From the Bookshelf #13
First of all, I'M NOT DEAD! I've been MIA because last week I was at a cottage up a little north from my little home in Michigan, and said cottage also has a lack of wifi. Also, I got a job at a grocery store, so I've been busy training and dealing with a bunch of old ladies who are all buying 7 bottles of wine and a few cartons of ice cream. So it's been a wee bit hectic lately. However, I have been finding some pretty good books lately, and I've got a decent stack of them to share with you.
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Plus One by Elizabeth Fama
Star Rating: 3
Genre: Dystopian, Fantasy
The plot was . . . *makes awkward vaguely bored noise* I thought the idea of one group of people who lived during the day and the other half of people being the night group. A forbidden romance between two factions? Cliche, but I normally don't mind. But the whole plot rides on this girl stealing baby, and the rest of the plot fell flat because of that. The character of D'arcy was lovely, but I found myself bored and disliking the MC girl, Sol. This particular cover design is GORGEOUS though. Props to whoever designed this.
Vendetta by Catherine Doyle
Star Rating: 3
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Romance
I thought this book was far too predictable. Oh, that guy you think is hot? Turns out he has a DEADLY SECRET THAT COULD DESTROY EVERYTHING MWA HA HA. Cliche much? I liked the idea of the family of Priestly brothers stuck together in a way that family should. (Yes, there are darker motives to that sticking together, but we'll ignore that for now.) I just felt like the main character was weak and she didn't really have solid motives or characteristics that made her different from other stereotypical female characters. She works in a restaurant and the popular girls bully her when they come in. And then suddenly a hot guy notices her. Hm.
All These Things I've Done and Because It Is My Blood by Gabrielle Zevin
So the trilogy takes place in the future where chocolate is illegal and a bunch of other things are rationed. The main character, Anya, is part of a family that illegally sells chocolate. The whole plot revolves around that idea, and her family is pretty shady anyway. I really only liked these books because of her brother, Leo, who reminds me so much of my own brother (who we'll call Josiah). Leo can't do things really on his own because of an accident that caused him brain damage, and his character is just so sweet and I wanted to squeeze him. So when bad things happened to Leo, it felt like a punch to the gut as if it was my own brother who'd had those things happen to him.
As for the rest of the plot, and of course the love interest, those were decent. A lot of things keep getting repeated, which makes me dislike the books a little bit. No one likes a book where the MC keeps doing the same thing over and over. I haven't read the third book, but I would like to see how she wraps up the series.
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Star Rating: 4.5
Genre: Realistic Fiction
This book is just amazing. It's about a girl named Violet and a boy named Finch who meet on top of the school bell tower, both of them contemplating taking their own lives. The relationship that Finch and Violet have with each other is so adorable and lovely, but at the same time, this book deals with heavy topics like suicide and mental illness. This book is very close to my heart because of a project I did on teen suicide a few years ago, This book is lighthearted but also very dark at times, so if you don't like darkness and reading things that deal with a person's deepest thoughts, you might not like that.
I personally thought this book was AMAZING, and I wished I hadn't rushed through the ending so much and I had savored it instead. Either way, I really want to reread it already to see what other things I pick up the second time through that I missed.
Undertow by Michael Buckley
Star Rating: 3
Genre: Fantasy, Dystopian
This book is focused on a group of almost soldier-like people who come from the sea and begin to integrate with regular human society. A lot of people hate the sea people and want them to go back to where they came from, and others are trying to make them feel welcome. The sea people are brought into the school, and a girl there is forced to start helping the prince of the people learn to be more human. And guess what? She falls in love with him. Mhmm.
I just felt like the plot was disjointed and things didn't really flow well together, and the underlying themes were just cliche and not original. I did like that the sea people were basically like warriors who could kick your butt in five seconds flat, but other than that, it was a little bit stale feeling. The disjointedness continues when at the end a character randomly develops powers and I just sat there confused for a minute wondering why this person only now wondered if they had powers when they knew they were different for a loooong time.
I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
Star Rating: 4
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Zusak is also the author of the Book Thief. And while I didn't think this was quite as good, it was still a really deep thinking book. This book revolves around a man who starts receiving playing cards with addresses and people written on them. When he goes to these addresses and people, he's challenged to do something for them or show them a message they need to see (hence the title). There were a lot of deep questions that are brought up at the end that made me really stop and think about what the difference was between being a messenger and being a message. I really liked that this main character was just so completely average, and he was forced to help people he never thought he could ever impact.
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Well. Those are all of the books I have tucked under my belt for now! If you have any recommendations of books you think I should read, please comment them, because I'm always scouting for new ones.
That is all.
* * *NOTE:
Some of you were asking how my star ratings work. I rate a book out of 5 stars, and each rank stands for how I felt about the book overall. In between ranks that aren't a specific star just means I was between those two ranks and didn't feel like I wanted to rate it higher or lower. So here are what each rank means:
1 star: I didn't not enjoy this book at all. There are pages of things I could say about the characters and plot and all that, but let's just say I will not recommend this book to anyone.
2 stars: This book could've been good if a bunch of things were changed. It wasn't horrible, but it definitely wasn't good. I would most likely not recommend a book like this to other people.
3 stars: This book was pretty good. And by pretty good I mean it was decent. I didn't love the characters and the things that happened in the story, but it wasn't bad. I might recommend this to other people because some people might enjoy it more than me.
4 stars: I really enjoyed this book. It's one that I would pick up and read over again, because it's a book that you can relive the story as many times as you want to. It wasn't perfect, but it was still good nonetheless. I would recommend this book to other people, because lots of people would like reading it.
5 stars: PERFECTION. I wish I could grab this book and marry it, it's just that good. I would recommend this to anyone and everyone, and I've probably bought or will buy the book so that it can sit on my bookshelf of happiness forever.