ARC Review: Becoming Darkness – Lindsay Francis Brambles [DNF]

Becoming Darkness – Lindsay Francis Brambles

22095753Like everyone else living in Haven, seventeen-year-old Sophie Harkness is an Immune–a carrier of the genetic mutation that protects her from the virus Hitler unleashed upon the world more than half a century ago. A virus that wiped out most of humanity and turned two-hundred million people into vamps. But after her best friend is brutally murdered and several attempts are made on her own life, Sophie becomes determined to find answers to what seems to be a conspiracy running generations deep. And when she questions the peace treaty that keeps her small community protected, Sophie begins to discover terrible truths about herself and what it means to be human in a world ruled by darkness.

Lindsay Brambles’ debut young adult novel is a story of an alternate universe: Hitler won the war, our modern technologies never evolved, and the Nazis’ terrifying reign still continues. This fast-paced novel will appeal to readers who guzzle up genre mashups and are looking for a fresh hybrid to sweep them away.

Release Date: October 1st, 2015

Thank you to NetGalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review!

I thought I had written a review for this, but apparently I only wrote one on Goodreads? So I copied it here, in case, you were wondering how I felt about this book. Also, feel free to add me as a friend!

I gave up somewhere around page 350, then skimmed the last 10 pages to see if I was missing anything spectacular (I don’t think I did).

The Twilight vibes were too strong with this one (and not in a good way). I get that it’s set in 2004-ish, but that doesn’t mean it has to read like a book that was actually written/popular in 2004.

Loved the concept, and I thought it would be really interesting to explore that alternate world, but the plot focused so much on Sophie/Val and their creepy relationship, I kept forgetting they were even in an alternate future. And their romance wasn’t even hot enough for me to be okay with the lack of world-building especially since I spent most of the book wondering why she was okay with his past.

As sexist as it sounds, it is just me or are male authors not always the best when it comes to writing romance? I can think of more books-by-dudes where I felt nothing between the main characters than I can of books-by-ladies (I looking at you, Thomas Sniegoski).

Also, as other reviews have pointed out, it was a little odd that, in a book with its roots in WWII, there was no mention of a Jewish person until over 300 pages in.

I always feel terrible when I give up on a book (this is my first unfinished book this year!) because I know how much work goes into it, but I couldn’t connect with any of the characters and I have a very large stack of books calling my name. No offense to anyone who loved this one :)

Rating:

interrobang transparent

1.5 interrobangs at the most.


P.S. Don’t forget to enter this giveaway for an ebook of J.P. Grider’s Naked and Far From Home, courtesy of Xpresso Book Tours!

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ARC Review: Hawthorn – Jamie Cassidy

Hawthorn – Jamie Cassidy

25627476A house on a hill.
A house filled with mirrors.
A house with eyes that watch their every move.

Learmonth village has a history, a past that they hold dear, superstitions that they cling fast to. Learmonth House, however, is governed by its own set of rules, its own past and Gemma and her family are about to discover just what those rules are. 

Learmonth has a pact with the darkness and the darkness is hungry.

Release Date: May 28th, 2015

Thank you to NetGalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review!

I had conflicting feelings about this book – the first half was meh, but the second half was much better.

What I liked:

-the creepy factor was on point. I admit to feeling a little freaked out a couple of times and vowed not to read it at night because I have enough imagination issues without being scared of my full-length mirror. I love the idea of reading horror, even though I know it messes with my brain, so, while this wasn’t full on scare-your-pants-off, it was satisfying.

-I liked the multiple POVs for the most part, though I did sometimes find it hard to differentiate between who was talking, particularly in part one where I mixed up Gemma and Jules at least twice.

-I enjoyed that the family wasn’t “traditional” – Gemma’s parents were divorced, but her mother found love with a woman. Yay for LGBTQ representation! And I thought it was cute that there was such a big age gap between Gemma and her younger twin siblings (mostly because I come from a family with big age gaps too!).

-the faery-world reminded me of Holly Black’s faerie books which are excellent and among the first urban fantasy YA books I read (definitely some of the first faerie books I read).

-the second half of the book was written in a more disjointed way as Gemma struggled with her experiences and with the appearance of Night Mary, but I honestly would have preferred if the entire book was written that way – I thought it was much more compelling, even if it was confusing.

What I didn’t like:

-Gemma seemed younger than 16-17. There was something about her personality that made her seem more like a thirteen year old, especially when it came to her first “boyfriend”, Liam.

-I also didn’t agree with the way she griped about Liam tutoring the “slutty” girl at their old school. First of all, slut shaming isn’t cool. Second of all, double-standards aren’t cool either. It wasn’t okay for Liam to be helping another girl (even before they were “together”), but there was no problem with Gemma literally throwing herself at Sam and/or the other guy whose name I can’t remember. Uncool, Gemma, uncool.

Apart from laughing my face off when Gemma described Sam as “the love interest in a paranormal young adult novel” (in those exact words!! How does that help me imagine him??), the writing was decent – a good amount of description and great at creating a creepy atmosphere.

I’d be interested in reading some other books by these authors (Jamie/Amos Cassidy is the pseudonym for two people!).

Rating:

3 interrobangs

ARC Review: A Year in the Life of a Complete and Total Genius – Stacey Matson + GIVEAWAY

A Year in the Life of a Complete and Total Genius – Stacey Matson

26111783Arthur believes that he is destined to become a famously rich novelist. The first step in his journey to literary greatness will be winning the school writing contest, which will also (hopefully) distract him from the untimely death of his mother. Unfortunately, Arthur can’t come up with a good story, unlike his beautiful writing partner Kennedy, who he’s sure will ditch her popular boyfriend and fall in love with him sometime soon. Even Robbie Zack, Arthur’s nemesis, has an idea! As the competition draws closer, and as his father drifts further and further away, how far with Arthur go to win?

Release Date: November 3rd, 2015

Thank you to NetGalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review! And thanks to the kind people (especially Kathryn Lynch) at Sourcebooks for providing a giveaway – head to the bottom of the post for your chance to win a copy (open to Canada and the US until November 30th!).

A few months ago, I went on a Susin Nieslen binge, and this would have been the perfect follow-up!

What I liked:

-I’m a sucker for epistolary books to begin with, which is probably one of the reasons why I requested this. It wasn’t just standard journal entries – there were emails and classroom notes and sometimes cute little drawings. Love it!

-the plot was cute and relatively simple, but it had a lot of heart and there were some sad moments. It had that bittersweet quality that, in my opinion, all good contemporary middle grade fiction should have (hence the Susin Nielsen comparison).

-Arthur was a strong character – you really got a sense of his personality from the very first page (check out the excerpt from chapter one at the end of this post!). And while you don’t know much about his dad, there’s enough to form an understanding of their relationship and how it changed after Arthur’s mom died.

-Arthur’s struggle with writing, in particular his great ideas but inability to put them on the page, really spoke to me as an aspiring writer myself. It was easy to relate to him as he tried to figure out a way to get around his writer’s block in time to enter the school story-writing contest.

-his “love interest” Kennedy and rivalry with Robbie Zack was funny and age-appropriate (I sound so old when I say stuff like that). It was cute and innocent and provided a lot of the humour, including Kennedy’s enthusiastic emails.

What I didn’t like:

-Arthur could be frustrating in his obstinate way. I understood that it was a quirk in his personality and all good characters have flaws, but there were a couple of times when I just wanted to yell at him. Like you would with a normal 13 year old, I suppose.

If you’re looking for a quick but satisfying middle grade read, this is a wonderful option! Stacey Matson’s writing is charming and will draw you right into Arthur’s world.

Rating:

4 interrobangs

GIVEAWAY!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Excerpt from A Year in the Life of a Complete and Total Genius:

The Next Great Bestselling Novel (Title to be announced)

By Arthur Bean

Once upon a time there was

There was once a

A long time ago

Yesterday

Today

America is awesome! This is because

A boy and his unicorn sat on the grass and the unicorn could talk and said

Murder! There’s been a very violent murder!

Dear Ms. Whitehead,

As you know, I haven’t been in class yet, but my next-door neighbor Nicole suggested that I write you a letter since I will be starting soon. I don’t really know what to write to you. Maybe I will tell you a little about myself so that you feel like I started school at the same time as everyone else.

My name is Arthur Aaron Bean, but I normally just go by Arthur. I spent the summer at my grandparents’ house in Balzac. It was a long summer. I actually live in one of the apartment buildings pretty close to the school. I like to knit and watch movies, sometimes at the same time. I’m a very good multi-tasker. I like creative writing, so I hope that we will do that and that I didn’t miss it. I was probably the best writer in my elementary school, and I plan on getting rich as a novelist when I’m a grown-up. I don’t have any siblings, but my cousin Luke is kind of like my twin brother.

My most profound work so far is the heartwarming story called “Sockland.” In this short story, a little boy climbs into the dryer during a game of hide-and-seek with his older brothers. He is accidentally shrunk and crawls through the dryer vent into Sockland. Sockland is a land where missing socks go to live. He enjoys it for a while, but then finds that single socks are very boring, and needs to find a way to get home. He then gets the socks to help him by promising to send their partners through the tunnel, and he crawls back up into the dryer to rejoin humanland.

Mrs. Lewis said it was highly original and that I showed real promise in becoming the next J.K. Rowling. The secretary told me that I’m in a class with some of the people from my elementary school so that I would feel more comfortable. Actually, she didn’t say people, she said some of my friends. This may seem weird, because I wasn’t really friends with a lot of the people in my elementary school. Actually, most of my friends went to the Catholic school next door to our school, and so I saw them all the time. I did have a couple of friends like Oliver, but mostly I wasn’t friends with people in my elementary school class. Besides, who would want to be friends with guys like Robbie Zack? I’m not friends with people who spell thoughts as thots. Good luck with that one. He’s what my mother called “a handful of trouble with a capital T.”

Yours truly,

Arthur Bean

ARC Review: Saved By the Bell (Graphic Novel) – Joelle Sellner

Saved By the Bell – Joelle Sellner, Chynna Clugston Flores (Illustrator), Tim Fish (Illustrator)

25916650The classic TV series gets an update for today’s brand new high-schoolers as the coolest kids at Bayside High start their freshman year!

All your favorite characters – Zack, Slater, Kelly, Lisa, Screech and Jessie (and Mr. Belding, of course!) – are starting freshman year at Bayside High, trading in brick phones and mullets for iPhones and Twitter accounts. Does Lisa’s fashion show get on the air, and will Screech ever leave her alone? Will Jessie get that A+? And, most importantly, who’s Kelly going to go out with – preppy Zack or new star athlete A.C. Slater? It’s alright, ‘cause we’re saved by the bell!

Release Date: July 1st, 2015

Thank you to NetGalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review!

I grew up watching Saved By the Bell and, because of my sister, was a Zack Morris fan (she loves Mark-Paul Gosselaar), so this graphic novel had me feeling like Jessie Spano on caffeine pills.

I'm so excited! I'm so excited! I'm so...scared.

I’m so excited! I’m so excited! I’m so…scared.

What I liked:

-well, the whole concept, to be honest. I think it’s really fun that they “modernized” the classic TV show for the next generation. You don’t have to be a fan of the original show to enjoy the stories – they do a good job of introducing the characters, though, admittedly, if you’ve watched the show, you can imagine the characters’ voices.

-the art is cute and quirky. Maybe not as amazing as the new Archie comics (they’re adorable!), but it almost has a 1980’s quality to it that fits with the story.

-the stories are short but similar to the TV show – in fact, I think a couple of the stories even share episode titles – and they all have the “lesson” or “moral” at the end.

-Slater is still a tool. Which isn’t necessarily a good thing, but at least they didn’t try to change his character.

-I both liked and disliked that the stories focused on other characters, instead of just Zack. Since he was the protagonist in the show, I wouldn’t have minded having him as my “guide” through the graphic novel (I mean, really – they didn’t even make use of his ability to freeze time!!).

timeout

TIME OUT

What I didn’t like:

-I have no idea why Kevin the Robot was such a major character when he played a minor role on the show. More than that, there were no upgrades to his appearance, so it was weird to have a very eighties robot in the middle of Bayside’s class of 2015.

It’s a quick read, light-hearted and fun, and it’s a great way to introduce a new generation to the magical world of Bayside High where the dudes are a notch above surfers, and the cheerleaders are BFFs with feminists, and Valley students are the enemy.

Rating:

3 interrobangs

ARC Review: Vengeance Road – Erin Bowman

Vengeance Road – Erin Bowman

23719270When Kate Thompson’s father is killed by the notorious Rose Riders for a mysterious journal that reveals the secret location of a gold mine, the eighteen-year-old disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers and justice. What she finds are devious strangers, dust storms, and a pair of brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, she gets closer to the truth about herself and must decide if there’s room for love in a heart so full of hate.

In the spirit of True Grit, the cutthroat days of the Wild West come to life for a new generation.

Release Date: September 1st, 2015

Thank you to NetGalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review!

I don’t have much experience with Westerns – movies or books – so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was a quick, delightful read.

What I liked:

-this cover. My gosh, this cover. It’s gorgeous. It was done by Teagan White who also wrote and illustrated the adorable Adventures with Barefoot Critters!

-Kate is a badass heroine. When her father dies, she doesn’t sit around and wallow. She decides she wants revenge and nothing will stop her from going after the Rose Riders. Vengeance was the foremost thought in her mind and, unlike a lot of characters, she stayed vengeful for 99% of the book.

She ran around with her guns a-blazin’ and it was awesome. The entire time, I kept picturing Zee from American Outlaws, except more trigger-happy.

american outlaws

-classic girl-dresses-up-as-a-boy-and-falls-for-her-male-companion. I shipped Kate/Jesse so hard, it was ridiculous. Their banter constantly put a smile on my face, and I liked how the romance was a side plot, not the main focus.

-the writing was also really well done, and even if the plot was fairly simple, the writing moved the story along quickly. It took a minute to get used to their dialect, but it was added a bit of authenticity. There were a couple of things I guessed early on, but it was satisfying to have worked it out. It was gritty but entertaining.

What I didn’t like:

-I would have liked Lil to have a bigger role to play apart from the sidekick/guide, but I don’t think there would have been room for her character to grow in a mostly-accurate historical novel.

-sometimes Kate’s thoughts felt repetitive because she was so focused on getting revenge, but not enough to detract from her overall sassiness.

I really enjoyed Vengeance Road. I haven’t heard of a lot of Western YA novels, so this might be one of its kind, but it was enjoyable with a great female lead.

Rating:

4.5 interrobangs

4.5 interrobangs

ARC Review: The One Thing – Marci Lyn Curtis

The One Thing – Marci Lyn Curtis

18369372Maggie Sanders might be blind, but she won’t invite anyone to her pity party. Ever since losing her sight six months ago, Maggie’s rebellious streak has taken on a life of its own, culminating with an elaborate school prank. Maggie called it genius. The judge called it illegal.

Now Maggie has a probation officer. But she isn’t interested in rehabilitation, not when she’s still mourning the loss of her professional-soccer dreams, and furious at her so-called friends, who lost interest in her as soon as she could no longer lead the team to victory.

Then Maggie’s whole world is turned upside down. Somehow, incredibly, she can see again. But only one person: Ben, a precocious ten-year-old unlike anyone she’s ever met.Ben’s life isn’t easy, but he doesn’t see limits, only possibilities. After awhile, Maggie starts to realize that losing her sight doesn’t have to mean losing everything she dreamed of. Even if what she’s currently dreaming of is Mason Milton, the infuriatingly attractive lead singer of Maggie’s new favorite band, who just happens to be Ben’s brother.

But when she learns the real reason she can see Ben, Maggie must find the courage to face a once-unimaginable future… before she loses everything she has grown to love.

Release Date: September 8th, 2015

Thank you to NetGalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review!

This was actually one of the very first books I requested from NetGalley when I initially joined back in March. Clearly, I got distracted by all the other books I requested, because I just realized that this one would be archived in a couple of weeks, so I had to read it right away!

What I liked:

-Maggie. She was sarcastic and funny and sometimes rude. Oh, yeah, and blind. I’ve never read a book with a blind protagonist (except for this one short story in a Girls to the Rescue book when I was like 10 and I just remember being shocked because the girl had saved a baby from a fire EVEN THOUGH SHE WAS BLIND. Those books were fantastic), so it was fascinating to read about how she had to re-learn how to function on her own.

Maggie has a hard time dealing with her new blindness and, even though I’ve obviously never been in the same position (knock on wood), I felt like it was mostly realistic. She’s angry about her circumstances, and frustrated that she has to “start over”, and she pushes people away because of these roiling emotions over the course of the book. I’d say her reaction was pretty believable, if a little more sarcastic than most people.

-Ben. He was also funny. Charming and adorable, even though I thought he spoke in a more mature way than most ten year old boys. He kind of reminded me of Bailey in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants: the way he meets and charms Maggie despite herself, the way they teach each other lessons and all that.

I had a inkling of why Maggie could see him, and while I was slightly off (though I really should have worked it out earlier), it also gave the latter half of the book an emotional tinge as Maggie put the pieces together.

-I’m not going to spoil the ending, but it was an intense bus ride home as I read the last thirty pages. Bittersweet but satisfying.

-even though I wasn’t a huge Mason fan, I thought their relationship was ADORABLE. As a music-lover myself, I can only imagine what it’s like to stumble into someone’s house and realize they’re related to the dude who sings you to sleep every night (through your headphones, obviously).

-the writing was fun and sort of swept you along, so while I wouldn’t necessarily call it “fluffy”, it wasn’t a chore to get through.

What I didn’t like:

-I came around to him eventually, but beginning-of-the-book Mason was a bit of a tool. I understood why he acted a certain way around Maggie, but he was still pretty tool-y until they actually started talking. Props to Maggie for standing up to him (a couple of times).

-I liked Sophie’s side plot, but it almost took away from the main plot i.e. Maggie’s blindness. Although, it was interesting how Maggie/Sophie’s friendship evolved after Maggie lost her sight.

Overall, I quite enjoyed this one! Maggie was a fun, sarcastic protagonist, and I was way more emotionally invested in her story than I thought I would be!

Rating:

4.5 interrobangs

4.5 interrobangs

ARC Review: The Dream Engine – Sean Platt & Johnny B. Truant

The Dream Engine – Sean Platt & Johnny B. Truant

25894470When Eila Doyle first hears the strange boy calling from somewhere deep in her sleep, she begins to question her sanity. In the gleaming steampunk world of Waldron’s Gate, citizens aren’t meant to dream — and those who eschew their daily Crumble and dare to do so anyway face madness … and imprisonment in Joffrey Columns, the asylum of towers.

And yet, “Dreaming” of a very specific sort is what Eila does every day at the Ministry of Manifestation with her mind hooked to the great engine, called the Blunderbuss. She’s accustomed to using her thoughts to Build all that the city needs … but never before have her thoughts been so dark, so laced with demons and shadows. Now those nighttime visions hint at dark conspiracy, a millennium of lies, and a fathomless secret hiding beneath the quiet streets.

As Eila follows the boy down the rabbit hole, she discovers secrets that were meant to remain hidden. She discovers an unknown caste of underlings, an unknown place underneath the city. And she learns of her terrible destiny as her own dreams and reality blur, as “what is real?” becomes something uncertain.

This thrilling young adult dystopian adventure is the first in the Dream Engine series by masters of story Platt & Truant, authors of The Beam, Unicorn Western, and many more. The Dream Engine will have you asking yourself “What is real?” along with Eila’s strong female lead — but watch what you ask for, because the answer may unsettle and disturb you for weeks to come.

Release Date: July 22nd, 2014

Thank you to NetGalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review!

That last paragraph in the synopsis makes me laugh because it’s SUPER DRAMATIC.

What I liked:

-I suppose Eila was a fairly strong female character, although her thoughts/actions seemed repetitive and boring up until the very end.

-beautiful cover.

-interesting concept.

-the fact that the authors wrote the whole thing (including planning, plotting, outlining, editing, etc) in 30 days.

What I didn’t like:

-this book dragged forever. I felt like I was reading it for months. It got to the point that I actually felt frustrated by my inability to finish reading something that had started off on a good note.

-as I mentioned above, the book was written in 30 days. Yeah, that’s impressive (though, really, if I was being paid to do NOTHING BUT WRITE for a month, I could probably churn out a manuscript too. I – and many other people – have successfully completed NaNoWriMo, and that was WITH a day job!), but I felt like there was little to no editing involved. There was a lot of repetition, a lot of introspection, a lot of explaining, a lot of build up, and not so much action.

I mean, as fascinating as it is to wonder how you’d explain “dreams” to someone who didn’t understand the word, it’s tiresome to read about it for twenty pages.

And it just made me confused, but maybe I shouldn’t have been reading about something as abstract and intangible as dreams first thing in the morning.

Also, if I had a nickle for every time the words “Joffrey Columns”, “Blunderbuss”, and “Crumble” were mentioned, I could have kickstarted their entire project myself.

-this book felt like a combination of Alice in WonderlandThe MatrixThe Giver (and every other dystopian YA novel ever), with a dash of “hey, I had a weird dream last night, I KNOW, I’LL PUT IT IN A BOOK SO THAT EVERYONE ELSE IS JUST AS CONFUSED AS ME”.

All those things individually are great. Put them together though, and you get a weird sense of deja vu (“follow the white rabbit”, was an actual line and I’m not sure if it was an Alice reference or a Matrix reference) (also Crumble seems like those pills that Jonah had to stop taking in The Giver so that he could be open to the real world. Just like Eila!).

-I respect that not all YA books feel the need to push the romance aspect and that’s cool, but if Levi is literally wandering through her dreams, you’d think there would be something going on there. But no. So that was disappointing.

It’s the first book in a series and has an open ending, and honestly, I’m not eager to find out what happens next. The whole thing fell flat for me, and while I’m impressed they could write this many words in a month, I would have probably liked it more if they had taken another week or two to really fine tune it.

That being said, I’m sure there are people who are falling all over themselves about this book. I’m just not one of them.

Rating:

2 interrobangs

2.5 interrobangs

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Fairytale Retellings

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

This week’s prompt is Ten Fairytale Retellings I’ve Read/Want To Read. I absolutely love fairytale retellings, and there are a ton on my TBR list, so I’ve split the list into five that I’ve read and five that I want to read.

Note: I’ve definitely read more than these five, but they’re the first ones I could think of!

Five Retellings I’ve Read

1) Ella Enchanted – Gail Carson Levine (retelling: Cinderella) (aka one of my favourite books EVER)
2) Another Pan – Daniel & Dina Nayeri (retelling: Peter Pan) (you can read an old review here!)
3) Snow – Tracy Lynn (retelling: Snow White)
4) Spinners – Donna Jo Napoli (retellling: Rumpelstiltskin)
5) Masque of the Red Death – Bethany Griffin (retelling: Edgar Allan Poe’s Masque of the Red Death) (you can read my review here!)

Five Retellings I Want to Read

1) A Court of Thorns and Roses – Sarah J. Maas (retelling: Beauty and the Beast) (actually, I want to read all of her books, but this cover kills me)
2) Cinder – Marissa Meyer (retelling: Cinderella) (I’m including the rest of the Lunar Chronicles in this list, of course!)
3) Mechanica – Betsy Cornwell (retelling: Cinderella)
4) Splintered – A.G. Howard (retelling: Alice in Wonderland)
5) Dorothy Must Die – Danielle Paige (retelling: The Wizard of Oz)

Bonus: Five Retellings I’ve Reviewed on this blog

1) Spelled (ARC) – Betsy Schow (retelling: The Wizard of Oz and others)
2) A Whole New World (ARC) – Liz Braswell (retelling: Aladdin)
3) A Curse of Ash and Iron (ARC) – Christine Norris (retelling: Cinderella)
4) Dust City – Robert Paul Weston (retelling: Little Red Riding Hood and others)
5) The Fairest of Them All – Carolyn Turgeon (retelling: Rapunzel/Snow White)

What are some of your favourite fairytale retellings? Which ones should I check out?

ARC Reviews – July 2015

This round-up is a day late because I honestly forgot about it until late yesterday. Either way, this month wasn’t terribly productive in terms of ARCs, but they were all decent. It was also the first time I conducted an author interview, so that was exciting!

  • A Whole New World – Liz Braswell: “It’s YA, but it feels like the young end of YA – more 12-14 than 14-16 – which isn’t a bad thing, necessarily, but don’t go in expecting something scandalous, even if there are some surprisingly violent scenes.” (3 interrobangs)
  • A Curse of Ash and Iron – Christine Norris: “I felt like it was lacking something. It was a decent story and it had some really fascinating elements, but my inability to connect with the characters made it a hard read.” (2.5 interrobangs)
  • The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl – Ishbelle Bee: “The writing continues to have a lovely lyrical quality to it, even when she’s writing descriptions of a massacre.” (4 interrobangs)
    • I also got the chance to interview the lovely Ishbelle Bee, which you can read here.
  • Placid Girl – Brenna Ehrlich: “I liked the concept, and I think it serves as an excellent cautionary tale.” (3 interrobangs)

ARC Review: Placid Girl – Brenna Ehrlich

Placid Girl – Brenna Ehrlich

24465492Punk was created for the malcontents, something that loner and aspiring drummer Hallie understands all too well. Trapped in a boring suburban life – dysfunctional parents included! – Hallie drowns her angst in the angry songs of Haze, a masked musician who has not been heard from in five years. So naturally she’s surprised – and more than a little skeptical – when someone who seems to be Haze starts flirting with her via her favorite photo-sharing app. Is he who he says he is? What does he want from her? The questions only multiply when Hallie — along with bandmate Sarah and aspiring music journalist Steve — roadtrip to Haze’s comeback gig to unmask the reclusive musician once and for all.

Release Date: August 25th, 2015

Thank you to NetGalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review!

I requested this book because I heard that it was supposed to be good, plus I love reading music-related YA!

What I liked:

-each chapter starts with lyrics from one of Haze’s songs. They “sounded” real, so it was sometimes easy to forget that Haze doesn’t actually exist.

-as with most books that deal with music, I love any scene where they mention music. Whether it was the bands that Hallie used to listen to with her dad, or the feeling of being at a concert (either on stage or in the audience), those moments connected with me on a deeper level and helped me get into Hallie’s head.

-Bethany was probably my favourite character. You get the sense that she’s “seen stuff” and the drug use probably didn’t help, but she was interesting. I liked how she seemed to be a soothing presence for Sarah, who was so messed up.

-the last couple of sentences were sent a shiver up my spine…in a good way!

What I didn’t like:

-if you were paying even a little bit of attention, you could easily figure out who “Haze” was. It was fairly obvious, and yet, it took Hallie and Steve an extraordinarily long time to clue in to it. So that was annoying, but I suppose it made sense with their characters.

Also, their evidence for ZZZ being Haze was shockingly slim. Like, you really don’t think anyone else in the WORLD has that same bird tattoo? Or has access to masks?

-the writing style was super flowery. It reminded me of the my fifth grade teacher who insisted we inundate our writing with “figurative language”, a habit we then had to unlearn during the rest of our school career because teachers were like “just get to the point, and stop using so many adjectives”.

The similes were as numerous as the stars in the sky and they fell upon my eyes like the after-effects of fireworks while I undulated* like a snake in the grass.

*the word “undulate” was used at least four times and it was a tiny bit jarring, if only because the word itself isn’t exactly common.

-background information was lacking. I wanted to know more about Sarah’s family life, what exactly it was that was happening with her mom (it was implied, but mostly left up to interpretation). I want to know why Steve’s father was MINI SPOILER ALERT abusive, if he had always been like that, or if it was his way of dealing with grief (I don’t remember if that was explored at all).

-I didn’t really mind it (mostly because I could see it coming from a mile away), but it was almost too convenient how everything played out, and how everyone was connected.

Overall, I liked the concept, and I think it serves as an excellent cautionary tale. I don’t know how many of you keep up-to-date with this kind of thing, but musicians making inappropriate gestures towards their (young, usually underage) fans is unfortunately quite common.

Rating:

3 interrobangs