Mirren Sheffields. Johnny Dennise. And Gat, who is Johnny’s mother’s boyfriend’s nephew (whew! That’s a mouthful. Really, all you need to know is that he comes to the Sinclair Island every summer like the rest of them, and is not part of the family, making the romance between him and Cadence legal).

The book is told through Cadence’s point of view, with many flashbacks throughout, as Cadence has suffered from selective amnesia after an accident one summer.

Cadence is…

Hard to like. She gets terrible migraine pains after the accident, her dad left her mother and her, she’s hopelessly in love with Gat, and she is SO hard to like.

First off, she is terribly clingy. So, so possessive. The romance between her and Gat is weird, with Gat kissing her and being way into her at points, and then quickly backing it up at other points, and with Cadence knowing he has a girlfriend, but not asking about her, and Gat not telling. Many times, Gat tells Cadence that they can’t be together. Many times, Cadence tells herself that she shouldn’t be with him. And yet, she is constantly thinking of him as ‘mine’. They know they’re bad for each other (or, at least, they think they are), but they bounce back and forth between true love, first crush, and teen angst in a way that makes me so annoyed. Grr. There were so many things they could have done to make their relationship either last, or for them to back off from each other, and they chose neither. Gah.

And while I’m ranting, let me move onto the title: We Were Liars. It’s a pretty title. And for a while, it works. Cadence tells us readers that her pack of homies were called the Liars by their parents. Thus, they really were the Liars.

But.

But. BUT. 

Why do the parents call them the Liars? Cadence doesn’t give us one damn example. The teens seem adventurous and rebellious at times (though I only give them those titles lightly), but they don’t seem like liars. Especially not in the first half of the book, long after they were apparently dubbed as so.

It may seem like a weird gripe, but it has had me scratching my head in thought for the past few days, wondering what I missed. So, if you’ve read the book and happen to understand, please let me know in the comments. I’d be grateful (this is not sarcasm. I really do want to know if this was explained and I somehow missed out on something).

Anyways, it seems like I’ve ranted a lot for the (fairly) decent review rating I gave this book. And I guess that that’s because although I didn’t like the characters, the plot was foggy, and the Liars part was confusion, the book was still written under the spell of that fog that seemed to wrap around the plot. It’s light, and misty, and mysterious, and kind of beautiful.

Plus, I did finish it within three hours. I didn’t want to put it down, so I didn’t. And I think that’s worth something when it comes to a points rating system.

Have you read We Were Liars? If so, let me know what you thought of it! Do you agree with my rating? Have you read any good books lately? Have any recommendations? Again, let me know in the comments below! 

 

Book Review: Sharp Objects

Book Review: Sharp Objects

By: Gillian Flynn

Goodreads Score: 3.87

My Score: 4.2

Highlights: Compelling, twisted, gritty

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WICKED above her hipbone, GIRL across her heart 
Words are like a road map to reporter Camille Preaker’s troubled past. Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, Camille’s first assignment from the second-rate daily paper where she works brings her reluctantly back to her hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls.

NASTY on her kneecap, BABYDOLL on her leg 
Since she left town eight years ago, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed again in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille is haunted by the childhood tragedy she has spent her whole life trying to cut from her memory.

HARMFUL on her wrist, WHORE on her ankle 
As Camille works to uncover the truth about these violent crimes, she finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Clues keep leading to dead ends, forcing Camille to unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past to get at the story. Dogged by her own demons, Camille will have to confront what happened to her years before if she wants to survive this homecoming.

(From Goodreads) 


Gillian Flynn. What can I say? Reading her books makes me uncomfortable, anxious, and disturbed. And yet: I read them. It’s nearly impossible not to. I started with Gone Girl, which was more mild than both Sharp Objects and Dark Places, in terms of sex and violence. Gone Girl was also my favorite of the three. Dark Places was my least, although I really appreciated the ending. Sharp Objects falls somewhere in-between the two.

As always, the main character is a bit screwed up (okay, a bit is an understatement). After her sister, Marian, died, Camille started carving words into her flesh, and having copious amounts of sex. Her relationship with her cold, infuriating mother is, as you can imagine, strained, with Camille still secretly pining for her mother’s love even though she knows that she’ll never truly have it. The result of all these things have caused her to bitterly resent her home town, and residing in her mind is a great way to gain that cynical mindset you’ve always been looking for, and which I happened to enjoy. Camille is vulnerable and tough at the same time. She is childish, and dangerous, and always teetering on the edge. She’s tenacious and protective. She is a girl falling even as she puts up her arms to block the pain.

As for the other characters…nearly all the important ones are impossible to like. And it’s supposed to be that way. On Gillian Flynn’s website, she writes that “there are no good women in Sharp Objects.”* One could argue that Camille isn’t necessarily bad, but then, she’s no paradigm of perfection, either. The other characters, however, are all just nasty.

Her mother, Adora, is not someone that anyone would Adore-a (get it?!).

Her half-sister, Amma, is infuriating at parts, strangely vulnerable in other parts, and manipulative and creepy through it all.

Her stepfather, Alan, is a mindless drone.

And all the other little townspeople are petty, gossip-eager, whiny, dramatic little caricatures of themselves. If any of the aspects of this book annoyed me, it was the monochromatic townspeople. Nearly all of Camille’s friends, and all of Camille’s mother’s friends, read the same. I had trouble differentiating who was who, and how (if at all) they were different from the next person. And sure, yes, I get that this was probably to highlight the horrible sameness of the town, and yes, it was through the biased filter of Camille’s eyes, but after a while, it was just repetitive.

But let’s get off the subject of characters, and move onto the plot itself. Like all of Flynn’s novels, Sharp Objects keeps you engaged in multiple ways. While the underlying question is always ‘who is killing these little girls?’, uncovering the messed-up relationship of Camille and her mother can be an even more absorbing plot point. Not to mention, finding out more about Camille’s dark past.  I think the latter was what gripped me the most–what, exactly, made Camille turn her body into a human message board? And what does her past have to do with the present? I had to take all my snacks with me onto my bed, because I knew that I wasn’t going to leave my room until I finished the book, and I needed sustenance to keep me going. That’s how much I wanted answers to the above questions.

Fascinating and gripping, Sharp Objects is a book that is dark and unflinching. It is, at times, uncomfortable. It is bold and invasive.

It is a really, really good book.

Have you read any of Gillian Flynn’s books? What do you think of them? Read any other good/bad books lately? Tell me about them in the comments below! 

*To see the fascinating article from which this was taken in, go to: http://gillian-flynn.com/for-readers/

She’s Baaaaaaack (And With a New Book Review, Too!)

Hello, again! Gosh, I know that it’s only been a couple of weeks that I’ve been gone from the blog-o-sphere, but it feels like far longer than that. Probably because I’ve been pretty busy! I’m all moved into my new flat in London, but what with orientation, and the start of classes, and meeting flatmates I haven’t had much time to myself. But, as promised, I am back, and with a few new reviews lined up, too!

The first is a novel that I bought at Waterstones Piccadilly, which happens to be the largest bookstore in Europe. It is fairly humongous, and I know that I’m going to be going back there an awful lot over the next few months. Anyways, I saw The Rosie Project on display, and because I’ve heard it mentioned a few times before, I decided ‘why not?’ (The answer to the why not question, as it turns out, is there is no reason not to).

Book Review: The Rosie Project

By: Graeme Simsion

Goodreads Score: 4.02

My Score: 4.1

Highlights: Funny, the Main Character (Don), Just the Overall Feeling

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Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.

Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don’s Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.

(From Goodreads)

I really liked this book. Wait, I take that book. I really, really liked this book. I don’t meant to sound surprised or anything, but I am kind of impressed with how funny I found The Rosie Project, which I thought would be more dramatic and dry than it ended up being. Love stories can be hit or miss with me, but then, this wasn’t really a love story; it had less stereotypical romance in it than it did quirks, humorous situations, and soul-searching.

Don, the main character, was a favorite of mine from the beginning. He has Asperger’s syndrome, and as a result is much more logical, and much less emotional, than other people. This means that his thoughts sometimes shock with their bluntness, and after you’re done being shocked, than the laughs come. And if a book can make me laugh throughout, then odds are I’m going to like that book.

But beside it being quite hilarious, the Rosie Project was also engaging and touching. Two main plot lines are explored throughout the book, both of which involve searching. Don is searching for the ideal wife through use of an elaborate questionnaire, which he deems The Wife Project. Rosie, on the other hand, is searching for her real father. At first, I was really interested in the details of Don’s ‘Wife Project’. But as time went by, I became more and more focused on trying to find out who Rosie’s father might be. I had two main guesses, one of which became increasingly validated as time went by, although I won’t go into that here. I did like that the book left multiple possibilities that would make sense, leaving room (and plenty of doubts) for the reader to be either right or wrong.

I did feel that there was a tiny period around the middle where the plot started to drag on for me, probably because the beginning was so great, and then the latter half was really good, and in comparison the middle bit seemed weak. But, overall, there wasn’t much to critique about the Rosie Project. It wasn’t really my usual genre, but even so, I loved it! And I can’t wait to read Simsion’s sequel to the Rosie Project: The Rosie Effect.

Have you read The Rosie Project? If so, let me know what you thought of it! Have you read any good books lately? Have any recommendations? Again, let me know in the comments below! 

 

Book Review: Carnival of Souls

Book Review: Carnival of Souls

By: Melissa Marr

Goodreads Score: 3.7

My Score: 3.7 (right on, Goodreads)

Highlights: Interesting Plot, Good Action to Romance ratio, Aya

Points of Interest: Told from multiple perspectives (mainly from Aya, Mallory, and Kaleb’s viewpoints, but with snippets of Belias, as well)

Carnival of Souls

Once every generation, a brutal, bloodthirsty competition is held in the City, a land where daimons live, and witches are condemned. The competition takes place in the center of the city, at a location named the carnival, and pits daimons of all castes against each other, with one winner gaining the opportunity to rule in the City’s government, and be raised from whatever life they were living before. Kaleb, Aya, and Belias all enter the competition, but for vastly different reasons. One for a chance at a better life, one to hide a deadly secret, and one to do anything to protect the daimon he loves.

Meanwhile, in the Human world, Mallory lives under constant vigilance. Born in the City, her mother gave everything she had to put Mallory under the protection of the powerful witch, Adam. Adam has spent the last seventeen years guarding Mallory and making sure that the past she fled from in the City doesn’t catch up to her. However, as Mallory’s eighteenth birthday grows closer, even the Human world cannot sever itself from the City, and there are forces there that are willing to do anything to bring her back…

Told from multiple perspectives, Carnival of Souls weaves the different plot lines that occur in the City and the Human world into one, making sure that the decadence and danger that is the carnival leaves no one untouched.


 

Usually my opinion differs at least a little bit from the Goodreads score, but surprisingly, this time I seem to be an average of everyone else. There were a lot of things I liked about this book, paired with a few things that I didn’t, as well as the general feeling that although I enjoyed reading it, I wouldn’t hunt down the sequel.

The concept of the book is cool. The idea of the carnival, where pleasure and murder can be bought with enough coin, is creepy and compelling, although these things weren’t center stage in the story. Carnival of Souls is told in multiple perspectives, and I can say confidently that my least favorite persepctive was Mallory’s. I felt like the gist of every single chapter of hers could have been condensed into ten, maybe fifteen pages, and on the whole she was just boring to me. And her fighting skills annoyed me.  Here is a girl that has trained her whole life learning to fight, and who is faster and stronger than the average human…but I would not be surprised at all if a kid with two lessons of martial arts tucked under his belt could kick her ass. I mean, seriously–she didn’t come out tops in a single confrontation.

Luckily, Aya’s viewpoint was a reprieve from the dullness that took place in the human world. She was a tough, relentless heroine who’s both ruthless and experienced, and who could probably crush Mallory with her scowl alone. At first I was a little taken aback by the lengths that Aya would go to win the competition, especially when it came to betraying her one love. I didn’t think I could get behind the forcefulness of her motives, although I was prepared to enjoy her side of the story. That’s why it was a surprising journey to find myself liking her and understanding her more and more as the book went on. Her storyline was the one that I liked the most, and if I were to read the sequel, my request would be to just focus on Aya ninety percent of the time and have a shout-out from Mallory at the very end.

The third main character, Kaleb, gave me mixed reactions. I liked reading his viewpoints, but it was less because I liked him and more because the things that were going on were interesting. Daimons are kind of like a cross between really strong humans and shape shifters (I think, in any case…), and living in the City the lowest castes of daimons are treated horribly and forced to either kill or whore themselves out for money. Kaleb is one of those low-caste daimons, and he’ll do anything to protect his pack mate Zevi, who despite being quite strong and fast and generally an awesome character, is treated by Kaleb as incredibly fragile. Kaleb has been assigned to watch over (and possibly kill) Mallory, but of course he ends up falling in love with her.

The love between Kaleb and Mallory was possibly my least favorite aspect of the book. Similar to the way Kaleb feels tied to Zevi, his pack mate, Kaleb feels connected to Mallory. It was Insta-Love to the max, and it irritated me because that’s all it was. It just felt shallow, rushed, and forced. And towards the end of the book Kaleb does what could go down in history as the worst decision ever, showing yet again that Kaleb may care about many people, but he sure doesn’t give a damn regarding their feelings and opinions.

All in all, though, I would recommend Carnival of Souls, especially for those looking for a book that’s a bit darker than a lot of fantasy worlds out there. I thought the world Marr constructed could have been further explored–many subjects were just touched on again and again, making them wide but not very deep–but I wasn’t disappointed with what I got. I tried one other book–Wicked Lovely–by Melissa Marr and I felt basically the same way. I think her ideas are always interesting, and I never regret reading her books, but would I go out of my way for another of hers? Well, meh.

What have you guys been reading lately? Have you checked out Carnival of Souls? Let me know in the comments below!