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! 

 

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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: Horoscope (The Astrology Murders)

Horoscope

By: Georgia Frontiere

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*I was provided with a free advance readers copy of this book by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Therefore, I shall be honest.*

Goodreads Score: N/A

My Score (Official): 3.75.

My Score (Unofficial): 1200 astrology consultations out of 1457

The Highlights: Astrology adds a unique twist to a murder mystery, Keeps you reading, Intriguing

The Lowlights: Epilogue was too cheesy for my taste, Chris Palmer.

Need to Read Urgency Level: On the high side of medium. Next time you’re at the bookstore and you’re looking for a thriller or a mystery, consider this one.

So this is my second review in less than a day (odd for me), but I just finished this book from NetGalley, and I wanted to get it up before I forgot any of the finer points. Today is, though, Friday, and that’s when I usually do my Friday Fight Days. If you like them, then don’t fear! One will be up later today, unless something drastic happens, like a particularly horrendous turtle attack. In fact, I’ll even give you a sneak peek. The Friday Fight Day Topic today will be: Attack of the Animals (famous dogs and cats of literature fight it out to see who makes the better literary sidekick). Anyways, I’ll stop talking about that until the actual post comes out. For now, the summary of Horoscope!

There is a dangerous murderer on the loose. As meticulous as he is calculating, he baffles the local police by sneaking into his victims’ houses without so much as breaking a window frame. Once there, he rapes and murders his helpless prey before carving their astrological sign into their thigh. Meanwhile, an Intuitive Astrologer, Kelly York, is on the verge of a breakdown. All her signs point to danger, and she’s developed an acute case of agoraphobia that confines her to her house. And that’s all before the mysterious, threatening phone calls begin. Now, Kelly must delve far into her past to find the connection the killer has to her. The stars are on her side, but will it be enough to survive?

My Thoughts:

Two years ago, I had read only one or two murder mystery books. Now, though, I’m really getting into the genres of mysteries and thrillers. They make me a lot more paranoid of the world we live in, yes, but they’re also so delightful in that creepy, shuddery way. I really enjoyed Horoscope because not only did it have solid red herrings, and great plot twists, but it had the addition of astrology and horoscopes, which has always intrigued me. (What can I say? We Pisces are very into that stuff ;D) The main character, Kelly, wasn’t overtly memorable. She wasn’t annoying or anything (most of the time, anyways) but she just didn’t seem to have much of a personality besides her work and her love for friends and family. There were several other minor characters throughout the story, such as Kelly’s friends and employees Emma and Sarah. Those two were similar in character types–both very caring, kind, protective, etc. Chris Palmer, as I noted in the dislike section, was one of my least favorite characters. I didn’t see what Kelly sees in him, and he was irrational, moody, and annoying. I wanted to skip their whole date scene. But besides a few character flaws, Horoscope was a good read. I was up late reading, and the sections told from the murderer’s point of view were appropriately chilling, disturbing, and awful. All in all, a solid murder mystery with an aura of thriller.

Prediction for the Sequel: Kelly and Emma and Sarah will host a game night where they sit around asking each other if everything in their life is going okay. There will be another murderer on the loose. The cops will suspect the wrong man. Kelly’s life will be in danger.

Publication Date: October 31st, 2014

 So, as always, thanks for reading! I’ll have the Friday Fight Day Post up later today. Have you read any great mysteries lately? If so, tell me about them! I’m always looking to expand my reading list. Thanks! 

 

Book Review: Kissed by an Angel

Kissed by an Angel

By: Elizabeth Chandler

Quick Stats:

Goodreads Score: 3.83

My Score (Official): 2.23 stars out of 5.

My Score (Unofficial): 12 celery sticks out of 48.

The Highlights: Gabriel. Beth’s chock full of cheese romance. It’s quick and very, very easy.

The Lowlights: No plot to be seen, flat characters, build-up, build-up, build-up and then…nada. It’s very, very easy.

Need to Read Urgency Level: Pass.

Kissed by an Angel

This book is like a roller coaster ride. More accurately, it is like a broken roller coaster ride.

The build-up starts. You tick up inch by inch, slowly, so slowly, tense because you’re waiting for that inevitable drop to come. You’re waiting for that wild moment when the plot actually starts. Tick-tick-tick this roller coaster goes. And then…you reach the top. You’re finally there. This is where the fun begins. This is the reason you came to the amusement park. For this moment. And then–

–nothing happens.

“Hold it right there,” a worker shouts. “We’re having technical difficulties. Roller coaster’s broken. The ride’s gonna her delayed for an hour until we can get it functional again.”

The Summary

THERE. That is my feelings on book 1 of Kissed by an Angel. The first book is roughly 230 pages. It takes about 150 of that for the first major plot point to even happen, and then the mystery and thriller part is held off until book 2. UGH. So much anger. So much disappointment. I kept reading, thinking ‘oh here comes the plot’, ‘oh yes, the plot is sure to be coming soon, oh maybe we’ll have some action now…oh wait, is that plot twist I see coming?! Oh, no just a blur in the text, hmm maybe next chapter…’ but it never happened. In fact, the book ended with one of the main characters, Tristan, realizing in a great act of self accomplishment something that I thought the reader was supposed to know from the flash-forward on page 1. But more ragging to come later. First, the summary.

When Tristan, the golden boy swimmer, first sees the beautiful, head-in-the-clouds Ivy, he knows that he’s falling for her. Unfortunately, Ivy doesn’t date Jocks. However, after several chance (or maybe not so much) run-ins with Tristan, she begins to see past the guy she thinks he is, and to the smart, kind soul that he really has. Ivy begins to fall as much in love with him, as he to her, relying on his company more and more during the stressful times of her mother’s remarriage. And then one horrifying night everything changes. Tristan dies. Ivy’s whole life is turned around. Everything in her shatters. Her happiness, her hope, and even her belief in angels. But the thing is, angels do exist. And Tristan is now hers. But will he ever find a way to let Ivy know?

My Feelings:

So not even that great of a summary. I had the three book omnibus edition, and so the summary I read was very different from the one I wrote. The summary that led me to read this talked about Tristan finding his killer before he strikes out at Ivy, which I thought was intriguing. Not intriguing enough to be in the first book of the series, however. But enough about plot–or the lack of it. Let’s talk about something else. Like Ivy. Dear, dear Ivy. Ivy, who I can’t understand why Tristan would ever like in the first place. Sure, she’s pretty. Sure, she has hair like a halo. But in terms of personality? The girl is as bland as wheat bread. She’s a boring host. And she’s cold. Although Tristan seems like a nice guy who anyone would get along with, Ivy seems to be extremely irritated by his crush on her. She constantly asks everyone if he has said anything about her, is disappointed if they don’t, but claims not to be interested in him. Also, in the beginning of the novel, she dismisses him as a viable option because jocks don’t have brains. While she cares about her brother, and even her may-end-up-being-evil brother, Gregory, she is quick to judge others, although I think she’s supposed to have one of those nice girl personalities. Tristan himself is not bad, but not someone I go crazy for. He’s nice and he’s a gentleman that I’m sure many people would love to have, but I’ve always been one for guys with an edge. He’s a cardboard cut-out, just like many of the characters in this story. For example, Ivy’s two “best” friends, Suzanne and Beth, only become friends with each other in their (strangely obsessive) quest to get her to date Tristan. WHY DO THEY CARE SO MUCH? WHY? SOMEONE TELL ME WHY. The only remotely interesting characters was Gregory, but no offense Gregory, you’re not enough to hold up an entire novel.

Anyways, in summary, the plot of Kissed by an Angel didn’t end up happening, the characters were like drawings of characters (this character is not a character), and the questions I sought to answer through this book were answered by more questions.

To be fair, this book was only book one in an omnibus trilogy, and so (I think) the questions I wanted answers will eventually be answered, and according to Goodreads it get’s a lot better. I probably won’t find out, though, because in all reality: I’ve lost all caring.

Prediction for Sequel: Ivy mourns Tristan’s lost some more. Tristan talks about how much he loves Ivy. All the characters will sit around the pizza parlor and say things like “Hi. I’m Ivy’s best friend. I’m provided for comedic relief.” “Hello. I’m Eric. I’m the trouble maker.” “We may be archetypes, but we are all different.” Everybody nods.

So, what do you think? Am I being too harsh? Or do you agree with me? What are some books that you felt had absolutely no plot or ridiculously flat characters?