Review: PS, I Love You by Cecelia Ahern

ps i love youPS, I Love You by Cecelia Ahern

Published November 1st 2007

“Some people wait their whole lives to find their soul mates. But not Holly and Gerry. Childhood sweethearts, they could finish each other’s sentences and even when they fought, they laughed. No one could imagine Holly and Gerry without each other. Until the unthinkable happens. Gerry’s death devastates Holly. But as her 30th birthday looms, Gerry comes back to her. He’s left her a bundle of notes, one for each of the months after his death, gently guiding Holly into her new life without him, each note signed ‘PS, I Love You’. As the notes are gradually opened, and as the year unfolds, Holly is both cheered up and challenged. The man who knows her better than anyone sets out to teach her that life goes on. With some help from her friends, and her noisy and loving family, Holly finds herself laughing, crying, singing, dancing–and being braver than ever before. Life is for living, she realises–but it always helps if there’s an angel watching over you.”

The reason I read PS , I Love You is for my local book club. It wasn’t something I would ever pick up myself but I thought I’d give it a try. How bad could it be if it was made into a movie? This book is both better and worse than I thought it would be.

I was emotionally invested from surprisingly early on. I think it was around page nine that I got into the story. I thought Holly was an interesting character even though she wasn’t dealing with Gerry’s death well at all. But after a while, I really wanted to at least try to do something with her life.

Even though the reader only gets to know Gerry through flashbacks, I really liked him. He was really funny and he was a good match for Holly.

PS, I Love You is surprisingly poorly written. I could tell though out the whole book that this was a debut novel. The overall tone and style of the writing wasn’t very smooth and it felt like a draft instead of the finished book. Some the metaphors had me wanting to roll my eyes because they were so cheesy.

But the thing that bothered me most was the whole concept of this book. Gerry writes Holly a note for each month following his death. Holly was a having a really, really hard time dealing with his death before she got these notes. She would barely eat or take care of herself. But as second she got the list, she was almost instantly over it. She said herself that after her got the list, that Gerry didn’t seem dead anymore. It was more like he was away on a business trip or something. And because Holly spent a whole year with these notes, she was never able to properly grieve over Gerry’s death.  Because of the notes, Gerry prevented Holly from a healthy grieving process. I know that Gerry meant well but what he did was wrong.

Overall, whatever emotional investment I had in the first 100 pages of PS, I Love You quickly vanished due to poor writing and an overall concept that I just couldn’t get on board with. Do I think this book was a waste of my time? No. Do I think this book could have been loads better? Yes. I personally feel like this book is the aftermath of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green if Hazel and Gus were total idiots. I don’t really recommend this book unless you love fluffy contemporary or you aren’t a critical reader in shape or form.

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Review: Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston

frozen coverFrozen by Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston

Published September 17th 2013

“Welcome to New Vegas, a city once covered in bling, now blanketed in ice. Like much of the destroyed planet, the place knows only one temperature—freezing. But some things never change. The diamond in the ice desert is still a 24-hour hedonistic playground and nothing keeps the crowds away from the casino floors, never mind the rumors about sinister sorcery in its shadows.

At the heart of this city is Natasha Kestal, a young blackjack dealer looking for a way out. Like many, she’s heard of a mythical land simply called “the Blue.” They say it’s a paradise, where the sun still shines and the waters are turquoise. More importantly, it’s a place where Nat won’t be persecuted, even if her darkest secret comes to light.

But passage to the Blue is treacherous, if not impossible, and her only shot is to bet on a ragtag crew of mercenaries led by a cocky runner named Ryan Wesson to take her there. Danger and deceit await on every corner, even as Nat and Wes find themselves inexorably drawn to each other. But can true love survive the lies? Fiery hearts collide in this fantastic tale of the evil men do and the awesome power within us all.”

Frozen starts of with a really confusing prologue. Prologues are normally fairly confusing but this one extra confusing. I ended up skipped half of it because it seemed really irrelevant at this point in the story.

This book is very fast paced and as someone who lives for fact paced fantasy, this was my favorite thing about Frozen. And I loved how the entire book was fast paced. It never slowed down. It was surprisingly consistent though out the entire book.

I haven’t read any other books by Michael Johnston but I have read several of Melissa de la Cruz’s other books. And Frozen definitely had  Melissa’s mark stamped all over it. I find that all her books (that I’ve read) have a certain vibe and/or writing style about them that basically scream “Melissa de la Cruz wrote this!”. That’s not a bad thing by all means but in this case, Frozen being co-written, I was a little disappointed. I couldn’t see anything that really stood out as Michael Johnston’s style. Something that said he co-wrote this book.

The characters were all nice. There wasn’t anything that really annoyed me about them but I also couldn’t find anything that made me love them either. They were just…nice.

The world building was extremely poor. Nothing was really explained, there was no back story, or anything that told the reader how the world got to this point. And as a dystopia novel, this is really bad. I was extremely frustrated at times because all I wanted was some back story.

Overall, this is a pretty good book. It’s not really great but I didn’t find it to be horrible either. I loved how fasted paced it was but I really wish there was better world building. If you’re looking for a quick fantasy read, I would recommend this book out. Maybe borrow it from a friend or local library.

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April Book of The Month

We’re happy to announce that our April Book of The Month is Egg & Spoon by Gregory Maguire!
If you’d like to participate with us, grab the book Egg & Spoon, now or anytime in April, and use any form of social media (twitter,tumblr, and instagram) and use our hashtag : #bibliogatheringBOM to see what everyone’s been up to while reading Egg & Spoon!

Goodreads Summary :

20708810A fantasy set in Tsarist Russia.
Elena Rudina lives in the impoverished Russian countryside. Her father has been dead for years. One of her brothers has been conscripted into the Tsar’s army, the other taken as a servant in the house of the local landowner. Her mother is dying, slowly, in their tiny cabin. And there is no food. But then a train arrives in the village, a train carrying untold wealth, a cornucopia of food, and a noble family destined to visit the Tsar in Saint Petersburg — a family that includes Ekaterina, a girl of Elena’s age. When the two girls’ lives collide, an adventure is set in motion, an escapade that includes mistaken identity, a monk locked in a tower, a prince traveling incognito, and — in a starring role only Gregory Maguire could have conjured — Baba Yaga, witch of Russian folklore, in her ambulatory house perched on chicken legs.

Taylor and I are super excited for this one! We’ve been dying to read Egg & Spoon, it’s been on our shelves for months and we’ve just been aching to get our hands onto it and just dive in, which is why we picked this for this month.  So grab your copy of Egg & Spoon if you can and read along with us and wait for our joint review at the end of April, along with available comment/discussion space and the bottom. We hope you guys are as excited as we are!

Also, next month if we have enough of you following our Book of the Month as well as our blog, we’d love to try out a Reader’s Choice!

Review: Treasure Darkly by Jordan Elizabeth Mierek

treasure darkly coverTreasure Darkly by Jordan Elizabeth Mierek

Published February 16th 2015

“Seventeen-year-old Clark Treasure assumes the drink he stole off the captain is absinthe…until the chemicals in the liquid give him the ability to awaken the dead. A great invention for creating perfect soldiers, yes, but Clark wants to live as a miner, not a slave to the army—or the deceased. On the run, Clark turns to his estranged tycoon father for help. The Treasures welcome Clark with open arms, so he jumps at the chance to help them protect their ranch against Senator Horan, a man who hates anyone more powerful than he.

And he is not alone. His new-found sister, Amethyst, thinks that’s rather dashing, until Horan kidnaps her, and all she gets is a bullet through her heart. When Clark brings her back to life, she realizes he’s more than just street-smart – and he’s not really a Treasure. Amethyst’s boring summer at home has turned into an adventure on the run, chock full of intrigue, danger, love, and a mysterious boy named Clark.”

Can we just talk about this cover for a second? Because I love it so much. I love how the cover reveals that this book is clearly a steampunk novel. I love the girl on the cover and the colors. It’s just an awesome cover. I’m a little sad that I had this an ebook format because I would love to have on my shelf.  Okay, now that that’s out of my  system.

The prologue starts with Clark stealing and drinking a vial of some sort from a strange man’s coat. I had a lot of inner dialogue while reading this book and it all started at this moment in the prologue. Who drinks whatever’s in a weird vial that they just stole? Clark had no idea what it was! It could have been poison! It was at that moment, I learned that Clark was stupid. But other than that, the prologue was pretty good. It had me wanting more and even though Clark was an idiot, I wanted to know what happened to him.

Chapter 1 starts two years after the prologue ends. I normally have a hard time with massive jumps in time like this but in this book, it really worked well. Clark’s been in the run from the  government because he drank the vial and now he can awaken the dead.

The female protagonist is Amethyst, who happen’s to be Clark’s half-sister. At first I was super excited about this. The idea of a brother and sister teaming up and kicking butt seemed perfect to me. I feel like author’s are always putting unnecessary romance in Young Adult books these days. A brother/sister team would eliminate all the unnecessary romance and stick with just butt kicking action, right? Wrong! That’s right, Jordan Elizabeth Mierek went there. Even though both Clark and Amethyst know right from the moment they meet that they are siblings, Amethyst is encouraging Clark to like her and flaunting herself around. It’s nasty.  And even besides that, Amethyst is really over the top snobby and bratty. Why the author would write a protagonist, a female one on top of it, that’s so unlikable, I’ll never know. Nothing about Amethyst is promoting well written female characters in YA. If anything, she’s a character that’s holding the genre back from being taken seriously.

The “romance” or “love” between Clark and Amethyst is forced and unnecessary. This book should have been purely about Clark and his new-found powers. Not a brother and sister having some sort of wacky romance.  Because in a month, that’s all I’m going to remember about this book. How horrible the “romance” was.  And reasons Clark found Amethyst  attractive were so stupid! How is “naivety” is good thing in a girl? In anyone? I just… Ugh.

I could go on and on about how much I hate Amethyst. She is so stupid and shallow, it’s unbelievable. When the story switches from Clark’s perspective to Amethyst’s, the whole plot is put on hold for all her stupid ramblings. A line from her perspective that really stood out to me was, “She wondered if he’d eaten watercress before. She could introduce him to a new plate of tastes and textures. How exciting!”.

Overall, this book doesn’t promote well written, strong female characters in YA. I spent almost the entire book shaking my head. One thing that I will say that this book as going for it, it really got a rise out of me. I hated it and I’ve rarely been so angry at a book and fictional character. But  Jordan Elizabeth Mierek wrote book that really got me emotionally invested. Even if it was in a negative way.

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Review: Timebound by Rysa Walker

timebound coverTimebound by Rysa Walker

Published January 1st 2014

I’d never heard of this book before but when I randomly came upon it when browsing audio books, I thought the cover was really cool. I’m not a massive fan of time travel but I wanted to give Timebound a fair chance.

Timebound is about a girl named Kate who’s long lost grandma suddenly comes back into her life after a decade of absence. She gives Kate a strange glowing blue medallion and starts talking about time travel. When things start getting weird and dangerous, Kate learns she has the genetic ability to time travel and she has to travel back to Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 and change a chain of events and possibly change the modern day world as she knows it, including erasing the memory of herself from the mind of the boy, Kiernan, that she loves.

Timebound starts off with a really confusing prologue. I was so weirded out and I was hoping that the whole book wouldn’t be as confusing as the prologue. Luckily, it straightened out once it got past the prologue.

I thought the writing style was really good. It was really smooth and even though I read this as an audio book, it went really quick for a book that’s 366 pages. I think the overall reading time was about 6 hours. I always love it when books are written in a way that makes even the longest book become a quick read. And Rysa Walker definitely wrote this book to be a quick read.

I tend to find books with time travel to be either really complicated or really unrealistic. I thought Timebound was right in the middle. It was kind of over complicated at times. I thought the concept of the genetic ability to time travel was both original and mildly ridiculous. I mean, I want to be able to see a way that I can time travel. I’m pretty sure I don’t have the genetics to time travel so that was kind of a downer.

And Kate’s grandma dumps so much information on Kate (and the reader) in such a short amount of time that I felt myself drifting off. I started to concentrate more on playing Animal Crossing then all the info that Kate’s grandma was dumping on me and her. I wish all the  information could have been spread out more so I could really take it all in better.

The characters are all fairly okay.  Kate is a pretty general character.  Actually, all the characters are pretty standard Young Adult characters. I didn’t find Kate to be extremely annoying but I also didn’t fall in love with her. She wasn’t abnormally interesting or different.

The thing I hated about this book is how the author turned Kate into a complete idiot when ever she was around Kiernan. Early in the book we learn that Kate has experience in martial arts but somehow, whenever a boy is around to save her, she can’t save herself. She becomes so helpless and I hated that.

I wish the overall story had been more about Kate saving the world and kicking butt instead of such a romance. I wish it focused more on Kate and not Kiernan and Kate.

I did like how much the author described the settings and clothes. It really helped me get a good picture of Chicago in 1893. The author clearly did a  great deal of research and it really showed.

Overall, this was a good read. I enjoyed listening to it and it was fun. I was mildly annoyed at times with the author’s choices with the main character but I didn’t hate the overall character. There isn’t really anything that stands out with this book though. It’s a fun, fast read but there’s nothing extremely memorable about the characters or plot. The writing is really good and I appreciate how much research Rysa Walker put into the book. However, I doubt I’ll be continuing with the series. If you’re a massive fan of time travel, I do recommend this book. But if you’re looking for really memorable characters or a really stand out plot,  you might want to skip this one.

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Review: Hinges: Clockwork City by Meredith McClaren

Hinges Book 1 Clockwork City

Hinges: Clockwork City (Hinges #1) by Meredith McClaren

Published March 10th 2015

I’ve recently started reading comic books and graphic novels and I’ve really found myself loving them. They’re great to read in between books or during a reading slump. When I seen the cover for Clockwork City, I was immediately excited. The artwork looked similar to the artwork of my favorite graphic novel series of all time, Saga. I was hoping beyond hope that it was from the same publishing company,  Image Comics. And it was! My excitement grew to a whole new level.

Hinges: Clockwork City is about a doll named Orio and her familiar, Bauble. Orio was recently assigned Bauble. Orio wants to blend in but Bauble is a complete trouble maker so chaos ensues.

I loved this graphic novel so much! It was so interesting and fun. The artwork was beautiful. I really liked Orio but Bauble was so awesome! He was so cute and funny. Hinges reminds me of Lilo and Stitch in a way.

The concept is so cool and different. I like that Orio is a doll. It’s just so awesome and interesting.

This isn’t a very large graphic novel, only 112 pages, and it does feel a little too short. There isn’t a lot of dialogue so it’s a really quick read. I wish I could have spent an hour reading this instead of 15 minutes. And I wish I had #2 right away! But that’s just a little thing.

Overall, I loved Hinges: Clockwork City. If you’re looking for a new graphic novel series to fall in love with or you’re just wanting to get into graphic novels and you don’t know where to start, I highly recommend Hinges. I read this in an ebook format and I’ll definitely be getting it in paperback soon.

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Review: Rise Again by Ben Tripp

Rrise againise Again by Ben Tripp 

Published October 26th 2010

I’d seen Rise Again randomly on BookOutlet.com at the end of last year and I’d never heard of it before. The cover looked really awesome and I love horror and  post apocalyptic so this seemed like the perfect book for me. I was a little hesitant because I’d never heard of it before but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this book.

Rise Again is about Sheriff Danielle Adelman who is suffering from PTSD from her time Iraq. She’s struggling to take care of herself and her younger sister when her sister runs away and dozens of people start to get sick. Danielle soon learns that the zombie apocalypse has started and she needs to find her sister and save a few survivors along the way.

I was a little unsure for the first 30 pages of this book. I rarely read books outside of YA and I’m always doubtful when I start anything that’s not Young Adult. But, after the first 30 pages, I could see that I was completely wrong. It was going to be really great. And it was.

To be honest, the first 20 pages didn’t really hit me right. I couldn’t relate to the main character, Danny, and I didn’t know her well enough to feel any sort of empathy. But right around page 50, when crap got real, I really started to get into the story.

Danny was a great main character. She kicked so much butt and didn’t get caught up in any stupid drama. She didn’t dwell on what ifs and how horrible everything was. She got crap done and she kicked butt while doing it.  And while I couldn’t even really relate to her, I really starting rooting for her and I liked her a lot.

I really liked how the story split off into two perspectives in the middle of the book. It sounds like a weird thing for the author to do but it really worked well for the story.

The writing style and all that good stuff was awesome. I couldn’t believe that this was a debut book. Ben Tripp knows how to write a great story.

The plot was so well thought out! I think that’s my favorite thing about this book. It was clear that Tripp had really thought about where he wanted to story to go and how to get it there. Some books, it feels like the writer was just making it up as they went, with no real end game. But Rise Again had a great story line. It was amazing.

I also really loved how this book didn’t have any romance. It was purely about Danny and her trying to save herself and others. Danny got to be the main character and nothing took away from that.

I really liked the zombies that Tripp created. They were fairly original, I thought. Not to the point of being weird and dumb but just a fresh take on zombies.

I live fairly close to where the last half this book takes place so that was so creepy and scary! As I was reading, I was like, Oh my gosh I know where that town is! It really added to the realistic writing.

Overall, I was tremendously impressed with this book. It was well written with a new take on an old idea. If you’re looking for a really good horror and/or zombie book, I recommend this book. And after an ending like that, I have a mighty need for book two!

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Recommendation Friday #1

rec fridayHi everyone! Stephanie and I created a new weekly meme called  Recommendation Friday. Every Friday, one of us will give a new book recommendation! If you want to join us, we would love that! All we ask is a mention/link back to our blog and leave the link to your Recommendation Friday in the comments to we can check it out.

not a drop to drink coverThis week my recommendation is one of my all time favorite books, Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis. Not a Drop to Drink is about a girl named Lynn who lives a post apocalyptic America where water is extremely hard to come by. Her mother taught her to defend the small pond in their backyard at all costs. Soon, things start to change and Lynn finds herself defending the pond towards new threats .The tag line of the book is “Regret was for people with nothing to defend, people who had no water” and I think that’s one of my favorite tag lines for a book that I’ve ever seen. This is such an amazing debut novel! I read it back in 2013, it’s release year,  and my love for this book is still going strong. It has so much drama and excitement! It was so hard for me to put this book down. The writing is amazing and Lynn is an insanely awesome protagonist. I’m always searching for strong, well written female protagonists and Lynn is perfect. Not a Drop to Drink is so action packed and I loved every word of this book. I’m definitely going to be reread this book this year. I highly, highly recommend this book to everyone.

Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

all the bright places coverAll the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Published January 6th 2015

I’d seen so many great reviews on All the Bright Places and so many people told me it was their new favorite book of all time. I was very hesitant to read this book because of the hype. I  didn’t want to get my hopes up really high so I started All the Bright Places with an extremely open mind. And I was very surprised by this book in several different ways.

All the Bright Places is about a boy named Finch who is almost always thinking about death and dying. It’s also about a girl named Violet who is grieving over her sister’s recent death. These two kids meet in an unexpected way and the book follows them as their friendship progresses.

I finished this book four days ago and I still can’t stop thinking about it. That’s very rare for me because I normally finished a book and then move on to the next. Very few books will stop me in my tracks. But All the Bright Places did.

The first 176 pages of this book were… weird for me. I don’t know what it was but I just couldn’t get fully into the book. I liked it a lot and I knew it was an amazing book but I just couldn’t feel it as much as I knew I should. I think it’s because I’ve been reading a crap ton of contemporary lately and deep down I really wanted to be reading fantasy. But while the thought of putting this book on hold crossed my mind a of couple times in the first 176 pages, I also was outraged at myself for wanting to stop reading. So I keep reading. When I hit page 178, something clicked in my brain and I finally felt this book. I suddenly felt everything that I should have been feeling since page one and I all but rushed though the rest of the book because I was amazed by how beautiful this book is and how amazing Jennifer Niven is for writing such a master piece.

People have been comparing this book to John Green’s books and Rainbow Rowell’s which at first upset me a little bit because those two are insane writers. I love their books and no one could ever be compared to them. But Jennifer Niven can. She’s amazing. The way she pieces words together, it’s almost poetic. Everything she writes just seems perfect and understandable in a way words can’t describe.

Finch and Violet somehow seem less than fictitious. They both seemed so real and tangible. And the more I read their story the more I wanted to know them. I wanted to be able to talk to them and tell them it’s gonna be okay. Somehow Jennifer Niven wrote two amazingly complex and beautiful characters that can become much more than fictional characters.

Overall, this book is beautiful and heartfelt in a way that’s not common in literature. I still feel stunned by All the Bright Places even though I finished it days ago. This book has really stood out for me in a way that I won’t soon forget. This book swept me up in its whirlwind of magnificent storytelling and hasn’t let me go. I’ll be rereading this book in the near future and I highly recommend picking up this book sometime soon.

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ARC review: The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten

T19543156he Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten

Published March 10th 2015

I wasn’t really sure what this book was about when I received this ARC. The cover is kinda cool with the bright yellow and the boy with the super hero mask. I was very tentative when I looked on GoodReads to see what the synopsis was.

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B is about a support group of teenagers with obsessive-compulsive order. It focuses on a character named Adam who is almost 15. His mom and dad are divorced and he has his hands full with new stepsiblings. He meets a girl named Robyn at his OCD support group and he falls in love with her right away. Adam struggles to keep his life together with his new family and his OCD.

The first four pages of this book are indescribable. I wasn’t not prepared for the complete disaster that is Adam’s inner monologue. It took about 26 pages for me to get my thoughts together but the plot didn’t get better.

I felt like the only redeemable quality about this book is how it teaches the reader about OCD. I’d read OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu in 2013 so I knew about OCD and how hard it is for the people who have it so that little nugget of information so almost completely irrelevant to me.

It was insanely difficult to relate to the characters. Not only because of their OCD but just in general. I did feel really bad for Adam at times and I didn’t fall in love with him or the other characters. I just couldn’t connect with them.

The writing was really poor, in my opinion. Lack of description and just overall weirdness didn’t do this book any favors. The third person narrative felt choppy and had so many mistakes. It would go back and forth from “Adam’s mom” to “Mrs. Ross” when referring to the same person. A sentence that really messed with my head was “Adam must have nodded, because they did.” Just…What? I was, and still am, so confused by that. What does that even mean? I’ve seen a couple other reviewers that have also been left confused by that sentence.

Overall, this is book is really boring and has no substance to the plot. I couldn’t connect with the characters or become emotionally invested in anything. The only redeemable quality about this book is how it might teach people about OCD and how serious is it. But OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu also does that and I liked that book a lot more. If you or someone you know has OCD or OCD is relevant to you, this book will be different for you. You might like it or love it. You’ll probably be able to relate to the characters in ways I couldn’t. This book has a particular group of people that it will really hit home for but it just wasn’t for me.

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