26/07/2014

If I Stay - Ayesha

My rating: 2 of 5 stars



 DISCLAIMER- This review first appeared on Ayesha's Goodreads profile. Click here to view it. 

Initial reaction upon finishing-














When I heard Seventeen call If I Stay "new TFIOS" I should have turned tail and run in the opposite direction as fast as I could.



But like always my curiosity won.

If I Stay is a boring story that can be told in few sentences but has been dragged into a 200 page book. If this book were any longer, I would have marked it DNF right after reading the first few chapters. This book is about a girl named Mia who experiences a car accident which kills her parents and presumably her brother. Mia gets stuck in a limbo-like state soon after the accident takes place. Later, she realises that it’s up to her to choose if she wants to live or join her parents while she recounts moments with her family, friends and boyfriend from the past.

Here are the problems with the book.

The author fails to make this story interesting. I felt detached from the story and constant shifting of Mia’s memories and her present limbo-like state in the hospital. This book offers nothing new; it is filled with clich├ęs and has a very predictable plot right from the beginning to the end. Mia’s flashbacks of her past just show me that she’s one of the greatest Mary-Sues I’ve read about.

Mia is a Mary-Sue. She has no flaws and depth whatsoever. She’s an obedient and perfect child to her parents, she has a too-perfect-to-be-real boyfriend (who too is another cardboard cut-out crawling through the novel), she has a very happy and problem-free life, she is excellent at academics, she is excellent as a cellist and she has an awesome best-friend (who’s a real meanie to her parents and screams at her mother when the latter started crying upon hearing of Mia’s condition…Ugh! What’s wrong in expressing your sadness over someone’s accident? Are adults not allowed to show emotions?).

Not to mention that Mia’s parents were shown to be extremely perfect and cool people whom all teens would love to have as their own parents. They love rock music, they give their children everything they want, they allow them to hang out with their friends and go to parties, they allow Mia to date Adam and barely bat their eyelashes when Mia brings Adam to their house for the first time and takes him to her room alone. I felt that the author deliberately made Mia’s parents all nice and awesome so that readers would feel very sad when they die.

And what on earth even happened to Mia’s brother? The author tells us nothing about him other than Mia’s assumption that he must've died too. As if he was just there in the story to let Mia play her very-kind-and-loving BIG SISTER role.

This book is full of cheesy scenes like the one where Mia brings the bow of her cello and “plays it” on Adam's body like an instrument.

It also had one of the most unbelievable and emotionally manipulative ending ever.

*SPOILER*

Mia is lying in the hospital and her boyfriend comes to meet her. He tells her to come back *sob**sob**sob**sob**sob* and he promises to let her go awaaaaaayyyyyy

*sob**sob**sob**sob*

AND



MIA COMES BACK TO HER BODY!1!11!!! *sob**sob**sob**sob*

THE END!!!!




I gave this book two stars because-

a. I liked the way music was incorporated in every single page of this book.

b. The writing was beautiful.

c. I liked Mia’s grandparents who were good-natured people.




The rest of the book can go in the dustbin.

25/07/2014

Second Chance Summer - Aly

Second Chance Summer




Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson





Disclaimer: This review first appeared on my GR profile

My rating: 2/5



A thousand moments that I had just taken for granted- mostly because I had assumed that there would be a thousand more.

I'm not too sure where my dislike for this book stemmed from. With a 4.13 GR average and over 15,000 four/five star ratings , a family feel to the plot, and a summer romance, Second Chance Summer should have been right up my alley.

It wasn't.

Maybe I'd set my expectations too high. Maybe I didn't "get it" or maybe it's because it didn't follow the plot we were given. Either way, in the blurb we're told this:


Crammed into a place much smaller and more rustic than they are used to, they begin to get to know each other again. And Taylor discovers that the people she thought she had left behind haven’t actually gone anywhere. Her former best friend is still around, as is her first boyfriend…and he’s much cuter at seventeen than he was at twelve

"They" are Taylor's family. After being diagnosed with late stage pancreatic cancer, Taylor's father's last wish is to spend the summer at their lake house in Pocono Mountains. However, I didn't see much of this "getting to know each other again" business. Apart from three breakfast trips with her dad, Taylor spends the majority of her time being miserable about the boy she left behind when she was twelve...


I found myself staring into space at work, and starting to think about Henry, something inside my head would snap to attention and remind me of what really mattered.


That particular excerpt is 67% into the book. By then, Taylor has made out/stalked/thought consistently only about Henry, her childhood boyfriend and how perfect he is and how amazing he is. Never once has she thought about her dying father.

Surely that's what this book is meant to be about? Making the most of the short time you have to spend with your loved ones? Making the most out of a shitty situation?

The major problem I had with Second Chance is Taylor herself. She's selfish, self-centred and when people call her out on it, she even gets mad.

"No," she [mom] interrupted me, moving another pot off a burner and slamming it down. "You didn't think. Because that would have involved thinking about someone else, wouldn't it? Someone other than yourself?"

I felt tears prick my eyes, and suddenly wanted nothing more than to go back to five minutes before, when I'd been riding my bike and everything had still been fine.

Her instinct is to run. She isn't responsible or mature enough to face up to the facts, to stare at them in the face and battle the problems. Instead, she runs away and never thinks about her family. 

She never thinks about her father, who is suffering, who is dying, who doesn't have more than a few months left. Taylor doesn't care. As long as her lips are glued to Henry's, nothing else matters. As long as her social life is intact, she will be fine.

Only right at the end, when Robin (her father) has a less than a week left to live does she begin to think about her family. But it's too late by then. He's not there, he's very confused, he's in a lot of pain. Taylor blew her chance of spending time with her father because of hormones.

Don't get me wrong, I cried like a baby at the end of the book. My father isn't very well, he has a severe heart condition, and when he had a major heart attack last year, it landed him in hospital for almost a month. For a month, I didn't leave his bedside, because I was terrified that every breath would be his last. Even now, when he gets angry, or he's in pain, I freak out, because my father is my best friend, he's the man that taught me how to live and I cannot imagine my life without him.

So when Taylor made it all about her, it angered me. When she ran away instead of facing up to her problems or being there for her family (especially her younger sister), it made me so mad. When all she could think about was Henry and Lucy and life when she was twelve, I had to quietly close the book and read something else. 


I couldn't quite wrap my head around the fact that Taylor's main problem was that a boy she left behind when she was twelve was mad at her, whilst her father is dying of pancreatic cancer. It was the sort of selfish, self-centred attitude that really grated on my nerves. 

Unfortunately, that was a deal breaker.

21/07/2014

ARC - He's Come Undone - Aly




He's Come Undone by Theresa Weir




He's Come Undone by Theresa Weir

Disclaimer: This review first appeared on my GR profile
My Rating: 1/5







Oh, my God. So fast.
It had happened so fast.
I'd fallen for him.
Like all those other girls.


With that fascinating quote, I welcome you to the 25% mark ofHe's Come Undone by Theresa Weir.

Excuse me while I do the following:

Laugh uncontrollably



Stare in horror



And piss myself laughing some more




As someone who writes sporadically, I can assure you that writing something off the top of your head, without it making any sense, and coming across as trying TOO hard is normal.

What isn't normal is for that off-the-top-of-your-head mess to be published. 

And He's Come Undone is a huge mess.

There is the semblance of an interesting plot:

Penniless and behind on rent, college student and once famous child actress Ellie Barlow takes on the role of a lifetime when she's hired by a group of young women to break the heart of the campus player who cruelly dumped them.


And when I say interesting, it's because it sounded unusual and, well, cool.

Was it? The opposite, in fact.

I nodded, made a big production of taking a sip of coffee, then replaced my cup on the saucer. "So what's the job? An ad? Something for school?"
All three girls leaned forward. All three girls looked over their shoulder, back at me, then whispered: "We want you to break someone's heart."


Ellie Barlow is poor, a discarded child actress and in need of money, fast. When she responds to an ad on Craigslist, the last thing she expected was to be hired to break a boy's heart -- a manwhore's, at that.

You see, Ellie is a speshul snowflake and a Mary Sue. She's not pretty, but all the men want her; she's not funny, but everyone laughs at her jokes and there is no way that hot, fit, drop-dead gorgeous Julian would fall in love with her.



Julian, on the other hand, is also a speshul snowflake, but x2.

He has a DEEP DARK UNSPEAKABLE PAST which, of course, we find out about in the first 30% of the book.

And oh, he sleeps with girls, uses them for sex, and he thinks it's okay because they made the first move, therefore he is not guilty of being a dirty, STD spreading rat.



Really, people? This is what's passing off as hot these days? Manwhoring boys that can't keep it in their pants, but it's okay because they're TROUBLED?

Let me emphasise this: you should never let a man take advantage of you, of using your precious love tunnel because he has a deep dark secret and he's irresistibly hot. Your self-worth is worth more than that, ladies. Don't let him plunder your art gallery just because he's hot. BAG A MAN WITH SUBSTANCE LADIES. COME ON!

His internal monologue is fascinatingly hilarious though:

Next to her was a pink orchid with two green fronds and a stem so long and weak it had to be supported with a wooden stick and some twist ties. I mean, come on. I knew orchids were supposed to represent something soothing, but I would often catch myself looking at that damn flower, wondering if it represented her patients.


No, Julian. Sweetie, WHAT IF SHE REALLY LIKED ORCHIDS?

The dread.
Doors.
I hated them.
I never knew what was going to be on the other side. I just never knew.




How deep of you, Julian. Because doors, man.

I get that it's supposed to tie in with his past or whatever, but it was poorly executed. He just came off as weird. As someone I definitely would not be letting anywhere near my lady region.

She watched me in that calulating way of hers. With an expression that said she thought I was full of shit and she was just waiting for me to come to my senses and admit I'd used them. God, maybe I had.




You're an idiot, boy. 

Basically, what Ellie needs to do is make him fall in love with her by spreading her pretty legs and doing the dirty. 

But because she's a speshul snowflake, Julian falls in love with her.

They even say those words.

40% in.

Really?

And vice versa. So when their BIG BAD NAUGHTY PASTS come to light, shit hits the fan, people cry, there's sloppy sex invo--

Oh man, the sex scenes were HILARIOUS.

Here's a list of words you should avoid using if you're trying to write a raunchy, hot sex scene:

- slapping/sucking sounds
- grunt
- drove/drive (if you're talking about someone's mouth)
- piston
- huge penis

They turn even the most lust fuelled people off. Especially if they're coupled with the following:

We were both sweating like mad, and our skin was beginning to make a slapping sound




Also SPARE US THE FREAKIN' INTERNAL MONOLOGUE.

The bed was moving under us, back and forth, the headboard banging against the wall and I thought I'd never fucked like this, and I'd never given into such a frenzy


One minute I was calm, thinking okay, let's have sex. The next I was out of control


I actually felt hot all over, and especially hot and even swollen between my legs. Like if a female could have an erection, then I was having one




I can't even begin to detail the things that were wrong with this book. The POV switched randomly from Ellie to Julian and once even to Julian's sister, Valerie. The all sounded the same, with no distinct personalities.

Every time a plot twist (that isn't a twist because they're immature, childish idiots who can't comprehend what the word 'responsibility' even means) they would come up with stupid, ridiculous excuses:

Ellie: IT'S ALL MY ROBBING MOTHER'S FAULT
Julian: WHAT DO YOU MEAN FUCKING AROUND ISN'T OKAY? THEY MADE THE MOVE FIRST!
Valerie: I'm obsessed with my brother and any girl that comes into visual distance of my brother will feel #MYSIBLINGWRATHHAYAAAA!

WHAT A LOAD OF SHIT.

They blame their stupid mistakes on things that happened in the past. If you're trying to be a responsible, mature adult, own up to the fact that Ellie, you had sex with Julian because some girls were willing to pay you 5k, Julian, you're a slutty man who loves the vajayjay and together, you're a big, horrible, disgusting mess that I want to bitch slap with a fish.

Okay?

Awesome.

Last thoughts: Someone said that this is "Weir at her best."
If this is Weir at her past, I don't want to see her at her worse.

#overandout

Splintered - Ayesha






DNF halfway through...

What I felt about the cover-



What I felt when I started reading this book-



What I felt about the main character-



What I felt about the male love interests-



What I felt about the love triangle-



What I felt about the plot-



What I felt about the writing-



My feelings for the book-



My final verdict-

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20/07/2014

Jellicoe Road - Ayesha

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta


Disclaimer: This review first appeared on Ayesha's GR profile. Click here

My rating: 5/5 stars

“My father took one hundred and thirty-two minutes to die.

I counted.

It happened on the Jellicoe Road. The prettiest road I'd ever seen, where trees made breezy canopies like a tunnel to Shangri-La. We were going to the ocean, hundreds of miles away, because I wanted to see the ocean and my father said that it was about time the four of us made that journey. I remember asking, 'What’s the difference between a trip and a journey?' and my father said, 'Narnie, my love, when we get there, you’ll understand,' and that was the last thing he ever said.” 




5++++ stars because this brilliant novel deserves them!

Do you want to get lost in the world of summer, trees, sunrise, sunset, friendship, love, memories, nostalgia which is constructed by lyrical writing, raw emotions and masterfully forged mystery? 

Then you should definitely read Jellicoe Road without further ado.

I lived in this book. I fell for its characters. I fell in love with their friendship and story. I laughed with them. I cried with them and I died a little every time with them. I loved this book and it’s going to be forever etched it my heart. 

Five stars and more are for books like this. I don’t give special place to every book in my shelf right away. I don’t give any book five stars like candy. Books like Jellicoe Road show me a very different world, emotionally connect me to the characters, make me wonder about life, happiness, grief and in the end, teaches me something beautiful and devastating. 

This book first starts with a prologue of worlds colliding at Jellicoe Road which slowly grows into a powerful friendship. The story shifts between past, present and dreams. Initially, the plot may be confusing and you may not be sure where it takes you but as you continue, you’ll see the story masterfully unravelling in front of your eyes. The constant shifting of present and the story from the past kept me intrigued and I couldn’t stop turning pages fast enough. The past has a beautiful story about 5 best friends; Webb, Narnie, Jude, Fitz and the tragedy that befalls them. 

“And then their voices stopped and their souls stood still and they ceased being who they had been. Because who they were had always been determined by him.”

In the present, we have Taylor Markham, 17, Jellicoe School student and reluctant leader of the territory wars that take place between Jellicoe School, Cadets from a school in Sydney and teens from the town. Taylor was abandoned at the age of 11 by her mother on Jellicoe road and rescued by Hannah, one of the House guardians of Jellicoe School. Past and present are inextricable and to understand her present better, Taylor is curious to know about her past and her search leads her to the tragic story of 5 best friends from the 80’s.

“These people have history and I crave history. I crave someone knowing me so well that they can tell what I'm thinking.”

Every character in this book is created with so much emotions and depth to the point that they feel real. They have strengths, they have flaws, they have grief, they have happiness but all in all, they are bound by love. The plot is intricately designed, the writing is lyrical and the story is powerfully told. Even after re-reading this book several times, I've never got exhausted by this story.

To put it simply, Jellicoe Road is a uniquely written masterpiece. It’s my all-time favourite book along with The Book ThiefEveryone should read it with lots and lots of tissues and chocolates in handy. 

“And life goes on, which seems kind of strange and cruel when you're watching someone die.”


19/07/2014

Wicked Games - Aly





Wicked Games by Sean Olin

Wicked Games by Sean Olin

Disclaimer: This review first appeared on my GR profile
My rating: 3.5/5

Don't you understand, Carter? I love you. I love you. Carter, don't you understand? I love you.

She'd make him understand -- and everyone else, too.


At first (30%) I was like



And then (50%) I was like 



And at the end I was likeeeee



One thing is sure: there is no wrath like a woman scorned. In hindsight, if you're dating a girl who is 'mentally ill' (more on that later) you really should not do anything to piss her off, especially if you know she's a danger to herself and others. If you feel the need to cheat and lie to a girl like that, why not just break up with her?

"OH BUT SHE WOULD'VE FLIPPED!" You say. Well, here is what I know:

Lilah has a mental illness. What mental illness? No one knows. She could have anything from BPD to schizophrenia, but it's only ever mentioned that she's under 'treatment' and taking antidepressants. We're not told why she is so volatile and dangerous, just that she is which, in my eyes, didn't make it as believable as, say, telling us she is schizophrenic. Imagine the drama!

So imagine you, yes you, have been dating a Lilah for the past four years of your life. You know her better than anyone, right? You know she's not all there, yeah? You know she loves you more than she loves herself, but you also know the relationship isn't working any more. She's become too much even for her parents.

What do you do?

a) Break up with her and get her the treatment she needs and warn everyone (parents, teachers, friends) that she's a danger, so she needs that extra support now that you're not there
b) Break up with her and flee the state
c) Cheat on her and have a mini affair behind her back even though she's not stupid and knows you're a scumbag cheating dickwash

Carter is in the option 'c' section. The problem with cheating is that you're not only hurting the person you're with, but you're also hurting the person you have the affair with. The only person getting any kicks out of it is you, the cheater. And that's not fair, is it? 

Sure, he tries to do the honorable thing


"I mean, I should get my shit together before I start messing with yours. It's not fair. It's not fair to you and it's not fair to Lilah. You know what I mean? I shouldn't be starting new things with new people when I'm in the middle of a great big confusing thing already."


But the fact remains that he he slept with Jules, someone he met at a party that Lilah was also attending when she wasn't feeling herself and betrayed the trust of his long term girlfriend because Jules felt 'like a breath of fresh air'. 

I couldn't wrap my head around the situation. There was a huge dollop of insta-love, where Carter was willing to throw away his relationship for someone he'd just met. If his love for Jules really was that real, he should have broken up with Lilah before doing the dirty with Jules. He shouldn't have worried about what Lilah was going to do. Everything could've been solved easily if only he'd told her naive parents what was happening.


"Lilah," he said. "What happened? To your legs?"
She quickly covered her cuts with her hand. "I thought you were going to leave me. After what I did," she said.
The thought of what she might do if he broke up with her sent a cold spike plunging through his heart.



So when Jules is suddenly at the receiving end of attacks, I couldn't muster up a huge amount of sympathy.


A car had been found in the parking lot, vandalised. A Honda Civic[...]. It appeared at first that some sort of words had been scratched onto the hood, but this had been crossed over, gouged out with hundreds of scribbles[...] The driver's side mirror was shattered. There was a hairline crack in one of the windows.



[Jules] flipped down the driver's side sun visor to apply it.
WHORE
The word shouted at her like there was a person sitting on the visor's mirror.


Is that a... 



If you're scared for your safety and you think something tremendous is going to happen, you call the police. There was no reason why Jules and Carter didn't do this. The evidence was clear, there must have been security footage from the school. There was no reason why the couldn't have called the police AND warned Lilah's family of the situation.

At this point, I'm starting to think they were looking for trouble.

However, I did really like Wicked Games. I think Sean Olin did a great job with the story by bringing in a lot of tension, fear and spite. Everything that happened tied in with previous attacks and I was on my toes the entire time.

I'm surprised and happy to hear that this is, apparently, going to be a series. I love a good thriller and even though a lot of what happened was nonsensical, it played well with the storyline. 

And that plot twist and cliffhanger? Holy smokes, it left me with my heart racing and adrenaline pumping.

This book reminded me of The Hand that Rocked the Cradle(1992) and Fatal Attraction (1987) -- both exhilarating, adrenaline pumping and terrifying and, funny that, those films are all about women scorned.

Overall, it wasn't a bad ride. I finished it in 12 hours but some things left a lot to be desired/didn't make sense.

17/07/2014

Croak - Aly




Croak (Croak, #1)




 Croak by Gina Damico


Disclaimer: This review first appeared on my GR profile
My rating: 4.5/5 stars


Lex dropped her hands. Unfortunately, Driggs followed suit, affording her the perfect opportunity to kick him in the crotch.
Which she did.
"That... was... unnecessary," he groaned from the ground.
Lex blew a tuft of hair out of her face.
"I disagree."


Holy crap. That was awesome! I don't fangirl over a book much (if ever), but Croak was a beautiful little surprise gem that popped up on my newsfeed one too many times and then casually strolled into my basket on Book Depository and hurled itself into my arms when it arrived. 

And I haven't put it down since. Usually, it takes me a day and a half to finish a book. Croak took me three days because I was trying to savour every little tidbit. By doing so, my copy ended up looking like this:





In my little universe, yellow sticky labels stand for "funny". In Croak currently reside 50 yellow labels. Divided by the amount of pages, this means something funny happened once every five pages. Do you know how hard it is to pay attention to a book that makes you guffaw like an unattractive goose? Try it, I dare you.

The Summary:

Meet Lex. She's possibly the scariest 16 year old you may hope to never encounter in your lifetime. She's pretty badass, with just the right dose of crazy to spice things up a little:

"You bit him?" Lex's father said.
"He called me a wannabe vampire," she said. "What was I supposed to do?"


For years, Lex has had this insane, pent-up rage that likes to take a stroll across people's faces every once in a while, and she can't control it...

Her outbursts were triggered by the smallest of annoyances, bubbling up from nowhere, no matter how hard she tried to resist them. And worse still, they seemed to grow strong as time went on. By the end of Lex's junior year, every swear word was reverberating at a deafening volume, and each human punching bag lost at least one of his or her permanent bicuspids.


You wanna know why?

She's a Grim.

"Well, technically," said Uncle Mort, "we're called Gamma Removal and Immigration Managers--"
"But are more commonly known as Grims," Driggs said.


And now, her Uncle Mort is going to teach her the trade...

"Lex," he said, "Croak is a portal - one that sits between our world and the next."
A strange noise escaped Lex's lips, something between a stupefied gasp and a dubious snicker. "What?"
"That's why you're here. I'm going to teach you how to do what I do."
"And what is that?"
He leaned in close. She could feel his breath on her face.
"I Kill people."


Dunn dunn DUNNNNNN.

The Characters:

Oh my, it's been a while since I fell in love with a bunch of characters in such an unprofessional, slobbering manner. 

We're introduced to Uncle Mort 

Sitting atop a black and purple-streaked motorcycle was, in a startling number of details, the exact type of villain depicted in the Never Talk to Strangers! picture book that had been drilled into Lex as a child.


Who is the be-all and end-all of Croak, a small town in the middle of nowhere with hilariously strange names such as PUSHING DAISIES, THE BIG SLEEP and DEAD END, the Main Street.

Then there's Driggs, Uncle Mort's faithful sidekick (in my eyes) who lives across the hall from Lex. Together, they work as partners and develop an unlikely, funny, imbalanced friendship that will warm the cockles of your heart.



Never mind the fact that Driggs is totally swoon-worthy *wink wink* and that there is a TERRIBLE PALPABLE SEXUAL TENSION THAT IS NOT VERY SUBTLE AT ALL

*Lex and Driggs argue blah blah*

Me -



But the best thing about this book?

There is only a small, light smidgeon of what we call insta-love. As in, we don't really find out until the end that Driggs is hopelessly in love with Lex.

Oh, that's a spoiler? It's obvious, so shut up.

The relationship had time to grow, to build, so it wasn't awkward, weird and stalkery at all.

Also this book is FUNNY . Have I not mentioned that? Oh, I HAVE? Apologies. In that case, I shall leave you with some favourite quotes and a prayer for you, dear reader, to read this beautiful bundle of words!

"What the-- are you Poe?"
"Regrettably." He sighed, smoothing his pants. "Call me Edgar. Or the Tell-Tale Fart, that's Teddy Roosevelt's favourite." He shot a distasteful glance at the crowd of presidents. "Jerks."


"Ten hours?"
"Don't worry," he said, holding the door open for her. "Time flies when you're breaching the space-time continuum."


"You may have gotten away with this childish, petulant bullshit back home, but I assure you, it's not going to fly here," he said, letting go of her arm. "So I'll cut you a deal: you behave like the mature individual that deep down I know you are, and in turn, you will be treated as such. Sound fair?"