Book Review: Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz

22456945Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Genre:Contemporary and Young Adult

Release Date: March 3, 2015

Pages: 304 (Hardcover)

good good

Etta is tired of dealing with all of the labels and categories that seem so important to everyone else in her small Nebraska hometown.

Everywhere she turns, someone feels she’s too fringe for the fringe. Not gay enough for the Dykes, her ex-clique, thanks to a recent relationship with a boy; not tiny and white enough for ballet, her first passion; and not sick enough to look anorexic (partially thanks to recovery). Etta doesn’t fit anywhere— until she meets Bianca, the straight, white, Christian, and seriously sick girl in Etta’s therapy group. Both girls are auditioning for Brentwood, a prestigious New York theater academy that is so not Nebraska. Bianca seems like Etta’s salvation, but how can Etta be saved by a girl who needs saving herself?

opinion

I’m in love with Hannah Moskowitz. I love her writing, her characters, the way that I feel like I personally know her solely from reading her books. I feel like she puts a lot of herself into her stories. Not Otherwise Specified isn’t… a bad book by any means. But it is a what the fuck just happened ? kind of book. From the setting to the dialogue, all the way to the fucking cover I just…

I don’t think I ever encountered a book by an author I loved that has had info-dumping, but Not Otherwise Specified has it to the max. I’m not even kidding. Sure there are a lot of witty comments that make some of the several info-dumping parts bearable but just barely. Also, the dialogue is really bad. It’s all cookie cutter edge with ‘he says’ or ‘I say’ ‘she says’. They say a lot of shit, I get it. Now make it interesting by adding actions. And I don’t know if it’s just me but all anyone talks about are eating disorders and theater and a dash of the LGBT community thus making the characters not as fleshed out as I would have liked. I got bored quite easily reading this one because I was waiting for something out of the ordinary. It didn’t really come. Anyway, the relationship between Bianca and Etta is so crazy and unbelievable that I had a hard time taking to it. Bianca barely talks and somehow, she’s clinging to Etta for dear life after like a month? Of course these scenarios happen, but I’m sorry there’s just so much planning that could have made it seem realistic. Bianca has too much to lose (I think) to just allow Etta into her life instantly.

Still, this is Hannah Moskowitz and after a while, the random-all-over-the-place-but-not-really-I-don’t-know writing didn’t stand out so much to me. In addition to this, Etta is such a handful, not only for the secondary characters but for readers as well but I liked her for the most part. She’s loud, confused, happy, and pissed off. I liked her because of how strong she is and how strong she makes the other characters. The struggle that goes on in the story is so true.  She tries so hard to work on herself, so hard to get her old friends back, to get healthy, to get in really that I felt for her. It’s so hard to really ‘fit’ in somewhere and I felt as if Etta is the memory for all of us, because I’m sure that everyone has felt like a sore thumb at least once in their life.

Let me say it again: I love Hannah Moskowitz and I believe that this love for her has made me second guess my thoughts on the book. I really want to believe that I got a faulty copy because it just didn’t work for me. Especially the cover, just looking at it makes me mad not because of the person on it, but just the fact that the publisher probably paid a lot of money for something that looks thrown together in ten minutes. It’s poorly photoshoped, poorly lighted, and just all around, poor colour choices. I know for a fact, they could have done better. But anyway, yes, I think I would still recommend it solely because it is Hannah Moskowitz and she’s awesome but Not Otherwise Specified is not that great. It’s a solid, ‘meh’ book with ‘meh’ characters and a ‘meh’ setting.

3 Mediocre Clouds

3 Mediocre Clouds

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Book Review: Bleed Like Me by Christa Desir

19532890Bleed Like Me by Christa Desir

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Genre: Contemporary and Young Adult

Release Date: October 7, 2014

Pages: 278 (Hardcover)

good good

Seventeen-year-old Amelia Gannon (just “Gannon” to her friends) is invisible to almost everyone in her life. To her parents, to her teachers-even her best friend, who is more interested in bumming cigarettes than bonding. Some days the only way Gannon knows she is real is by carving bloody lines into the flesh of her stomach.

Then she meets Michael Brooks, and for the first time, she feels like she is being seen to the core of her being. Obnoxious, controlling, damaged, and addictive, he inserts himself into her life until all her scars are exposed. Each moment together is a passionate, painful relief.

But as the relationship deepens, Gannon starts to feel as if she’s standing at the foot of a dam about to burst. She’s given up everything and everyone in her life for him, but somehow nothing is enough for Brooks-until he poses the ultimate test.

First of all, I would like to thank the publisher, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers for giving me an ARC of this book to review. Thank you so much! Really appreciate it! All right, now for my review.

opinion

I believe that Desir can write. However, I’m not sure if she can write a young adult novel that’s more than ‘okay’. The relationships are great, as well as the tension and the ending however, the writing and the middle, it’s all bad. And although I had a few problems with this novel, I didn’t find it to be horrible, I still liked it for the most part.

The problem with the writing style is it’s all telling rather than showing and makes the story dull because of it. The story itself is pretty typical: the bad boy and the broken girl with the characters feeling very off. I couldn’t connect with either of them or the way Gannon feels invisible towards almost everyone because it felt false to me instead of a genuine kind of thing.

Yet somehow, it seemed like Gannon actually had a brain and I liked that about her. The tension and build-up between Gannon and Brooks is all right, not the best because it’s done in a way that almost like a movie rather than real life. Still, I loved the way Desir builds up Brooks controlling personality. At first using little hints and then letting it all loose once readers got deep into the book. I loved how intense and scary it got at times and how dependant they get on each other. The ending is realistic, and I liked that. I liked how I could see and understand Gannon however, it was too late in the book to care enough.

Bleed Like Me isn’t a book that I would recommend to someone looking for a straightforward story because this book has a lot of highs and lows and boring parts. However, it is one that I would recommend for people who don’t mind lacking characters and waiting for the good parts because Bleed Like Me does have a few of them.

2.5 Mess Up Clouds

2.5 Mess Up Clouds

Book Review: Damaged by Amy Reed

20759617Damaged by Amy Reed

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Genre: Contemporary and Young Adult

Release Date: October 14, 2014

Pages: 384 (Hardcover)

good good

When Kinsey’s best friend Camille dies in a car accident while she was behind the wheel, she shuts down completely, deciding that numbness is far better than mourning. She wants to be left alone during the last few weeks of high school, but Camille’s mysterious boyfriend Hunter, who was also in the car that night, has a different idea.

Despite all of Kinsey’s efforts, she can’t shake Camille, who begins haunting her in dreams. Sleep deprived and on the verge of losing it, she agrees to run away with Hunter to San Francisco. As the pair tries to escape both the ghost of Camille and their own deep fears, Kinsey questions how real her perception of her friendship with Camille was, and whether her former friend’s ghost is actually now haunting her. Hunter, meanwhile, falls into a spiral of alcoholism, anger, and self-loathing.

Ultimately, Kinsey and Hunter must come to terms with what they’ve lost and accept that they can’t outrun pain.

First of all, I would like to thank the publisher, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers for giving me an ARC of this book to review. Thank you so much! Really appreciate it! All right, now for my review.

opinion

Ghost stories are pretty cool. They usually have nightmares, suspense, and lots of emotion. I’ve never been one to read them since they aren’t that well done (or so I’m told). It seems that Damaged is no different. Really, I wanted to like this one more than I actually did because I’ve enjoyed novels by Reed in the past.

There’s so much info-dumping and since most of it is during the beginning, I couldn’t make sense of it all. With talks of random events and stuff, I just felt left in the dark. Moreover, the story is pretty typical with the broken girl and boy trying to fix each other. The romance felt forced at best. They have nothing in common except they both cared about Camille. Another thing that could have been better it Kinsley’s mom who could have been by far, my favourite character , she’s sassy and strange and gives the story flavour. Sadly, she’s not developed and feels like a half written page.

Still, the people they meet on their way to San Francisco are all unique especially Terry, who I found adorable. Camille is a well put together character, maybe the best developed despite the fact that she’s already dead before the story even begins. Also, I liked how Kinsley opened up at the end albeit a cliché used in almost every type of book, I still enjoyed it.

All in all, not the best book by Reed. The writing is great which helped make the boring characters bearable. Still, I recommend this to anyone looking for something that deals with ghosts and letting go.

2 Boring Clouds

2 Boring Clouds

Book Review: This is How it Ends by Jen Nadol

20759561This is How it Ends by Jen Nadol

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Genre: Contemporary and Young Adult

Release Date: October 7, 2014

Pages: 320 (Hardcover)

good good

 If you could see the future, would you want to? After the disturbing visions Riley and his friends see turn out to be more than hallucinations, fate takes a dangerous twist in this dark and suspenseful page-turner.

Riley and his friends are gearing up for their senior year by spending one last night hanging out in the woods, drinking a few beers, and playing Truth or Dare. But what starts out as a good time turns sinister when they find a mysterious pair of binoculars. Those who dare to look through them see strange visions, which they brush off as hallucinations. Why else would Riley see himself in bed with his best friend’s girlfriend—a girl he’s had a secret crush on for years?

In the weeks that follow, the visions begin to come true…including a gruesome murder. One of Riley’s closest friends is now the prime suspect. But who is the murderer? Have Riley and his friends really seen the future through those mysterious binoculars? And what if they are powerless to change the course of events?

First of all, I would like to thank the publisher, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers for giving me an ARC of this book to review. Thank you so much! Really appreciate it! All right, now for my review.

opinion

Not a bad book at all! I really liked it, especially because of the characters that are well-developed. All in all, great start however, it could have been better if the story was scarier.

This is How it Ends is described as a suspenseful thriller with a bit of mystery. It’s supposed to be scarier, not romantic. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the story, it’s great and really held my attention but I was expecting something other than what I got. Adding onto this, I wanted more, I wanted the woods to be freakier instead of just there. I wanted the relationship between Riley and Trip also. They’re friends, best friends and I never really got the feel for it. The explanation for the binoculars is really bad and felt rushed. Nadol has a knack for putting things in a fresh light but not when it comes down to the ending.

Despite those things, I loved the writing. It’s fresh and smooth and goes well with Riley’s character. Moreover, Riley himself, is a great character that I could easily connect with. All of the other characters are well planned and thought out too. The visions are also cool! They could have been a bit creepier but I loved them. They’re all different and mysterious, Nadol keeps the readers in the dark especially when it comes to one of the characters.

This is How it Ends is pretty awesome. The characters and setting are well described and I could picture it all. However, and this might not be the author’s fault, the pitch to readers is all wrong and I have to deduct points because of that. Still, I recommend this book to anyone looking for something to read and love realistic characters.

3.5 Interesting Clouds

3.5 Interesting Clouds

Book Review: Ashes to Ashes (Burn for Burn#3) by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

10662433Ashes to Ashes (Burn for Burn#3) by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing

Genre: Contemporary and Young Adult

Release Date: September 16, 2014

Pages: 387 (Hardcover)

good good

New Year’s Eve ended with a bang and Mary, Kat and Lillia may not be prepared for what is to come.

After Rennie’s death, Kat and Lillia try to put the pieces together of what happened to her. They both blame themselves. If Lillia hadn’t left with Reeve… If Kat had only stayed with Rennie… Things could have been different. Now they will never be the same.
Only Mary knows the truth about that night. About what she is. She also knows the truth about Lillia and Reeve falling in love, about Reeve being happy when all he deserves is misery, just like the misery he caused her. Now their childish attempts at revenge are a thing of the past and Mary is out for blood. Will she leave anything in her wake or will all that remain be ashes?

First of all, I would like to thank the publisher, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers for giving me an ARC of this book to review. Thank you so much! Really appreciate it! All right, now for my review.

opinionAshes to Ashes, the final novel in the revenge driven Burn for Burn series has final come to an end. And boy, is it a crazy ride. With the girls still reeling from the events that took place in the second book, Fire with Fireeverything seems strange. The girls are on completely different pages with each other and it’s not a good thing. Mary has officially lost her sweet girl nature that readers saw in the first and a little of the second book and is now psycho. Lillia is still an innocent flower but without being that innocent anymore, her role in many things take a toll on her and especially her relationship with Reeve. Kat seems to be the least one that’s ready to throw in the towel and I think that’s why I love her the most. She’s funny and seems to look on the bright side and keeps fighting. While they all go through their last few months of school, they all have to really figure things out and I loved how unpredictable the story gets to keep people in the dark.

Near the beginning of the book and for the whole series it seems, is that the books start off fairly slow and then slowly pick up speed until the very end. It’s a pretty good build-up however, I don’t like how long it took me to be engrossed into the book.

This series has other consistent qualities that are shown to be good things like the short chapters. In Ashes to Ashes, the chapters are so short that it’s hard to put the book down. “One more chapter,” quickly turns into, “might as well finish the rest of the book even though it’s five am in the morning.” It also helps that the writing  is addicting and the characters are well-developed that I easily knew whose chapter I was reading without even thinking about it. Adding onto what I said about the characters, they are great. They’ve really grown up since Burn for Burn and it truly shows in their demeanour and the way the speak about things. Also, the relationship between Lillia and Reeve is so cute! I liked it in the other book but I loved it in this one! It’s all ups and downs, highs and lows and sooo unpredictable. I honestly thought that in the end, things would end up different between them but I still liked how Han and Vivian decided to go with it. Moreover, the ending! The penultimate chapter especially! It’s all freaky and messed up and awesome! There’s so much suspense, will Mary forgive Reeve? Or will she make him suffer the same way she did? I loved how everything went, especially with the girls and Reeve, the way he questions his sanity and his life. I felt how realistic everything became and I was really happy with how it all ended. It’s pretty crazy, not gonna lie.

Han and Vivian have come so far with this trilogy. The girls all started out with blinded rage and naive minds towards most things to grown ups who understand just how risky it is to get revenge instead of giving forgiveness. Some people are really shitty, end of story. However, some people are shitty because they are dealt that hand and then they try their best to change it. This is evident with Reeve especially and I think that people who didn’t like him before will start to like him now. I recommend this series to anyone who loves revenge driven plots, a bit of romance, and killer twists!

4. 5 Bad-Ass Clouds

4. 5 Bad-Ass Clouds

Book Review: Rumble by Ellen Hopkins

17460553Rumble by Ellen Hopkins

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Genre: Contemporary and Young Adult

Release Date: August 26, 2014

Pages: 560 (Hardcover)

good good

“There is no God, no benevolent ruler of the earth, no omnipotent grand poobah of countless universes. Because if there was…my little brother would still be fishing or playing basketball instead of fertilizing cemetery vegetation.”

Matthew Turner doesn’t have faith in anything.

Not in family—his is a shambles after his younger brother was bullied into suicide. Not in so-called friends who turn their backs when things get tough. Not in some all-powerful creator who lets too much bad stuff happen. And certainly not in some “It Gets Better” psychobabble.

No matter what his girlfriend Hayden says about faith and forgiveness, there’s no way Matt’s letting go of blame. He’s decided to “live large and go out with a huge bang,” and whatever happens, happens. But when a horrific event plunges Matt into a dark, silent place, he hears a rumble…a rumble that wakes him up, calling everything he’s ever disbelieved into question.

First of all, I would like to thank the publisher, Margaret K. McElderry Books for giving me an ARC of this book to review. Thank you so much! Really appreciate it! All right, now for my review.

opinionEllen Hopkins is honestly, one of my favourite authors and whenever she comes out with a new book I get so fucking excited. And believe me, I was extremely excited for Rumble despite the religion aspect of it because I knew that Hopkins would deliver it in a way that would make sense and not feel like something was being shoved down my throat. However, what I wasn’t expecting was the complete lack of intensity and emotion that all of her other novels held. For most of it I was bored out of my mind skimming the pages full of Matt’s relationship with Hayden.

Matt is so whiny. Compared to Four from Allegiant, he’s better but not by much. All that seems to take up his time is Hayden and how touch and go it is. If she doesn’t want to hang out with him he gets mad. If she doesn’t kiss him back as passionately as he wants her to, he gets mad. If she makes a new friend or goes to her church group, he gets mad. If she doesn’t text, he gets mad. Pretty much Matt gets mad at just about everything that Hayden does and then complains about it and then rushes to say, “I’m sorry. I love you. You’re amazing.” After the first few times I let it go. Around page 300 I had enough of this bullshit. I wanted there to be more mention on Luke and the relationship they had together. From what is mentioned about him is great, well described and heartfelt but it’s not enough to actually make me believe it as much as I wanted to. Another thing that I disliked is the way Matt’s thoughts start to change in the end. It happens at the very end and I was so mad about this. If the event happened sooner in the book, it would have been perfect, Matt would be able to experience something that isn’t anger and belief that there is no God. I wished it happened sooner.

Nonetheless, whenever Matt is not complaining about Hayden, there are a few good things going on. Like I mentioned before, the parts about Luke and his struggle as well as Matt’s struggles with it are fairly well done. I also liked the religion part of the book because it’s well down without feeling like I was being drowned in it. I also liked Matt as a character whenever he’s not fuming over Hayden. He’s well-developed otherwise, with strong traits and a troubling past. I enjoyed reading his story (and his story alone) because it’s quite relatable. Everyone experiences regret and I liked how Hopkins did this.

Rumble could have been so much better. Ellen Hopkins hasn’t been one to surround readers with too much romance before but with this one, you can smell it from a mile away. I hated this part of the book which is why I’m giving it a low rating. Despite this though, I still recommend this to people who like Ellen Hopkins and have enjoyed her previous books. Just beware of the romance and how much of the book it actually takes up.

3 Mediocre Clouds

3 Mediocre Clouds

 

For quotes from this book, click here.

Book Review: Play Me Backwards by Adam Selzer

18852053Play Me Backwards by Adam Selzer

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Genre: Contemporary and Young Adult

Release Date: August 26, 2014

Pages: 288 (Hardcover)

good good

Leon Harris isn’t exceptional and he isn’t popular. He’s the kind of guy that peaked in middle school, when once upon a time he was in the “gifted” program and on the fast track to Ivy League glory.

Now, a high school senior, he’s a complete slacker who spends his time hanging out in a third-rate ice cream parlor with his best friend, Stan, a guy who (jokingly, Leon thinks) claims to be Satan. Committed to his sloth, Leon panics when he finds out that Anna, the love of his life aka middle school girlfriend, might be moving back to town.

Determined to get his act together, Leon asks Stan for help. Stan gives him a few seemingly random and mysterious assignments. Date a popular girl. Listen to Moby-Dick, the audiobook. Find the elusive white grape slushee. Join the yearbook committee.

As each task brings Leon one step away from slacker city and one step closer to Anna, he starts to wonder if maybe he shouldn’t have promised Stan his soul after all…

First of all, I would like to thank the publisher, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers for giving me an ARC of this book to review. Thank you so much! Really appreciate it! All right, now for my review.

opinionAlways assume that a person named Stan is actually named Satan. That’s probably the first thing I picked up from this book. Oh, and that the Dark Lord is a complete ass. Play Me Backwards is a fun book about love, friendship, and knowing the difference between being a teen and an adult. I had a lot of fun reading this, and I really really REALLY want to go on a slushee adventure now. Definitely going on my high school grad bucket list to do. This book actually made me look back to what I was like when I was fourteen and all of my goals and expectations. I’ve changed a lot in those almost four short years but not in the way that I would have thought. This is one of the reasons why I could connect with Leon and why I think a lot of other people will be able to as well.

Right off the bat though, the book jumps into an albeit humorous, very long info-dump on the relationship between Leon and  Stan/Satan and how they became friends in the first place. And it’s not the only time that readers are forced to chew down a lot of information in one bite. It happens kind of a lot but I liked that even though Adam Selzer had a has a hard time expertly putting in some of the characters’ pasts into the story without boring readers, he at least makes it funny. If it weren’t for the humour, I really do believe that I would have skimmed through just about all of the references to the past. Another thing that I didn’t like is the middle of the book where everything just seems to kind of stand still. Things happen, sure, but it’s not things that matter. I truly did not care about Leon’s relationship with Paige though it took up a huge chunk of the story.

Play Me backwards is still a fun novel. I loved the writing. I know I say this a lot, but I usually love reading books in a male perspective better than a female solely because the writing is a hell of a lot more relaxed with a dash of humour in it. The random but awesome assignments that Stan gives Leon are great. I loved how much fun Leon has going around doing them. Moreover, the relationship between Leon and Stan is well done. I loved the journey that Leon goes through to improve himself and just how willing Stan is to help him. The characters are full of personality and enthusiasm (or lack of) that’s really realistic in teens. Adding onto this, Stan is amazing. He’s mysterious and plays his part well as the Devil.

If you don’t have a bucket list already, I suggest that you start one. Especially if you’re not a teenager. You must go on a slushee adventure and do at least one disaster dinner from an old cookbook. This book inspires random, weird, and awkward but in a way that’s relatable to most, if not all teens concerning their parents, friends, and grades. It was easy for me to love the book and laugh along with it. I recommend this one to everyone to read even if it’s just to pass the time. It’s kind of a jem, guys.

3.5 Interesting Clouds

3.5 Interesting Clouds

 

For quotes from this book, click here.