Wednesday, March 20, 2019

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus
Published May 30, 2017
Summary on Goodreads

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Review:
This was actually an incredibly entertaining novel. I picked up for a group buddy read and found myself thoroughly enjoying the mystery and the slow anticipation of the reveal of what had actually happened. Afterward, I saw on Goodreads that a lot of people didn’t seem to enjoy the ending but for me, I thought it was a great twist. To be fair, I did suspect that relatively early on but at the same time, the book had just started and I was just starting to get to know the characters so it was really all up in the air. 

I thoroughly enjoyed reading about all of the characters – Bronwyn and Nate were definitely my favorite. I liked their chemistry and how they truly got to know one another before starting to like each other. There was no insta love and the romance felt legit. Addy definitely grew the most from the beginning of the book to the end. She matured a lot and I came to really respect her at the end. In the beginning, she seemed like your average airheaded popular girl but she really grew during the ordeal. As for Cooper, I found him to be the most surprising. Something about him gets revealed and that completely blew my mind because I simply didn’t expect it. And the obstacles he faced because of that was raw and emotional. I thought that the author did a fantastic job with not only developing the main characters but others in the sideline as well especially their family. 

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I loved the twists and turns – just when you thought you know the real culprit, something else happens. And despite it being a murder mystery/thriller novel, it’s actually a super-fast and fun read – perfect for the beach, honestly.
Rating:
🌟🌟🌟🌟

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Monday, March 18, 2019

Internment by Samira Ahmed

Internment by Samira Ahmed
Published March 19, 2019
Summary on Goodreads

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Review:
Wow, what a fantastic book! The emotions that the author evoked from me throughout this entire book was incredible. I would definitely say that the beginning gave me the most anxiety simply due to the fact that I was so terrified for what was going to happen to Layla and her family as they are suddenly uprooted from their home to an internment camp. And the way how Samira depicted and portrayed complicit silence was absolutely stunning. It really made me think and rethink how I would react if I was in that situation – either as an internee or someone looking in. Would I speak up or would I keep my head down to avoid trouble? 

While I do believe that this book is incredibly powerful and necessary to read in the face of what is reality these days, at the same time, I do think that the book started off really strong, had a bit of a stagnant middle and then ended again on a strong note. For me, the biggest reason for that stagnant is Layla’s character herself. I do find her courageous and brave for speaking up and taking the lead in the rebellion and for fighting for what is right. At the same time though, I do want to mention that she is still very much a teenage girl and that really showed. There were numerous times when she would complain or risk everything just so she can talk to her boyfriend. While I commend her for taking risks, I did find that the risks that she took in those cases were frivolous and unnecessary. And it wasn’t just because those reasons weren’t important but also because she put everyone else around her in danger as well. 

That being said though, this book was absolutely fantastic and I cannot recommend this book enough. It was scary to see what our future might look like due to our leaders being afraid. But the scariest thing is that this scenario looks extremely likely in today’s world. There were numerous times when the author compared the internment camp to that of the Japanese ones back in WWII and I couldn’t help but shudder and think that we, as a people, still haven’t learned from our mistakes from almost 100 years ago.

Originally I wanted to give this book 5* but I think after reflecting a little more, I'm going to rate this book 4.5*. 
Rating:
🌟🌟🌟🌟1/2

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Sunday, March 17, 2019

The Cold Is in Her Bones by Peternelle van Arsdale

The Cold Is in Her Bones by Peternelle van Arsdale
Published January 22, 2019
Summary on Goodreads

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Review:
The myth of Medusa has always intrigued me so when I found out that there was going to be a book based on Medusa, I was immediately intrigued. However, I don’t think that this book really delivered. It just wasn’t what I had been expecting because it wasn’t as close to the Medusa legend as I had initially anticipated. Especially because the actual Medusa part was the hair – nothing else seemed even remotely similar to the original legend. The pacing was also incredibly slow and I ended up getting a massive migraine by the end of it which is always a bad sign. 

The one thing I did enjoy was the message about how society treats girls and how the idea of being “less” to someone is determined based on their temperament (i.e. how well-behaved they are) and their looks (i.e. if they’re pretty or not). I found that to be intriguing and thought that the author did a good job with presenting that concept. 

Unfortunately though, that’s honestly the only positive thing I can say about this book. The rest of the book was just strange especially in the latter half. The character, Milla, had some potential but then the plot just got away (basically she decided to run headfirst into danger despite having warning signs right in front of her) and I simply lost interest in her. 

At the end of the day, this book had a lot of potential and high hopes from me but unfortunately I found the execution to be lacking, the character underdeveloped, and nothing particularly interesting. Even the fact that it’s supposed to be Medusa inspired was somewhat false since literally the only thing related to Medusa was the snake hairs. Nothing else.
Rating:
🌟🌟

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Saturday, March 16, 2019

Between the Lines Series by Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer

Between the Lines Series by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer
Published 2012-2015
Summaries on Goodreads

Buy Links:
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Review:
This was such an adorable read! Though the book certainly isn’t up to Jodi’s usual writing standards due to the fact that this book is actually co-written with her teenage daughter, I still found it enjoyable and entertaining. The idea of a prince coming to life from the pages of a book and actually falling in love with the reader was fascinating to read about. I would also like to state that this is definitely a book where you can’t read objectively otherwise you’ll end up nitpicking certain things about it to no end. It’s supposed to be read as a fairytale and that helped shaped my outlook while reading it. 

There were definitely a ton of stereotypical fairytale clichΓ©s such as the prince always getting the princess, the evil villain being vanquished, and of course there had to be a dragon involved. However, what made this book stand out to me was how that despite what we read in fairytales, the characters actually have their own lives in the book when they’re not being read. For example, that evil villain? He actually likes to draw in his free time. The brave steed that the prince rides to save the princess? He’s actually super self-conscious of his size specifically his butt. Little things like that made me laugh out loud while reading the book. 

I also liked reading about the lengths that Delilah and Oliver went through just to simply free him from the pages. Some of the ideas were very outlandish but extremely fun to read about. I also liked the fact that despite being from extremely different worlds, I mean, Oliver is literally a prince in a children’s fairy tale, they somehow managed to bridge those differences and the two worlds and fall in love. 

Overall, this series is quite fun to read. There were a lot of ups and downs in terms of their situations and how they tried to solve it. I do wish that Delilah’s best friend had a happier ending but unfortunately she really took a backseat for most of the story despite being a relatively main side character. I would still recommend this book if you’re just looking for an entertaining novel with fairytales, princes, magic and romance.
Rating:
🌟🌟🌟🌟

LET'S CHAT!  IF YOU CAN PICK, WHICH BOOK BOYFRIEND WOULD YOU WANT TO COME TO LIFE?  LET ME KNOW πŸ’•

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Friday, March 15, 2019

Weekly Author Fridays featuring Laura Pohl - Guest Post

I am incredibly excited to share this author's guest post this week!  This week, I am featuring Laura Pohl, author of The Last 8.


About Laura
I was born in Braunschweig, Germany to Brazilian parents who love to travel. I lived most of my life in Curitiba, but when I was 13, I moved to the other side of the world to live in Sydney, Australia. That’s where I first started learning English, and I devoured every single book in the middle-grade and young-adult section of the Marrickville Library.

After spending one year in Sydney, I moved back to Cutiriba to finish high school. That’s where I first started writing, and spent some of my days writing both Naruto as well as Percy Jackson fanfiction, and decided I wanted to become an author. At 18, I moved (again) to SΓ£o Paulo where I went to major in Literature in the University of SΓ£o Paulo. I now work as a freelance editor.

I love reading, quoting Hamilton, fangirling about Star Wars and writing pretty much all of my messages in caps lock. My favorite food is lasagna, though I never learned how to cook it. I’m also a big fan of dachshunds, and have two to call my own.

About The Last 8
Clover Martinez has always been a survivor, which is the only reason she isn’t among the dead when aliens invade and destroy Earth as she knows it.

When Clover hears an inexplicable radio message, she’s shocked to learn there are other survivors—and that they’re all at the former Area 51. When she arrives, she’s greeted by a band of misfits who call themselves The Last Teenagers on Earth.

Only they aren’t the ragtag group of heroes Clover was expecting. The group seems more interested in hiding than fighting back, and Clover starts to wonder if she was better off alone. But then she finds a hidden spaceship, and she doesn’t know what to believe… or who to trust.

How it was to Write an Ensemble Cast
By Laura Pohl

One of the things I never set out to write but ended up doing it always were ensemble casts.

For those of you who don’t know, ensemble casts are what we call a book when it has a large set of characters who are friends, or who are all main characters, usually a group of four or more people. They’re common in certain types of movies and tv shows, and you may have seen them around—in books like Six of Crows, The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, The Raven Boys, Cinder. In movies, as in Ocean’s Eleven or Inception.

I’ve always been a person who has large groups of friends. I didn’t interact always with one person, but often two or more—tight-knit groups through middle school, a large group in high school, and a smaller group in college. In a way, this has shaped me deeply on the way I write friendships. It’s always about groups of friends, rather than a friendship between only two people.

This isn’t different from The Last 8. As you may have guessed from the title, there are 8 people in the group of teens who survive the wiping out of humanity by the invading aliens. When people ask whether I based the characters on anyone I know, the answer is no and yes.

Yes, because I’ve always known groups of people who are friends, who have their differences but put it aside out of love for each other. We’re different, but we’re alike in all the ways that count—we care about the same things, we like to ask the same questions, and we all support each other. That’s the dynamic I wanted to keep while writing.

The answer is no because The Last Teenagers on Earth aren’t like any of my friends. I don’t base characters on people I know. Sometimes I borrow names or appearances or a tiny sliver of someone’s personality, but it’s never more than that. Characters are their own people for me, and I build them in pieces, pitching in from different places and different things I’ve learned.

The thing about writing ensemble casts is that each character must be distinct from each other, and yet still work together in a scene where you can see why they get along so well. Why they fit inside the same group. When I was working in The Last 8, this came up often. Each character has a different type of personality and way to react to something. They all have one thing in common—they survived the alien apocalypse. Each of them, though, deals with things in a different way.

Clover’s blunt and sincere. Andy’s a big nerd, Brooklyn never stops talking, Flint is done with everything, Rayen is keen on fighting back, Adam is kind, Avani is studious and nervous, Violet is bossy and doesn’t like to be contradicted. And yet, in each scene, I had to bring them together. I had to show readers they were completely different people, but also show why it made sense that they were a group. Why they worked best as a group of friends.

The advice I can give is thinking about how it works in real life. Not often your group of friends will agree on everything. I have friends whom I disagree with everything regarding pop culture (I love a book, they hate it, and vice-versa) and that never stops us from being friends, because we both like to discuss what makes us love or hate things. Look at the dynamics between groups and see how it works—there’s always someone who’s more opinionated, someone who’s passionate about a specific subject, someone who listens more than talk. And it not only affects the group, but affects individual interactions as well. While the group together works in one way, it’s not always that the dynamic will be the same when two people are alone.

Ensemble casts are one of my favorite tropes, and I hope to keep writing them, in different ways, using different dynamics. Each character brings an addition to the group and to the story itself, serving a narrative purpose but to also reflect on real life, on how people can be so different from each other and still fit together.

Think of each character as a star—when put together with others, they form a constellation, but that doesn’t mean they don’t shine on their own.

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LET'S CHAT! WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU WERE ONE OF THE LAST TEEN (OR PERSON) LEFT ON EARTH?  HOW WOULD YOU SURVIVE WITH THIS GROUP OF PEOPLE?  LET ME KNOW! πŸ’•

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