Full Review : To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (#1) by Jenny Han

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (Amazon Link)

Series : To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before
Volume : 1
Year Published : 2014
Genre : Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Mood : Light and cute~

Edition : Kindle
# of Pages : 355 pages
Time Spent Reading : 4.4 hours

Summary

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

Review

So my preference is for grandiose and thrilling, heavy novels full of high stakes. This one is as far away as one can get from that, but it’s nice to read something a little down to earth once in a while.

This book is just so cute and warm. Light and easy fluff. But there is something distinctive about the characterization. The way Lara communicates with her friends, family, and the boys feels really natural compared to other YA and romance I’ve read. It feels like reading old diaries. Her voice is very convincing as a sixteen year old. Even when things get dramatic it’s a sort of realistic type of drama and not too angsty. I love the main character’s family and their closeness and protectiveness of each other.

When side characters are mentioned, Lara usually expands into smaller storylines and reminisces about childhood memories that add richness to the characters. Also of note is the way romance is handled- Lara Jean is a sort of hopeless romantic whose feelings change across the scope of time and the storyline, but she is capable of making decisions. I thought it came off well and didn’t lead to the traditional type of love triangle.

Then there is the representation. This is the first time I’ve ever read a book with a protagonist having a similar family/life background to myself, a mixed race asian and white girl (and seemingly, having little exposure to other Asians, and minimal exposure to her Asian parent’s culture) who is born and raised in the US. Race is not a major factor in this book by any means but the subtle nods to her background and thoughts seem genuine and on a personal note, almost disturbingly relatable.

I usually rate by two criteria, first being how much I enjoy a book and second being how well I think it accomplishes what it’s trying to do. I think this one is largely perfect at everything it attempted. The way chapters are sorted and proceed make for a fast-paced read. Having a whopping 70 chapters (each being a few pages) makes for quick shifts in time and events but can make the reading experience seem flighty.

My main problem was with a sort of prioritizing of major events. There are many important things that happen near the end and those events seem rushed. The movie actually handled them with better gravity. I think cutting back on some of the light and trivial chapters to expand on the more important ones would have been wise, either that or make the book longer. I’m curious for the sequel though.

Also the little sister- Kitty- LOVED her. So cute. I want her to meet James from the Shatter Me series and the two little ones have their own wholesome adventures in a spin-off series. T_T ❤

Overall Rating – 9/10

Why You Should Try It – Cute, light, and airy without floating away into pointlessness. The characters are genuine and warm. At least read it for Kitty!

Critique – Your mileage may vary of course on how light is too light and the slice-of-life focus is not something I could see myself reading back to back.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (<- Amazon Link)

Full Review : A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

A Little Life (Amazon Link)

Year Published : 2015
Genre : Literary Fiction, Contemporary, Drama, Heavy and Bleak (not a category, but should be)

Edition : Kindle eBook
# of Pages : 720 pages (The hardcover for this looks scary amounts of huge.)
Time Spent Reading : 17.5 hours

Synopsis

When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity. 

Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.

Review

**So I usually don’t do trigger warnings but trigger warning for this whole review, I try to explore all of the thorny topics that this book explores to some extent. Also, while I tried to make this spoiler-free, there’s still some delving far into various aspects of the book so proceed with caution if you’re certain to read it before long and want to keep details vague. Short version of this review- it’s a good book, made me cry. Some rough aspects but highly worthwhile.**

There is this film called Lilya 4-Ever.. by the way, warning, this review will contain some spoilers for that film. In short, it’s one of the most deeply moving, effective, and haunting films I’ve ever seen. While not for the faint of heart, I think anyone who would watch the whole thing would come out with empathy afterward. It’s based off of the tragic true story of a young girl named Danguolė Rasalaitė. What’s interesting is that her life story was a bit trimmed in the film, removing some terrible coincidences that seem almost too horrible to be believable (and yet, they happened.)

I bring this up because in many ways I think of A Little Life as being like an exhaustingly long literary novel version of Lilya 4-Ever, without the trimmings.

Ultimately the main character, Jude, is like a combination of all the haunting accounts I’ve ever heard about human trafficking. The rampant self-harm and low life expectancy in Southeast Asian child brothels, Steven Stayner’s continuing struggles after being rescued, the layers and layers of failures on the part of the state to care for Cyntoia Brown, the list goes on. Reading through Jude’s experiences is like remembering all of that and feeling outrage anew.

Combining many misfortunes unto one character might come off as dramatized, but a compounding of risk factors is not unheard of. The telling of his story was grippingly effective nonetheless.

I felt pretty much every emotion while reading this. Sadness, anger, happiness, fear. For example, Jude has a nightmare at one point and I almost dropped the book and shuddered with surprise. In his happiest moments with Willem (another main character of focus) I was aww’ing up a storm. Willem is one of the easier characters to relate to, and instrumental in understanding Jude. Harold is another character who is brimming with warmth and pretty much impossible not to love. 10/10 for making me feel for the characters and be willing to fight through the grimmest atmosphere ever to connect with them.

However, there are some worthwhile criticisms to be made. Willem and Jude are centered in the plot to an almost obsessive degree. The original summary mentions there being four guys, a group of talented friends who move through life together. Yet JB and Malcolm are kind of forgotten after a while, especially Malcolm whose sub-plot is all but discarded. There’s also the matter of how horribly tragic so much of the book is, relentlessly so. I’ve heard some fairly reasoned arguments about how this is a group of gay or bi characters and yet there is this primary focus on the miseries of their lives and how that could be considered fetishistic and cliched. I can definitely see some areas that should have been handled differently. But the vast majority of discourse I’ve read on all sides has been positive- it has a real way of sparking emotion despite the questionable aspects.

Final add-on note- while I’m not very knowledgable on the topic of self harm, I thought that topic was approached in a very eye-opening way. The reason why a certain character does it and has such difficulty stopping is made vividly understandable. There is so much ignorance and lack of sympathy surrounding that topic, so seeing it elucidated here in this emotionally charged novel was good.

Overall Rating – 10/10

Why You Should Try It – This is an emotional rollercoaster of a book. Though enormous in length, it reads surprisingly fast with a sort of page turner element to the style, yet remains heavy and fearlessly tackles all manner of issues and hardships. I felt like the topics of self harm and PTSD from human trafficking was intelligently handled. If you want a tearjerker that makes you feel deeply for people, there are few books that put it all out there like this one does.

Critique – The endless array of suffering is just too much and I think some depictions would cross the line for a considerable number of people. For a book that is this long, some parts could have been better managed, specifically to give other seemingly main characters more opportunities to grow. Also, there are no relevant female characters. At all. Seems like a purposeful omission but still a bit weird.

Full Review : A Court Of Mist And Fury (A Court of Thorns & Roses #2) by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses) (Amazon Link)

Series : A Court of Thorns And Roses
Volume : 2
Year Published : 2016
Genre : Fantasy, Romance, New Adult/Young Adult

Edition : Kindle
# of Pages : 624 pages
Time Spent Reading : 11 Hours

Summary

Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court.

As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world torn apart.

Review

This sequel is better than the already good first installment and the world Feyre gets to explore has broadened. The fantasy aspect is more developed, though still light. Which is fine, I think the main strength of the book is its romance, friendships, YA and NA type coming of age matters. I really like the characters and am invested in continuing with the story- the climax and ending was good enough that I just want to immediately dig into the third book but am putting continuation on a long hiatus because I struggled to enjoy a big chunk of this novel.

It felt bloated and overly long, as if not edited sufficiently to keep the pace up. There would be scenes that would envelope 15 pages that could have easily been accomplished in 5, and the limitations of what Feyre can see or do can really get in the way of how well some characters can develop as we’re so dependent on them telling her about themselves and what they’re doing or thinking instead of directly connecting to them.

Thusly, I’d come to the realization of what would have made me go from ‘like’ to ‘love’ with this series or this book in general.

The presence of either of these two things-

  1. A third person perspective with a wider scope of character focus or
  2. Just have Feyre and her sisters all be main characters with their own perspectives and chapters. They each have wildly different personalities (the acerbic Nesta, the sweet Elain, and Feyre being somewhere between the extremes) that happens to be PERFECT setup for a multi-perspective novel!

That would have done wonders for picking up the pace by having frequent switches from chapter to chapter (think Six of Crows or Game of Thrones) adding so much variance to the mood and making for a more eventful time. More of these YA romances need to do this. If you’re going to give us 600 page door knockers, we should at least have multiple viewpoints and multiple love interests to switch to when one gets boring. (I’m only half joking.)

624 pages is a lot for Feyre when there are all these other characters full of potential just lying around waiting to be explored. There were so many trivial moments and Feyre rehashing old feelings/thoughts.

I do want to mention one upside though, the slow burn nature of the romance in this book is handled well and benefits from all the pages of build up. Rhys is an enjoyable character but I just liked him, if I loved him this would probably get at least a guilty pleasure 10/10. As it stands, I am still very open to the third book in this series.

Also worth noting, this sequel does have adult content. It’s not a whole lot, perhaps 10-15 or so pages out of the 600+ that amasses this book but the moments do stand out quite a bit and are more explicit than nearly any YA novel. I would classify this as New Adult (NA) while A Court of Thorns And Roses with its lesser detail could be placed in the YA category. But the writing style as a whole hasn’t changed dramatically and it still has that YA feel.

Overall Rating – 8/10

Why You Should Try It – If you had any lingering interest in Rhys and liked A Court Of Thorns and Roses, this is certainly worth trying. This installment comes off as mindful of weaknesses from the previous one and seeks to create more detailed and lavish environments, more characters to meet and get to know, and a deeper (yet slow burn) relationship on the romance side of things.

Critique – It felt too long, not so well edited. Some situations or explanations could have been greatly trimmed to help with pacing. This book needed multiple perspectives more than any book I’ve ever read before.

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses) <- Amazon Link)

Full Review : Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

Pretty Girls: A Novel (Amazon Link)

Year Published : 2015
Genre : Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Real-Life Horror

Edition : Kindle eBook
# of Pages : 548 pages (419 pages paperback)
Time Spent Reading : 7 hours

Synopsis

Twenty years ago Claire Scott’s eldest sister, Julia, went missing. No one knew where she went – no note, no body. It was a mystery that was never solved and it tore her family apart.

Now another girl has disappeared, with chilling echoes of the past. And it seems that she might not be the only one.

Claire is convinced Julia’s disappearance is linked.

But when she begins to learn the truth about her sister, she is confronted with a shocking discovery, and nothing will ever be the same…

Review

My opinions see-sawed a lot from beginning to end. At times I liked it, at other times I pointedly didn’t.

The beginning is strong. There are a small number of chapters strewn about that are told from a victim’s father’s perspective- those sections are beautifully written and showcase some potential within the writing. Things develop quickly. The overarching story has potential. At the 25% mark, there’s a bombshell revelation that had me needing to find out what all happened and be willing to see it through to the end.. even as other important things weren’t being handled quite so well.

The characters are not very likable or smart. Granted, they’re in a terrible situation, but connecting emotionally with them was hard. There are many fantastic books with unlikable characters, but the root of the problem with the characters in Pretty Girls seems deeper. I’m just not impressed by the dialogue between the characters or their thought processes. The skeletal idea behind this book is stellar but the writing dips at times to the point of shlock and could seem like something out of a Lifetime movie. And yet there are still clever little machinations in the plot (some more noticeable after completion) that keep me from writing it off entirely.

The ending, while not saving it all, was a higher point. For anyone who gets pretty far in this book but considers giving it up for the dark dreariness, I highly recommend at least reading the last 3-4 chapters or so.

I’d heard this novel being described as too disturbing, not for the faint of heart, full of graphic content- there are some upsetting scenes but most of the sequences are told from a distance- such as a character viewing a terrible image or video and describing it. This definitely isn’t OK for anyone under the age of 18 or anyone who’s squeamish though.

So to sum it up, this book has great ideas, not the greatest execution. A story that I could get behind and really something I haven’t seen done before, but characters that really held it back. I must say that the readability is top notch though, I stayed up well into the night flying through this book and would be willing to try more by this author. Also, I could imagine an adaptation (depending on how it’s handled) would make for a great thriller.

Overall Rating – 6/10

Why You Should Try It – If this premise sounds irresistible- a family torn apart by a horrific event, sisters who attempt to reconnect after years estranged, and an antagonist that is at the heart of all their conflict. Those themes are basically what kept me from setting this one aside and be willing to handle its lesser aspects.

Critique – Characters bungle many chances to be clever or likable, mostly unimpressive dialogue, some gross descriptions cut away what could be a larger audience.

Pretty Girls: A Novel (<- Click here to visit Amazon and read a sample of Pretty Girls.)

10 Books I Want To Read This Year

After letting my To-Read list on Goodreads get to sky high numbers (there are just too many interesting-looking books out there!!) it can be tough to decide what should really be prioritized. After some careful thinking I’ve narrowed it down to a list of ten books of wildly varying genres and my reasons for ranking them highly in that to-be-read pile. Anyone who happens to click on this post, have you read any of these titles and have any thoughts to share? Thanks in advance!


A Clash of Kings (ASOIAF) #2 by George R.R. Martin – I went into A Game Of Thrones expecting to add it to my “did not finish” file from the sheer length and my unfamiliarity and only vague interest in medieval high fantasy. Surprise- it was amazing and I loved it. I was so ready to dive right into book 2 but my TBR of library books await. It’s still high on the list. So eager to see what happens to the main cast- and to see things from the point of view of new characters (especially the villains!) there is an illustrated version coming out this year and from what I’ve seen the art style is achingly beautiful so that’s another thing to look forward to.


Wildacre by Philippa Gregory – I read this review on Goodreads and can’t get out of my head how much ‘for me’ this book seems to be. High drama, forbidden love, a diabolical (main?!) character, family saga, a giant scary-sounding estate that might be making everyone deranged and sounds like it’s from some gothic romance. Sounds like a V.C. Andrews book but with (probably?) less pulpy writing. Pretty much checks every box of very niche-within-a-niche weakness I have when it comes to fiction. It seems like a widely hated book though, as the main character is a literal murderer. I do like the idea of unlikable main characters though if it’s framed as an intellectual challenge for the author and reader alike (see- Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov or the Death Note manga series.)


The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – This book is so beloved and I’m really curious to read it. I feel like the last person on earth who is finally getting around to reading this book lol, also interested in the movie. Amandla Stenberg was so adorable in The Hunger Games movie and now she’s all grown up in The Hate U Give. ❤ Anyway, I’ve heard that the protagonist is sort of caught between worlds as she goes to school in a prestigious academy yet was born and raised in a low income neighborhood. Very curious to see how the author conveys the culture shock and inner conflict that naturally develops in such a scenario.


The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks – The title alone sends massive “????s” whirring through my head. The summary sounds equally inexplicable. I saw BooksAndLala on Youtube discussing this one. In short, she wasn’t expecting much and went in with low or moderate expectations (moreover, she’s an avid fan of the genre and has seen it all) yet ended up, surprisingly, loving it. That sort of reaction elevates a books profile in my mind. Will likely buddy read this.


The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah – I’ve heard there are two female protagonists, the setting is during WW2, and it’s quite the tearjerker. This is one of those books that is forever waitlisted on Overdrive so the demand for this one is quite high.


Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews – So this first book in the Kate Daniels series is apparently not very good? At least in comparison to future entries in the lengthy series. I am still curious to power through it though since I’ve heard that Andrews excels at great banter between characters, which I’ve come to find makes me insta-love a book.


Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse – A short classic that my father encouraged me to read, I don’t remember a single bit of it but am pretty sure it went over my head at the time since I was 7 or 8 years old or so. Hoping to revisit it with a new vigor and profound inspiration not unlike The Little Prince. ❤


Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte – This is the book that has been mentioned or referenced ad nauseum in many a romance novel I’ve read. Not quite as often as Pride and Prejudice, but it’s up there. While I also need to read Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights captures my interest more readily right now as I’ve heard it’s something of a ill-fated, tragic romantic yet cynical love story. So basically I will probably ship the main pair at my own peril, ready for the challenge!


The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – An acclaimed WW2 YA novel. I’ve heard it’s a tearjerker. I am apparently drawn to the tearjerkers. I remember seeing it on The Great American Read awards show on PBS (a sort of recounting of the top 100 books of all time) and have been steadily building up enthusiasm for it ever since.


Outlander by Diana Gabaldon – Not unlike Game of Thrones, I am hesitant to start this book too soon as it seems like one that deserves a lot of time and commitment. To exemplify how deep the rabbit hole of this series goes, it has companion guides that are some 400-500 pages each, a lengthy televised adaptation, and a spin-off.

Full Review : A Game Of Thrones (A Song Of Ice And Fire #1) by George R.R. Martin

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1) (Amazon Link, Read A Preview Here)

Series : A Song Of Ice And Fire
Volume : 1
Year Published : 1996
Genre : Fantasy

Edition: Kindle
# of Pages : 837
Time Spent Reading : 19 hours

Summary

In A Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin has created a genuine masterpiece, bringing together the best the genre has to offer. Mystery, intrigue, romance, and adventure fill the pages of the first volume in an epic series sure to delight fantansy fans everywhere.

In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes of the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.

Review

As someone who has typically avoided lengthy fantasy novels after trying and failing to connect with several lauded ones (not because I found them bad, but because they were so description-oriented as to be exhausting) this book has been phenomenal and been a sort of entryway through the door of the genre.

I went into A Game Of Thrones expecting to just try a bit and most likely set it aside due to the massive length and what I’d heard was a huge cast of characters to keep track of. It just sounded imposing. But after hearing enough about the show (haven’t watched it yet) to get a cursory idea of each character and after playing the Telltale Games Game of Thrones game (which is a charming, honestly very captivating sort of reimagining/fan fiction in game form) I decided to dig in and was surprised to find this novel to be an inviting pageturner.

The book is split up into a large number of chapters, each chapter pertaining to different characters of the main cast. Though told in third person, each character feels so distinct and their chapters exude a unique style. Tyrion’s chapters are often funny, Arya’s are charming and youthfully adventurous, Eddard’s are down to business with revealing the main plot, Denaerys’s seem to take place in a different and exotic world- fitting as she is far removed from the other characters, etc. This approach to storytelling made the pace amazingly fast. If I tired of one character, chances are within a few minutes the focus would shift to a different and more intriguing character or scenario. Often times (especially toward the hectic and exciting climax) chapters would end in cliffhangers, making it even more compulsively pageturn-ey. This is definitely an ambitious approach that I’ll be looking for when considering other fantasy novels.

Amazingly, 800+ pages didn’t feel long. There was so much more I wanted to know and so much room for other developments. The focus was rarely on minor details and pretty well focused on a grand-scale plot with rich sub-stories and characterization, which is exactly what I’d hoped for. Great read, it lives up to the hype and fandom surrounding it.

My only complaint is that there are just too many characters. Some are mentioned in passing and seem of such minor significance that they’d just be another name on the already too bloated list of names to keep track of. 

This is not the ideal novel to read, take a large break on, and read again and just jump into things cleanly. I think my reading it in a shorter and sustained timespan made the large cast and involved little sub-plots much easier to follow, as did my small knowledge of the TV show. I read this book with a Kindle and heavily utilized X-Ray and Word Wise (plan on making a post on these amazing features later) making for a much easier time at grasping the occasional dated terminology and keeping the characters in order. I suspect it would have been easier to mix up characters and gloss over some of the world building without that nice little aid.

I’m hoping that the sequel, in addition to continuing the main story capably, contains more character back stories and expositions. And maybe a bit more humor, as the few humorous moments were quite effective at diversifying the typically heavy mood.


Overall Rating – 10/10

Why You Should Try It – Impeccable character development. Short and diverse chapters keep the pace nice and brisk though the attention to detail remains high. As someone who has minimal experience with fantasy, this was surprisingly compelling and addictive.

Critique – A warning more so than critique, this series has not been finished after 20+ years. I’m not terribly happy at that thought of getting so attached to all these misfits and never knowing their end, but it’s worth it.

Click This Link To Read A Sample of A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1) on Amazon.

Full Review : Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Big Little Lies (Amazon Link)

Year Published : 2014
Genre : Contemporary Fiction, Mystery, Chick Lit

Edition : Kindle eBook
# of Pages : 460 pages
Time Spent Reading : 7.5 hours

Synopsis

A murder . . . a tragic accident . . . or just parents behaving badly? 
What’s indisputable is that someone is dead. 
But who did what?

Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads: 

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?). 

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay. 

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

Review

I just want to start this review by saying that there are certain things that I tend to avoid when considering books. This one has almost all of those things and yet I absolutely loved it, go figure. I have nothing but good to say about the writing style. It’s very simple, direct, yet manages to bring life and noticeable variance to the characters. A total page turner. I was completely pulled into the world of the characters and grew to appreciate each one of the three main protagonists. To sum it all up, I loved this one.

So those things I tend to avoid- chick lit contemporaries about motherhood and marriage. Settings that are a little too clean and down-to-earth. I prefer the fantastical over the realistic, and gritty over easygoing. Just a cursory glance might make this novel seem like a sort of cross between a mommy blog and family sitcom- it’s really not.

Right from the start the atmosphere is a little off-kilter, a bit quirky and whimsical in an almost parodic way. We find out quickly that one of the major characters is going to die. We see a mixture of the past events and humorous little crime interview snippets with side characters in the present. I changed my mind at several junctures about who I thought was going to die- and who the killer might be. This set up is very dynamic and interesting. The shifts from humorous to serious are smoothly handled. The heavier subject matter (the main one being domestic violence) was poignant and intense in conveying the complex issues facing the character dealing with that situation. There is more than meets the eye to each of the three main characters.

As mentioned prior, this is a fast read. The pace is great, though I did get impatient with parts toward the the last quarter or so. By that point I’d become attached enough to the characters that I worried for how things might turn out for them, just dying to know what all happens on the pivotal “trivia night” where chaos is hinted to ensue. The ending was worthwhile (I actually loved it, for a certain personal reason) and not too guessable.

Overall Rating – 10/10

Why You Should Try It – Excellent writing that manages to be simple yet effective at bringing the characters to life. The three main characters could be considered similar but through the strength of great characterization I never mixed them up. The murder mystery is plotted in a clever way. A nearly unguessable ending.

Critique – For those who are looking for an all-focused mystery, the focus on characters and their day-to-day problems might not be riveting enough. The trivia night probably could have been more explosive for all the tension leading up to it.

Click below to check out Big Little Lies on Amazon

Big Little Lies

Full Review : Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days #1) by Susan Ee

Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days) (Amazon Link)

Series : Penryn & the End of Days
Volume : 1 of 3
Year Published : 2011
Genre : Sci Fi – Dystopian / Young Adult / Fantasy

Edition : Kindle eBook (Available free on Kindle Unlimited)
# of Pages : 288 (Paperback edition is 326 pgs)
Time Spent Reading : 4.3 Hours


Synopsis

It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels’ stronghold in San Francisco where she’ll risk everything to rescue her sister and he’ll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.


Review

The setting is a post-apocalyptic urban wasteland, not far from present day. The remnants of humanity are scattered and struggling after bands of avenging angels have swooped down to decimate them. The conflict between humans and angels seems complex and interesting. I was immediately full of questions- what are these angels, are they angels in a biblical sense? Are the remaining humans struggling on earth in a sort of left behind scenario?

Penryn is our main character, a spry and resilient teenager from a dysfunctional family. She is protective of her disabled sister and deranged, fragile mother. I found her family situation to be sort of reminiscent of The Hunger Games, but original in its own right and uniquely developed. Penryn doesn’t have many answers about the increasingly complex world around her and is just struggling to survive and keep her family intact.

At the start of our story, Penryn’s sister is kidnapped by a group of angels- and she haplessly saves a newly wingless angel, Raffe. The two travel together to search for her kidnapped sister- and unravel his dark and mysterious past. Their foes are human and angel alike.

For being such a fast read, there is a lot going in. The survival aspect is viscerally effective as Penryn struggles to stay fed and find shelter. At some points she’s on the run or captured. There’s some light sci-fi and horror. Also a pinch of enemies-to-lovers romance that expands towards the end. The climax and finale won me over completely with its grandiosity and surprises. I’m definitely open to the sequel!

I found a lot of the dialogue between the characters to be awkward and unlikable, the characters come off as dim which is very much at odds with the mature storyline.

The story is quite dark, replete with several violent or disturbing moments that seem better suited to a New Adult novel. Penryn’s inner voice is intelligent and competent at vivid descriptions. There is creative imagery here and effective writing, so I was disappointed with the comparably lesser quality character interactions and hope the sequel will work on giving the characters more charming and memorable, meaningful interactions.

Overall Rating – 7.5/10

Why You Should Try It – Fantastic writing and editing, ambitious storyline with lots of room to grow, high stakes action that encompasses multiple genres- action, adventure, sci-fi, horror, drama. Strong heroine. Very exciting climax and and the ending that left me wanting more.

Critique – Some of the violent imagery is extreme for a young adult novel, I think this would work better as a new adult novel. Character interactions needed more charm and depth.

Click Below to check out Angelfall on Amazon.

Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days)

Greetings Everyone!

My name is Kitty Marie and I love to read anything good in basically all genres. General Fiction, Thrillers, Classics, Romance, Fantasy, YA. Bonus points if a book manages to be multi-genre.

I’ve been thinking about making a reading blog for a while now and finally decided the time is right! There’s a lot to say about the books I’ve been reading lately. So far in 2019 I’ve read 40+ books and plan to keep the momentum going with this blog that will be devoted to reviews, recommendations, random reading chatter, and my reading plans for the future.

Content this blog will have-

  • Reviews. I hope to give informative, helpful, and detail-oriented reviews from a unique point of view, offering info that I think will help other readers.
  • Lists & Recommendations. So I’m an obsessive list-maker and will probably make some lists of the best books I’ve read in individual categories or sub-genres, books read this year, books I recommend in specific niches, etc.
  • Pictures of beautiful books. So I’ve taken an interest in special editions, annotated editions, and just beautiful books in general- will likely be posting hauls or reviews containing more in depth pictures.

Do you also have a reading/book reviewing blog? I’d love to follow you and would greatly appreciate the follow back! Feel free to contact me, I’m happy to help promote fellow readers!

Do you have a book in need of review? Please see the About Me/Contact page for more information. On a case-by-case basis I’m accepting a small number of books per month in exchange for review.

book blogger & reviewer

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