Radio Silence

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Rating: 3.5 stars

“I couldn’t quite believe how much I seriously loved Aled Last, even if it wasn’t in the ideal way that would make it socially acceptable for us to live together until we die.”

I have mixed feelings about this book. I loved a lot of it, but there was this off-putting feeling about it as well that has made me not like it either. I will say as of right now, the rating I have given it will remain, and when I give it more thought, I may change it.

I did really like the characters a lot, I thought they were very well developed and special, and just overall realistic.

I really liked the concept of having a platonic relationship. In most young adult books, there never the main focus of a book, they’re always in the backdrop. It’s always focused on romance, and then having the friendships basically as subplots, but as much as I love romances, I feel as though it’s unrealistic. Friendships are key factors in life, maybe even a bigger role than that significant others because friends are more likely to last longer than other relationships unless they get married, and even then, some marriages fail.

I cannot exactly relate to this whole platonic friendship exactly because I don’t have many friends, I only have one, and even then it doesn’t even feel like a full-time friendship. And of course, I’ve had friends in the past, but I don’t really remember much about their lives, or our friendship altogether. But this book only made me want a friend, someone like Aled, or even Frances.

“Being clever was, after all, my primary source of self-esteem. I’m a very sad person, in all senses of the word, but at least I was going to get into university.” 

I do appreciate how this author has put non-heterosexual relationships in this book, and none of them were ever detested because of it. It was more so normal for people to be heterosexual. I also really liked the different types of sexuality that was presented in this novel, for example, Aled was Demi-sexual, which means that he isn’t sexually attracted to anyone, and is only willing to have sex or a relationship if they feel emotionally connected with another person. And that is what I am as well, so I’m glad I could relate in that aspect.

I also liked the diversity of the characters. Examples, Frances is biracial (Ethiopian and Caucasian), Aled is demisexual, Daniel is gay and Korean, Carys is a lesbian, and Raine is Pansexual and Indian. I mean you don’t typically see this many diverse characters in young adult, and I’m really glad the author decided to portray these characters so uniquely.

I thought Frances’s mother was so cool, she seemed a bit strict at the beginning about school, and towards the end, she loosened up and was okay with Frances’s choices and how helpful and considerate she was to others, was really great. I think we all can say that Aled’s mother, wasn’t so great.

I think the whole concept of Carys running away was portrayed very weirdly. It was as if it was leading towards a mystery way, and it seemed random. I didn’t see why it needed to be conveyed that way, I understand that they didn’t know what exactly had happened to her, but if it was straightforward in the beginning, it didn’t really need the jumping around, mystery aspect.

The overall concept of Universe City was interesting because we only got a glimpse of the episode, and I felt that as a reader, it felt that it should have been explained more to us. The meaning behind it was really good but in the sense of how we discovered it almost felt rushed.

I did appreciate how the author even made the approach to add in abuse, because the way it was phrased in the story was that it isn’t the “normal” abuse that we see with physical and verbal, it was the fact that it was just harsh punishment for not living up to the parent’s expectations, and yet even then can deal great damage to someone’s emotional state. Which it did, after seeing how Aled’s mental health declined, was saddening, but also very realistic.

I think the thing that left me with feeling like I didn’t enjoy it as much is because I felt as though I didn’t fully connect with this story overall. I did feel excited when they went to Aled in the end, but I think the disconnection of Aled and Frances for a long while in the middle of the story, through off that balance for me.

Overall, I still am having mixed feelings about this novel. I really enjoyed the diversity and the different aspects it brought, but I still can’t give it higher than 3.5, for now. I still would recommend people to read this.

“And I’m platonically in love with you.”
“That was literally the boy-girl version of ‘no homo’, but I appreciate the sentiment.” 

My Plain Jane

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Rating: 3 stars

“If there was something strange in your neighborhood, you could, um, write the Society a letter, and they would promptly send an agent to take care of it.” 

I went into reading this book with thinking this book had the potential to be even greater than My Lady Jane because I was rather impressed of how well that book turned out because I had fairly low expectations of that book. But this, I was very disappointed with it.

I felt as though nothing really started to happen until it was halfway through, and so the beginning was just some set up for what happens later on, and I think this book could have been condensed into 300 or so pages instead of 450. In the end, I felt that it dragged on for longer than it really needed too; I found myself saying, “I have this much to read still?”

I wasn’t a huge fan of any of the main characters since it’s based on three, Charlotte, Alexander, and Jane. I think out of those three, I liked Charlotte the most, I found she had more character to her than the others. I, however, loved Helen, I think without the comical relief she brought, it wouldn’t have been as good. She was the equivalent of the little angel on the shoulder trying to get Jane to do the right thing and steer away from trouble.

I loved the writing in this story, it was formal but not too complex to have to push through to read it. This was a fairly fast read, and I was happy that I didn’t have to read Jane Eyre before reading this one, so it didn’t change my reading experience, and I don’t think even if I had read it beforehand, and probably understood the “inside jokes” inside this story, it would have influenced my rating.

I was also disappointed in the fact that it says there’s romance in this book, but it made it sound like it would be all throughout, but in reality, the only true romance we see is in the last twenty pages, and by then, I don’t even know if that was needed because we went for so long without having any. I also don’t know how I feel about the implied romance at the very end, maybe it was just to give Jane some hope after what she had gone through previously in the novel.

My rating is still set as a 3 because although it did disappoint me, and there are more things I didn’t like that I did, I still kept reading because it still captured my attention, and the whole ghost situation was interesting enough to me.

Overall, this was a pretty underwhelming story, and I wish that the plot had been either condensed or was set out evenly throughout this book, but it didn’t. I think that if you loved Jane Eyre, you might still like this book.

“Miss Eyre, listen to me. I believe there is a string below your rib, and it stretches across class and age to me, and it is attached beneath my rib. And if you find another suitable position, and leave me, you will pull it out. And I will bleed.”

Nightingale

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Rating: 1.5 stars

I want to give a thank you to NetGalley for this arc in exchange for an honest review!

I really liked the synopsis of this story, so I was pretty intrigued by that, and that’s why I requested to get an advanced copy. It was nothing like I had anticipated. I had to look a few times at the synopsis because I had to remind myself of what it was about and where it was taking place.

I thought this story took places in the 1800’s, but I was wrong, it was the 1950’s. I felt as though it didn’t really get that from the reading, it did a few times because of her mother’s type of living, making sure the house is neat while the husband is at work, and trying to get June to cook and clean as well. I also kind of saw it when June was set to date Robert, as basically an arranged marriage.

Another thing I was very confused about was the time change in the story. I felt as though there was no warning. It says either Institution or Days Past, and it may have been me being ignorant of that change but I also wasn’t quite sure what, Days Past meant because it didn’t make a connection to before she went into the institution.

I think this story was very confusing as well, the way the story was told during the Institution was hard to figure out what was going on. The characters are hard to keep track of and the reason why they were there. With June’s situation, I feel like that it was very under-explained, especially in the first half of the book. Also June’s roommate Eleanor was confusing too because she said she has died, but it’s hard to tell if it’s the mental illness talking or if she’s a ghost of some sort.

The idea of this novel being horror isn’t what I would call it. It was very underwhelming, it was more so of a mystery for me because I was trying to figure out what was happening throughout this book the entire time. It also had a similar sci-fi style, especially having to do with aliens. It jumps between before the institution and during, and it just keeps leaving me with trying to figure out why she’s there and trying to distinguish what’s real and what’s not. Even at the end, I still have no idea.

I will say that I did like June’s character the most because I feel like she’s well developed and she’s a very strong person. When her family disapproves of her passion for writing, and denial of her mental illness, she continues to do it regardless of their opinion, and she has gotten help. I also do feel sympathy for her since her parents refuse to accept her so they don’t visit while at the asylum.

I did also like the sexual orientation representation in this novel, I felt it gave it a little bit of diversity in this novel because I felt that the elements presented in this novel were very generic and standard that without it, it wouldn’t have made it somewhat interesting, character relation wise.

Overall, this was a very confusing novel and I’m not entirely sure if I’d read this again or purchase a copy when it comes out to give it another try.

I Believe in a Thing Called Love

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Rating: 2 Stars

“I believed, and still believe, that you can build your dreams brick by brick. That you can accomplish anything with persistence.” 

When I heard about this book, I was excited because it dealt with a love story but also dealt with Korean Dramas. When I was entering high school, and a couple years into it, I was Korean Drama obsessed, this was before I fell in love with reading. So, I finally got this book, oh boy was I disappointed.

I gave this book two stars because there were a few things I enjoyed in this book; one being her relationship with her father. I think that their relationship is so special and I wish my relationship with my parents were like theirs, but seeing how close she is with him and being able to rely on her father is really admirable.

Another thing I liked about this book was how Desi was willing to give up her interview for Stanford just to be with Luca since his mother was rushed to the hospital. I think that shows Desi’s character well.

“Real love: It was all about risk and having faith. There were no guarantees.” 

I really didn’t like the writing in this book, it was awful. It was so immature and unrealistic of how the characters would talk. It was a struggle to make it through reading, and because of it, I almost didn’t finish it.

I saw the point with the whole Korean Drama tactics, and the fact that they worked was good but what bothered me was as I said Desi was willing to give up her Stanford interview for Luca, he refused to forgive her at first when he discovered her plan to seduce him by using Korean Drama steps.

I thought that Luca was a promising character in the beginning, but as time went on, it’s as if his persona changed entirely, and it wasn’t as good, to begin with. The scene that bothered me the most was because of the writing was the part where Luca agreed to get back together with his old girlfriend but he immediately realized she was still her old self, and they broke up, again. It’s good for Luca on his part, and I’ll say that’s a step up for him but how that scene was written was the most cringy part in the entire novel because that isn’t how people talk.

Overall, the book was very disappointing to me and was mostly because of the writing style of this book which was clearly not for me, and that some of the characters were flat but the concept of this book was a good idea so I’ll give that to the author.

“These were the girls who had boyfriends. Not girls with keratosis on their upper arms, or morning breath, or who spent an inordinate number of evenings watching K dramas with their dads, or … girls who at the age of seventeen still hadn’t had boyfriends.”

The Last Time I Lied

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Rating: 4 stars

I want to give a thank you to NetGalley for this arc in exchange for an honest review!

“Everything is a game, Em. Whether you know it or not. Which means that sometimes a lie is more than just a lie. Sometimes it’s the only way to win.”

This book was a whirlwind for me. I don’t read many thriller novels, but I’ve seemed to be picking more and more up recently, and so far none have disappointed.

I was engaged for a good majority, but it was a little slow in the beginning, but that’s how most books are for me. I was on edge, anxious and felt uneasy the entire time I read this book. I wanted to know what happened so bad, but there were lots of twists and turns. It’s as if you think you know what happened, something would change, and you’d have to figure something else out.

I really did like the back and forth between present time and 15 years ago, I think it helped guide the story more smoothly. It was very engaging how 15 years ago also almost tied-in with the present day and Camp Nightingale. I also loved the writing in this book, it was simple but detailed enough to keep you going, and helped imagine what was going on.

“I remember seeing him quite a bit around camp, constantly tinkering and fixing. He was younger then, of course. Better looking. Possessed a brooding intensity that intimidated some, intrigued others.”

I think Emma’s character was really developed, and the tie-in with her mental illness played out well in this book. I liked how she saw Vivian, and somehow helped her out in the end.

The other characters like Franny, Lottie, and Chet, I didn’t like very much. They just seemed very mysterious, but also very rude people to begin with. Franny didn’t seem like that in the beginning but when the other girls went missing, she was different, a little off-putting.

The other thing which I felt wasn’t exactly needed, was the weird romance between Theo and Emma. I know at the end they agreed to start over, which is great because of all that happened, it felt like it was needed. I just don’t think that there needed to be a sign of romance because it just felt like a random add-on.

Overall, this was a very detailed, engaging thriller. I really enjoyed this novel, it was fairly intense and I think that this book is totally worth the read.

“Although their eventual fate remains a mystery, I’m certain that what happened to those girls is all my fault.” 

Brave Enough

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Rating: 3.5 stars

I want to give a thank you to NetGalley for this arc in exchange for an honest review!

In that one moment her perfect, prima-ballerina, pink-tutu world fell off its pointe. She wasn’t Cason Marting, prima ballerina, anymore. She was Cason Martin, number T7654908, cancer patient.”

This is Kati Gardner’s debut novel, and I will say that this was very enjoyable to read and that after reading this discovering that the author has gone through similar experiences since she has gone through cancer.

This book tells the story of a girl named Cason who has the love and passion for ballet but then is suddenly ripped from her when she discovers that she has cancer. It also tells a story about Davis, a boy who once had cancer. However, he also had an addiction to narcotics and at the beginning of the novel is seven months sober.

I think that the message behind the overall story is strong and very well on point. However, I felt as though the emotions were a bit lacking mostly early on. I didn’t feel any emotion until halfway through this novel, and even then not much after.

After the prologue, it felt vague to me and didn’t set up the characters emotions for how they responded to everything previous to how the chapters started. I also felt the characters lacked depth and development. This book is very dialogue driven and doesn’t particularly express the full emotions of the characters.

As an example, Cason goes through a lot of emotions throughout her cancer treatment, and it explains it, but not in a sense to make us really feel in depth of that moment. Or when Davis is having a very bad craving for drugs, it feels flat and rushed.

The relationship between Cason and Davis isn’t what I felt should have happened. I didn’t like the insta-love that happened between them. I also was very confused when they discussed that they were boyfriend and girlfriend because I didn’t recall that happening previous to that. My personal opinion is that there wasn’t too much of a need for romance in this book. I love romance in books, but in this special occasion, I felt as though they both just needed a friend to be there and help each other through the hard times.

“No one has to know. The words itched and slid around the synapses, shocking his impulses, filling his mouth with a desire so strong it stole his breath. It left him empty and hollow. And still, lingering in the deepest parts of his brain. It whispered. Just one.”

I really appreciated the relationship between Cason and her mother, Natalie towards the end of the book. I didn’t like Natalie that much in the beginning because she refused to accept the truth of what is happening. I saw character development through her mom, which was nice.

The camp experience, I felt was talked about a lot throughout this book, but in the end at camp, it felt flat to me. It was rushed, like last minute planning to incorporate the details, and I was expecting something greater than it had turned out.

The side characters also felt kind of flat, but I think they were a good addition to the story because they helped Cason and Davis through their struggles throughout the story, so I enjoyed that.

On this last note, I will also mention the characters on Davis’s side, Ethan and Alexis, and how real the situation can be. In Alexis’s standpoint, unfortunately, this is very common to happen to someone, especially when they’re addicted. Whenever the relationship between either Ethan or Alexis came up to Davis, it felt unrealistic or flat or even maybe a rushed thought.

Overall, I didn’t think this was the best book, nor was it the worst, but I do think that for a debut novel, it’s good. I think this should be read because other people could possibly relate and it also has a good meaning, and maybe this wasn’t a book for me, but it could be for someone else.

“They were no longer the same people they had been before camp. Davis seemed calmer somehow, more settled in himself. And she remembered how angry and fearful she had been. She couldn’t say that camp had made all of those feelings go away, but she could say that she no longer felt confined by the crutches and a new prosthesis. Together they started to walk away from the amphitheater toward the chapel where the older half of camp waited. Davis held onto her arm just above her elbow, keeping their connection. Cason glanced back at the stage, looking at the billowing silks one last time. She had not just danced. She had flown.”

Every Little Bad Idea

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Rating: 4 stars

I want to give a thank you to NetGalley for this arc in exchange for an honest review!

“Which is a bad idea,
I point out.
And so what?
Layla says.
Sometimes it’s a
good idea
to act on a
bad idea.”
 So, I open this book up, and I see that it’s in verse. I say to myself, “Oh no..” I say that because of my experiences with novels written in verse, aren’t that great. The last book I read in verse was mediocre and I didn’t connect with it, and books written in verse don’t agree with me.
But then.
I read this book. This has redeemed my verse reading experience. This tells the story of a girl named Skyler who’s mother is determined to protect her against bad boys because that’s who they attract. Her mother also wants her to go to college so she can have a future, but all of that changes when she meets Cole Baker.
 I won’t say too much about the details of this book just because the less you know, the better this book will be, and this book is short and sweet, and to the point. I think that this is very well developed story in the fact that, it shows what a dangerous relationship can potentially be like, and has a good overall message.
I think the characters aren’t too in-depth written but the way the author introduces them and describes them in verse, but you get a sense of their personality and that’s all you really need to know about them.
I also enjoyed reading about Skyler and her mother’s relationship and how close they are. Even after Skyler messes up, their relationship gets rocky, but eventually repairs itself because they are able to forgive one another.
 Overall, this was a pretty well written, straight to the point, enjoyable novel. I think that this should be shared with everyone.
“and realized I looked
like a whole new person.
Not Skyler Wise.
Wise One.
Skyla-Ann.
Sky.
Untethered
like a bird,
like a hot-air balloon,
like a dragonfly
beating its wings
to fly so high.”