Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz & Michael Johnston

Frozen (Heart of Dread, #1)Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Are smallmen leprechauns? At first, I thought they were just little people and found it kind of weird that they were presented another magical creature. Like the marked people, they are persecuted, killed, and sold into slavery because they’re small.

…as for Frozen, I actually liked most of the book even though there were a lot of issues here. The world building is horrible, so don’t expect to understand the world or creatures that the authors created. Normally, this would be annoying, especially since a lot of magical creatures get thrown around for no real purpose other than being magical. But I still liked it. The writing was smooth and since this is the first book in a series, I’m willing to forgive it for not telling me everything.

There was one thing they mentioned that I found weird. People need to go and register their names if they want to have sex with someone. To get a hotel room is a long process and everything is checked meticulously. This seems weird. I think it was the authors ways of not having sex in the book and provide a reason why this can’t happen, but I don’t think people would go through with this if they really wanted it.

It doesn’t really make sense, but a lot of things don’t so…

The characters were okay. I didn’t really have any feelings for them. They were there and that’s pretty much it. The character I was most interesting in learning about was the voice in Nat’s head, but for some reason she shows up in the beginning and then doesn’t come back. Nat does mention that the moment she went on the journey the voice stopped talking to her, but I still wanted her to show up here and there. For someone who has been bugging Nat all of her life, you can’t just stop like that.

Like the magical animals that popped out here and there, the voice did seem like a wasted plot point that was quickly discarded once it served its purpose.

As for the romance, it is insta-love, lust? Seems more like lust instead of love, but whatever. Nat and Ryan both feel like the other is different and can’t stop thinking about them. Ryan wants to protect Nat and Nat wants to jump Ryan’s bones. They flirt, they talk, and they think about the other person. Even though they think about each other a lot, the romance is played down here. In that sense I am thankful.

Overall: This should be a book that I don’t like, but I did enjoy it. I’m hoping the world is explained more in the next book though. Since this is a series, I was a lot more forgiving here because of the potential it has to be a fun story.

The writing, even with the occasional mistake here and there, was smooth and easy to get through. And even though I don’t really understand this world, I still want to know more about it.

This is definitely not a book for everyone, but I enjoyed my time reading it.

But seriously though, are smallmen leprechauns though? What other small human-like magical creature are there? Hobgoblins? Brownies?

Frozen was provided by netgalley

Other reviews!
  • Review: Frozen (Heart of Dread #1) – Quote: “It’s kind of hard to recommend this book, because I loved it and then I didn’t. I think it’s worth reading, just so you can see if you like the ending more than me.”
  • Frozen: Heart of Dread Review – Rating: 1.5 stars
  • Review: Frozen – Quote: “So, all in all, it was enjoyable. There were things I liked, and things I didn’t like, which is the way with most stories.”
  • Frozen: Heart of Dread – Quote: “Basically, I will not be continuing this series, and my overall feeling about it was…meh”

 

H2O by Virginia Bergin

H2OH2O by Virginia Bergin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

H20 is a funny little novel. The main character isn’t likeable, she doesn’t really grow as a person, and she makes stupid mistakes that almost kill her multiple times. At first, I actually liked her and her voice was great. The chapters were heavy on the sarcasm and she had this air around her that viewed things in a cynical nature.

As you continue to read, you slowly begin to get annoyed by her tone and realize that instead of being cynical but awesome, she’s just a spoiled brat. And that’s what H20 is. It isn’t your typical post-apocalyptic YA novel. Instead, it’s a novel where an unlikeable character has to deal with a horrible and pretty terrifying situation.

In some ways this worked, because it’s kind of refreshing to see such an entitled spoiled brat deal with bigger things than boy drama and frenemies. Yet In other ways, it was annoying to see such an entitled spoiled brat be an entitled spoiled brat and not realize the situation that she’s in. She complained that she doesn’t have her cell phone, when the entire water supply kills you. Take a shower – dead. Wash the dishes – dead. Drink water – dead. Go singing in the rain – dead. Anything to do with water – dead. And yet, she’s more worried about her cell phone.

Kids these days.

In terms of the setting and plot, I thought it was pretty good. Once upon a time an asteroid was zooming down to earth, so the world decided to go all Bruce Willis on its ass and blow it up. The world was saved and everyone was happy. I imagine Aerosmith played in the background as all the couples embraced each other, as they knew that they’d live another day.

“Don’t want to close my eyes
I don’t want to fall asleep
‘Cause I’d miss you baby
And I don’t want to miss a thing”

If I got the song in your head, then I’ve done my job. Ruby doesn’t really care about this history though, because it’s so boring and she’s over it. Her step-father doesn’t understand why she wouldn’t feel some sort of rational emotion after learning this, but she replies with “You’re not my real dad.” And fighting ensues.

That doesn’t really matter though, because even though the asteroid was destroyed and humanity was saved, they really weren’t. In turns out that the blowing up of the space rock brought some weird bacteria that invaded the water supply.

It may not have been able to blow everything up, but it did get to still kill people. And boy did it kill people. The book takes place in England, so I don’t know how the rest of the world fared, but London seems to be having a hard time. Especially Ruby, because the hottest guy in her school who actually made out with her, got rained on and might be dead. Her family is dead and her friends are too. Ruby is all alone, except her biological father is still out there so she decides to search for him.

If you do like romance, there’s none of that here. Sorry. Ruby does get some action from the hot guy, but like I said he got rained on pretty quickly in the novel. There is another guy, but after a brief make out section, Ruby realizes that he’s icky because he was a loser at school while she’s hot stuff. It doesn’t matter that he saved her and that he’s a pretty decent guy. He’s simply not someone she would have associated with under normal circumstances so that relationship doesn’t last long.

Kids these days.

It’s a scene like this that makes me hate, but like the novel. Ruby should be more understanding and look beyond social standing. Things are much bigger than that at the moment, but our little Ruby doesn’t really care and drops him pretty fast due to this. Now, I’m not saying that she should jump his bones because it is slim pickings right now, but she should at least realize that how you were at school doesn’t matter right now.

But this also is a good point, because despite the situation Ruby still remains Ruby. It’s kind of nice to see a character that was somewhat popular not fall for the school nerd because a crisis happened. This happens a lot in stories, so I liked that it didn’t happen here. She’s still seems unfazed by the world around her, which I didn’t like, but still kind of liked.

Overall: When I was done with the novel, I was relieved that there was no more. This does seem to be a series though, but I’m not sure where else the author can take us. But after taking some time to think about it, I think Bergin did take some risks here. Some of it did pay off and some didn’t, but that’s the fun reality of taking chances when it comes to anything really. I think most people will either like this book or hate it. They’ll love the world that Bergin created, but hate Ruby. They’ll like the gruesome deaths some of the characters get, but hate that all the curse words are replaced by a butterfly icon. This is done because the book is written with Ruby’s mother in mind and her mom hates swearing.

But I do appreciate the risk that Bergin made. I may not like Ruby and wanted her to die a few times, but I still made it to the end.

H20 was provided by netgalley.

Other reviews!

Of Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday

Of Monsters and MadnessOf Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I think the writing here was top notch, the only problem is that the story was very bland and boring. It didn’t feel like a Gothic tale, nor did it give off an Edgar Allan Poe type feeling. I’m not even sure why he was the inspiration for this story, when it was very much a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde tale.

And even then, it’s fairly obvious to anyone who is reading Of Monsters and Madness that this is the route the story is taking. We meet Allan Poe and then Edgar Poe, who is the cousin of Allan but only appears whenever Allan isn’t around…get it. Edgar Allan Poe. Allan Poe. Edgar Poe.

……

The plot is fairly simplistic, which isn’t a bad thing, but there wasn’t that spark to make me really like this. I did finish this in one sitting, which is why I’m a fan of the writing, but I kept waiting for a proper payoff that never came.

In Of Monsters and Madness, Annabel Lee travels to Philadelphia to live with her father. Her mother has passed away back in Siam and now Annabel has to live with a man who she didn’t know existed. There, she meets one of her father’s assistants, Allan Poe, and immediately falls for him.

A series of murders are happening in town and the more Annabel learns of them, the more she starts suspecting her father and his ghastly assistant Edgar Poe. Other stuff happens and then the mystery is solved.

When I read the synopsis and saw the cover, I was really excited for this. I love Edgar Allan Poe’s works and I love retellings, but I don’t think I got a good representation of either of these things. Poe’s works felt heavy handed, instead of seamless. And this isn’t a retelling of Annabel Lee, it’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

I know a lot of people complained about how Annabel seems to care more about her father’s opinion of her and how society might view her, instead of being more driven about her dreams. But to be honest, this sort of character trait made sense. She doesn’t know her father and is from a place that places emphasis on elders. She also wants to fit in, because her father is all that she has left.

She’s the same person who keeps saying, “Mother this.” And “Mother that.” So her behaving in that manner never bothered me.

I did have a bit of an issue with her old home though. Siam seems like it’s present day Thailand, but it has a mishmash of other Asian cultures as well. For example, Annabel has a kimono from there, even though kimonos are from Japan. Her father also remarks that she bows like a man, but bowing in Thailand is a bit different than say Korea or Japan. You bow, but you place your hands together. You also don’t bend down so much; just a dip of your head with your hands in the praying position is enough.

Overall: The writing is the best thing about the novel, but sadly nothing else really works here. The characters don’t really come alive and the retelling is seriously lacking on all fronts. This isn’t a retelling of Annabel Lee, it’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I know this is the third time I’m mentioning it, but I can’t stress that enough. If something is billed as a retelling of Edgar Allan Poe, then it needs to include some of its original flavour. I feel like if I this was marketed properly, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. I’d probably give it a better rating too. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case here.

The mystery can be seen a mile away and even though Edgar Allan Poe is here, he never feels like the same Poe that we know and love.

The ending made it seem like this was the start of a series. I don’t think I’ll be reading it, but it will be interesting to see if another classic story is “retold.”

Despite my complaints, the writing is good so I might check out the Hollow books. Just nothing from this series though.

Of Monsters and Madness was provided by netgalley

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The Fever by Megan Abbott

The FeverThe Fever by Megan Abbott

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Fever by Megan Abbott

I’m glad that I waited and didn’t review this right away. If I did, this would have been easy 1 or 2 stars. I was really disappointed after reading The Fever, especially because I liked Dare Me and was really excited for this. Thankfully, life got in the way of writing the review. And by life, I mean sleeping because it was late and I was really tired.

Now that it’s been awhile, I can look back on the book and realize that it wasn’t as bad as I originally thought and that the ending, while lacklustre, made sense. Not only did it make sense, but it fits the overall theme of this novel. I still don’t like it, but I don’t hate it as much as I originally did.

The Fever is about the Nash family as they deal with the sudden and unexpected panic that arise once a girl falls down in class and has a seizure. No one knows what happened or what caused the seizures, but soon enough other girls start falling and the kids, the school, and the media are freaking out.

And boy did they freak out.

After two girls fall, it’s no surprise that conspiracy theories soon follow. Is it due to pregnancy? A weird new form of a STD? The lake has some crazy algae in it, maybe it’s causing the girls to freak out? Maybe it’s the HPV vaccine?

In the end, the cause for the first girl’s bought of seizures was actually something so small that it’s almost laughable at how the town and media reacted to it. The first girl who falls is Lise, who is popular at school. The second one that falls is Gabby, who is also popular. When this happens, it makes sense for people to start to want to mimic the symptoms. This will be the best way to be popular, if you will.

People want to make sense of what is happening, but at the same time they want to be a part of the hysteria that is coming down. And Abbott does a great job with the hysteria and the reaction from everyone else. Like I said before, when you find out the reason why everything started, it’s something so small that you wonder why people did that even though you know the reasons behind it.

A small act can have huge consequences and I think this book definitely showcased that.

That didn’t mean that when I found out I was all like, “Oh Megan Abbott, you clever author you.” No, I wanted to throw the book across the room and ask myself why I spent all that time reading, when the payoff was so blah.

But then again, a small stupid act with stupid reasons behind it can cause people to do stupid things. Sadly, that’s just life, and when you pair it up with high school then fun things happen.

In terms of the characters, I didn’t really connect with any of them. In Dare Me, Abbott did a great job creating a world of unlikeable characters that felt real. I think Dare Me was the first book I read where I didn’t like any of the characters, but still really enjoyed the story. The writing was top notch there too, which is why I’m a bit disappointed that I didn’t feel anything towards the characters here and that I was a bit bored throughout the novel.

Overall: The Fever isn’t a bad book by any means, but if you are looking for a thriller, horror, expose into teenagers – you won’t really find it here. I did keep reading it till the end, so the writing is good and flows well, but the characters were a bit bland and the overall story isn’t one that I can recommend. It’s not bad though, at least not as bad as I originally thought. I just wish there wasn’t so many red herrings and that more time was spent on the actual reason behind everything. Because once you finally get to it, it does feel like it comes out of nowhere and after everything that has happened, it’s a bit annoying. Perhaps if we learned more about the reason or got hints here and there, that would have worked better for me.

I still like Abbott’s writing style, so I’ll be reading her next book, I just hope it’s more like Dare Me and less of The Fever.

Other reviews!

Teaser Tuesday pt. 4

tteTeaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

~-.-~

 I just started reading Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston. Frozen is the first book in the Heart of Dread series.

Frozen (Heart of Dread, #1)Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz

Nat knelt to revive it, but it’s small lifeless body was already cold. Dead. It had been so beautiful, and now it was gone. She looked up and glared at the soldier. “You killed it!”

A little more than two lines, but that’s okay.

So, what’s your Teaser Tuesday? Please leave a link so I can visit your blog.

Imitation by Heather Hildenbrand

Congrats to Charlee! You are the lucky winner of The Girl from the Well giveaway. Hope you enjoy the book!

ImitationImitation by Heather Hildenbrand

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

When it comes to books about clones, or sci-fi stuff in general, I’m more than willing to suspend my disbelief here and there. I feel like it comes with the territory and while some may like reading about the complicated things involved, I more than happy to just go with whatever the author says and call it a day. If the author says that cloning has been going on for a long time, I’m fine with that. And in the beginning of the novel, I right there going with the flow, but then we learn about the Imitations and what they’re required to do and everything came crashing down.

Ven is an ‘Imitation’, a clone of an ‘Authentic’ person living in the outside world. Since she was created, she’s known that it was her sole mission in life to know every that there was to know about her Authentic, Raven. Everything from what she likes, to how to speaks, to the little ticks that she does when she thinks no one is watching.

For five years, Ven has known every “intimate” (but not really) detail about Raven, so that if she’s ever made to take on Raven’s duties, she’ll be more than prepared. She isn’t sure when she’ll be called up for duty, but after a few chapters she does and Ven is off to live in the outside. Naturally, she’s nervous about the mission and makes a few hiccups here and there, but soon enough she meets someone that makes her question if everything is really worth it. Is it herself? Nope, but it is a hot older guy. (Older, because he’s 21 and Ven has only been around 5 years……) Anyways, the deeper she gets, the more she realizes that she doesn’t want to be Raven, she wants to be Ven.

I generally like books about clones, especially since there’s always a morally gray aspect to them and I like reading about how the clones feel about themselves and the world that they live in. Even if it doesn’t make sense, or if someone is making clones for no real purpose, I’ll still read it just to see what happens. And even though I did read this to the end, I feel like so many plot points ruined my experience with this.

Normally, I’d talk about how the romance doesn’t make sense, and it doesn’t. Ven and Linc spend maybe a day together before they’re declaring their undying love for one another. Considering Ven hasn’t had much contact with guys, it’s kind of makes sense for her to be a bit thirsty when she sees a hot guy and interacts with him for the first time.

But let’s all remember that Ven is meant to be Raven and Raven loves Daniel, a guy that Ven has never seen before her mission started.

I don’t even like love triangles, but if I was running the company making the clones you better be sure that there would have been one here. Had I worked at a clone facility and it was my purpose to make sure the clones know their Authentic the best, then I’d make sure they know who the boyfriends/girlfriends are. Not only that, but I’d make them want their Authentic’s love interest. Every desire their Authentic feels, the Imitations will feel as well.

Except here, whenever Ven is studying Raven’s life through the videos, the screen always goes dark when Daniel shows up. This is a problem, because whenever Daniel kissed Ven, she recoiled in disgust. That’s not how a trained clone is meant to behave when her sole mission in life is to be exactly like her Authentic.

This clone place clearly doesn’t do a great job with their clones. I mean, how is Ven supposed to be Raven when she’s gets snippets of her life? Also, the name Ven is horrible. If I was the clone factory, I’d make sure the clones only have the names of their Authentic people. So Ven, would only be referred to as Raven. This might seem cruel and even confusing to readers, but considering that the company that makes the clones calls them products and thinks of them as less than human, I wonder why they’d make them feel human by giving them their own name.

I mean, if I had a cat, which I would love to have because cats are adorable and amazing and fluffy and caring, but not too caring that they want you to think that you’re their only one….. if I had a cat and I didn’t care for it, I’d call him/her “cat”, or “hey you.” By giving the cat a name, I’m already establishing a connection and humanizing the animal.

In Imitation, the clones are made to feel like they have no soul, that they’re not human, and that they have no purpose in life except to be there for their Authentic when the time arises. If it doesn’t, then they’re used for organs and whatnot. Basically, the people running this company are horrible. They implant a kill switch on every clone, they make sure you know that you can and will be replaced, and that you have no happy ending if you’re an Imitation, and yet they’re very human with the names. If you don’t care about clones, why call them anything else other than the names of the people they’re meant to be, or a bar code number?

The name doesn’t really matter, but when I was reading about how Ven would watch hours of videos about Raven and yet not know how Raven’s dad or boyfriend looks like, I started to notice so many horrible protocols placed inside of this facility. Worse of all, I kept thinking about how if I was running the place, every single clone would have a burning desire to ”Single White Female” their original.

This might cause problems in the long run, but I feel like this is what would be the best course of action to take in this company.

Regardless of that, I think that’s what my main problem with the novel is the fact that certain things made no sense whatsoever. It was so bad, that I couldn’t suspend my disbelief even if I wanted to. Ven’s desire to be Ven and not Raven happened within two seconds and solidified once Linc said something nice to her. She was screwing up her job before, but this epiphany made it even worse. Her father, her friends, her boyfriend, her security, everyone could see a huge difference between Ven and Raven.

What were those five years for if she can’t completely the only job she’s meant to have?

Speaking of Raven, she’s hardly in the book and Ven hates her like you would not believe for reasons that make no sense. Raven is apparently shallow, vapid, slut, and everything in between. But we never really got to know Raven or why her life was in danger in the first place. I think it was to bring out Ven so she can be recruited by the ‘bad guys’ only the bad guys have the same horrible tactics as the clone company.

If I was a bad guy in this novel…

Overall: Imitation has all of the makings for a really great clone series. I already saw hints of the clones starting a revolution, but once we learn a bit about that the book ends. It just ends.

And yet, that isn’t my problem with the book. It’s not the sudden cliffhanger. It’s not the insta-love that makes the heroine realize her worth and feel like nothing in life matters except the hero. It’s the fact that this world makes no sense.

There are certain things in this book that other reviewers took issue with, but I was able to look past it. But a clone company that trains clones to behave like the originals is so poorly run that I couldn’t handle it. Whenever Ven messed up, I didn’t say to myself, “Stupid Ven not understanding the mission and being useless!” No, instead I said, “This is what happens when you don’t train your clones properly. Things would be so much different if I took over.”

The thing is, I don’t want to think or feel this way when reading a book. It ruins the experience; and unfortunately, that’s what happened here. The book did end on an annoying note though, so I’m probably going to read the next book to see what happens next. I’m assuming that since everything is now established, great things should happen. Hopefully we’ll learn more about this company and why they suck at their job so much.

 
Imitation was provided by netgalley

Other reviews!

Teaser Tuesday pt. 3

tteTeaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

~-.-~

 

I’m currently reading two books. Imitation and The Princess Problem.

ImitationImitation by Heather Hildenbrand
There is a moment of silence between us as she lifts her arm over me, a syringe clutched in her hand.
“No!” I jerk and struggle against her one-handed hold. She releases me long enough to land a stinging slap that drives my face sideways.

The Princess Problem: Guiding Our Girls Through the Princess-Obsessed YearsThe Princess Problem: Guiding Our Girls Through the Princess-Obsessed Years by Rebecca Hains
Now, some parents might be thrilled to see a previously rambunctious child play quietly. But Finucane is a psychotherapist with professional training in play therapy, and she knew that watching a child play is the best way to learn about a child’s worldview.

~-.-~

So, what’s your Teaser Tuesday? Please leave a link so I can visit your blog.

Every Ugly Word by Aimee L. Salter

Every Ugly WordEvery Ugly Word by Aimee L. Salter

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Originally titled Breakable, Every Ugly Word is Aimee L. Salter’s revamped debut novel that is now being published under Alloy Entertainment. And if you’ve read the blurb, then you’ll know that this deals with bullying with a unique twist.

Ashley Watson is seventeen years old and has been bullied relentlessly since she was thirteen. The reason behind the bullying is kind of her fault, she even acknowledges this fact, but for it to continue over the years over a stupid lie is sad. What makes it worse is that the bullying is done by her former friends. No matter what she does or where she goes, there they are ready to make her life a living hell.

Not only does she have to deal with her tormentors at school, but her home life isn’t all that great either. Her mom, who is dealing with her own issues when her husband leaves her for a younger woman, seems to have a funny way of showing Ashley she loves her. She’s cruel and she doesn’t even realize it.

Not even her friendship with her best friend, and crush, Matt is enough to bring happiness into her life, especially when he starts dating one of Ashley’s bullies. The more he tries to bring make things right between Ashley and her former friends, the more she starts to see him as a flawed human being instead of a knight in shining armour.

There is one solace though and that is Older Ashley. Older Ashley is Ashley, only in the future. The only way they can communicate is through a mirror, but Older Ashley has become somewhat distant and her half truths and vague details keeps making Little Ashley suspicious of her true motives.

It makes sense, considering Older Ashley has already lived through the bullying. She knows what happens and is determined to make sure that her younger self doesn’t make the same bad choices that she did. There’s only one problem, Older Ashley is currently in a mental institution and everyone kind of thinks she’s crazy. (Not really a spoiler, as you find this out within the first page)

Welcome to an unreliable narrator and a story that makes you wonder what is actually happen.

Every Ugly Word is told in first person present tense when Older Ashley narrates the story, and first person past tense when the Younger Ashley tells us what happened. The writing style is smooth and even though this might seem like a weird transition to read, it never felt off or jarring. Both Ashley’s had a distinctive voice, despite being the same person. Older Ashley is jaded and seems over it, while the Younger Ashley is angry, vulnerable, and naive.

In terms of characterization, I feel like Salter did a good job displaying flawed characters that may not be relatable or all that likeable, but feel real. Ashley, being the main character, is showcased the most and so we get to see her low points and her highs. I don’t think I’ve ever read a bullying novel and not shake my fist in anger at the bullied. I know that sounds bad, because in real life I would do that, but whenever I saw Ashley make wrong choice after wrong choice, I wanted to shake her and tell her to stop and to value herself. It was frustrating, but I couldn’t stop reading. I don’t think everyone will like her, but her growth and determination was nice to see.

Matt is also shown with a flawed set of glasses as well. He wants to be a good guy, but he’s also a high school boy who wants to be friends with everyone. He does some really crappy things to Ashley, but considering what he knew and the situation, it was believable.

With regards to the bullies, they don’t really get any depth to them, but then again considering that this is told from the bullied perspective it kind of makes sense. What they did to her was horrible, so it was hard to find anything really sympathetic or relatable. And since Ashley is the one telling us what they did, it would be kind of weird if they were anything other one dimensional jerkfaces. To Ashley, that is what they were and thus this is what the readers get to see as well.

The characters, like the writing, are also done well. But I especially loved the plot surrounding Older Ashley and Young Ashley. I wasn’t sure if Ashley was crazy or if the past that we were seeing involved a different Ashley or it was simply Older Ashley reliving the past. In the end, everything is revealed, but I did like how you were never really sure what was going on.

My only complaint was that there were times when the therapist didn’t seem to behave like a real doctor. I kept wondering if he was a figment of Older Ashley’s mind and if what she was experiencing was really real. Older Ashley’s interactions with him seemed false, in some places as well, and I couldn’t stand it when she kept calling him Doc this and Doc that.

Overall: I really liked Every Ugly Word. The bullying depicted here was uncomfortable in some parts and reading how broken Ashley was due to everything was kind of depressing. There will be times when you want to shake her and tell her that what she’s doing is stupid and will only hurt her in the end, but she still does it anyways. Mainly because Ashley isn’t real and her story is already written on the pages, so nothing you can say will change anything, but still….. The feelings of wanting to do that remain.

Great debut novel by Salter and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

 

 
Every Ugly Word was provided by netgalley

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Sweetness #9 by Stephan Eirik Clark

Sweetness #9Sweetness #9 by Stephan Eirik Clark

My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

Sweetness #9 should have been a book that I loved. For one thing, I’m a huge fan of Food Inc and I can’t get enough of food documentaries in general. I’ve also read books about this topic too, including Fast Food Nation which is mentioned in the synopsis for Sweetness #9. However, it wasn’t until it was mentioned on the Colbert Report that I really wanted to read this novel.

After reading the synopsis and some of the reviews for it, I assumed that this would be my kind of book. I was expecting a Fast Food Nation – Douglas Coupland hybrid type novel, where the lead character, David Leveraux, finds out what’s really going in our food and has to deal with that knowledge and his dysfunctional family.

And in a sense, I did get that, but I feel like this was more about David’s struggle with being normal and living the American Dream. Hmmm, when I think of it like that, then it is a bit smart how Sweetness #9’s takeover of the food market mirrors David’s lack of action to do anything in his life. The moment he takes control and stops trying to do what is normal, then he feels great, but things have already changed and the consequences of his neglect are irreversible. Likewise, once you stop the synthetic sweetener you may feel better, but you’re health may still have some side effects, like diabetes or something.

Now that I think about it, it is a smart novel and it does make sense in the grand scheme of things, but that’s only because I’m looking at everything as a whole as I’m write this review. While reading it, I was bored. I loved the beginning of the novel when we are first introduced to David and find out the shocking truth behind Sweetness #9. There was tons of humour in the first part, along with the Fast Food Nation aspect of it as well.

Then, we go into Part Two, which takes place many years into the future. David now has a family, except it isn’t anything like he thought they would be like. His wife keeps gaining weight, his daughter is a vegan rebel, and his son has stopped using verbs. David knows why his wife is having a hard time and why his son forgoes verbs, but he doesn’t anything to rectify the situation.

And this is why I didn’t like the second part of this novel. We get to see some of the harmful effects of this sweetener, but David has never said anything despite what he knows about it. He watches his family eat the stuff, while he refuses to touch it. I kept wondering why he would allow his family to slowly kill themselves when he could be more proactive in helping them.

It was really frustrating to read as he knew why his family was falling apart, but refused to do anything about it. I would have overlooked this glaring problem more if we got to see more about Sweetness #9, but sadly this novel became only a family drama. There’s this Hitler subplot too which just seemed long winded and unnecessary.

By the end of the novel, when David finally does do something, it almost seems too little too late for me. I just stopped caring.

Overall: Looking back, I can appreciate what Clark was doing in his debut novel, but I feel like some of the pieces here didn’t come together as well as they should. I think this is the problem when other books are mentioned in the synopsis, because then the reader goes in expecting one thing and getting something completely different after. Because I saw Fast Food Nation and humour, I thought we’d get a funny fictitious novel about the food industry and how it messed up one man’s life. Instead, I got a novel that is smart (once you think about it), but not as funny and not as food orientated as I thought.

I feel like if the plot lines were a bit tighter and the length of the novel was shorter, I might have liked this more. Unfortunately, Sweetness #9 didn’t really do anything for me. Which I suppose is a good thing, because I’ve heard some really shocking stuff about it.

I do think that Clark has a bright future though. The way he mirrored Sweetness #9’s harmful properties and David’s life choices was really clever and made me appreciate the novel a smidge more than I originally did. So, kudos to that!

Sweetness #9 was provided by netgalley

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Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin

Tabula RasaTabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin

My rating: 3.5 or 3.75 of 5 stars

Tabula Rasa takes place in a hospital like facility near the Canadian border (Oh Canada!). There, some doctors run experiments on patients by drilling holes into their heads as they try to wipe their memory. The patients don’t know who they are, what they are there for, and have no idea how they look like.

For Sarah, her time in the facility has been a blur of nothing. She doesn’t remember her past, her present is bleak. All she has is the hope that her surgeries, which she has to be awake for, works so she can be blessed with a new life.

But Sarah feels like something is missing and she isn’t just talking about her memories. It isn’t until her final surgery is cancelled that everything slowly comes back to her. When she gets back to her room, she finds pills, some clothing, and a piece of paper. Naturally, she takes the pill after reading the paper and thus starts her journey in getting back her lost memories. Memories she may not want back.

Aided by her fellow patients, a genius hacker, and some PTSD soldiers, Sarah will find the truth about her life, the hospital, and a few other secrets that could change everything. She’ll have to work fast though, because someone wants nothing more than to see her dead and they’ll stop at nothing until that happens.

Sarah isn’t your typical YA heroine. She’s tough, she’s resourceful, and she’s vulnerable without it seeming over the top or contrived. I mean, some of it may be, but it doesn’t ever feel forced. They do refer to her as a special snowflake, but as the story continued it did start to make sense why. It wasn’t because of some grand prophecy or anything, just other things.

And even though this sounds shallow, I liked that she was Mexican, yay, for having visible minorities as main characters. I feel weird pointing this out here and in other books where this happens, but as someone who is also a visible minority it’s nice seeing someone different as the lead character.

I also loved the hospital that Sarah was from. In the beginning we get to meet another patient, Jori, who seemed interesting and depressing all at the same time and the scenes with the soldiers, was my favourite part of the novel. The patients were great and the general feel for the institution was creepy and off. I loved reading about it and liked how the story mainly took place there.

In fact, the plot (for the most part) and the characters (all except one) were well written and fleshed out nicely.

Surprisingly, I didn’t even mind the romance subplot here. It is a bit of an instalove, especially since only 48 hours passed and they were into each other, but it was so small that it never really took away from the story. There was an attraction between the two of them and the high intensity of the situation made their hormones flare up once, so it was understandable. Plus, Sarah never let her feelings stop her from remembering the bigger picture. Staying alive and trying not to get shot at.

Did the romance have to be in the story? As someone who isn’t big on YA romance, I don’t think so. But I also understand that this genre will almost always have it as a plot point, so I would rather it be done well than to have a love triangle, instalove, cheating romance instead. Thankfully, I feel like it was done well here, so I was fine with it.

There are a lot of great things about the book, but it does have its downsides too. One of them happened at the very end of the novel, in the epilogue sort of chapter. I was with it, but then I felt a bit meh about what happened. Without spoiling anything, I feel like the beginning portion of the chapter wasn’t really needed if a paragraph undid everything. I didn’t really like that as I felt like it was a cheap way to add some emotional distress, only for it to not really matter.

I also didn’t like the main bad guy. They seemed to have no redeeming qualities and were bad for….what exactly? Some things were mentioned, such as being poor and having a hard life, but I don’t think it justified a lot of the stuff that happened here. The hatred made sense, the extremity of it didn’t. At the end of the day, the bad guy was a stereotypical, one dimensional, crazy person who despite meticulously planning every single detail of their plan was still foiled by a couple of teens.

Not that I’m a villain or anything, but if I was I’d shoot first, then a couple of times after that before moving on to other things. Then I’d make sure that the person I want dead is actually dead, by checking their pulse and then shooting a few more times for good measure. I know this sounds excessive, but considering the amount of ‘dead’ but not really dead proclamations in this novel, you can never be so sure as to who is dead without making sure that they are really dead.

Now granted, the bad guy could have the personality type where they are so egotistical to the point that they think nothing can stop them, but that goes against what we learned about them. They climbed their way to the top and were willing to do whatever it took to get there. Even killing people in cold blood to make sure that happens. So an elaborate plan that doesn’t involve a few headshots or even some poisoning seems to be bit out of character for them.

Also, their rant in the end explaining why they did what they did kept going on and on and on.

Overall: Tabula Rasa is exciting, suspenseful, and really, really cool novel. Sarah is a strong character and when she isn’t, it’s understandable due to what has happened to her. She’s not weak though and doesn’t let her experiences and past stop her from fulfilling her tasks. The other characters, save one, are also fleshed out well.

Despite this, there are some downsides that kind of ruin what would have been an otherwise amazing novel. I do think that this was a wonderful debut though and can’t wait to see what Lippert-Martin comes out with next.

Tabula Rasa was provided by netgalley

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