Review: Fire by Kristen Cashore

Fire by Kristin Cashore
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

I’m not really sure how to classify this book, so I guess I’ll call it a companion novel. I really liked the story as a whole and enjoyed meeting a new cast of characters and learning more about King Lek from Graceling! Yes, the story did shed more light on Lek, but the focus was on a completely new and different cast of characters which I grew to love.

With this book, Cashore invented a new world–in a matter of speaking–with people and animals known as monsters for their odd coloring. Also, the book didn’t take place in the land of the seven kingdoms, but in the Dells.

I really enjoyed seeing the world building and loved the fact that Cashore was able to create another world while tying it back to the world of Graceling. Again, I liked how the world building was gradual and how information wasn’t dumped all at once. Also, the character development was really there and I liked being able to see how each character played an important role in the story.

However,, I felt that some of the character development was not as extreme or well-defined as it was in Graceling. I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy it, but I would have liked to see more development.

Next, some of the plot twists in this book were not really all that shocking to me and I was kind of disappointed. I thought that some of the twits were obvious and overdramatized to make them more surprising. That said, they didn’t really annoy me much and I understood their placement in the story.

Lastly, I can’t get over the characters! Each and every character was well-written and had his/her own personality. I really enjoyed seeing how relationships between characters formed and developed as the story went on.

Overall, Fire was an amazing novel with a grea cast of characters that I loved reading about. Plus, there was a totally swoon-worthy guy in there, am I right? I’m right. However, I would have liked a little more fast pace and character development.


Review: What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick

What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I was really eager to finally get to this book as I’ve been wanting to read it for quite some time. I’m really glad I finally read it as Fitzpatrick’s sequel to My Life Next Door comes out in August and I’m caught up with her books. However, (please don’t kill me for this) I didn’t like What I Thought Was True as I did her first book. There wasn’t anything wrong with the book or anything, but I just had a hard time connecting with the characters and the story. I want to get what I didn’t like out of the way so I can gush on what I DID like.

First, I really had a hard time connecting with the story. Maybe I wasn’t in the right mood for it or something, but I felt that this book was slow-paced with not much going on. I would have liked a little more action or development in the beginning.

Second, I had a very hard time connecting with the characters. I felt that they were a little flat at the beginning and I would have liked to see more of their personalities. As the book progressed, I could connect a little more, but it was still hard and I was expecting more.

On the other hand, I absolutely love how Huntley Fitzpatrick included Gwenn’s family in the story. It’s always refreshing to read about families in YA lit and I love how I can count on Fitzpatrick to include them. Each character in the family did have his/her personality even if I couldn’t connect, and it was interesting to see how each character eventually grew. It was also interesting to see what life on an island is like. Seeing peoples attitudes toward each other was also interesting as the island was a summer getaway for the people on land.

I also liked seeing how Fitzpatrick included a character with an intellectual disability into her book. I’ve been craving a book with a character like this and seeing how she didn’t make him weird or awkward was just amazing. However, I have to say that I LOVE how she gave Gwen’s brother his own personality and didn’t just cookie cut him into the stereotypical image of someone with a learning disability.

Overall, What I Thought Was True was a good book with an interesting plot and characters, but I had trouble connecting with the characters. That said, I’m definitely reading any of the author’s other works–sequels or not.

Review: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
As many of you know by now, I absolutely adore Sarah Dessen and her writing. Needless to say, when Saint Anything came out on May 5, I HAD to have it! Anyway, I accidentally bought it on kindle and a few days later my #OTSPSecretSister sent me a physical copy! Can I just say, best sis ever! I like the fact that I have both formats as I am able to read the book whenever and wherever I want without ruining the physical copy. Also, I can get the book signed and add it to my Dessen collection. You probably didn’t want to read all that so I’ll get on to the part you care about: the review.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I had the opportunity to read the sneak peek of the book via NetGalley before the book released, and I was hooked within those first four chapters. What I really liked about this book was the descriptive writing style and the fact that Dessen didn’t just focus on Sydney’s present situation, but she also gave background that made the situation clear and outlined exactly WHY Sydney’s brother Peyton was favored. I really liked getting a glimpse into the family dynamics and being able to see how the family was when Sydney and Peyton were younger and compare/contrast that with the current family dynamic. I have to say, I also liked seeing the parents’ role in the novel. While I really disliked the mom, I thought she had some character growth by the end of the novel. Also, I didn’t like the dad because of reasons except that I don’t feel he had as much character growth and would have wished a little more character development in him.

I really liked the character growth Sydney, Peyton and some friends she makes at Seaside Pizza, Layla and Mac go through in the book. At first, Sydney feels alone because she’s the only one that seems to care about David, the kid her brother ran over. However, as the book progresses, Sydney is able to come to therms with what happened and she definitely stops feeling so guilty and invisible.

Along with this, I really like how relatable Dessen makes the book to girls who aren’t in Sydney’s situation. Even though I am not going through the same thing as Sydney is, I can definitely relate to her in that I have too felt invisible so many times in life. For me it’s because I have a disability and feel that people talk down to me and think I’m not as smart/capable/insert adjective as them and so they treat me differently or ignore me. For Sydney, it was having a brother whose shadow she was always in. Sydney felt invisible because her brother was good looking and charismatic in elementary school. Later, she felt invisible because her brothers court appointments and jail sentence always took attention away from her. I really liked how Dessen developed a story that I could relate to and how she intricately wove lessons of friendship and love into the story.

Next, I like how the story follows a similar theme as some of her other stories in that the seasons play a major role. As the book begins, it is summer going into fall. By the end, it is spring. These seasons have symbols of being something that leads to death/decay/hard times and a new beginning respectively.

Lastly, I really liked the darker aspect of this novel. To me, the book definitely felt a whole lot more intense than previous books not only because of the subject matter, but also the tone Sydney had. It was definitely something new and I really liked how Dessen just worked with everything and it didn’t feel forced or as if someone else had written it. Even though it was a darker subject matter, I think Dessen handled it with her classic style but she definitely added some new aspects.

Overall, Saint Anything was a much darker read than Sarah Dessen’s previous novels. I would definitely recommend this to anyone as it brings up many thought-provoking questions. I’d suggest that anyone, whether you like Dessen’s other novels or not, read this book!

Review: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I can’t express how unique I found Graceling to be. Unlike other fantasy stories, Graceling brought so many different elements to the table and revealed each in a surprising manner.

The plot of the book was fast paced and sometimes unexpected making the book much more enjoyable. I absolutely liked how the plot thickened with the careful addition of a new character. Even when no fighting was going on, it was interesting to see how each character added to the plot and helped advance the book.

The fact that Graceling was divided into three parts was not only unique, but each part felt like a story of its own that intricately weaved with the others. The parts also coincided with Katsa–and the other characters’–development. At the beginning, Katsa was frightened and didn’t trust anyone. As each part of the story progressed, we got to see how she blossomed as a character and started opening her heart to others.

Lastly, the most wonderful thing to me about Graceling was the character development everyone went through. If I just compare Katsa in the beginning of part one to Katsa at the end of part one, there is a huge difference that usually would have taken a whole book. Not to mention, as she grew, she helped other grow and she kept learning more about herself and her relationships with others. By the end of the book, Katsa, and all the other characters, were completely different and three-dimensional.

Overall, I really enjoyed how unique Graceling was compared to other fantasy books I’ve read. Watching the plot thicken with the addition of characters and seeing how each detail developed the world Cashore created was magical. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a refreshing fantasy.

Review: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I honestly don’t know how to put my feelings for My Life Next Door into words. It was beautifully written with characters that flourished as the novel progressed. True, it was a cute contemporary novel, but it was so so much more. Yes, Jase is everyone’s ideal book boyfriend and everyone wants a George in their lives. Hell, everyone wants a Tim–even stoned as he is sometimes–in their lives.

Fitzpatrick created characters that I couldn’t help but fall in love with. First and foremost is Samantha-, the main character. Sure, she’s rich and pretty, but as she was never pretentious about it. Yes, she had a fear of being seen with the Garretts by her mom, but again, that wasn’t completely her fault. As the book progressed though, Samantha learned what a true friend is and she overcame some of her prejudice against the Garretts.

However, one of my favorite characters of the novel is George. The seventh of eight children, George is still young and naive which makes his role in the story so crucial. Sure, having all the Garretts in the story is important, but George is the epitome of innocence and he helps advance the story–and the characters and the lessons they learn–in a way I can’t imagine could be done differently. His innocence makes the serious moments in the novel more vivid as he can’t fully comprehend what is happening. His childish questions made me want to cry and laugh throughout the book. Although the book dealt with the issue of integrity, George made the tough situations more bearable. At the same time, having George in the novel never took away of the seriousness Fitzpatrick was conveying, instead, it enhanced the situation and made the lessons the characters learned more meaningful.

I really liked how every character in the book was an integral part and how each helped one of the main characters grow and develop. The symbolism between light–when talking about the Garretts–and dark–when talking about Samantha and her mom or other friends–was beautiful. It was especially interesting to see how both elements combined at times in Samantha’s thoughts and out.

Lastly, can I just say how much I want a Jase for myself. Shoutout: if you know where to find him, hook me up.

Overall, My life Next Door was a fantastic book with beautiful characters, amazing guys, and deep, meaningful messages. I can’t wait to read The Boy Most likely To–Tim and Alice’s story–and What I Thought Was True.

Review: Faking Perfect by Rebecca Phillips

Faking Perfect by Rebecca Phillips
Synopsis: “Edgy and honest, Faking Perfect is the real thing.” –Huntley Fitzpatrick

When Lexi Shaw seduced Oakfield High’s resident bad boy Tyler Flynn at the beginning of senior year, he seemed perfectly okay with her rules:

1. Avoid her at school.
2. Keep his mouth shut about what they do together.
3. Never tease her about her friend (and unrequited crush) Ben.

Because with his integrity and values and golden boy looks, Ben can never find out about what she’s been doing behind closed doors with Tyler. Or that her mom’s too busy drinking and chasing losers to pay the bills. Or that Lexi’s dad hasn’t been a part of her life for the last thirteen years. But with Tyler suddenly breaking the rules, Ben asking her out, and her dad back in the picture, how long will she be able to go on faking perfect?

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I really liked Faking Perfect as it brought up some great issues. Like in What Happened to Goodbye, it featured a main character who wanted to be someone different to try and erase her past. To me, this was fascinating as I have never wanted to be someone different and it was interesting to see Lexi’s reasons for choosing to be a different person at home and at school.

The book also dealt with issues of addiction and alcoholism and their effects on families and children. I thought that Phillips did a good job in conveying the negative effects having an alcoholic mother and a father who abandoned her had on Lexi. At the same time, I liked the sharp contrast between Lexi’s dysfunctional family and a fully supportive family who would be their for her.

I also really liked how Phillips dealt with the issue of perfection and how it’s just an illusion. Most often times, I feel that as a teenager, whenever I see people who have perfect grades, are in a bunch of different clubs, and seemed to be well-liked by everyone have a perfect life. It was reassuring not only to see my own feelings confirmed, but to also see that it’s not usually true.

However, I only gave this book a 3.5 because it seemed rushed at times. Yes, it was a short book, but I feel it should have been longer so that it could convey more of events’ affects on Lexi. I personally would have wanted the beginning a little more fast-paced so that the middle and end could have been better explained. Lastly, I would have wanted to see more character development in everyone. Yes, I did like seeing how they developed, but I felt their was room to expand on it.

Overall, Faking Perfect was a good story with some very interesting lessons and concepts. I felt that it was rushed at times and some characters needed development, but I will read some of the author’s other works.
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