Book Review: The Wild Book by Juan Villoro, Lawrence Schimel (Translator)

The Wild Book by Juan Villoro, Lawrence Schimel (Translator)

Publisher: Restless Books

Genre:Fantasy and Young Adult

Release Date: November 14, 2017

Pages: 240 (Hardcover)

Juan is looking forward to spending the summer having adventures with his best friend when he gets terrible news: not only are his parents separating, but he has to go live with his strange uncle Tito, who lives in a rambling home with three cats and about one million books. Shy and wary, Juan starts to explore Tito’s library, which is unlike any Juan has ever seen: the books are arranged in strange sections like “Motors That Make No Noise,” “Cheeses That Stink But Taste Delicious,” and “How to Govern Without Being President,” and some of them seem to change location each time you look for them. In fact, Tito tells him that a book finds a reader when it’s needed, and not the other way around.

Soon, Tito lets his nephew in on a secret: Juan is a Princeps Reader, to whom books respond in a very special way, and Tito needs his help finding a special volume called The Wild Book, which has never allowed itself to be read. Juan is joined in the quest by his little sister and the pretty girl who works at the pharmacy across the street, and together they battle the nefarious Pirate Book, which steals words out of existing stories. Over the summer, with the help of his new friends, Juan learns all sorts of secrets about world classics from Alice in Wonderland to The Metamorphosis, and overcomes his fear of change and the unfamiliar.

It should be said that Translations are tricky. Most times, they are not that great, they miss the point and style the author tries to convey. While I’ve read a few, this one, I believe, expresses the author’s intentions excellently because I loved this novel despite being geared towards a younger audience. The illustrations are also so insanely beautiful, the different ways in which the books come to life and illustrate the stories hidden inside of them. It’s awesome.

The entire adventure is great, the passion both Juan and Catalina display towards helping uncle Tito to find the wild book and using clever ideas like their own interests to greet the book. I also loved the books themselves–the personification put into them, the way they had real, honest emotions and even got sick is such a beautifully written and executed. The story is extremely intricate and the in-depth descriptions it gives of the different rooms, like the shadow room and the stature room is also beautiful.  Juan Villoro and Lawrence Schimel do a fantastic job with the writing and style (and so do all of the editors!). The story simply flows and reads off the page, it was hard to put this one down.

Luckily, the things that bothered me within this story are few. They pretty much all have to do with the ending. And looking at upon my notes, I do realize that this story is for a very young audience but still. I did not like the way it was so neatly tied up. It glosses over the good bits about Juan as an adult and how him and Catalina meet again or even after the summers ends. It’s just too tidy for my liking. It would have been nice if they explained the wild book more in-depth as they decided to do with other books.

Nonetheless, this story is a lot of fun. It relies on other stories and the imagination in order to get across to readers and it’s a light read. The characters are well-developed and I enjoyed reading all about their adventures, especially uncle Tito. I would love a story solely on him and his adventures in that beautiful library.

4 Dreamy Clouds

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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

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.