1 star · romance · young adult

once and for all by sarah dessen is, for once, 1/5 stars

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once and for all

author : sarah dessen

pages : [hardcover] 358

memorable quote :

It’s about the courage to go for what you want, not just what you think you need. 

favorite character : ira

summary :

As bubbly as champagne and delectable as wedding cake, Once and for All, Sarah Dessen’s thirteenth novel, is set in the world of wedding planning, where crises are routine.

Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that’s why she’s cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm’s length. But Ambrose isn’t about to be discouraged, now that he’s met the one girl he really wants.

Sarah Dessen’s many, many fans will adore her latest, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story that has everything—humor, romance, and an ending both happy and imperfect, just like life itself.

review :

This is the first Sarah Dessen book I’ve ever read that I wished I DNF’d.

love Sarah Dessen. I think a lot of YA readers go through a phase between those pre-teen and teenage years where they discover Dessen, and her writing, and the wonderfully beachy, romantic, comedic, quirky books she writes. I love how each of her books references characters in the others. I love that feeling that there’s this town where all of the people are meeting and falling hopelessly, madly in love with one another in adorable ways.

I didn’t get any of that from Once and For All.

To be fair, I knew nothing about this book going in, because since high school Sarah Dessen has been on my auto-buy list. New book coming out? Say no more. I’ll end up reading it at some point. Quite the feat, because I can only name two contemporary writers on that auto-buy list, and not many more where I’ve loved their books. Contemporary, usually, isn’t the genre for me. I saw a copy of this book at my local Target that was autographed, freaked out a little, and immediately knew it had to come home with me. And so it began.

Once and For All is about Louna, who works for her mother’s wedding planning company even though she’s cynical about love because of a certain tragic backstory and doesn’t plan to follow the career past her last summer before college. Which was a little disappointing, because I feel like there was so much focus on her job, and it would have been nice if she’d been a little more enthusiastic about it. After all, she’s annoyed whenever anything goes wrong or a certain someone bumbles through her day, but she’s never happy about . . . anything. Even if it isn’t a lifetime career goal it would have been nice to see her involved, maybe with the creative aspects, or . . . Actually, I don’t think we were given any indication of what Louna would like to do besides this. And it’s fine, not to have your life set in stone when you’re eighteen, but it would have been better to know what she’s passionate about, or even just likes, rather than her moping around all of the time.

Another huge chunk of the plot concerns a bet that seems like a common staple in romantic comedy movies but I’m not sure I’ve read about in a YA book before. Rather than taking an unexpected or even whole-heartedly romantic turn like I’d hoped, it turned into something very predictable, very cliche, and very disappointing.

I may be one of the rare ones who doesn’t need to sworn over the romantic lead in my contemporary romance to ‘get it’. All I need is a good character. And I’m not sure I got even that much. Ambrose is very . . . quirky. And so not ready for a serious relationship, which I guess would be the only thing to save Louna from a certain tragic backstory.

Which . . . I’m not certain of how that was meant to fit into the rest of the plot. It happened five months before the book starts, I think, but everyone is already pressuring her to move on and basically find true love when she’s barely eighteen. Everyone in this book, Louna and Ambrose included, just needed to take a little time to just sit back and enjoy themselves a little.

While it was boring, the writing wasn’t absolutely terrible. I’ll still try more of Sarah Dessen’s books in the future. But I’m afraid that, now that we’ve hit book thirteen, if she doesn’t mix something up, the stories will always end up this bland.

1/5 stars

 

paranormal · romance · series · young adult

Cathy’s Book = one of my favorite books of all time

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Cathy’s Book

Cathy Vickers Trilogy #1

author : jordan weisman, sean stewart, cathy brigg

pages : [hardcover] 143

memorable quote :

If this were a war year, if this were 1918 or 1944, I wouldn’t be the only girl whose dad was never coming home.

favorite character : cathy

summary :

Things weren’t so peachy in Cathy’s life before Victor broke up with her. Her father died unexpectedly, she’s failing school, and her best friend is mad at her. But when Cathy decides to investigate Victor’s reasons for ending their relationship, things suddenly go from bad to very, very, very bad as her findings produce more questions than answers. For instance, what does the death of Victor’s co-worker, the strange mark that appeared on Cathy’s arm, and the surreal behavior of several Chinese elders have to do with it?Through Cathy’s unique and irresistible voice-and lots of proof in the form of letters, photographs, date book entries, telephone numbers readers can call, websites they can access, as well as secrets only a careful reader will be able to decipher-readers will enter a strange and fascinating world where things often aren’t how they appear. Two-color illustrations plus supplemental material.

review :

I first read this book about a year or two after it came out. Cathy’s Book was first published in 2006 and has been extremely underrated ever since then. Maybe partly because of that, it took me an absurd amount of time to realize that this was actually part of a trilogy. Now that I have my hands on the other books, I decided to read the first to remind myself of the characters, plot, and setting. Honestly, I feel like I love the books even more now that I’m older.

What’s so incredible and unique about these books is what is done to make the mystery of it all seem real. Any phone number or website mentioned can be called or accessed. You can listen to the voice messages Cathy finds, and it’s just like you’re discovering the clues alongside her as she tries to find out why her boyfriend is being so mysterious and what his secret could be. There’s a nice blend of contemporary paranormal mystery going on here.

All of the other evidence in the case is conveniently located in a plastic pouch glued to the inside flap of the book. Cathy collected it all for her best friend Emma to read and, luckily, decided to share it with all of the other readers as well. IT’S SO COOL. Little things like business cards and fortunes that play such a small role in the book are gathered right there for you to actually see and feel for yourself. When I was younger, it freaked me out a little bit, as I wondered if this actually could be happening. That’s how convincing it was to me.

I don’t want to give too much about the book away, because it’s fairly short (less than 200 pages!) so it dives right into the mystery practically on page 1. Cathy is determined to get to the bottom of Victor’s sudden and mysterious break-up with her and subsequent disappearance. Cathy and Emma exchange notes in the margins of the notes (which are basically like a diary for Cathy, so she does not hold back at all) and I could ramble on and on about how I love this book for days. It’s so underrated! So go find a copy and READ.

5/5 stars

 

 

 

1 star · romance · young adult

A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall

A Little Something Different

author : sandy hall

pages : [paperback] 272

memorable quote Sometimes it’s better to say something stupid than nothing at all. 

favorite point of view: bench

summary :

Lea and Gale are in the same creative writing class. They get the same pop culture references, order the same Chinese food, and hang out in the same places. Unfortunately, Lea is a little aloof, Gabe is shy, and it looks like they are never going to work things out.

But something is happening between them, and everyone can see it. Their creative writing teacher pushes them together. The baristas at the local Starbucks watch their relationship like a TV series. The bus driver tells his wife about them. The waitress at the diner automatically seats them together. Even the squirrel who lives on the college green believes Lea and Gabe were meant to be together.

Fall in love with falling in love with this irresistibly romantic, completely original novel!

review :

A Little Something Different is just that: a love story you’ve certainly never read before. Though the plot circles around two college students destined for one another, the reader never hears from them. Instead, the book rotates between fourteen different points of view that try to tell the story of how these two get together. You know from the very beginning that they’re going to be a couple–literally every character mentioned seems to know, innately, simply from looking at these two that they’re not just cute together, they’re destined to get together. I thought that it was a cute and fun concept; I wasn’t looking for a particularly deep story . . . I wanted something more.

It’s hard to learn too much about characters when they’re never able to speak for themselves and there are so many other first person narrations imposing their own feelings/interpretations onto whatever Gabe and Lea (our leading guy and gal) are doing and saying. The narrators have a great deal of variety–there’s their creative writing professor, a handful of friends for each of them, a bus driver, a barista, a squirrel, a bench. Yes, the perspectives do get a little crazy, but I have to admit that I really enjoyed reading from the bench’s perspective.

I’m the oldest bench on this green and I get no respect. I’d like to say there are worthwhile things about the job. And maybe sometimes there are. Sometimes you get a really perfect butt; however, all rear ends are not created equal.

It was hilarious, reading about it going on about Gabe’s perfect butt and how terrible it was when anyone came to talk to Gabe on the bench because then it was distracting the bench from the butt.

Unfortunately, other than the comic relief, the perspective switch didn’t really do much for me except get me confused and angry. If an author is going to have more than one POV in a story, it’s absolutely imperative that they don’t sound identical. It isn’t like it’s easy–if you prefer to write one way, it’s going to be hard to write in thirteen different styles to showcase those POVs. Hall really failed at making her characters unique, in my opinion. They all had very similar quirks and the sense of humor was the same. Different people of different ages shouldn’t be making the same little jokes. Most of the characters were really stereotypical of “the college experience”-i.e. a creative writing professor who is artsy and quirky, that guy in class who is eternally angry about everything for no reason, athletes who only seem to go to parties or talk to girls. If anything, the effort that had to go into making these people practically stalk Gabe and Lea so we could see more of their story just accentuated all of their already exaggerated features. Victor, the angry guy in their creative writing class, just ended up making me angry.

I shake my head and roll my eyes and just barely keep from concussing myself into oblivion . . . I pick up my fork off my tray and pretend to stab myself in the eye with it.

Just a few lines from Victor’s POV when he’s in the cafeteria overhearing a conversation between Lea and Gabe. They literally aren’t doing anything to him, he has the freedom to leave and carry on his own life, but instead he eavesdrops so this can happen.

I did read the little author interview that was included at the end of my paperback and saw that Sandy Hall had written this entire book in six days. Six days! That’s incredibly impressive, but it also kind of makes me sad. This book might have been awesome if it’d been given a lot more time and love.

1/5 stars

fiction · history · romance

The Bronze Horseman by Paulina Simons

The Bronze Horseman

The Bronze Horseman #1

author : paulina simons

pages : [hardcover] 637

summary :

From the author of the international bestseller Tully comes an epic tale of passion, betrayal, and survival in World War II Russia. Leningrad, 1941: The European war seems far away in this city of fallen grandeur, where splendid palaces and stately boulevards speak of a different age, when the city was known as St. Petersburg. Now two sisters, Tatiana and Dasha Metanov, live in a cramped apartment, sharing one room with their brother and parents. Such are the harsh realities of Stalin’s Russia, but when Hitler invades the country, the siege of its cities makes the previous severe conditions seem luxurious.

Against this backdrop of danger and uncertainty, Tatiana meets Alexander, an officer in the Red Army whose self-confidence sets him apart from most Russian men and helps to conceal a mysterious and troubled past.

Once the relentless winter and the German army’s blockade take hold of the city, the Metanovs are forced into ever more desperate measures to survive. With bombs falling and food becoming scarce, Tatiana and Alexander are drawn to each other in an impossible love that threatens to tear her family apart and reveal his dangerous secret — a secret as destructive as the war itself. Caught between two deadly forces, the lovers find themselves swept up in a tide of history at a turning point in the century that made the modern world.

Mesmerizing from the very first page to the final, breathtaking end, The Bronze Horseman brings alive the story of two indomitable, heroic spirits and their great love that triumphs over the devastation of a country at war.

review :

The Bronze Horseman is something I was definitely hyped up about. The reviews on Goodreads are amazing; people kept telling me that it was their favorite book ever. And knowing how seriously I take my decisions about my own favorite books I knew I had to get my hands on this one. I was eventually able to get a used copy for a really great price and was amazed by how gigantic this book is. Over 600 pages! For something pitched as romance, that’s a lot to work with. Because I love reading about the WWII time period and there’s rarely anything I get that’s set in Russia, this seemed perfect. And then . . .

I never fell in love with this book. Probably because I never really came to like the love story. Dasha is Tatiana’s sister. Honestly, Tatiana’s entire family was terrible about her, and I loved that Alexander called them out on it, but family is family. It breaks a sacred girl code to not only date someone your relative (friend, whoever) has dated . . . But to fall in love with them while they’re still going out with your sister (and then some)? Nope. I just wasn’t feeling that. Setting that aside, the brief encounters that Tatiana and Alexander had managed to be so boring and not passionate. No, about a dozen times they went through the same conversation of fighting over what they should do with their relationship. At least sometimes it switched between who would suddenly decide (after an illicit comment or kiss) that this was all wrong and would shout/call/run after the other when they were offended by the thought that the relationship should be over. It was so predictable.

In these 600 pages, there were only a few hundred in the middle that went fast for me and were captivating–honestly, they probably had the least amount of the romance in them. I loved hearing about how the war was changing society–I loved reading about Russian society in general, though I’d never, ever want to live there. Even though the war made things utterly unlivable, I couldn’t look away as Tatiana fought to survive, as bombs fell around the city, as rations fell shorter. If war had been the forefront of the novel, not the romance, I’d have loved it. I can’t deny that Paulina Simons can write. I just didn’t enjoy her romance.

To top it all off, I finish this book and find out that there’s more. It’s a trilogy. I’m  happy enough to sit and pretend that it really all ended in this book because it all wraps up well enough at the end, though I suppose there is some plot twist that explains how there can be two more books after how this one ended. I don’t know, because I’ll never read them–but if someone wants to tell me what happens, that would be fine.

I honestly don’t understand the hype about this book or the love portrayed. These are the favored characters of so many people and I can’t get behind them at all. It just isn’t the book for me, unfortunately.

1/5 stars

5 stars · history · romance · young adult

Curses and Smoke by Vicky Alvear Shecter

 

Curses and Smoke

author : vicky alvear shecter

pages : [hardcover] 336

favorite character : castor

summary :

When your world blows apart, what will you hold onto?

TAG is a medical slave, doomed to spend his life healing his master’s injured gladiators. But his warrior’s heart yearns to fight in the gladiator ring himself and earn enough money to win his freedom.

LUCIA is the daughter of Tag’s owner, doomed by her father’s greed to marry a much older Roman man. But she loves studying the natural world around her home in Pompeii, and lately she’s been noticing some odd occurrences in the landscape: small lakes disappearing; a sulfurous smell in the air. . . .

When the two childhood friends reconnect, each with their own longings, they fall passionately in love. But as they plot their escape from the city, a patrician fighter reveals his own plans for them — to Lucia’s father, who imprisons Tag as punishment. Then an earthquake shakes Pompeii, in the first sign of the chaos to come. Will they be able to find each other again before the volcano destroys their whole world?

review :

This book was amazing!

First of all, I’ve always been fascinated by Pompeii, and I think that it all started when I read a Magic Tree House book about the subject (actually, I think that series taught me a whole lot more than I realized. I’ve really wanted to read more historical fiction and usually the books I tend to reach for are centered around WWII. This is such a huge and lovely difference because I don’t think I’ve ever seen another YA book quite like this. To be honest, I came into Curses and Smoke with a specific set of expectations, thinking that I’d be let down. The last few books I’d read weren’t so wonderful and some YA books seem to follow a set pattern that leaves me disappointed.

But Curses and Smoke truly took every thought that I’d had about the characters and plot and turned it upside-down. Not immediately in the beginning of the novel but gradually, leaving me clamoring for more.

Lucia is one of the two narrators of the novel and I definitely felt sorry for her. Some part of me is always pained whenever I read about past societies in which females had no choice in their lives and weren’t treated as equals. Lucia was also because she was a bookworm and scholar, creating her own theories about nature even though men would think her silly. Even better? She was so much smarter than the men mocking her! For a pampered rich woman, she was also extremely strong.

Tag was so easy to love. I empathized with him from the start. I also love how his opening scenes paint a picture of what his character might do for the rest of the novel. Yet there are several twists that affect his life, that I didn’t see coming, that change what you’ve been led to believe will happen with him. But his relationship with Castor (or maybe just the little boy himself) was my favorite. That was where a lot of the heart I felt in this book originated.

Something I loved about the novel but that also made me very emotional was the fact that I’ve read about Pompeii and know a little about some of the victims that were found as well what has been hypothesized about some of the deceased. Throughout the novel I would find a character who reminded me of stories I’ve heard about Pompeii and then I went through the whole book, anxious to see if the fate matched what I thought would happen.

I never expected to get so much out of this novel because everyone already knows how it will end. There’s a countdown throughout the entirety of the book. But there’s a twist to that in itself because you’re hurrying through the book to read about the volcano and then you’re forced to slow down and take in the total destruction and chaos. I think it was wonderfully down and well-written; I’m going to read more by this author as soon as possible.

5/5 stars

4 stars · romance · young adult

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

 

The Geography of You and Me

author : jennifer e. smith

pages : [hardcover] 337

memorable quote : But there’s no such thing as a completely fresh start. Everything new arrives on the heels of something old, and every beginning comes at the cost of an ending.

favorite characters : lucy & owen

summary :

Lucy and Owen meet somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they’re rescued, they spend a single night together, wandering the darkened streets and marveling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is restored, so is reality. Lucy soon moves to Edinburgh with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father.

Lucy and Owen’s relationship plays out across the globe as they stay in touch through postcards, occasional e-mails, and — finally — a reunion in the city where they first met.

A carefully charted map of a long-distance relationship, Jennifer E. Smith’s new novel shows that the center of the world isn’t necessarily a place. It can be a person, too.

review :

This is the first book I’ve read by this author and it certainly makes me want to pick up more written by her. I don’t usually reach for contemporary books so I typically wait to see which novels other people seem to be raving about before I decide to give them a read as well. I’ve heard such great things about Jennifer E. Smith that I picked up The Geography of You and Me as soon as it appeared in my local library. This story definitely gives a unique twist to a long distance love story.

What I found very interesting about this novel was that neither of the characters suffered from the absent or invisible parent syndrome that usually infects YA novels so the teenage characters are essentially able to do whatever they want, which doesn’t often happen in real life. One of my favorite parts of this book was Owen’s relationship with his father. They’re both trying so hard to be there for each other and to make up for the whole in their family that was left behind when Owen’s mother passed away. I also found Lucy’s family dynamic interesting-though it seemed too many of their family problems were solved immediately.

Communicating through postcards was a really cute idea, though I love that the author discussed the complications and pitfalls that come from speaking to another person only through that medium. Through the postcard messages we get to see in the book, it’s easy to see how similar and yet complexly different the two leading characters are.

One thing I really appreciated about this novel was how nothing was instant except that initial attraction. The two needed to fight to see one another again and when they were apart, needed to decide whether it was worth keeping up the lines of communication. After all, they’d barely known each other before they moved apart. I kept second-guessing what might happen with the two of them, which doesn’t happen often with me and contemporary books.

I’d definitely recommend this cute, quick read!

4/5 stars

3 stars · fiction · romance · young adult

Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

Starcrossed

author : josephine angelini

pages : [hardcover] 487

memorable quote : You’ve got the killer instincts of a houseplant.

favorite characters : claire & jason

summary :

How do you defy destiny?

Helen Hamilton has spent her entire sixteen years trying to hide how different she is—no easy task on an island as small and sheltered as Nantucket. And it’s getting harder. Nightmares of a desperate desert journey have Helen waking parched, only to find her sheets damaged by dirt and dust. At school she’s haunted by hallucinations of three women weeping tears of blood . . . and when Helen first crosses paths with Lucas Delos, she has no way of knowing they’re destined to play the leading roles in a tragedy the Fates insist on repeating throughout history.

As Helen unlocks the secrets of her ancestry, she realizes that some myths are more than just legend. But even demigod powers might not be enough to defy the forces that are both drawing her and Lucas together—and trying to tear them apart.

review :

This book had a really interesting premise! I’ve been really into fairy tale retelling or tales dealing with mythology lately and this was a book that caught my eye a while ago. I finally had the chance to pick it up! Unlike other books I’ve read, this one alludes to the story of Helen of Troy. Our main character, appropriately named Helen, knew she was always different but never knew just how different until the Delos family came into town. That was where some of the originality of the tale went downhill. There were so many great things that could have happened from this idea-feuding families, starcrossed lovers, the works-and I feel like it was all dumbed down to be the teen novel every author seems to think will become a big hit now.

That said, my disappointment didn’t make me completely hate the book. I’m still really invested in the series and now I want to see how everything pans out. I’m hoping that Helen will gain a little more courage and a lot more sense. I’m hoping everyone will stop creeping outside her window. Yes, this is one of those books where boys watching girls while they sleep is glorified instead of made creepy under the pretense of keeping them safe. It kind of felt like this premise was dulled down because everything that’s considered a hit in the YA book industry right now was written into the plot.

There were also some things in this book that didn’t make sense to me, like the fact that nobody noticed people (I won’t say who) flying around the island. At night, okay, I’ll give them that, but they did it in broad daylight! Taking off and landing at houses! Do they not understand how high up people can see these people coming down from the sky and then get a little curious?

Overall, there were little things about this book that I liked. The minor characters did a lot more for me than the major ones. I really liked the ending and some of the fight scenes. And I’m definitely going to read the second book, just to see what happens and see if it all gets better.

3/5 stars

2 stars · fiction · romance · series

Into the Night by Shannon Pearce

Into the Night

author : shannon pearce

pages : [paperback] 298

summary:

Vampires, she can handle. Werewolves…No problem! Demons? Nothing a little holy water can’t fix. Damien and his hunting partner? Well that’s a whole other story! Misty West knows the rules, and has been taught them her whole life. When given a chance to escape, she takes it, knowing better than anyone that her past won’t stay buried forever. After years of a so-called normal life, Misty is confronted by the news that her brother, Damien, is missing and that it’s up to her to find him. With the aid of Xavier Connor, her brother’s tall, dark, and handsome hunting partner, Misty is thrown deep into the supernatural underworld, fighting vampires, other hunters, and her desire for Xavier, all the while discovering things about her family that even she finds hard to believe.

review:

This book had a really great premise and I liked the way that the supernatural world was presented alongside the human one throughout the novel. Unfortunately this book didn’t have the butt-kicking heroine that I anticipated from the summary. Misty comes from a long line of hunters; her entire family has hunted throughout their lives and she’s been on hunts before. I understand her being a little rusty or reluctant to fight just because she was trying to get herself back into a normal life. But, honestly, looking back over the book, most of the scenes were just instances of Misty getting into trouble and some guy or another coming to get her out of it.

I really, really don’t like books like that. It’d be a little more understandable if she’d known nothing about this world and was suddenly thrust into it that way . . but everyone kept going on about how the Wests were incredible hunters and everyone should be afraid of her because of that. I wasn’t impressed.

Unfortunately, this was a book I knew could have benefitted from a little more editing. Not just because of misspellings and things like that but because in most of the book there were awkward phrasings and the dialogue was so distracting. Often the characters would talk and commas were used where periods might have been better, to make the words flow together more realistically. That took away from my overall enjoyment of the book and frustrated me.

The main characters had an insta-love, which I never really go for. They knew each other for a few days before actually telling each other about their love. It was really unbelievable for me.

I might be interested in continuing this book series only because I liked the world it was set in, have a little faith for the characters, and like how the ending was set up.

2/5 stars

5 stars · fiction · romance

Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole

Letters from Skye

author : jessica brockmole

pages : [hardcover] 304

favorite character : davey

summary :

A sweeping story told in letters, spanning two continents and two world wars, Jessica Brockmole’s atmospheric debut novel captures the indelible ways that people fall in love, and celebrates the power of the written word to stir the heart.

March 1912: Twenty-four-year-old Elspeth Dunn, a published poet, has never seen the world beyond her home on Scotland’s remote Isle of Skye. So she is astonished when her first fan letter arrives, from a college student, David Graham, in far-away America. As the two strike up a correspondence—sharing their favorite books, wildest hopes, and deepest secrets—their exchanges blossom into friendship, and eventually into love. But as World War I engulfs Europe and David volunteers as an ambulance driver on the Western front, Elspeth can only wait for him on Skye, hoping he’ll survive.

June 1940: At the start of World War II, Elspeth’s daughter, Margaret, has fallen for a pilot in the Royal Air Force. Her mother warns her against seeking love in wartime, an admonition Margaret doesn’t understand. Then, after a bomb rocks Elspeth’s house, and letters that were hidden in a wall come raining down, Elspeth disappears. Only a single letter remains as a clue to Elspeth’s whereabouts. As Margaret sets out to discover where her mother has gone, she must also face the truth of what happened to her family long ago.

review :

I’ve been really wanting to read more historical fiction lately and I’ve always had a fascination with World War I or II in books. Add in the fact that this story is told completely through letters, alternating between the two time periods, and I was completely sold even before I knew more about the novel.

At first I wasn’t too sure about our two leading characters who really define both sets of letters in both wars. David seems like a self-absorbed college boy and Elspeth seems like a stuck-up poet. But as they grow to be more comfortable in their exchange and the reader delves in further into their relationship it’s easier to see the true and better selves lurking behind the prose that’s often set there to impress. I even grew to like David’s cocky  attitude, even though I usually don’t prefer to read about characters like that.

I can say that what I thought would be predictable about this book wasn’t. Because of the way the letters from the second war are alternating chapters with the others I immediately started to assume that I knew what had happened and wondered why the author would give that away. That’s why I was happy when in the latter half of the book I realized that there were so many different ways that this could all go and I couldn’t have anticipated the conclusion it actually came to.

I really want to read more by this author. This book is beautifully written with great characters. It will grab you and make you want to read it all in one sitting. It’ll make you laugh and cry. You’ll be angry at the characters and then you’ll love them. I’ll recommend this book to anyone.

5/5 stars

3 stars · romance · series · young adult

Sever by Lauren DeStefano

Sever

The Chemical Garden Trilogy
Book 1: Wither
Book 2: Fever

author : lauren destefano

pages : [hardcover] 371

memorable quote We figure out what death means when we’re born, practically, and we live our whole lives in some kind of weird denial about it.

favorite characters : cecily & reed

summary :

Time is running out for Rhine in this conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Chemical Garden Trilogy.

With the clock ticking until the virus takes its toll, Rhine is desperate for answers. After enduring Vaughn’s worst, Rhine finds an unlikely ally in his brother, an eccentric inventor named Reed. She takes refuge in his dilapidated house, though the people she left behind refuse to stay in the past. While Gabriel haunts Rhine’s memories, Cecily is determined to be at Rhine’s side, even if Linden’s feelings are still caught between them.

Meanwhile, Rowan’s growing involvement in an underground resistance compels Rhine to reach him before he does something that cannot be undone. But what she discovers along the way has alarming implications for her future—and about the past her parents never had the chance to explain.

In this breathtaking conclusion to Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden trilogy, everything Rhine knows to be true will be irrevocably shattered.

review :

This series had a really rocky start for me. The first book was okay, enough to get me to read the sequel, which I really liked. I feel like this conclusion was another step down, more along the lines of the first book, and it really has me re-evaluating any lasting feeling I have about the trilogy. I think I’m going to have to call this one I won’t be recommending to my friends.

There were elements of this that I really liked obviously, and that kept me reading through all of the books. The writing was okay. To be honest, especially in book three, all of the unimportant scenes and general ideas were drawn out and overdone while all of the major things that I wanted to learn more about seemed like mere afterthoughts or were thrown in so quickly that it was surprising that information was given so fast it could be nearly missed. There were revelations in this book that I think would have been better done if they’d been discovered way back in book one! I know that would have taken the series in a different direction but, for me, it would have been an infinitely more interesting direction. This book was just too little too late.

Rhine seems to have lost most of her fire in this book. She isn’t pushing for anything, even now when she’s looking for her brother. It almost seems like she’s procrastinating just so that she can allow other people to take care of her or for miraculous things to occur that just so happen to work in her favor.

I do have to say that I just adored Reed, a character introduced in this book, and loved every scene he was in. Even if he was gruff he seemed to really care about all of the kids. Cecily, who I really didn’t like in the first book, has made so many great changes that I actually liked her here and could laugh at her attitude rather than be put off by it.

I think that my main problem with this book was knowing that major things were happening that should have been heart-wrenching to me, maybe even a tear-jerker, but I just wasn’t connecting to the plot or the characters enough for that. A dissociation that bad makes me question whether I’ll look into DeStefano’s writing in the future, whether or not the premise is as catching as I thought that this would be.

I’d recommend this trilogy to people who like dystopian books but have to admit that there are better series out there that others may like more.

2.5/5 stars