The Reading Shelf

I love reading books, especially Young Adult books of all kinds. I have a book reviewing blog (The Reading Shelf) that I try to update whenever I'm not reading or procrastinating on the internet.

Happy Friday the 13th! Meet Good Luck Black Cats

Reblogged from BookLikes:

Whether you believe in Friday 13th bad luck or not, we wish you all the best and all the luck. Btw, we think the superstition about bad luck black cats was made up by white cats' gang. Just look at those pics! Black cats are no-bad-luck book lovers!


Stamp your feet via Lenore 


Reading lesson via Lenore


The Sleepyhead via Tina Sandevska


Smart one via


Just sitting via 



and sitting via


and still sitting via


Come, sit by via


Mark Twain’s vintage cat Bambino via


Lucky 13 via


Happy Friday the 13th and good luck! ;-)

Linked by Imogen Howson

Linked - Imogen Howson

This is a debut and a book that I haven’t heard much about, so I came into it fairly blind, which seems to be pretty rare now that I’m part of the book blogging community. I had hoped that this would work in this book’s favor, but unfortunately it didn’t.


Things started off alright. They could have been better – I would pretty confused as to how the world worked and if they were in America (apparently they’re on another planet? Something?), so that cooled my interest in continuing – but I was reading and I was mildly interested in knowing what would happen next. Unfortunately, the further I read, the less interested I became.


I just didn’t care about Elissa enough. She was freaking out about everything (often for a good reason, but still) and I could tell that a character she “hated” would probably become the love interest and her mother was villain-ified or whatever and I just couldn’t take it anymore. I just didn’t care enough for Elissa to find out what was going on.


Would I have liked this book better if I knew what was going on with their society and such and wasn’t so confused? Quite possibly, yes, but I think the fact that I had trouble connecting with the main character was the biggest thing against this book. Perhaps you’ll enjoy it more if you like futuristic sci-fi stuff where everything isn’t all clear from the beginning, you might like this, but if you’re like me and would like to at least kind of understand how the futuristic stuff does and does not work before being thrown right into it, you might not be a fan.

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Scarlet - Marissa Meyer

I hate it when I just don’t enjoy a beloved series that just about everyone else seems to love, but that was yet again the case with the second book in Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles. I wasn’t a fan of Cinder, and I was equally disappointed in Scarlet, although for some different reasons.


My main issue with this book were the characters. I wasn’t a fan of Cinder because I spent much of the last book wanting to shake her for not figuring out the many twists I solved in the first fifty or so pages. Even though there weren’t any twists that I figured out early on in this book, I was already annoyed with Cinder and was prepared to dislike her further, which is probably one of the reasons why I did. Therefore, the fact that Cinder’s storyline was the most interesting one to me was ruined by the fact that I didn’t care about the main character involved in that storyline.


I had hoped that I would like Scarlet and Wolf better, but I just didn’t care about them. I think this might be partially due to the fact that I started this book over the summer as an audiobook. I don’t have a good relationship with audiobooks, and this was no exception. I wasn’t a fan of the voice used for Scarlet, so I was already kind of annoyed with her. I initially liked Wolf, but I wasn’t a fan of him once he got obsessed with Scarlet.


Thorne was pretty much the only character that I liked, and I don’t think I got the full of effect of him because I read this book really quickly, doing a lot of skimming so I could get it over with already. He reminded me of characters like Sturmhound and Kenji (from Siege and Storm and Unravel Me, respectively), and he was treated much like they were – as nuisances that no one bothered to take seriously. If we could have gotten rid of everyone else and just focused on him, or if people wouldn’t be so serious and annoyed by him all the time, I probably would have liked this book better.


All my problems with characters aside, I did kind of like the story. Well, I was mostly interested in Prince Kai’s royal predicaments. He wasn’t my favorite character, but I tended to be more interested when things were happening on his storyline. It wasn’t my favorite, but it was the most interesting.


I probably won’t continue on with this series, but I’ll never say never. Maybe the twist on Rapunzel will finally draw me into this story, but it’s not looking likely. I wish I could have loved these books as much as everyone else, but that just doesn’t seem to be the case with this series.

This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

This Song Will Save Your Life - Leila Sales

I wanted to love this book, I really did – I just couldn’t. I couldn’t even force myself to the end, where even critics of this book seemed to be happy with the story. I read over a third of the book, but I couldn’t push myself to finish it, even though it’s short.


From the very beginning, I was kind of iffy about this book. I had been quite excited for it after reading a lot of raving reviews, but then I saw a few less-than-impressed reviews sprinkled in and it made me slightly wary. Then I started reading it, and I got even more wary, especially with the first chapter ended with this:


You think it’s so easy to change yourself, but it’s impossible.

So I decided on the next logical step: to kill myself. (page 21)


This put my guard up right away. It just seemed like a really blasé approach to suicide. It was only the first chapter, so I wasn’t prepared to write off the whole book, but it definitely made me nervous, and the next chapter, involving the suicide attempt, didn’t make me feel better at all. The whole tone of it was very blasé again, like it was just something Elise was doing for kicks and giggles. And she kept saying things like “Oh, you can’t judge me for what I’m doing, because this is something that’s different for everyone” and the like, and it just seemed like she was covering her bases so that you couldn’t judge her at all, in a good or bad way.


I kept reading, though, even as I started to dislike Elise more and more. I did feel bad for her because of all the bullying, but it was hard for feel sorry for the person behind all the judgements and bad attitude.


Still, I almost made it halfway through the book. I was trying to finish it because I had read critical reviews that still praised the ending, but apparently I just wasn’t meant to get that far. This was the paragraph, about a teacher of Elise’s, that stopped me for good:


This woman. This horrifying woman. With her muted sweaters and her sensible heels. All those times I had eaten lunch in her classroom, watching videos of Mandelbrot sets on her computer, she was secretly, insidiously, monitoring me. (page 112 – emphasis mine)


Before I say anything, here’s a little context to the scene. Elise spent the previous night out DJing and came back home sometime after midnight to stay up until the sun rose practicing DJing, so she barely got any sleep. With the DJing and such, she’s been getting a lot less sleep lately, and she’s apparently been a lot quieter than normal. She then goes on to complain about all the other people who should be getting attention, but certainly not her.


I’m sorry, but I can’t take this. I could barely handle the way Elise griped about her caring parents (yes, over half a year after your suicide attempt, they are still worried about you) and a girl who had saved her (yes, calling 911 because you’re bleeding out is so cruel and such a backstabbing thing to do, it’s not like she possibly saved your life or anything), but this was the last straw for me.


I’m currently an Education major in school. One of the things we cover in our introductory education classes is the fact that you need to report child abuse. If you think a student might be suffering from abuse at home and you don’t say anything, you can get in serious trouble. Students can be very vulnerable, and suicide and self harm are also very real possiblities that you, as a teacher, need to look out for. So, yes, there is a very good chance that your teacher is keeping an eye on you and is worried about the girl who attempted suicide less than a year ago. She is concerned about you, and all you can do is put her down and act like she’s spying on you just because she freaking pays attention.


At this point, I didn’t care if the story was freaking amazing after that point, I was just done. I couldn’t deal with Elise’s attitude, and while I am so very, very sorry that things like this happen to people, I can’t feel that sorry for a girl who doesn’t seem to realize how privileged she is and who judges the few people who do treat her well. I’m sure this is an important story that needs to be told, but it’s apparently doesn’t need to be told to me.

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

Second Chance Summer - Morgan Matson

This book. Oh god, this book. Just warning you, this is probably going to be a fairly long and rambling review. I’m actually writing it the same day that I finished the book, which I rarely do, but I just had to talk about it while it was still oh so fresh in my mind.


First of all, I’ll address the rating. If you’re like me, one of the first things you looked at in this post was the quick rating up at the top. I like using the word ratings at the end of the reviews, but I still like giving a second, more logical rating above. Well, for this book, I decided not to – I just basically said “it’s complicated.” Actually, I literally just said that, and I’m not using the word “literally” incorrectly.


For me, this book has two different ratings. There’s the rating for the first half of the book or so, when it focuses on Taylor’s friendship and romantic drama, when her father seems more like a subplot than the driving force, and when I was least interested in the story. But then you get to the last hundred or so pages, when her father takes center stage and emotions are high and I was just so enthralled in the whole thing.


First the less positive review. For the first half or so, this book was a pretty solid 3, 3.5 star book for me. I had trouble really caring about Taylor. She was a slightly frustrating protagonist at time, especially when she was angsting about her friendship drama with Lucy or her romantic drama with Henry. When we finally find out what was the big scandal that caused the two rifts, about halfway through the book, I think, I just stared at the book in disbelief. Seriously?! All this drama and angsting and that’s the reason you all hate each other? I’m not going to spoil the reason behind the fights, but I’m telling you I thought they, especially Henry, were making a huge deal out of something that was bad but not that bad. And then there was some romantic drama near the end, where the focus should have been and mostly was on Taylor’s dad, and I just wanted to shake the book and tell it that the romantic drama was not needed! We have emotional punches to dodge, we don’t need to deal with your relationship issues! And sorry for all the italics but I just needed to emphasize things!


I also had trouble keeping track of many of the characters. I remembered who her siblings were, but there were so many secondary characters, and characters that were probably main characters, that I just could no keep track of; in the scenes where multiple people were gathered together, it took me a few seconds to remember who everyone was, even if I knew basically who the character was. I just had trouble connecting with the story in the first half, even though I was interested in the story that was waiting to be told.


And then we get to the second half, mainly the last hundred pages or so. That was when the rating, for me at least, rockets up to a very emotional 5 freaking stars. So emotional, just gutting. I began to care about Taylor more. I felt like my heart was going through a wringer along with her. There was a little bit of romantic drama during this time, but mostly things were about her dad and her relationship with her whole family.


One of the most poignant storylines regarding her dad involved her inability to say that she loved him. She knew that she loved him, he knew that she loved him, but she just couldn’t say the words, especially because it would be like admitting that he just wasn’t going to get better and that he would never hear it again. Even when you love someone like a parent or a sibling, it’s just so damn hard to say it sometimes, and the whole storyline really echoed with me and kind of made me want to call my parents and tell them I love them (although I’m just too much like Taylor in that regard to do so, at least not in my current state of mind).


And the last thirty pages – god, such a short section, but I could not get through it. It took me forever to read those last thirty or so pages because I literally (again, using that word truthfully) had to set aside the book for a few moments after just reading a couple of paragraphs. I was so glad that I had a box of tissues nearby and that my roommate was away for the afternoon. Sometimes I had to get up and get a drink of water and just walk around. I can’t remember ever being so emotional about a book. Even in books with dead parents, you normally see the story “after” and some memories of “before,” but you rarely see “during.” I don’t know how Morgan Matson was even able to write it – there were times I wasn’t able to read because my eyes were full of tears and I was laughing at myself for being so affected by a book. Mostly, though, I was laughing because it was the only thing keeping me from full-out sobbing. Just so emotional.


When I finally finished it, I just had to start doing things. I had so much pent-up energy, and I’m not quite sure why. Also, my eyes were tired – I can’t remember crying so much that my eyes were tired afterward, but apparently that’s a thing. And I just had to sit down and write a really freaking long review and get out everything I needed to say. And even though I knew what I wanted to say, I was still so emotionally drained and conflicted over this book. I tagged it with four stars, but you now know that it was so much more than just one number for me. That’s why it’s getting the 4.5 star word.


Because, for all the sadness and tears, this really, truly was an emotional, haunting, and lovely book.

Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller

Where the Stars Still Shine - Trish Doller

I read a whole string of emotional and beautiful books in a row, and this book was no exception. I enjoyed Trish Doller’s debut, Something Like Normal, but I wasn’t as blown away by it as many other people seemed to be. Well, this book totally blew me away, and I am not officially a huge Doller fan.


Callie is the type of protagonist that, even when you get mad at her, you’re more mad at the situations that led her to making mad decisions, rather than mad at her. Everytime she pushed away her father, hid secrets, and felt like she wasn’t worth anything because of her past, I didn’t get mad at her – I was mad that she ever felt that these were things she had to do, that she was worthless. Even when I wanted to shake her and make her bond with her dad, I wasn’t mad at her because it just fit in with her character so much. It didn’t feel like she was acting that way to draw out the book and add drama – she was acting that way because it worked with her character and her story.


Then there were all the interesting secondary characters. Callie’s dad, stepmother, adorable half brothers, grandmother, the girl at the bookstore (Ariel, I believe)… there were plenty of interesting secondary characters. One of my (minor) issues with the book was that we didn’t get more time with them, especially her family. The fact that she actually has a huge family, and a Greek one, an identity she didn’t even know she had, is a big part of her identity, so I wish it could have played an even bigger part of the story.


Unfortunately, some of the secondary characters I was supposed to root for didn’t leave the same impact on me. Mainly, I didn’t care that much about her cousin. There were times I liked Kat, but there were times she was too pushy and it rubbed me the wrong way. She kind of grew on me by the end, but not quite as much as she was probably supposed to. There were also her friends, who I didn’t care for as much as I probably was supposed to because they were the people Kat brought into the story rather than people that came into Callie’s life in a more organic manner.


The romance was also quite interesting and heartbreaking and swoon-inducing, but sometimes I felt like there was just a bit too much romantic drama. The last burst of drama on the romantic front just seemed like too much, especially with everything else going on.


The ending was great, though, and for one specific reason. I feel like no matter how big a part family plays in a story, the last scene is always just the protagonist and the love interest. The second to last scene could be an amazing one celebrating family, but the last scene still has to have romance in it, even if it’s subtle. (I don’t think this is a spoiler, but feel free to skip it if you haven’t read it yet)

Therefore, it was awesome and amazing and great that the last scene wasn’t just between Callie and Alex, it was between Callie and her mother, with her dad in the beginning of it. Family plays a huge part in her life, so it was great to see the book end on it. Especially since, for all her faults and problems, I didn’t hate Callie’s mother.

(show spoiler)



So, overall, this was a great, amazing book. I had some small issues, but they were very minor and rarely got in my way of enjoying this book, for which I am very grateful. I’ll definitely be checking out future Doller books!

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Amy & Roger's Epic Detour - Morgan Matson

I wanted to read Morgan Matson’s second book, Second Chance Summer, first, but this book was at the library first. And I’m kind of glad it was.


This book certainly has its sad and emotionally heavy scenes, especially when you flash back to the scenes where Amy’s dad is still alive, but it was the kind of emotionally devastating book that Second Chance Summer was (sorry, I may do a lot of comparing of the two since I just read the second book and already have the review written, even though this one goes up first). This book seemed to have a lot more lighter moments throughout the whole book.


I wasn’t always sure what I thought of Amy. She was often the stereotypical YA protagonist – shy and unsure of herself, a tad insecure and unable to go for what she wants, especially when it opposes what her slightly-controlling-but-certainly-not-the-worst-YA-has-to-offer mother. This was a bit odd, though, because she had all these personality traits that seemed like it contradicted the stereotype – she was an actress, and seemed quite secure in her acting ability, and she had had romantic relationships in the past, even if they weren’t always serious (but, how many serious relationships is a seventeen-ish year old really going to have going into her senior year? For most, that is not many at all, if any at all). She seemed like the perfect type of character to be different, so I don’t know if her depression over her dad was turning her into a stereotype or if she was just always like this. I think it’s the former, but it’s just hard to tell, even when she talks about “Old Amy.”


The romance between Amy and Roger was often quite cute. Sure, there seemed to be more romantic drama than necessary, especially involving Roger’s ex, but I didn’t mind it too much because I got through the book in just a few days, so the drama didn’t seem to drag on too much. There were also some interesting secondary characters that we met along the way that I wish we had had the opportunity to get to know better.


I loved the little touches throughout the book – the receipts, the state fact sheets, the pictures and postcards and other assortments that people would logically accumulate during a multiple day road trip across the US. It was a nice touch and it was fun to read them.


This isn’t really a pet peeve or anything, just something I noticed – Amy, or perhaps author Matson, seemed equally delighted, confused, and obsessed with some things from the most eastern states of the Midwest. Things I’ve grown up always knowing, like Chick-fil-A, were apparently unknown to them. There was also the whole Louisville pronunciation thing. I’m not from Louisville, but my mother is and I still have family living there, so I know the correct way to say it, and that way, which I’ve been taught since birth basically, was always “Loo-a-vulle.” This definitely more of a pet peeve for me, but people kept correcting Amy’s irritating habit of being like most people and calling it “Lou-ee-ville” and saying that it was “Loo-vulle.” I don’t know if I just don’t know how pronunciation works or if there’s some weird way of saying Louisville, but that bugs me because it looked like they were leaving out the “a” sound. And, for my final nitpick that really had no bearing on the book or rating but that I just have to get out: seriously?

There are multiple (and by multiple, I mean at least three or four people) who have either never left their home states or have only been to one or two other states? I know the characters are fairly young relatively speaking and that California is big, but at my point in life, only about a year or two older than some of these characters (possibly even the same age or younger, who knows – the ages were a bit confusing as well), I’ve been to about twenty states besides my own, and the number might be even higher because I wasn’t quite sure how many states I’ve passed through just getting to other states. Sure, I live in a part of the US where the states are smaller, but they aren’t that small, I don’t live on the east coast in Rhode Island or anything. And, I think this might be referring to Second Chance Summer, but it’s the same author, so I’m going to bring it up anyway – how have you gone so long in life without driving anywhere for more than a few hours? I’m pretty sure the protagonist was shocked when it took them about four hours to get somewhere because of the slow driver, because that was the longest she’s been in a car. My family spent the summer basically doing a road trip up the east coast for college searching for my sister – we would have loved to only spend four hours or so a day in the car, but it was normally about twice that.


Wow, OK, that got long, and, like I said, didn’t have a huge impact on my review of the book, but I do know that it took me out of the book a bit and confused me because I just wasn’t able to relate with the protagonist on these things at all. So, it probably did affect my reading without my even realizing it.


So, there you go, a much longer review than I was planning. If you didn’t want to read the whole thing, here’s all you need to know – this book had its sad moments, but mostly it was a rambling and entertaining trip of a book, and yes, I say that to be punny. Even though Second Chance Summer has the pun connection. Maybe I shouldn’t have read these two books so close together, they might blend together in my mind now.


Yet, I regret nothing. Not even this really long review.

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea - April Genevieve Tucholke

When I first saw this cover, I was intrigued, but pretty covers do not always good books make. When I read the summary, I thought it sounded interesting, but good books can have bad summaries and the opposite is certainly true. Then I started reading rave reviews, I was getting properly excited. When I got it from the library, I was so excited. So, that made me even more disappointed when I made it about a fourth of the way through and couldn’t bring myself to read anymore.


One of my main problems with this book was main character Violet. Now, I love the name “Violet.” If a character is named Violet, I really want to like her. Well, unfortunately this particular Violet seemed to besmirch the awesomeness of the name, at least in my opinion. She started off alright, just a little irritating. She was the type of girl who liked old-fashioned things and had been drinking coffee from an extremely young age (now, this is a pet peeve of mine, but luckily the book addressed the fact that the coffee was not good for her height during the fun period of puberty in which she started consuming way too much caffeine). Unfortunately, my good feelings toward Violet kind of ended there. Mostly Violet seemed very pretentious and self-absorbed, to the point where I was agreeing with and cheering on the town drunk or whatever the kept popping up to call Violet and her family snobs. One of my biggest problems with Violet and her elitism was when she went grocery shopping and was amazed to see that soon-to-be-love-interest River knew how to shop the right way. Um, excuse me, but how the hell is there a right way?! Especially when the “right way” just seems to mean that you don’t just stop to smell the roses, but you smell every single freaking hunk of cheese you can get your hands on as well. I’m sorry that some of us have lives that keep us from spending hours shopping for a handful of ingredients.


Then there’s love interest River. I definitely saw some instalove going on, and even if that’s meant to happen to show that River is Not OK or whatever, it was much too irritating for me. River started off alright, but he quickly reached Violet levels of pretentiousness or whatever. I didn’t care about him, I didn’t care about Violet, I didn’t care about his mysterious past – all these things certainly made it hard for me to give a damn about the romance, which seemed to be picking up way too much by the time I put it aside.


Then there are the secondary characters. There’s Violet’s twin brother, whom she apparently hates with a passion (although River seems to think that she really loves him or something, which I didn’t see, and I was stuck in the freaking girl’s head), and who just didn’t feel like much of a character. Was he a misogynistic jerk who could care less about the people around him, or was he a scared and insecure little boy putting up a scary mask to push people away? I felt like I was supposed to hate him, but there’s just wasn’t enough of him for me to even care about him, let alone share in Violet’s despising of him.


The thing that really ticked me off, though, was the treatment of Sunshine. At first, I thought she was Violet’s best friend, but apparently she’s just the neighbor Violet hangs out with because she has no one else to talk to or something? And she possibly likes Violet’s brother and loves to flirt with him or whatever, and Violet is always belittling and judging and basically slut shaming Sunshine, both out loud and in her head. I get the feeling that I’m supposed to look down on Sunshine as well, but honestly I just felt so bad for the poor girl. Her author certainly didn’t seem to like her, so I might as well be her one supporter. The poor, misunderstood girl.


So, with Violet and River getting more irritating and instaloving, the mystery being weird and disorienting and hard to follow, and the secondary characters being judged and not fleshed out nearly enough, I just couldn’t deal with it anymore. I couldn’t bear to be in the head of such a snobby girl, especially when I feel like she’s not supposed to come across as a snob. I wish I had loved this book like so many other reviewers have, but obviously it is just not the book for me.

Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder

Touch of Power - Maria V. Snyder

If you’ve read my reviews of Maria V. Snyder’s Study trilogy, you know that I really loved them, and luckily this book, of a different but similar fantasy world, was just as interesting.


It certainly had things in common with the Study books. Avry starts the book off in a bit of a desperate point, jailed and ready for execution before she’s narrowly saved. Rather than being locked in a castle, Avry is forced to travel for months, but with an equally dangerous job. There are funny and interesting side characters and a stoic and often broody love interest.


All in all, I feel like there isn’t much about this book that really makes it stand out. It often seemed quite generic and by the book, yet it was almost always entertaining. Looking back a few weeks later, I feel like it’s the type of book that would normally be quite slow for me in many parts, but I remember that I read it in a fairly short time and was entertained pretty much the entire time. It seemed like a four star book for me – enjoyable but not amazing or mind-blowing or anything – yet it was entertaining like a 4.5-or-higher.


The ending seemed a bit convenient, I have to admit. Let’s just say that Avry got out of a jam that it certainly seems like she should have remained stuck in, but it’s a trilogy, and the show must go on.


This is a fairly short review, but that’s because there really isn’t much to say about this book. It was quite entertaining and made it clear that I am a fan of Snyder’s books. I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel to see the aftermath of the climax.

The Art of Wishing by Lindsay Ribar

The Art of Wishing - Lindsay Ribar

You don’t seem to run across many YA books with genies in them, and that’s just a shame. Also a shame: I just didn’t like this book as much as I was hoping.


Things started off well. I appreciated the fact that Margo wanted to be the lead in the school musical. Why was this such a big deal for me? That would be because I’m starting to get sick of shy protagonists. I am a very shy person, so it’s nice seeing some equally shy protagonists, but at this point too many YA authors seem to think that shy protagonists automatically make them good girls, especially when they include outgoing, more sexually open friends/”mean girls” as foils. So, I was quite excited to actually have a protagonist that seeks the spotlight and feels confident in her abilities and self esteem. Her best friend also seemed like she might be shyer than Margo, at least when we were first introduced to her.


Things also started off interesting. I was intrigued by the genie aspect of the story and I felt pretty invested in Margo’s theatre story. Margo could be mildly annoying, but for the most part I liked her. The genie was introduced and he seemed fairly interesting as well.

Then the romance started. I was expecting it, but I was also expected to at least find it cute. Unfortunately, I just didn’t care for it that much. The romance took over slightly and I didn’t care about what happened between the two of them. Margo also didn’t seem as outgoing as she originally once – she still seemed pretty confident, but she only really had one friend and seemed kind of shy whenever she wasn’t on a real stage. Her best friend also seemed to turn into (or was all along and I just didn’t realize it) a stereotypical YA BFF, one who is way more confident and is always trying to drag the protagonist along to things and the like.


The last third or so just seemed to get kind of crazy. There were some weird, kind of emotional whiplash scenes and some twists that I saw coming. The last twist, the one that sets you up for a sequel, seemed pretty selfish on Margo’s part, although I’m pretty sure it was meant to be viewed as selfless. It seems like the type of ending that would lead to a romantic happy ending, but I’m sure the sequel will set up romantic drama anyway.


In the end, I had trouble connecting with the protagonist. There were times when I felt that she was overreacting, which made it difficult for me to feel sympathetic for her. I was kind of bored and annoyed for probably the whole second half of the book and skimmed slightly so that it would be over sooner. I’m sure some people will find this book cute, but I was underwhelmed by it and don’t plan on sticking around for the sequel.


Also, this book got a redesign for its paperback release, which also goes with the cover of the second book, which is sad – I thought this cover was so adorable! It fit the book that I hoped to find and that I think other people will still find.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - Ransom Riggs

What a creepy and odd and delightful little book.


I knew this book had creepy pictures that were woven into the story, but that was about all that I knew before coming in. I didn’t know how the story would work or what exactly it was about, other than the peculiar children of Miss Peregrine’s Home. I mean, I read the summary, so I knew what that told me, but I still wasn’t quite sure what to expect.


From the beginning, though, I was interested. Jacob seemed like a real guy, which could be because the author is a boy, but I appreciated the fact that he didn’t seem over the top masculine or like a girl with an Adam’s apple. His grandfather was interesting and the stories of Miss Peregrine’s Home were interesting. As Jacob learns more about the stories and the real people behind them, I just got more and more interested in it.


What really made this story interesting were the pictures, of course. Some of them were fake-looking, some looked quite genuine, and some were downright disturbing. Seriously there are some creepy pictures in this book. But it’s a creepy book as well, so that’s not too surprising. I liked seeing how the pictures would fit into the story and learning more about the people beyond the picture.


The chapters were really long, so if you like lots of short chapters, you’re out of luck.

And, even though it intially doesn’t seem like it, this book does have a (slightly creepy, if you think about it – you’ll understand if you’ve read it) romance, so if you’re hoping to finally find a romance-free YA book, you’re out of luck again. There’s a huge cast of characters, to the point where I sometimes forgot who some of the secondary characters are, and some characters could do with a bit more fleshing out, but there are still plenty of interesting secondary characters.


I’m not quite sure why, but I just couldn’t give this book higher than four stars. It was entertaining and creepy and by the end I wanted to get my hands on the sequel (which doesn’t come out until next year – it takes a while to get creepy pictures, you know!), but it seemed like there was just something missing. It was entertaing, but it didn’t blow me away.

Mind Games by Kiersten White

Mind Games - Kiersten White

To be honest, I was kind of expecting to hate this book. I was a fan of Kiersten White’s Paranormalcy trilogy, but by the time the third book rolled around I felt that I was outgrowing it a bit and ended up looking less favourably on it the more I thought about it.

I read some bad reviews of this book as well, so I really didn’t think I would like this. I mostly read it because it was short and had been on my to-read shelf for so long. So, imagine my surprise when I kind of liked it. It was great literature or anything, that’s for sure. But a pretty quick and mindlessly enjoyable book, at least half the time.


I preferred the younger sister, Fia, over the blind Annie, and it made me feel a little bad about getting so annoyed with a YA character that actually has a disability, but her blindness definitely wasn’t the issue with me. Annie was just annoying to me because she seemed a bit too obsessed with her sister, especially with her drinking habits – every time her (admittedly underage) sister drinks alcohol or is in a situation where she might drink, Annie flips out. About halfway through the book, I was just rolling my eyes and trying to get done with Annie’s sections as quickly as possible.


The world-building wasn’t the greatest – I was often left a bit confused as to what was happening and how things worked. Fia was really screwed up, but she was interesting to read about and I didn’t care about the confusing world-building as much when it was her chapter – at least, when something was happening with her.


So, this wasn’t a great book or anything, but it was pretty enjoyable for a quick read. There are a lot of things that could be improved, but it was interesting enough that I plan on checking out the sequel. I’ve definitely begun to outgrow White’s writing, but it still works for a quick and fluffy read.

That Time I Joined The Circus by J.J. Howard

That Time I Joined the Circus - J.J. Howard

For some unknown reason, I was pretty excited about this new debut. Maybe it was the title and premise – joining the circus?! – or perhaps it was the pretty cover, or maybe it was just because it was a new debut and I always come into them with relatively high hopes. Really, it was probably a combination of all three. Unfortunately for me, it didn’t go as well as I had hoped.


The two-page prologue started off by informing us that the MC was a bit of a music snob, but because she admitted it rather than showing it to us without acknowledging it, it didn’t seem like it would be a big problem. Then there was this line on page 5:


“You’re so funny!” I said in my best fake voice. “For a retarded person, I mean.”


Maybe I’ve just been lucky and haven’t come across many books that just throw the word “retarded” around, but it was pretty shocking to just randomly come across it without it being addressed. They just move on to more banter or something, making it clear that this is supposed to be the way Real Teens talk, and while yes, unfortunately, there are teenagers who easily throw around the word “retarded,” do you really need to use a term like that to make your dialogue seem “authentic”? You couldn’t capture real teens without using an offensive term?


Anyway, moving on. That was my first sign that I might not be a big fan of this book, but I kept going because five pages isn’t nearly enough to figure out if I like a book or not. But main character Lexi kept doing some things that seemed to want to tick me off. Calling her “best friend” or at least best girl friend “Adventure Barbie”? Getting a job as the substitute teacher when she still has a semester and a half left of high school (OK, this probably will only tick off someone like me who is currently is school to become a teacher), especially when it’s clear she seems to treat it more as day care than an actual school. The fact that she insists on calling her father Gavin instead of Dad and seems overall kind of pretentious… Really, all of these things do not make for a good book for me.


Lexi is also a Jane Austen fan. Now, this is not a bad thing, of course. Most book bloggers are Jane Austen fans and I have plenty of friends that fangirl over Jane Austen and the like. So, I kind of rolled my eyes when Lexi mentioned loving Jane Austen, because it seems like that’s the only way to prove that your character is a real reader, but I didn’t care that much. Then, when introducing someone to Jane Austen, she said not everyone gets Jane Austen. This bothered me – it was like she was saying that not everyone has to like Jane Austen, but the people who do like her are the smart people who understand what she’s saying completely. Now, I’m not saying that’s what the author intended, but that’s the way it came across to me personally. I consider myself a fairly smart person and I’m obviously a big reader, but I’m not a Jane Austen fan. I’ve only read part of Emma (I Sparknoted the rest – I know, I’m a bad students sometimes) and all of Northanger Abbey (while also Sparknoting it – what, it’s helpful!), but I wasn’t a big fan of either book. I’m just not the type of person who enjoys the kind of books that Jane Austen writes – I prefer more modern books. I don’t look down on people who do enjoy her books and I hope that they do the same for me, so it just ticked me off that the MC seemed to be suggesting that I’m just not smart enough to understand her writing and that’s the only reason I don’t like her books. I know this probably isn’t the author’s intention and it barely has anything to do with the book itself, but it was just one more reason for me not to look this book.


Not to mention that Lexi seemed very judgmental of those paperback romances you can buy at the grocery store. She reads them, a lot, but she seems to be putting them down at the same time. Yet, when her friend suggests that the romance books might be silly, she instantly gets defensive. I’m not a romance novel fan, but I was already offended by her reaction and I know I would be even more offended if I liked romance novels. Again, it was quite small and probably wasn’t something the author or most other people would think about, but it was yet another thing that bothered me.


So, around page 60 or so, I decided I was done. I wasn’t totally interested in the story and I was quite annoyed with Lexi/Xandra/X (yeah, that was something else confusing – the summary says Lexi, but for the first thirty or so pages she introduces herself as Xandra because her name is Alexandra and most people with that name go by Xandra, right? – again, probably just me and it was probably because at that point I was just looking for things to nitpick). So, I decided to mostly just skim the chapter titles because I was interested to see if any of them had songs I recognized (oh, yeah, each chapter opens with two lines of lyrics, and unlike many books that do this, I actually recognized some of them!).


I actually ended up enjoying the story more when I was skimming it, though. I would read the last few and first few paragraphs of each chapter and would randomly skim pages as I flipped through the pages. Sure, I missed plenty that way, and I’m not going to claim that I know completely what happened, but I did get a good enough idea of the story to know that I probably would have liked it more if the protagonist didn’t frustrate me so much. Maybe I would have ended up giving this book a higher rating if I read the whole thing through, but I don’t think it should be my responsibility to keep going when I’m bored just because a book might interest me more later on.


So, the main reason I couldn’t really enjoy this book and read the whole thing without skimming is my dislike of the main character. Skimming the majority of the book made it clear that I might have enjoyed this story otherwise, though, so I think there’s a good chance I’ll check out future efforts from this author and hope that I like the protagonist better!

The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

The Distance Between Us - Kasie West

I thought Kasie West’s Pivot Point was pretty enjoyable, but this book has cemented my love of this author. Maybe I just prefer it when there isn’t paranormal drama mixed in – I like the romantic and family drama much more!


I don’t think I have much to say about this book, though, but that’s definitely not a sign that this was a bad or lacklustre book (obviously).


First off, there’s Caymen. She is hilarious. People keep saying that she’s very dry and sarcastic, but rather than coming off as an informed trait, West really shows the humor. Caymen is awesome. She’s always making sarcastic little comments with a straight face so that so many people have trouble figuring out if it’s a joke but I like to think that I totally get them. She never seemed too whiny or irritating to me.


Same with her best friend. I have a pretty uneven relationship with best friends in YA, normally not so good. I loved Skye, though. She seems like an equally awesome person, even if she doesn’t have the same awesome and dry humor. Same with Skye’s boyfriend and plenty of other great secondary characters – all hilarious and pretty real despite the short length of this book.


And there’s the romance. Well, frankly, it’s just adorable. Xander is awesome and not a jerk despite his great privilege. Their moments together are just cute. There isn’t too much needless romantic drama and family drama. I mean, there is drama, but it’s all entertaining and fun.


So, yeah, this was just an adorable book. Pretty short and fluffy, but I feel like it’s from the upper branch of the fluffy books – not the kind of book that makes you feel guilty for enjoying, just the kind that makes you smile the whole time. I definitely want to read more from West, especially her contemporary works.

School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins

School Spirits - Rachel Hawkins

This’ll be a pretty short review because it’s for a pretty short and fluffy book.

This is a companion book (series?) to the Hex Hall trilogy. I really enjoyed the Hex Hall trilogy, even during its slightly-over-the-top moments. This book centers on the cousin of the main character from Hex Hall, and I think that relationship works well for the book as well. This is the younger “cousin” of the Hex Hall books. It does seem slightly younger and less funny, but overall a nice and easy read.


Main character Izzy isn’t nearly as snark-happy as Sophie, which is a bit of a disappointment. However, her love interest makes up for her slight blandness. Dexter is very interesting and flamboyent and entertaining. Izzy is definitely the more angsty and subdued of the duo. And the romantic tension is a bit silly, but you’re still kind of rooting for these crazy kids. And I do think they are kids, or Izzy is anyway – she’s 15 and apparently a sophomore, but when she talks about the “bathing suit zone” in relation to the seriously lacking sex talk her mother apparently gave her a few years ago, she seems much younger.


I don’t know if it’s just the copy I got, but there seemed to be quite a few mistakes. Most of them seemed to be stylistic, though. There were some typos, but a lot of the formatting things that irritated me seemed like they might be deliberent. The author seems to enjoy squashing two people’s dialogue into one paragraph by adding a sentence or two in between them to somehow connect them. This just leaves me often confused as to who is talking, so it was a bit irritating. There were also a lot of ellipses. I’ve never been the type of person to care about ellipses in books, and I probably use them too much in my own writing (especially in texts – I seem to prefer ending my texts with ellipses rather than periods and I’m really not sure why), but for some reason it kind of bugged me in this book. I think that further lended to the younger feeling of the book.


Despite some of the minor issues I had with this book, though, it was pretty fun. The ending was a bit crazy but overall it was a nice book to pass the time with. It only took me about a day to read this (started it right before bed one night, finished a bit before bed the next night), and it was just quick and fluffy fun. The ending seemed to suggest that there’ll be more books in the series, but I didn’t see anything on Goodreads, so who knows at this point. If there are more books I’ll probably check them out, but I’m not hearbroken if this is it either.

The Nature of Jade by Deb Caletti

The Nature of Jade - Deb Caletti

Ever since I read Deb Caletti’s Stay about two years ago, I have liked her writing. The first few books I read from her were quite good, but then the next bunch weren’t nearly as interesting to me. Unfortunately, this book falls in the latter category as well.


It’s even sadder because the book started off pretty promising. There are interesting looks at elephants and each chapter opens with a paragraph about animal behavior and such that’s related to the chapter. Jade has Panic Disorder, something you don’t read much about in YA, and she regularly goes to and has a good relationship with her therapist. She’s in the important transition period of senior year of high school and college is something lurking at the back of her mind and the story. And, Jade reminds me of myself – well, this was mainly because she apparently sucks at estimating height, age, and distance and can’t remember quarts, liters, and such, but this is exactly like me. I got way too excited when I saw the mere sentence devoted to this because I could say that this was “literarly me” and not worrying about misusing the word “literarly.”


Things kind of went downhill, though. Jade’s obsession with the boy in the red jacket – and I do think it’s an obsession and not a crush or something – is too much too fast.

Their relationship after they actually interact also went too quickly for me. Maybe it was because it was a short book and needed to be more fleshed out, but I’m not sure even that would help. I wasn’t rooting for their relationship, and that makes it even harder to get interested in the story and the problems they run into.


I didn’t like Jade’s relationship with her mother either. I feel like I say this all the time lately, but she just didn’t seem to understand her mother, nor did she seem like she wanted to, and spent most of her time being whiny and judgmental of her mother. She mentions being close to her mother sometimes, but the way their relationship is handled during the story makes this much too difficult to believe.


There’s also a bit of slut shaming, quite a bit of it aimed at one of Jade’s apparent “best friends,” although I certainly hope my closest friends never think about me the way Jade does about this friend. Her friend also becomes close with a cheerleader who kind of joins their group, which seems to be another ding against her, because of course this cheerleader is dumb and feels the need to wear extremely short skirts simply because she is involved in a sport where she waves around pom poms. She was just one victim of the shallowness that seemed to happen to too many characters and that kept me from getting more invested in this story.


I hurried through the end of the book because I just wanted to be done with it. It’s disappointing how little I ended up liking it since it started out pretty well, but that’s just the way things go sometimes. This book was just too difficult for me to get interested in, even during the parts I liked.