Sunday, December 17, 2017

REVIEW: Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds - 4.5/5 stars

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 10:00 AM 0 comments
Title: Long Way Down
Genre: YA Contemporary Verse
Author: Jason Reynolds
Publisher: Atheneum
Publication: October 24th 2017
Cover Rating: 5/5
Reading format: Library Hardback

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds is about one boys life living in a dangerous area with gangs and violence. This book is an addition to the Put The Guns Down movement and I highly suggest reading this if you have read THUG or Dear Martin.

Fifteen year old Will just watched his older brother, Shawn, get gunned down. Will was taught 3 rules and because of that he decides he needs to exact revenge on the person he THINKS killed his brother. 

On his way to exact his revenge he has some visitors from the past appear in an elevator with him. All of these people are dead was a result of shootings/gang violence. Together, these visitors make up an entire picture to a story Will only knew pieces of. Together, these visitors help Will to see what has happened in the past and how he is only going to follow in their foot steps.

This book was very short but extremely eye opening. Will has NO men left in is family because all of them have been shot and he was about to travel down that same road. Violence only begets violence, as Dr. King once said. And that statement is even more true today.

In the end, I want everyone to read this book. Even if you don't read, you need to read THIS BOOK. It is VERY quick but it will punch the air out of your lungs. Out of all the recent BLM books I have read THIS ONE is the most impactful.

Overall, I gave the book 5/5 stars.

Friday, December 15, 2017

REVIEW: Devil in Ohio by Daria Polatin - Erin

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 9:00 AM 0 comments
Devil in Ohio
by Daria Polatin
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published November 7th 2017 by Feiwel & Friends
ISBN: 9781250113610
Checked Out From Library

A strange, damaged girl lives with a family after escaping a cult in this debut YA suspense/thriller that was inspired by true events.

When fifteen-year-old Jules Mathis comes home from school to find a strange girl, her mother explains that Mae is one of her patients at the hospital and will be staying with their family for a few days. But shortly after, Mae is wearing Jules’ clothes, sleeping in her bedroom, edging her out of her position on the school paper, and kissing Jules’s crush. Then things get weird.

Jules walks in on a half-dressed Mae, she’s startled to see a pentagram carved into her back. Soon white roses start turning up on the front porch, a rabid dog bites one of Jules’ sisters, and Jules’ parents, who never fight, start arguing behind closed doors.

Jules pieces clues together and discovers that Mae may be a survivor of the strange cult that has taken over a nearby town. And they will stop at nothing to get Mae back.


I had really high hopes for this book. I heard Daria Polatin speak at the YA Conference at the beginning of the month and this book sounded creepy and amazing! While I feel like she tried to have a suspenseful creep factor, most of the time it missed it’s mark. It didn’t have me keeping my lights on at night, or worrying that someone was coming for me. I was also under the impression that Mae was going to be creepier than she really was. She just ended up being a hurt kid who was just trying to fit into a new “world” and sometimes did things awkwardly without realizing who she was hurting. I also don’t feel like the “cult” really tried all that hard to get Mae back, which hurt the creep vibe. There just wasn’t any tension there. I wasn’t really ever worried that the family was going to be hurt, or that Mae was going to get taken. There was family drama, which made the book a bit better. Though I still don’t quite get the mother’s obsession. I know something happened to her to make her want to help Mae, but neglecting your own family and job…. It just seemed over kill. The ending was kind of disappointing. There’s closure, but at the same time there’s not. I don’t want to spoil the end so read the book and you’ll see what I mean.There is drinking and “mature” content in the book, not much but it’s there, so younger teens might not be the best audience. Older teens who are into mystery cult stories might enjoy this one though. 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

REVIEW: Perfect by Cecelia Ahern - Jenn

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 9:00 AM 0 comments
Though not fully perfect, Perfect is pretty darn close to it!
The following is my review. It is also on my Goodreads.

4.5/5 stars. I received an eARC from NetGalley.

​Cecelia Ahern, I love you and I love your book.

I had some serious doubts. There was a lot that left me wanting from the first book, and a lot of it had to do with Celestine--though relatable, she wasn't all that likable to me. I am still not a fan of hers, but I respect her. She went through hell, and she admitted to struggling to know herself once she realized the world was not black and white but a mess of gray. She proved that she was strong and that she did in fact have some brains. I won't forgive her (or Cecelia) for the love triangle, because I think they are nasty and unnecessary plot devices to escalate tension and interest, but I can get over it BECAUSE I LOVE THIS BOOK.

Where I found so many faults in Celestine in Flawed, they proved to be moments of learning and overcoming faults in Perfect. Celestine grew so much; she became this beacon of hope and change, and she refused to back down when things became tough. In those characteristics, she reminded me so much of Veronica Roth's Tris (Divergent series) and Katniss Everdeen from Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games trilogy. She knew what was right, she knew where she stood, she knew what she wanted--and she DID. NOT. BACK. DOWN. She stood her ground every step of this anxiety-induced, tension-filled, action-packed story. Strong young women fighting for what is right even though the society in place is trying to silence and erase them. GET AT THIS BOOK WHEN YOU CAN.

Now, I did not find the writing itself perfect. Same as with Flawed, Perfect does fall into the habit of telling rather than showing. The difference, however, is that the telling in Perfect is a bunch of recapping Flawed throughout the entire book, happening at least every other chapter. It is almost like Cecelia felt the need to remind us of information, as if we would have already forgotten. Not to mention recapping is annoying--I read the first book, so please get on with the story. Like with the love triangle, I got over this because the important message(s) Cecelia Ahern expresses are THAT IMPERATIVE.

Those messages are:
-Prejudice is inhumane
-Refusing to help another when you know it is the right thing to do is inhumane
-Imposing regulations on people that makes helping those who are prejudiced against is inhumane
-Being a dick (*excuse me*) like Crevan is one of the worst offenses against humanity and is most definitely inhumane
-It doesn't take a lot to be a decent person--it is as simple as helping them to a seat
-There are some who are not strong enough to be the change needed in a corrupt society, and those who do prove to be strong enough will surprise you

...I would give you more of the messages that I picked out, but I would rather you read the book yourself.

Enjoy once you get it in your hands--this is a fantastic duology! Easy to read, frustrating as hell, and ends with a fantastic and sobering resolution. Give it a go and be swept along!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

REVIEW: I See London, I See France by Sarah Mlynowski - Valeria

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 10:00 AM 0 comments


Goodreads Description:
I see London, I see France, I see Sydney’s underpants.

Nineteen-year-old Sydney has the perfect summer mapped out. She’s spending the next four and half weeks traveling through Europe with her childhood best friend, Leela. Their plans include Eiffel-Tower selfies, eating cocco gelato, and making out with très hot strangers. Her plans do not include Leela’s cheating ex-boyfriend showing up on the flight to London, falling for the cheating ex-boyfriend’s très hot friend, monitoring her mother’s spiraling mental health via texts, or feeling like the rope in a friendship tug-of-war.

As Sydney zigzags through Amsterdam, Switzerland, Italy, and France, she must learn when to hold on, when to keep moving, and when to jump into the Riviera…wearing only her polka-dot underpants.

The cover made me read it and holy shit what did I read.
I found myself asking, wait, this is a Young Adult book more times than I could count. Sure. It is shit that young adults would do, at least the wild ones and non hermits like me. But I was simply shocked at the things that were going on in this book. It had it all. The book was funny but I honestly couldn't get over some parts. I felt like Aunt Patty in Gone with the Wind, I needed my smelling salts as Scarlett danced with Rhett after becoming a widow. Damn I have to watch that movie again. Anyways, my poor little heart couldn't take it. That also doesn't mean that the book was bad. Travel book have always been fun for me, I enjoy seeing authors describe over seas places that I have never visited in the own way which is the main thing that made me somewhat enjoy this book. 

Recommend i?
No clue, maybe call that shot based on reviews?

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

REVIEW: Bad Girls with Perfect Faces by Lynn Weingarten - 4.5 stars

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 1:46 PM 0 comments
Title: Bad Girls with Perfect Faces
Genre: YA Mystery/Thriller
Author: Lynn Weingarten
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication: October 31st 2017
Cover Rating: 4/5
Reading format: Owned Hardback

Bad Girls with Perfect Faces is the story of Sasha and Xavier and just how far Sasha will go to protect Xavier from horrible thing, even when one of those horrible thing might end up being himself.

Sasha is the best friend anyone could hope for. Xavier went through a really crappy breakup where the girl cheated on him and Sasha was there for him through it all. He is finally starting to come out of his depression so they decide to go to a dance club they used to go to a lot for his birthday. At the club they run into his ex, Ivy, and stuff happens to the point where he ends up with her.

Sasha doesn’t want to see him go through another breakdown so she does something seemingly innocent to prove that Ivy hasn’t changed. Only maybe it isn’t so innocent and maybe this will lead to something really bad happening.

In the end, I found this book to be a very satisfying mystery/thriller. The synopsis on the book flap makes the bad guy seem like one person while the book makes it seem like another but in the end the real bad guy is... mysterious.

Overall, I gave the book 4.5/5 stars.

Friday, December 8, 2017

REVIEW: What Light by Jay Asher - Erin

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 9:00 AM 0 comments
What Light
by Jay Asher
Hardcover, 251 pages
Published October 18th 2016 by Razorbill (first published October 11th 2016)
ISBN: 9781595145512
ARC Received From My Friend At Hello Jenny Reviews

From Jay Asher, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Thirteen Reasons Why, comes a romance that will break your heart, but soon have you believing again. . . .

Sierra's family runs a Christmas tree farm in Oregon—it's a bucolic setting for a girl to grow up in, except that every year, they pack up and move to California to set up their Christmas tree lot for the season. So Sierra lives two lives: her life in Oregon and her life at Christmas. And leaving one always means missing the other. 

Until this particular Christmas, when Sierra meets Caleb, and one life eclipses the other.

By reputation, Caleb is not your perfect guy: years ago, he made an enormous mistake and has been paying for it ever since. But Sierra sees beyond Caleb's past and becomes determined to help him find forgiveness and, maybe, redemption. As disapproval, misconceptions, and suspicions swirl around them, Caleb and Sierra discover the one thing that transcends all else: true love.

What Light is a love story that's moving and life-affirming and completely unforgettable.


This was a very cute Christmas read that definitely got me into the holiday spirit. It was not what I expected from the author of “13 Reasons Why”.  There was friendship, giving, romance, a bit of mystery, and Christmas Trees!!!  It’s not an outstanding book. It’s not going to win any awards or be on anyone’s top books ever written lists, but it does hold it’s own. The story was well written and brought me into the world of Christmas Tree selling. I learned a few things about tree farming and selling. I fell in love with Sierra and Caleb, and by the end of the book I really wanted to know more. Will they stay together? Will Sierra’s family be back next year? How does the dance go? Will Caleb keep up with his giving? Will Sierra join him with her cookie making? Grrr!!!! So many loose ends! Despite all my questions, I think that this book is perfect for any teen (or teen at heart) looking for a quick adorable holiday read.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Discussion: The Siren by Kiera Cass - Jenn

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 9:00 AM 0 comments
I have been unable to stop thinking about this novel. I read it weekend before last, finished it in a day or two, and have had my thoughts stewing. I've even had several discussions with a book friend about it, unable to remove it from my mind enough to focus on another read.

It is tale of loss, sacrifice, doubt and depression, ultimate love, and mythology. We follow Kahlen, a young woman who becomes a siren at the beck and call of the Ocean. She and her sisters, or fellow sirens, are forbidden to speak and must not reveal what they are. Every six months or so, the Ocean calls to them and She bids them to sing, luring a ship or boat astray and enthralling the occupants to enter the water to their death, "feeding" the Ocean so that the rest of humanity can be protected (sacrifice the few for the many). Unlike her sisters who have not been sirens as long, Kahlen struggles with these duties until her century long service to the Ocean is completed. She can only remember a few snippets of her life before the deal she struck with the Ocean, so she feels empty and guilt-ridden. Every singing brings her closer and closer to a darkness that she can't shake. But then she meets a young man, someone who sees through her mythological physical beauty to who she is deep inside. It is forbidden, for She does not take wives or mothers into Her services, because their loyalty will not solely lie with Her. Especially for Kahlen, who has treated the Ocean like a mother and sought Her out for advice and comfort, the Ocean cannot stand her devotion being diverted, because she is the most precious of Her sirens, the one who cares about how She feels and how best to serve Her. As Kahlen is led through a winding path of lovesick-induced reclusion, and then a wonderful yet forbidden adventure, a sickness befalls her, something that should not happen to someone who is immortal during their term as a siren. 

The aspects of the novel I am most enraptured by are the Ocean and the soulmate-dom of Kahlen and Akinli, and how the two play into each other.

We see the Ocean as a mother/caregiver, especially to Kahlen, who longs for that maternal relationship in a life that she finds little joy in living. The Ocean gives her company, tries to console her of the deaths that she helps to cause, giving significance to her existence as a siren. She "loves" Kahlen, cares for her the most out of all sirens she has had and has now in her service, because Kahlen seeks her out even when not called for, looks to her for guidance, acceptance, and appreciation; She is treated as necessity by Kahlen and not just as a means to fulfill a duty.

However, this "loving relationship" between the Ocean and Kahlen is conditional. Up until the point Kahlen meets Akinli, falls in love, and cannot deny the supernaturally strong connection to him, she was the perfect, though depressed and withdrawn, siren to the Ocean and Her needs. Once she revealed her intense love for Akinli to the Ocean, She became a tyrant. The basis for the rules dictating who she chose to be her sirens--no wives and no mothers--was love, which Kahlen had found with Akinli,  compromising her devotion to the Ocean. The Ocean could not longer trust Kahlen to fulfill her duties without pause or failure. To the Ocean, obedience was love, and if someone disobeyed Her, then it was a sign that they did not love Her--a tell-tale sign of a possessive abuser, especially when She resorts to threats in an effort to regain obedience from her sirens.

But can we dislike/hate her for her tyranny? I have gone back on forth on this matter, wanting to loathe the Ocean for how she viewed love and all other human emotions, how she expressed her dissatisfaction, how she took lives so easily? And ultimately, why did it take Her SO FREAKING LONG to release Kahlen from her siren servitude, thus saving her from dying? I mean, COME ON, OCEAN, GET WITH IT.

Then I remembered: She is not human, so she doesn't feel emotions like a human would. Even though she bestowed her sirens with the ability to never age, sicken, or die, their essence remained human and they retained their human emotions. However, those emotions were not something the Ocean could experience as well--she could rationalize her way through problems, retain information, and showed an immense amount of intelligence, but those darn emotions eluded her. She could try to understand them, and to a certain extent may have minutely grasped how some of them worked (i.e. someone seeking comfort and advice from you as a sign of caring), but the logical side of her was just too strong. In the end, I could only best compare her to what an animal does in that wild: do what is required to survive.

Like I mentioned earlier, I spoke with a book friend many times about The Siren. She and I love it and find something new to discuss each conversation that we bring it up. I just want to take a moment and share this wonderful perspective on the Ocean's role in Kahlen's life.

The Ocean symbolizes a season in life, in particular one that becomes a comfort zone. It also becomes destructive if you let it hold you back from who you are meant to be and what you are meant to do. With that in mind, it does not make the season necessarily evil. Without her time as a siren, Kahlen would not have met her soulmate Akinli. Once she tasted the life she was meant to have, she began to resent the Ocean and, eventually, sicken from her separation from her destiny with Akinli. Once she had that taste, she could not go back to the way life had been before--she knew there was more to life than what she had known, and she didn't want to live on without it. It was after meeting Akinli that Kahlen realized that there was more to her existence than helping the Ocean kill people, and that was creating a future with her soulmate. Her time as a siren for the Ocean was a season in life that was necessary for her to live long enough to find Akinli, and if she had remained a siren she would have died physically and emotionally, starved of potential.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

REVIEW: Royally Lost by Angie Stanton - Valeria

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 10:00 AM 0 comments


Goodreads Description:
Dragged on a family trip to Europe’s ancient cities, Becca wants nothing more than to go home. Trapped with her emotionally distant father, over-eager stepmother, and a brother who only wants to hook up with European hotties, Becca is miserable. That is until she meets Nikolai, a guy as mysterious as he is handsome. And she unknowingly finds herself with a runaway prince.

Nikolai has everything a guy could ask for-he's crown prince, heir to the throne, and girls adore him. But the one thing he doesn't freedom. Staging a coup, he flees his kingdom and goes undercover on his own European tour.

When Nikolai and Becca meet, it’s their differences that draw them together. Sparks fly as they share a whirlwind of adventures, all the while dodging his royal guard. But Becca's family vacation ends in a matter of days. Will Nikolai and Becca be forced to say goodbye forever, will his destiny catch up to him, or will they change history forever?

Okay so this book was super sweet and I really liked it. I am a fan of the whole secretly royalty and stuff
I think everyone is. Its like we all dream of finding our on princess/prince and getting married and getting out happily ever after. 
I want to know what happens next with these characters xD
I like how it was a very easy read, it was a short book too. I got really into it, specially towards the end when they are starting to be found by the paparazzis and the royal guard.
I also do wish that this book was a movie xD 
Id pay for that.

Recommend it?

Friday, December 1, 2017

REVIEW: South of Sunshine by Dana Elmendorf - Erin

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 9:00 AM 0 comments
South of Sunshine
by Dana Elmendorf
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published April 1st 2016 by Albert Whitman
ISBN: 9780807575680
ARC Received From My Friend At Hello Jenny Reviews

What is Kaycee willing to risk for the sake of love?
And what will she risk for acceptance?

In Sunshine, Tennessee, the main event in town is Friday night football, the biggest party of the year is held in a field filled with pickup trucks, and church attendance is mandatory. For Kaycee Jean McCoy, life in Sunshine means dating guys she has no interest in, saying only “yes, ma’am” when the local bigots gossip at her mom’s cosmetics salon, and avoiding certain girls at all costs. Girls like Bren Dawson.

Unlike Kaycee, Bren doesn’t really conceal who she is. But as the cool, worldly new girl, nobody at school seems to give her any trouble. Maybe there’s no harm if Kaycee gets closer to her too, as long as she can keep that part of her life a secret, especially from her family and her best friend. But the more serious things get with Bren, the harder it is to hide from everyone else. Kaycee knows Sunshine has a darker side for people like her, and she’s risking everything for the chance to truly be herself. (Goodreads)


This was a bit of a different take on the LGBTQ story in that it takes place in a Southern town that is very against those kinds of relationships. It showed how Kaycee was feeling. How she was so happy to have Bren in her life, but having to hide it hurt her so bad. How she was afraid of what her mother, classmates, friends, and fellow church goers would think, and what they might do. Yes a lot of that shows up in other LGBTQ stories, but the small southern town atmosphere gave this book a different feel. It was well written, but a tad slow in places. It was predictable, like most YA romances, but it was cute. It’s a book that might be a great read for those teens who are afraid to come out. Or even for those who have friends who are LGBTQ and who want to understand what they’re going through a bit better. I’m not sure the end of the story is completely realistic, it’s almost like a fairy tale happy ending, but it’s still inspiring and gives hope to the reader. In the end isn’t that what most of us want from our reads? 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

REVIEW: Wonderwoman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo - Jenn

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 9:00 AM 0 comments

So this is it. I sit here at my computer after having completed Leigh's Wonder Woman: Warbringer and I now have to go on with life. I'll go, and go, and go, and I'll live. However, I feel changed. I've been wanting to read this book terribly since it was announced that Leigh--mo'fo'-ing LEIGH BARDUGO--was writing a Wonder Woman book, and then the Wonder Woman movie was released...To say I've had a dream fulfilled by reading this ARC by an author I already love is an understatement. This has probably been my favorite book of the year, surpassing my love of S. Jae-Jones's Wintersong, Katharine McGee's The Thousandth Floor and The Dazzling Heights, Scott Reintgen's Nyxia, Sarah Tolcser's Song of the Current, Keira Drake's second round of ARCs for The Continent, Makiia Lucier's A Death-Struck Year, and Ruta Sepetys's Salt to the Sea. In general I have had an awesome reading year, more than 50% of the books having left me sated or in a book-hangover--but Wonder Woman: Warbringer tops them allHands down, without a doubt, without a second of hesitation, I can say this will probably be my favorite book for all of 2017.

You have characters you come to admire, characters you invest your emotions into, characters that progress for the good and the bad (not everyone can be the hero, ya know?). You have places like New York City, areas of Greece, and Themyscira--both real and mythological--that come to life. You have on point pacing. You have well wrought action and adventure. You have plot twists and villains you don't/can't/will never anticipate. You have a kind of sisterhood in this book that you only glimpse in reality. You have well researched and incorporated mythology. Leigh sets the scene, describes this world, and you cannot help but seeand experience it. I found myself sucked into the story only to resurface when outside stimuli (ahem: significant other, dog, or job) forced me to return to reality.

My two favorite aspects of this book were the humor and the life truths. The humor--oh man, the humor had me laughing so hard at moments, and it was consistently there. I would say every handful of pages or so there was some interaction or quip that had me chuckling or guffawing. I even read some of them to my man and he couldn't help but laugh too.
"What is that thing?" Alia asked, pointing to a staff topped by a giant claw.
"A zhua. It's used for robbing a mounted opponent of her shield."
"It looks like the world's deadliest mop."
Diana considered it. "Perhaps you can use it to scare the floor clean." (62)

Diana is a fierce deadpan joker and she cannot even help it. Just like with the recent movie, Diana is naive and ignorant of certain aspects of the world, not to mention extremely literal, which makes for some of the most hilarious moments. (Even funnier if you imagine someone in reality saying these things, LOL.)
"I guess I--" Alia began. A bicycle whirred past them and Diana yanked her from its path.
"Jerk!" Alia yelled after him.
The bicyclist glanced back once and held up his middle finger.
"Is he an enemy?" Diana asked.
"No, he's a New Yorker. Let's sit. I need to think." (87)
"Whatever," said Alia. "Shotgun!"
Diana seized Alia and slammed her to the ground, shoving her body beneath the car for cover. She rose with bracelets raised, ready for the onslaught, but the others were just standing there staring.
"Um, Diana," said Alia, peeking out from beneath the Fiat. "It's just a saying." (247)

Even the other characters had some of the greatest lines, lending to a great balance of humor among them.
"And you're the guy who got drunk on eggnog last Christmas and danced to 'Turn the Beat Around' in Aunt Rachel's wig, so stop acting like you're in charge."
"We agree not to mention that ever again," Jason whispered furiously. (127)

^^^^That is legit one of my favorite moments, because I've witnessed something similar to this happen to others and to myself a few times.
"You dance differently when you know you won't live forever." (6)

With eternity before them, and strength, health, and never-ending military training and mental training (need to have a noggin of knowledge), there is nothing that drives the Amazons to do as if life were ending any moment. This is a line I am taking to heart, because it reveals the urgency that comes with mortality and a finite number of years to live. One will act different when they know an end is coming, but for the Amazons they do not have such limits.
"Perhaps you should think of it as armor," suggested Diana. "When a warrior readies herself for battle, she doesn't just worry about practicality." (154)

Truth! Think about it: even when you get ready for an interview, a night out on the town, to see family, a date--for all of these instances you choose articles of clothing that portray who you are while also portraying how you want to be seen. Yes, you want your clothing to serve a practical purpose, but you also want to choose the clothing carefully to create an image. For an interview you want to look like you are meant to be a part of that company and can take care of business, so you look well put together and keep everything refined. For a night out on the town, bring on those clothes that emphasize this area and that area of your body. Ooh la la! To see family or to go on a date, you might keep it this way or that way--all depending on how you want to portray you.
"Because the whole world loves to tell us what we can't do, that we aren't good enough. The people in your own house should be on your side. It's the people who never learn the word impossible who make history, because they're the ones who keep trying." (168)

This is said by Nim, Alia's best friend, and I wish she were a real person I could hug. This is something I want expressed to so many people. The idea of impossible gets into so many people's heads and makes them feel like there is a limit to what they can do and accomplish. But, like Nim pointed out, if that idea isn't in your head it cannot prevent you from progressing further and further. From here on out I want to stricken this word from my lexicon. Seriously though, I need to. I have a YA sci-fi book I want to write and I've been scared because deep down I feel it is impossible. Obviously Iam holding myself back, and so many other people do as well.

Beautiful, exquisite writing:

Sweet, waxy plumeria twined around its columns, and its balustrade was marked by potted orange trees that drew the gossipy buzz of bees and hummingbirds. (24)
But Hippolyta was sweeping out of her chambers. Lamplight sparked off the gold in her armor. The earth shook, but somehow her steps did not falter, as if her very stride declared, "I am a queen and an Amazon; you are wise to tremble." (33)

My overall thoughts: I love this book and would love to give it a 1,000 bitchin' stars. Unfortunately, 5 bitchin' stars is as high as I can go. 

I have emptied several tab dispensers marking all my favorite moments and lines, and I could honestly give you several other instances that blew my mind and took my breath away at the same time.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

REVIEW: Flawed by Cecelia Ahern - Jenn

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 8:55 PM 0 comments
Flawed is one of those books that you really enjoy but have some serious qualms. Find my review also on Goodreads.

Firstly, the concept of a separation between a moral/ethical system and the criminal justice system is a new idea to me, and it was a difficult to accept. Morals/ethics are the foundation on which a justice system sits, because they determine what is wrong, illegal, a crime. However, separate the morals/ethics from the justice system no longer makes sense, lacking substance and a driving force. And the society in this book struggles with the separation--it isn't necessary illegal to be Flawed (a person found guilty of a moral/ethical failure in judgment/character), but you are brought before a Guild, your "flaws" listed and discussed publicly, and then a sentence announced of whether you are not guilty (has happened only once as far as protagonist Celestine knows of) or guilty of the Flawed accusation. If determined Flawed, an individual is branded with an 'F' on the place of their body representing the flaws they were found guilty of--temple for poor judgment, chest for disloyalty to society, hand for theft, tongue for lying, foot for walking away from society (think The Scarlet Letter). In Celestine's case, she receives a sixth brand along with the other five, because Crevan (awful man, a judge on the Guild and his ancestor was a founder of the Flawed ideology) said she was Flawed to the bone and needed a brand to remind her and punish her further. As we find out throughout the remainder of the book, this disparity in the systems and how they are failing society are coming to life. Celestine's trial after helping an ill and elderly Flawed man to a seat he was not permitted to occupy (think Jim Crow/Segregation/Apartheid laws) was the eruption of a revolution that had been steeping for a while. Society was slowly crumpling--Flawed people were no longer guaranteed safety or basic human rights. There were terrorist attacks against Flawed individuals (Celestine experiences one such event). Not even law enforcement, those enforcing the criminal justice system and keeping ALL Flawed and non-Flawed individuals safe, was able to distinguish between right and wrong because of the failures in the system. Even though this started off as what I thought a plot hole, it turned into the heart of what the plot was--this is a broken, corrupt system that underground individuals are trying to change/destroy, and I can totally get behind it being intentional like this.

Now, unlike the above issue that resolved itself for me, Celestine's character did not have the same effect. By the time I was about halfway through the book I was fed up with her. She is that quintessential intelligent teenage good-girl-found-bad, now struggling with her identity but still thinking that she knows everything and has the best solutions to her problems. 

-My first problem with her: her relationship with Art was cute at first, but the library scene with him after she returned to school from the trial was rather telling of how shallow their relationship truly was. If he had known her so well, he would not have reacted the way he did to the birthday invite, and he sure as hell wouldn't have suggested she didn't understand what he had been through trying to stay away from his father because of his love for her. Um, no--boi, ya don't know what she's been through, so stahp. 

-Problem two: mysterious Flawed At Birth boy Carrick, who she never officially met or had a conversation with or...anything. They shared a few meaningful expressions with each other and a little time together outside, and that is it. Yet Celestine just can't stop thinking about him, how he understands her, that she can't stop wondering what happened to him and his promise from when she was being branded: "I will find you." She has feelings for him, feels guilty because she stills wants Art, worries about him, wonders where he has been hiding and if he is safe...yet this Carrick keeps coming back to her. The extent to which she discusses their existing non-existent relationship is eye roll worthy--I may have sprained my eyes, BTW. Let me give you a taste of my notes as I read. Page 117: "Okay...shut up. You seriously do not have some amazing connection to this guy. You are distraught and in a terrible position and are latching onto anyone you can." Cecelia attempted to liken Carrick's and Celestine's experience to that of people who had braved the elements while lost in the mountains...but the difference and reason the situation in the book failed to work for me is that the example I gave was life or death and those individuals had to work together/communicate/build trust in order to develop that deep relationship. Carrick and Celestine experience none of that except for proximity within the holding cells and him witnessing her abuse within the Branding chamber and him saving her after the grocery store incident (not to mention their relationship is totally one-sided, him doing stuff for her and her floundering to find him while under restrictions). Their relationship is forced to the extreme, and I'm really not sure their relationship can be redeemed for me in the sequel.

Last problem: Celestine is logical and smart, so much so that she put aside what society asked of her and helped a man on a bus (unfortunately a Flawed man). However, she sure does an awful lot of being unrealistically wishy-washy in her emotions. The moment I felt her emotions were most out of place was when she was kidnapped. She was terrified, mortified, disgusted in herself and the power her kidnappers had over her. They stripped her down, took pictures of her. She was a mess, crying, feeling hopeless, expecting the worst. Her captors then spotted the sixth unrecorded and unheard of brand and get spooked--and the slight change in tension, them showing a little fear toward her, and she suddenly feels this immense power and bad-assery in response to her discomfort. That switch in emotion is understandable, but where a slight feeling of empowerment would have been where she probably stood (around a 4 or 5 on the scale), she actually expresses an extreme high (like a 9 or 10). That huge jump between her extreme low in fear and uncertainty to the extreme high of surety and confidence in power they gave her...I can't get behind that at all. There are several other moments like this that leave an unsatisfactory emotional impression, but one is enough to give you an example.

I do have the pleasure of reading the sequel, Perfect, right away thanks to NetGalley. I'll be posting the review for that one once I finish. It might be a week or so. I'm a tad burnt out from reading a lot the past couple weeks, planning a California trip, and buying/moving into my first home, so I will get there eventually--promise!

A quick explanation of why I gave Flawed 4/5 stars. Even as much as Celestine's character angered me, her thoughts and actions were very relatable, her family dynamics honest, and her realization that this society's reliance on the Flawed system being corrupt and wrong is admirable and strong and right. Not to mention, the idea of society as a whole doling out the punishments for ethical/moral failures is not a new concept, but Cecelia has brought new life to it, and this new life is well done. 

If you liked The Scarlet Letter or When She Woke, this book is for you. Warning though:The Scarlet Letter is a classic and When She Woke is an somewhat graphic adult fiction.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Blog Tour: Whichwood by Tahereh Mafi + Giveaway

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 10:00 AM 1 comments
Title: Whichwood
Genre: Fantasty Middle Grade
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Publisher: Dutton
Publication: November 14th 2017
Cover Rating: 5/5
Reading Format: Hardback

Whichwood by Tahereh Mafi is the story of Laylee and her cleaning dead bodies business, Alice and the task she has been assigned and finally Oliver and whatever it is Oliver does. The book is actually equal parts Laylee and Alice. Where their worlds intertwine and where they don't. We get to see the story from all sides and I think that made the book the amazing work of art that it is.

Laylee is a new addition to our little Furthermore group. Alice retook her Surrender and got tasked with Laylee. Alice's magic is meant to help Laylee out but Laylee is too stubborn and scared to admit that she had a problem. And what might that problem be? She is losing herself, in all ways possible. She has a buttload of other problems too, but Alice was only sent to help with one, but we all know Alice can't just do the one task she was given. Alice has such a pure heart that she wants to help Laylee in any way possible. 

The Furthermore books take place in magical worlds so of course Laylee has to have some kind of magical ability. Laylee is a Mordeshoor. That pretty much just means she is a mortician. All the dead people of her town, Whichwood, are sent to her so she can clean their bodies, do some ritual and then shove them in a coffin. She is only thirteen years old but she is alone in doing this task because he mother has died and her father is... absent, although she sees he frequently, you can figure this puzzle out by reading the book. Aside from this horrible job, she can also SEE spirits and that causes a lot of problems for her, as you can imagine. Her job and these spirits are draining the life from her and Alice has been sent to help. But Laylee is a very stubborn girl and she always thinks someone has ulterior motives so Alice has one heck of an adventure ahead of her.

One thing this book has that the first book didn't is romance. I don't think it can be truly called romance as the protagonists are still kids but attachments and bonds and feelings start to become real. It was kind of strange seeing something as normal as a crush happening in this book that is full of craziness. Nothing about this book is normal but love still found it's way in. There was love in Furthermore, of course, but not this kind.

The author does an amazing job at making this vibrant, magical world come to life. The world building must have took forever to get just right and the character development was beautiful. Alice and Oliver both changed and grew. It was nice to see that the characters didn't just stay the same. They aged so their personalities and such changed and the author did a great job of showing that. 

In the end, I found that I liked Whichwood a little bit more than Futhermore. I can't really explain why. I really loved Furthermore so maybe it's not that I like this book more but maybe it's a different kind of like. Both books are insanely abnormal and full of craziness but Whichwood had a more serious tone to it. As serious a tone as a book like this can have. I do hope to see some more books set in this insanely creative world some day. I am finding that I will miss Alice, Benyamin, Laylee and Oliver.

Overall, I gave the book 5/5 stars.

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