Review: Paper Wishes by Spencer Hoshino

paperwishesPaper Wishes by Spencer Hoshino

My Rating: 4/5 TARDISes

Series: The Magical Girl Series

Date Published: February 14th, 2017

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing

Pages: 212 pages

Source: Author

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Author’s Website

Synopsis: There is a belief that with each origami star folded, a falling star is saved. After folding 365 stars while mourning the loss of her mother, Vilvian makes a wish that will change her life forever.

Enter Nox Bright, the handsome and mysterious guy who has been haunting Vilvian’s dreams. She can barely believe it when he walks into her homeroom near the end of the school year. Has she gone crazy or is it possible that wishes really do come true?

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*I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review.

The young adult contemporary romance genre is the genre I am pickiest about. Typically, I gravitate more toward fantasy, mystery, and science fiction novels. I sometimes get really in the mood to read them, but they are always starkly either a hit or a miss for me. They can be either weighed down by the same types of tropes or feel like the same story as all the others with little originality. Very rarely do I find novels in this category that really pull me in and are enjoyable to read—with a few exceptions, of course. I am happy to say that Paper Wishes, for me, is one of those very few exceptions.

In this novel, we follow a girl named Vilvian, who is trying to recover after the recent passing of her mother. She had been keeping to herself, drifting away from her friends, and living more in her dream world, where she has delightful dreams about falling in love with a handsome mystery man.

As the story begins, she is gradually coming out of hiding. Slowly, we begin to meet the most important people in her life as she allows them back into her world, which is finally stretching beyond the closed door of her bedroom. But she is still in mourning, and during the process of healing she folds three hundred and sixty-five origami stars and makes her wish, as the fable dictates. Little does she know this cultural tradition will end up changing her life in a seemingly impossible way.

Paper Wishes is an utterly sweet and charming novel. The tone of the novel has a good balance between serious depth and light warmth. The addition of Japanese culture references and the backstory of the paper stars made for an even more intriguing read. Addressing the topics of overcoming grief, finding a family and support system, and falling in love for the first time, this novel is incredibly easy to connect with. And with the hint of fantasy in the plot, it makes for quite a unique read. Who wouldn’t want to have their best dream come to life?

The characterization in this novel was excellent. Hoshino really brings each character to life, giving them three-dimensional personalities that both flesh out the plot itself and allow the reader to effortlessly relate to them. Each one felt highly realistic and were nicely woven into the plot. One could say that there is a bit of insta-love between Vilvian and Nox, but at the same time, their story is a quite exceptional one. To me, Ann felt a bit pushed into the story just to create some conflict, but I think that was due to her having a more minimal part and less portrayal compared to the main characters.

Vilvian’s grieving process feels true to life, and her dream world is a widely used form of escaping from the stresses of the world. Nox figuratively—and later literally—represents the strength she has deep inside her that causes her to push on from one day to the next. He is both a tangible and intangible source of love, protection, and encouragement—a sign to Vilvian that things can and will get better, despite how bleak the circumstance appears to be.

Hoshino’s writing style is absolutely wonderful to read and get lost in. It flows beautifully and makes it very easy to become swept up into the story. Her descriptions are spot on and build the world up right around the reader. The text is deceptively simple—it is a fairly straightforward story, but there is so much depth and meaning behind the words. The bittersweet tone of the novel shines through clearly as Hoshino demonstrates her perceptibly talented word-crafting.

Overall, this is a beautiful and adorable novel, and one that is a fantastic light summer read. Despite my feelings about contemporary romance novels in general, I ended up having quite an enjoyable time with this one. This is the perfect sort of quick pick-me-up type read if you are looking for a sweet and heart-warming tale. It is so much fun to fall in to, and is impossible to get through without a smile. Hoshino has used her great talent for words to create a lovely and truly magical story that will work its way into the hearts of readers of any age.

4.0 TARDISes

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Review: Bitter Roots by C.J. Carmichael

bitterrootsBitter Roots by C.J. Carmichael

My Rating: 1.5/5 TARDISes

Series: Bitter Root Mysteries

Date Published: April 25th, 2017

Publisher: Tule Publishing

Pages: 174 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis: Dispatcher Zak Waller prefers working behind the scenes in the Sheriff’s Office of Lost Trail, Montana, but when a newcomer to the sparely populated town is brutally murdered—and the Sheriff is quick to pin the death on an unknown outsider—Zak starts his own private sleuthing.

On the surface Lost Trail is a picture-perfect western town, offering a simple way of life revolving around the local ranches and ski hill, but Zak knows the truth behind the façade. When his old school friend Tiff Masterson, whose family owns a local Christmas tree farm, moves back to town, the two of them join forces to get to the truth about the murder.

Bitter Roots is the first of four Bitter Root Mysteries.

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review.

This is my first experience with C.J. Carmichael’s work, and sadly, I really did not enjoy Bitter Roots at all. You could potentially say that it left a “bitter” taste in my mouth. The synopsis sounded fantastic when I first found this novel—and it was an extremely quick read—but the plot was rather poorly executed. There was no aspect of this novel that was particularly memorable or that made me feel motivated to continue reading. Thankfully, this is a short novel, so I did manage to make it to the end, but there was really no payoff for my efforts once I got there.

First of all, I will admit that I had the wrong impression of this novel from the very start. I believed it to be a mystery/thriller novel, however I did not realize that the author is known primarily for writing romantic suspense novels until I looked it up on Goodreads. At this point, I had already agreed to read and review it, so I decided to give it a fair chance. And I did in fact go into this novel with no bias, lowered expectations, or belief that I would end up disliking it. The overall idea sounded intriguing, so I was still eager to give it a try.

This novel is a third person narrative that predominately follows the lives of three characters—Tiff, Zak, and Justin—as they navigate their experiences and relationships in the small town of Lost Trail following the murder of a young woman. Tiff, an accountant, has just made the difficult choice of moving back to her family’s ranch after her life in Seattle falls apart. Zak is the dispatcher at the local sheriff’s office who seems content with his life behind the desk, but uses his talents to inspect the murder case on his own time. Justin is a lawyer who is settling down with his wife and her daughter, though there are many unresolved issues floating around behind the scenes of this seemingly perfect marriage.

Tiff is still struggling to find closure after the deaths of her father and brother years ago, and to come to terms with her mother’s mental health, which seems to be spiraling even more out of control than it was the last time they were together. Tiff becomes involved in the search to find the killer, as the murdered young woman had been under her family’s employment, working on their Christmas tree farm.

Zak, with his inquisitive mind, cannot help but work on the case of the murdered woman, even though it is really not his place to do so. On top of this, he is rekindling a friendship with Tiff and dealing with his confusing feelings toward the new deputy at the station. And lastly, Justin’s storyline mostly focuses on his home life with his family, leaving him less involved in the crime solving area of the novel.

Sadly, the murder mystery aspect of the story took a backseat to the troubles, fractured relationships, and sometimes perverted musings of the main characters. Now don’t get me wrong, I always enjoy some family drama in novels, but I hated the fact that everything overshadowed a murder and the obviously shoddy detective work surrounding the case.

The plot was exceedingly slow and repetitive as well. The main characters spent most of their time being suspicious of one person and never even considering anyone else. Tiff and Justin also met up every few chapters and basically recapped, in great detail, everything that had just been read. It felt like we were never getting anywhere, until the last three chapters when Carmichael slammed down on the accelerator and plowed into the conclusion.

Comparatively, the plot wrapped up uncannily quickly and was far too rushed.  The big twist was not very impressive—it was a surprise, but that was not enough to salvage the rest of the plot. It seemed very out of the blue, as the reader only gets to hear the most important information in these last few chapters. So while it is unexpected, it is unexpected due to lack of any information in prior points of the novel.

The characters and their personalities really fell flat for me. They were incredibly one dimensional throughout the entire narrative, and I found it hard to connect with almost all of them. I spent a lot of the novel feeling quite fed up with them and their choices. The only character I felt at all invested in was Justin. He was the most genuinely kind human being, and his relationship with his family really pulled me in.

Another positive factor of the characterization was the relationship between Tiff and Zak. Prior to even knowing there would be elements of romance to this novel (if you can even call them that), I assumed that this friendship between them would probably end up turning into something more. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see that they maintained a strong companionship throughout the narrative without falling for each other. This is honestly something that I personally see becoming much rarer in novels these days, so I commend Carmichael for making this choice.

One of the other positives about this novel was the writing. I didn’t have any real complaints about the style itself. I thought that Carmichael was a strong writer, and her experience and talent still shine through. This was one of the only things that pushed me to finish off the book. Her words flowed very well and this is what carried me so quickly through the narrative. Her descriptions, for the most part, were very detailed, but I wish there had been a bit more of them, and that she had gone about them differently.

There was a big downside to the descriptions, in my opinion. This was the aspect of the novel that left me feeling a bit offended. The only characters who really got any sort of detailed description were all the young and implausibly attractive ones. These people were mostly women, and everyone was “tall and slender” with unrealistically perfect appearances. This is another part of the novel that overshadowed not only the severity of the situation, but also the intelligence and capability of the females in this narrative. Overall, I was taken aback at this and quite unimpressed and annoyed.

I thought this might possibly be due to the fact that I am unaware of the common conventions of romance novels, but that is still something I’m unsure of. It doesn’t really excuse the moments of sexism and perverted thoughts that really angered me. For example, most of the men in this novel—especially Zak—were extremely focused on and judgmental of the appearances of women, and way too focused on leering at them.

Unfortunately, I would not recommend this novel or series. It was not at all what I was expecting given the promising synopsis. The story is very repetitive and lacks depth, and it is even mildly offensive at times—at least it was for me. Despite the writing itself being relatively good, there was nothing, in my opinion, redeeming about this novel, nor was there anything worth reading plot-wise. I would definitely be willing to try another one of Carmichael’s novels, but I don’t think I will be continuing on with this particular series.

1.5 TARDISes

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Review: Wolf by Kelly Oliver

wolfWolf by Kelly Oliver

My Rating: 3.5/5 TARDISes

Series: The Jessica James Mysteries Series

Date Published: June 1st, 2016

Publisher: Kaos Press

Pages: 316 pages

Source: Author

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: Montana cowgirl Jessica James is sleeping on a desk in the attic of the Philosophy Department at Northwestern University and she blames her advisor, Professor Wolfgang “Wolf” Schumtzig, “Preeminent Philosopher and World Class Dick-Head.” But when he’s found dead in his office, her real education begins. The murder weapon is a campus date-rape drug, supplied by the Russian mafia—and Jessica could be the next target.

Dmitry Durchenkov is trying to live a normal life as a janitor at Northwestern after escaping Russia with part of his father’s mafia fortune—which has suddenly disappeared. Jessica and Dmitry team up to wrangle mobsters, encounter a trio of feminist avengers, and lasso frat boys in order to rope in a murderer who’s read too much Existentialism. Together, the brooding Russian and the cowgirl philosopher learn that sometimes virtue is just the flip side of vice.

*I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*

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This is a spoiler-free review.

Wolf is pitched as being a crime novel that tackles some important issues using a good dose of intelligence, humor, and feminism—and it certainly lives up to these claims. Despite my love of the mystery genre, I was a bit unsure whether or not this particular combination of themes would really be my type of story. However, Kelly Oliver’s clever writing managed to erase all of my hesitations. Though some parts fell a bit flat or lacked believability, it turned out to be a very enjoyable read as a whole. I ended up getting completely swept up in the suspense and wit of this novel.

Throughout the duration of the narrative, we follow the lives of two characters. Jessica James, hailing from Montana, is pursuing her PhD in philosophy at Northwestern University when her advisor, Professor Wolfgang Schumtzig is found murdered in his Philosophy Department office. Dmitry Durchenkov, the university’s janitor, finds that the past he fled his homeland of Russia to escape is finally catching up with him, and at the worst possible time. Existentialism, murder, date-rape drugs supplied by members of the Russian mafia, and even the disappearance of famous works of art tie these two lives together in intriguing and unexpected ways.

Kelly Oliver takes some incredibly difficult topics and tackles them in a mature and respectful way. She carefully injects the humor into the story, giving the darker aspects of the plot the gravity that they deserve. There is never a moment where it seems as if the more serious moments are being taken too lightly. I appreciated how she focused on educating her readers about very relevant issues. On top of this, Oliver also adds quite a deal of philosophy and art history into the story, which I was very interested in. From her intelligent writing, it is easy to tell that she is well informed on all the subjects that she covers.

I’ll admit, I had a little bit of trouble getting into this novel to begin with, as the first fourth or so of the novel is much slower paced for the most part. This is primarily due to the fact that there is a lot of setup and familiarizing the reader with the characters rather than focus on action and the mystery unfolding. This is completely understandable, especially given that it is the first novel in a series, so even though it was slow going for me for a little bit, it did not by any means put me off the story.

I think that this initial sluggishness I experienced was magnified due to the fact that the narrative jumps between the two main characters. The entire novel is told in third person, but it switches back and forth between the storylines of Jessica and Dmitry every chapter or so. It takes some time to make significant progress in each storyline and for them to weave together. This causes the main body of the novel to be quite fast-paced, but sort of puts the brakes on things when it comes to the setup.

Writing a novel using this method can be fantastic for developing a feeling of suspense, but is also tricky to perfect. I found that the constant shifts sometimes caused me to feel that the narrative was becoming a bit jumbled. However, this did not detract from my reading experience too severely, particularly as I got further in. Once you get to know the characters, it is extremely easy to get caught up in their lives, and I tore through most of the novel.

Oliver juxtaposes the humor and awkwardness of Jessica’s life with the pain and fear plaguing Dmitry’s in order to create an ultimately gripping and unified plot. As a whole, she created the desired tension by leaving the reader wanting more at the end of each character’s contribution to the progression of the storyline. When it becomes fully apparent how closely these two lives are connected, the story picks up very quickly. For some reason, I was not expecting this link between them, and was pleasantly surprised with the direction that Oliver took it in.

This book is filled with a diverse and quirky cast of characters, all filled with a great amount of inner strength. I found the characterization to be an exceptionally strong point. Jessica is a great example of how to create a female protagonist. She is funny and delightfully awkward, while also being a very intelligent and independent heroine. Dmitry shows his strength in a different way, fighting to move forward from a troubled past that won’t let him go.

I think Lolita ended up being my favorite character in the novel. I love what a strong woman she is and how much she cares for and supports her friends and family. All of the primary characters are fully formed and multidimensional, each showing some amount of progress throughout the novel. No matter what their personal story holds or what struggles they are facing, each character does their part and is working hard to be the best version of themselves that they can be—someone they are proud of.

There is also a major focus on relationships between friends and the importance of family rather than on romance, which is an aspect of this novel that I found to be quite refreshing. The friendship between Jessica and Lolita—the way they look out for and support each other—is absolutely lovely and shows the strength that can be produced from that sort of companionship. Dmitry’s devotion to his family and the lengths he goes to in order to keep them safe is quite beautiful, adding both more dimension and a greater sense of urgency to his struggle.

The small amount of romance that is present, though I really wanted to like it, fell sort of flat for me. It felt a bit forced and at times confusing, so I do wish that it had either been addressed a bit more or left out completely. But this was the only area of issue in the portrayal of relationships and the theme of love. Overall, the dynamics and interactions between the various characters added more depth and meaning to the story, and was one of the strongest and most captivating aspects.

Wolf is a novel with a lot of heart and a good sense of humor, despite its fairly dark subject matter. With smart and skillful writing, vividly depicted characters, and an addictive plot, it proves to be quite a rousing read. Kelly Oliver has created a unique and memorable mystery that both educates and entertains. I am incredibly eager to continue on with this series, and look forward to seeing the ongoing adventures of Jessica James. I would definitely recommend giving this book a try.

3.5 TARDISes

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Review: A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall

alittlesomethingdifferentA Little Something Different by Sandy Hall

My Rating: 2/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: August 26th, 2014

Publisher: Swoon Reads

Pages: 272 pages

Source: Purchased

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: The distinctive new crowdsourced publishing imprint Swoon Reads proudly presents its first published novel—an irresistibly sweet romance between two college students told from 14 different viewpoints.

The creative writing teacher, the delivery guy, the local Starbucks baristas, his best friend, her roommate, and the squirrel in the park all have one thing in common—they believe that Gabe and Lea should get together. Lea and Gabe are in the same creative writing class. They get the same pop culture references, order the same Chinese food, and hang out in the same places. Unfortunately, Lea is reserved, Gabe has issues, and despite their initial mutual crush, it looks like they are never going to work things out. 

But somehow even when nothing is going on, something is happening between them, and everyone can see it. Their creative writing teacher pushes them together. The baristas at Starbucks watch their relationship like a TV show. Their bus driver tells his wife about them. The waitress at the diner automatically seats them together. Even the squirrel who lives on the college green believes in their relationship.  

Surely Gabe and Lea will figure out that they are meant to be together….

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This is a spoiler-free review.

As the title suggests, this novel promises its readers “a little something different”, and it does in fact deliver. However, the end result was not nearly as satisfying as it could have been given the premise. Rather than flowing nicely as one continuous narrative, it felt far too disjointed and cluttered to fully capture my attention. We are pulled in by an idea that sounds delightful and heartwarming, but ends up being more frustrating and tedious than anything. Though the story is unique and innovative in many ways, it fell rather flat for me as a whole.

This novel follows the lives of two college students—Lea and Gabe—as they meet and slowly begin to fall for each other. The catch? Their entire love story is told from the perspectives of other people they encounter in their daily lives. From their best friends to their fellow students and the waitress at the local diner, everyone has something to say about this prospective relationship. Even the park bench they regularly sit on weighs in on the situation. The only question that remains is whether or not Lea and Gabe themselves will realize what everyone else already sees.

Beginning on a personal side note, this is not the typical type of novel I would read—I am not particularly big on contemporary romance. But when I heard the concept for it, coupled with the fact that it was a debut novel, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to step out of my reading comfort zone once again. Given that romance is not my cup of tea when it comes to books, and knowing that this contributed to my feelings overall, I tried to rate and review this as objectively as possible, focusing primarily on stylistic elements.

The characterization was by far the area that I ended up having the biggest conflict with. It was the most publicized aspect of this particular novel—the unusually large number of perspectives is the primary attraction for the reader. In addition, the fact that the main protagonists of the story do not contribute their viewpoints is another highly intriguing factor. However, though the idea packs the novel with originality and is quite fascinating in theory, it ends up greatly hindering the development of the narrative.

Though the actual concept for the plot is a relatively straightforward one, having so many narrators suddenly transforms it into something that is quite difficult to follow and become immersed in. Having to constantly transition between speakers every few pages breaks up the flow of the plot and gives it a very patchwork, choppy quality, which does not serve it well. It is far too challenging to connect to any of the characters, which subsequently affects the reader’s ability to become invested in the storyline itself.

For a story that relies so heavily on characterization, there is not nearly enough distinctiveness in each of the voices. A few of them were quite original in their depiction, but many sounded almost exactly the same. As there is no time to focus on getting to know any of these characters, they come across as one-dimensional and sometimes painfully stereotypical. The inability to get to know a narrator adds undesired hurdles for any reader.

In terms of the plot itself, I simply came out of it feeling rather underwhelmed. One of the biggest drawbacks of these multiple perspectives is the need for more telling rather than showing. This style makes to so that every aspect of every event has to be related back to the reader, giving the story a very awkward and unnatural quality. I would have much preferred to see the romance unfold naturally—instead, it plays out more like a research paper or case study. It is tricky to get the desired emotional reaction out of readers when they can only hear a formal and impassive version of two people’s love story.

Since we are only ever able to see Lea’s and Gabe’s interactions when it is possible for a third party to be watching, everything quickly becomes very redundant—there is an excessive amount of interpretations of the same or similar encounters. Their entire relationship comes across as two people who feel very indifferent about each other having an improbable series of supposedly romantic and incredibly frustrating near misses. This causes the story to drag on, bringing about a sense that, even by the end, no advancement has really happened.

In addition, the fact that every aspect of this novel focuses on Lea and Gabe with no other developed side plots becomes tiring very quickly. It is hard to believe that so many people would be so intensely and utterly focused and invested in the love lives of these two random kids. And even after all of that, I never truly got the impression that they were meant to be. Despite having insight into so many people’s views, I never saw what any of them saw. Everything was just too implausible, and the ending left me feeling very unsatisfied.

Overall, though the large number of perspectives is an interesting concept, it makes the narrative feel very disorganized and unsettled. The repetitiveness of the events in the plot quickly becomes frustrating, potentially causing the reader to become dissatisfied since it feels that little to no progression is actually taking place. I truly did appreciate the creativity that Hall employed in the construction of this story. In a number of ways, she puts a fresh spin on the typical contemporary romance novel, and I applaud how she stepped out on a limb with her inventive storytelling. Sadly, all the parts did not end up coming together into a cohesive plot.

2.0 TARDISes

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Top 10 Tuesday – February 23rd, 2016

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Happy Tuesday, everyone! It’s time for another Top 10 Tuesday list. This is an original weekly blog meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, there is a new bookish topic for bloggers to create a list about. If you want to know more about Top 10 Tuesday, click here!

This week’s Top 10 Tuesday topic is the top ten books you enjoyed recently (in the last yearish) that weren’t your typical genre/type of book (or that were out of your comfort zone). I’ve been on a bit of a sci-fi/fantasy binge for a while now (a.k.a. my comfort zone), so we’re going to have to go more toward the “ish” side of yearish. Also, to help myself come up with ten, I’ve split the list into two parts—five that I enjoyed and five that I did not. There is a little bit of a theme here, since the majority of this list are romance and contemporary novels.

This will probably come as no surprise to anyone, but I am and always have been a complete reading addict. I am someone that will read absolutely anything I can get my hands on, and I typically do stray out of my comfort zone a fair amount. In fact, I enjoy doing so, even if I end up not enjoying the novel I choose—it’s always fun to try new things no matter what, and you might end up finding a new favorite! I don’t regret trying any of these novels, I just definitely preferred some over others…

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Liked

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1. Love and Other Unknown Variables by Shannon Lee Alexander

Over the past few years, I have been making a point of trying to read a larger number of debut authors, and this is one that I picked up from the library for exactly that reason. This novel was pretty far outside of my comfort zone, but it ended up really taking me by surprise. It was very well written, with a sweet romance and a lovely message about the importance of love, friendship, and literature. Plus, there were tons of references to To Kill a Mockingbird in it! 😀

4.5 TARDISes

2. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

I picked up a copy of this back when it first came out (to be honest, I think this was a bit of a cover buy!), but had let it sit on my shelf for ages. I finally got around to reading it last year when I was looking for something a bit different from my normal type of read—and I actually ended up really enjoying it. This story had much more depth than I was expecting, and I thought the author’s writing style was great. It ended up being a quick and unexpectedly satisfying read, and I’m so glad I gave it a try.

4.0 TARDISes

3. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

This was not all that far out of my comfort zone, but it is still a contemporary romance novel, so it totally counts! I read this at the end of last year and absolutely loved it—this was a perfect way to wrap up my 2015 reads. It was hilarious, adorable, and made me feel all of the warm fuzzies I was hoping to feel. ❤

5.0 TARDISes

4. Falling into Place by Amy Zhang

I found this one while randomly browsing at the bookstore one day, and decided to add it to my debut author TBR. I absolutely did not expect to enjoy this novel as much as I did. This story had a fantastic amount of depth and I thought that the writing was stellar. The characters and all of their storylines were developed and presented well in the context of the plot, and I loved the unique choice of narrator. This was definitely a good impulse purchase!

4.5 TARDISes

5. The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder

This was another one that I picked up from the library on a whim—mainly because I love reading novels in verse—and it’s another that ended up taking me completely by surprise. The plot is sort of a common contemporary novel premise, but it is still successfully unique. And when done well, like it is here, I usually really enjoy this type of story. The prose flowed beautifully, and I found the story itself to be quite captivating and thought-provoking. On top of this, I actually quite enjoyed the romance aspect—it was sweet, touching, and well-paced.

4.5 TARDISes

Didn’t Like

deadrules shiver alittlesomethingdifferent theboywiththecuckooclockheart almost

1. Dead Rules by Randy Russell

This book…just…nope. I grabbed this from the library for no particular reason. Couldn’t get into it. Didn’t actually finish it (which is insanely rare for me). In hindsight, that tagline should have told me to maybe skip over this one when I found it.

0.5 TARDIS

2. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Okay, so to be honest, this is probably another book that I maybe shouldn’t have attempted, but I still don’t regret it! I figured I would give it a go after all the incredible things I had heard about it—and I can definitely see why people enjoy this series. But I think I can finally confirm that supernatural romance just really isn’t my thing…

1.0 TARDIS

3. A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall

This novel caught my attention due to the creativity when it came to points of view. I figured this would be a really unique take on a typical contemporary romance novel, so I was more than happy to give it a go. Sadly, I just could not feel any connection at all between the romantic interests, and it was difficult to fully immerse myself in the plot due to the constantly changing viewpoints (as well as the quantity). I actually have a full review for this novel that I will be posting pretty soon, so I will go into a bit more detail then!

2.0 TARDISes

4. The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart by Mathias Malzieu

This one was slightly closer to my comfort zone than some of these other novels. However, though it is a fantasy story, there is a much larger focus on romance than the typical fantasy novels I read. In fact, the romance ended up being pretty much the main focus of the story, which unfortunately did not serve it well in my opinion. It made sense, given the premise, that love would play a significant role in the plot, but the romance fell quite flat for me. Overall, the story was creative and incredibly unique, but I would have liked to see more attention paid to the fantasy aspect, and a much stronger and more well-developed setting and cast of characters.

2.0 TARDISes

5. Almost by Anne Eliot

I purchased this novel back when it first came out, but it sat on my kindle for a really long time. Honestly, I can’t recall why I bought it—but again, trying new things is always good. This was definitely my favorite from the “disliked” section of this list. I would mainly chalk my dislike of it up to unlikeable characters and slightly repetitive and frustrating plot progression. It was not a bad novel by any means, it was simply just not for me.

2.5 TARDISes

No matter what my feelings were, once again…

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What are some books that you’ve read lately that were out of your comfort zone? How did you feel about them? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

-Ariana

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The Book Courtship Tag

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I was tagged to do the Book Courtship Tag by my friend Heather from The Sassy Book Geek. Thank you so much for the tag! Heather is an absolutely wonderful book blogger, so please take some time to head on over and check out her posts!

Phase 1: Initial Attraction – A book you bought because of the cover?

allthelightwecannotsee jackaby rebecca

I’ve never bought a book solely because of its cover. However, covers and editions are definitely important to me when it comes to buying books. Two books whose covers were the main reason I checked them out in the first place were All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and Jackaby by William Ritter. They kept catching my eye every time I went to the bookstore, so finally I looked into what they were about—they ended up being right up my alley. The edition of Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier that I own was a total cover buy. The movie adaptation is one of my favorite films, so I had been wanting to read this novel for a long time—when I saw this beautiful copy, I absolutely had to get it!

Phase 2: First Impressions – A book you got because of its summary?

morethanthis

I pretty much only ever buy books based on their summaries, except in the rare case of auto-buy authors. However, I remember finding the summary of More Than This by Patrick Ness particularly captivating. It was a very vague description, incredibly cryptic, and sounded like it would be one of those intense, heart-pounding stories. I completely adore mysteries and thrillers, so I knew I would have to give this a try. Plus, Patrick Ness is perfection. ❤

Phase 3: Sweet Talk – A book with great writing?

amonstercalls vicious

Speaking of Patrick Ness… 😀 Okay, so I’m not going to be able to choose just one novel for this answer, but I’ll keep it to two: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and Vicious by V.E. Schwab. Both of these novels had some of the most spectacular writing that I have ever come across—Schwab and Ness are extraordinarily talented authors. They are both masters at creating a captivating plot and a cast of characters that their readers can easily connect with. On top of this, their words themselves flow beautifully. If you have not yet picked up either of these novels, I highly recommend them!

Phase 4: First Date – The first book of a series that made you want to pick up the rest of the series?

thehungergames

I have always been more of a standalone reader than a series reader, and any of the series on the embarrassingly small list of ones that I’ve read would fit this question. However, The Hunger Games is the one that stands out the most in my mind. I was totally addicted after just a few chapters and I could not put it down. This was the first series after finishing Harry Potter that I got really excited about, so it holds a special place in my heart.

Phase 5: Late Night Phone Calls – A book that kept you up all night?

theadventuresofsherlockholmes

This is one I’m going to have to narrow down a bit so I don’t write an insanely long list (yeah, I basically don’t sleep…who needs sleep anyway?). A somewhat recent one that comes to mind is The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle. It took me forever to pick this novel up, but as soon as I did, I was immediately hooked. I spent multiple nights reading these stories until…well…it wasn’t actually night anymore. 🙂

Phase 6: Always On My Mind – A book you could not stop thinking about?

gonegirl

There are so many books that I’ve read just in the last year that I still cannot get off my mind. One in particular that really stands out is Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. This is one of the most insane, twisted, and mind-bending stories that I have ever read, and I adored every second of it. It’s definitely one of those novels that requires a lot of mental processing afterward and really sticks with you. Gillian Flynn is an evil genius!

Phase 7: Getting Physical – A book that you love the way it feels?

thehobbit

I love the way the edition I have of The Hobbit feels. I prefer books that have a textured cover rather than a smooth one, and this one does (and it’s a gorgeous edition in general!). Just for the record, The Lunar Chronicles novels—both the hardcovers and paperbacks—feel amazing as well!

Phase 8: Meeting The Parents – A book you would recommend to your family and friends?

hyperboleandahalf

I definitely have to agree with Heather on this one and say Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh. Recommending books to my friends and family (and basically anyone who will listen to me!) is one of my favorite things in the world to do. However, everyone is going to have a different taste when it comes to what they are interested in reading, so I usually have to tailor my recommendations to the person. Hyperbole and a Half is one novel that I would not hesitate to recommend to anyone—it’s hilarious, clever, heartfelt, and something that I truly believe everyone will enjoy.

Phase 9: Thinking About The Future – A book or series you know you will re-read many times in the future?

tokillamockingbird1

I don’t tend to re-read books too often, though there are some very obvious exceptions. The Harry Potter series and The Chronicles of Narnia will be series that I will definitely read a countless amount of times throughout my life. But of course, the number one book that I know for a fact I will re-read many times in the future is…you guessed it…To Kill a Mockingbird! 😀

Phase 10: Share The Love – Who do you tag?

The Orang-utan Librarian

Papercutpetals

Chelsie @ Chelsie’s Book Addiction

Jasmine @ jazzycliffhanger

Ragan @ Read.Rinse.Repeat

Anna @ Cheeky Column

Emma @ Em Does Book Reviews

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