Wren Reviews: ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’

Title: Since You’ve Been Gone
Author: Morgan Matson
Genre: Realistic, Romance, YA fiction
Premise:
(Goodreads)

The Pre-Sloane Emily didn’t go to parties, she barely talked to guys, she didn’t do anything crazy. Enter Sloane, social tornado and the best kind of best friend—the one who yanks you out of your shell.

But right before what should have been an epic summer, Sloane just… disappears. No note. No calls. No texts. No Sloane. There’s just a random to-do list. On it, thirteen Sloane-selected-definitely-bizarre-tasks that Emily would never try… unless they could lead back to her best friend.

Apple Picking at Night? Okay, easy enough.

Dance until Dawn? Sure. Why not?

Kiss a Stranger? Wait… what?

Getting through Sloane’s list would mean a lot of firsts. But Emily has this whole unexpected summer ahead of her, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected) to check things off. Who knows what she’ll find?

Go Skinny Dipping? Um…
Plot: Emily gets a letter with a list of things to do from her best friend Sloane. E tries to see Mona and drops her brother off. She sees the class president Frank Porter. Her brother Beckett goes to the top of the rock wall. Asked to get down, he does so, but Frank climbs up to meet him. And gets stuck. Beckett helps Frank down. Since she can’t see Mona, Emily goes to the Orchard. She sees Frank there with his friend Collins. She picks an apple as dictated by Sloane’s list. She can’t get home because she’s out of gas. Frank takes her to get gas, meeting a guy named James in the process.
Emily meets Mona and gets a job at Paradise Ice Cream. She meets Dawn a pizza delivery girl. Dawn takes her on her deliveries, but Emily misses the chance to hug a Jamie. She goes to get gas and hugs James, nicknamed Jamie by his grandmother.
She goes on a run and sees Frank. They get together and start running together.
She goes to steal a sign that Sloane loved, but Frank catches her in the act. Emily takes Frank home because he didn’t have a ride back. She sees the house Frank lived in. Together, they share secrets on the waterfront at night.
When Frank almost makes Emily ride a horse, Emily has a mental breakdown. She goes back to her house to Living Room Theater. Her parents do Bug Juice, based off of Emily, with Frank and Emily as the leads. The play is a success, but the two evade a stage kiss. Emily goes back to Frank’s house and kissed a stranger. Who happens to be Collin’s cousin.
She spends 4th of July with her friends. Emily sleeps under the stars with her brother Beckett after her father cancels the camping trip. She goes to a bar as her adult persona Penelope, using her faked ID. She almost gets into a fight.
She almost goes on a pony ride but is stopped because she needs to pick up Lissa Frank’s girlfriend for Frank’s birthday party. Lissa ends up not going to Frank’s party and staying at Princeton summer camp. At the party, she sees Benji the mysterious stranger she kissed as well as her ex-boyfriend Gideon. She sees that Gideon kept her Sharpie tattoo fresh on his arm.
Emily finally rides a horse. To dance all night, she crashes a wedding where Frank is. They share a slow dance before Collins, Frank, Dawn, and Emily go skinny dipping in the Long Island Sound.
Emily and her friends go camping indoors after rain makes it impossible for Frank and Collins to camp outside together. Emily doesn’t bring a pillow which results in her sleeping in Frank’s tent.
She goes to a party in her special backless dress. This party is at Sloane’s house, and Emily is a guest at the party that Frank’s parents had to attend. Emily finds a disposable camera with photos from Sloane on it. On the way back, she kisses Frank. After that, she loses all her friends. Dawn because Dawn was cheated on. Collins because he had to side with Frank. And Frank because he had a girlfriend. Frank appears one day, asking to talk. Emily runs away from him.
She finds out where Sloane went from the photos. And she discovers Sloane needed Emily as much as Emily needs Sloane. She contacts Frank, asking for his help to go to South Carolina where Sloane is. Frank agrees. She confronts Frank, asking him about why he didn’t reply. He explains that he broke up with Lissa. They finally get to South Carolina. Emily and Sloane reunite with them chattering about what happened and why Sloane left. You find out that Sloane’s parents are broke and living with relatives who support them. The two friends meet up.
Frank and Emily head back home. They stop first to Sloane’s special spot. And they kiss.
The story ends there.
Character Development:
Emily. I don’t like Emily. She’s a pretty girl who loses her best friend. Well. I lost my best friend for a while. And I didn’t react that way. (We ended up contacting each other and becoming best friends again.) And I just went on with my life. To me, there were other things. I don’t like her pretty girl, flirty-flirt side of her. I like the change in her, though. She goes from dependent to independent. She ends up not needing Sloane for every waking thing. Which is nice. I like when characters grow independent.
Problems: I think that I’m on the negative side here. I see that many like this book. I didn’t.
This book’s plot went from friendship to romance quickly. The author struggled to hold onto the friendship. But it ended up not working. I think that friendship is stronger than love. That’s why I don’t particularly like best friends turned couple. They might break up and ruin the friendship. I do think there could have been more family and friendship.
The characters aren’t too interesting. They have bad homes. That’s something in common. Frank especially. Almost divorced parents. I relate to that. But barely. I can’t connect to any of them. I don’t care if Dawn was cheated on. Or if Collins is flirty. I do like how Collins has emotional troubles. That’s something I care for. But Emily? And Frank? No love for them.
I didn’t like the way things happened towards the end. The end seemed rushed. A patchwork quilt tossed together hastily. It seemed like a major coincidence that Emily found Sloane’s camera, and found Sloane. I really didn’t like that. She could have traveled the whole state for Sloane. That would have been nice. A road trip. (After all, this author wrote about a road trip.) And anyways…did Dawn and Emily make up? The friendships she built are simply ignored at the end. It’s all Frank-and-Emily.
Good points: I feel like the story doesn’t have many good points. I know I’m on the opposite end of what others think. I just didn’t really like it.
The story had emphasis on friendship. At first. That started to fade when Frank had his birthday party. Things changed from friends to romance and let’s-make-out. I didn’t like that. Romance overtook the importance of friendship. Not a good theme.
The main character changes. For the better. Emily changes to a new person. She ends up a new, braver person. She changes like Cecily in her parents’ play Bug Juice. If you think about it, it’s true. She ends up better. And I like that.
I like Collins. He has emotional troubles. I like that. He has a bit of low self esteem. Something I relate to. Of course, I don’t do things without thinking. But we are similar. Enough. Similar enough.
I like that playlists were in the book. It had some fun formatting. Like with the playlists. And the letter. It was nice to have a reprieve from the typical, Arial font.
Score: 6/10
Recommended: If you like stories about completing a list. If you like realistic fiction with romance and friendship.

Wren Reviews: ‘Love Letters to the Dead’

Title: Love Letters to the Dead

Author: Ava Dellaira

Genre: Romance, YA Fiction, Realistic

 

Premise:

(Goodreads)

It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person.

Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to the dead—to people like Janis Joplin, Heath Ledger, Amelia Earhart, and Amy Winehouse—though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating the choppy waters of new friendships, learning to live with her splintering family, falling in love for the first time, and, most important, trying to grieve for May. But how do you mourn for someone you haven’t forgiven?

It’s not until Laurel has written the truth about what happened to herself that she can finally accept what happened to May. And only when Laurel has begun to see her sister as the person she was—lovely and amazing and deeply flawed—can she truly start to discover her own path.

In a voice that’s as lyrical and as true as a favorite song, Ava Dellaira writes about one girl’s journey through life’s challenges with a haunting and often heartbreaking beauty.

 

Plot: The story is about Laurel a girl whose sister died within the past year or so. And she has to deal with the grief and the guilty of her role in May’s death.

Laurel is given an assignment where she must write a letter to a dead person. She chooses Kurt Cobian. On her first day of high school, she wears her old, middle school clothes. And is promptly ignored. When she dons May’s old clothes, she is noticed by Hannah and Natalie. With the two, she gets drunk for the first time. And she sees the two kissing. They say that she can ‘join in’ if she likes, which Laurel doesn’t do.

She meets Kristen and Tristan a couple who are polar opposites. She breaks out of her aunt’s house to go see the couple Kristen and Tristan. She is invited to go on a drive with her crush the mysterious junior Sky. (If you care to know, his real name is Skylar.) Homecoming comes near, and Laurel is invited by Evan a guy in one of her classes. She reluctantly goes with him, wanting to go with Sky instead. And Natalie asks Hannah to go to homecoming with her. And Hannah denies. Evan ditches her during homecoming to dance with his ex-girlfriend. Sky comes to her rescue, though. He takes her home, kissing her in his car. (Which is described as having a leather smell. A very strong one.)

Laurel goes to Hannah’s house for a a sleepover. Natalie drives Hannah’s grandmother’s van and gets it stuck in the sand. Hannah is yelled at by her older brother Jason. Laurel goes to a college Halloween party with her friends. There, she becomes Sky’s girlfriend. With her friends and boyfriend, she visits FallFest a place that she used to go to with her family before May died. She takes Sky home to her dad and introduces the two.

Hannah attains a new boyfriend named Neung. Even though she has Kasey as a boyfriend. Natalie and Laurel visit Neung’s home with Hannah. And Natalie cries after admitting she loves Hannah.

Christmas comes closer. Hannah gets a painting of her favorite flower tulips from Natalie. At a Christmas party, Laurel sees Janey a friend from middle school. She tries to avoid Janey, but it fails. She talks to Janey for a bit. (Janey caught Laurel stealing alcohol.) Laurel calls up Sky and kisses him.

Christmas comes. Laurel’s dad does nothing until Laurel strings out lights around her house with the help of her neighbor. Her dad gets into the holiday spirit and gets a tree. During Christmas, Laurel tells Sky she loves him, and Sky says he loves her.

At a New Year’s Eve party, she writes down her intentions for the year and burns it. (All her friends and Sky do this.) Sky breaks up with Laurel, saying she’s sometimes ‘not there’. Laurel remembers some of the details of May’s death. (But we don’t get the whole story until later.) Laurel, in despair, doesn’t attend school for a while. She goes back and tells Hannah and Natalie that Sky broke up with her. And that her sister May is dead. The two console her on the former and explain they knew about the latter. Sky gets a new girlfriend named Francesca, and she confronts Laurel. Laurel plays ‘the dead game’ which is composed of lying in the street and playing chicken with a car. She scares Sky’s girlfriend away by doing this.

Hannah gets a new boyfriend named Blake. Hannah and Laurel go to his house, and Laurel is almost raped by Blake’s roommate. Or so it seems. Some time passes, and Laurel gets in an argument with her mom who lives in California. She doesn’t speak to her mother for a while.

She confronts Sky about why he broke up with her. And how Sky knew about May’s death. Sky explains, saying they went to Sandia together. And that he beat up Paul May’s boyfriend before her death. And that’s how he got kicked out of Sandia. Laurel, Natalie, and Hannah go to a party. Evan almost rapes Laurel, and Laurel catches Hannah and Natalie kissing. As goes most of everyone there. Including Hannah’s brother Jason. Jason hurts Hannah afterwards. The three friends don’t talk for a while until Hannah and Laurel get to talking. Once they talk, Hannah and Natalie talk.

Laurel reveals what happened on the night May died. She reveals that she had been groped, many times, by Paul’s friend Billy when May went on dates with Paul. Laurel explained this to May who went to the edge of a river and…walked off. (It isn’t clear exactly what happened to her. Suicide or not.) Hannah stays at Laurel’s house for a day before staying at Natalie’s. Laurel doesn’t start dating Sky again but becomes his friend. Sky goes over and talks to her dad on occasion.

Laurel finally meets the Jesus Man a guy her aunt had been crushing on for some time. She tells her aunt to stop perusing the man. Her aunt takes heed of Laurel’s advice. She finally makes up with her mom.

School ends. The group Tristan, Hannah, Natalie, Kristin, and Laurel come together and party. Laurel sees Natalie and Hannah acting like a couple. Hannah and Tristan sing at a bonfire to commemorate Tristan and Kristen’s last day of high school. Sky and Laurel get back together. Laurel writes her last letter to May. And she gives her notebook of letters to her teacher.

And the story ends.

 

Character Development: I typically put the main character in these stories. But I wanted to talk about Sky as well. (And not just because of his unusual name.)

Laurel. I don’t like Laurel. Sure. I like the ‘I’m not broken’ parts of her. I like the ‘fixable’ parts. It’s interesting. I like those types of characters. The ones with dark pasts who act like everything is fine. And we all know it’s not fine. She’s not fine. I like that, though, in a character. The parts I hate are the ones obsessed with Sky. Laurel is like Charlie from ‘Perks of Being a Wallflower’. And we all know Charlie loves Sam. But Laurel is obsessed with Sky. I think it’s an unhealthy crush that adds wood to the flame. Not a good thing.

Sky. I feel like he had potential. He could have been a great character. But he isn’t. He is mysterious. That could have been expanded. But it isn’t. I wish it was expanded. I wish Sky was expanded. He had the potential to be more. He’s just ‘Laurel’s boyfriend’. That’s all.

 

Problems: Gosh. This book is ‘Perks of Being a Wallflower’. But it has less deeper meaning.

Let me explain.

This book was romance half the time. The other half was it trying to gain deeper meaning. Which didn’t exactly work all the time.

I didn’t like the romance. It is based on nothing. And Laurel seems to be clinging to Sky. She’s whiny and keeps holding on to Sky. Let go. Just let go. He’s your first ‘love’, but you need to get over it.

Gah. Laurel is a bad thing herself. I think her guilt is an interesting point, but she’s whiney. Sky this. Sky that. She has only the guilty going for her. She is all about Sky. And romance. And kissing. And trying to hook up with Sky. Gag.

The story wasn’t very interesting if you ask me. It’s a bit dull. I rather know what happened and how May died in the beginning. Keeping me waiting was dragging it on. And I don’t like how dramatic it was. No action. At all. I didn’t like that.

The characters seemed a bit dull. I didn’t like Natalie and Hannah. Or Tristan and Kristen. I seem to like almost none of these characters. And I only liked a small part of Laurel’s character. They were interesting. But Hannah overreacted when she was caught kissing Natalie.

And that’s another problem. The lesbian romance wasn’t working for me. I didn’t like it. It didn’t seem real. And, if you ask me, it just isn’t romance. Where is it based off of? And why is it there? Trying to bring in LGBT teens? I just don’t know. I don’t think that it would lesbian romance.

And I feel like these characters are just being…stereotyped a bit. I mean…the polar opposite couple. The guy who is a rocker and the girl who is a study bug. The popular girl who gets everyone. And the loner girl turned around. These characters are overused. There should be some originality. I also think ‘Perks of Being a Wallflower’ is a definite influence. (The author is actually her mentor.) But it seems to copy a  lot from ‘Perks of Being a Wallflower’. Which I don’t like at all. I don’t like books being copied.

 

Good points: There are a few good points.

I like Laurel’s guilt. It makes her a bit less…emotionless. I think that is interesting to give her guilt. But it’s not guilt that I understand. Why does she think it’s her fault? It was May’s fault for standing on the edge. Laurel was just in shock. Not all people react to those things.

Another good thing is the letters. Not the letters itself or the content really. But the letters were interesting. It wasn’t as well written as ‘Perks of Being a Wallflower’, but I liked how Laurel made it to a certain person. But I didn’t like her bringing up ‘you’ or what happened to that person. It was a bit awkward. Especially since I didn’t know some of these singers and poets.

 

Score: 7/10

Recommended: If you like ‘after -insert name of loved one- died’ stories. If you like a girl recovering over a death and hooking up with a guy who has a shady past.

 

Wren Reviews: ‘Far Dawn’

Title: Far Dawn

Author: Kevin Emerson

Genre: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Fantasy, YA fiction, Romance

 

 

Premise:

(Goodreads)

In The Far Dawn, Owen and Lilly are on their own, two of the three Atlanteans left on a journey to find Atlantis and protect it from the selfish greed of their nemesis Paul and Project Elysium. As time grows short and darkness overtakes the planet, Owen must face Paul’s greatest treachery yet. He must choose—does he save the planet, or the people he loves?

Perfect for fans of Star Wars, Percy Jackson, or The Hunger Games, The Far Dawn takes readers on an explosive journey through time and space with heartrending decisions, pulse-pounding action, and fascinating questions of science and ethics alike. Both the paperback and ebook editions include extra content on “where science stops and fantasy starts” in the world of the series.

 

Plot: The story starts off with Lilly and Owen flying in Lük’s craft. They pick up a signal, someone calling for help. They go to the place where the signal originated the Vista and meet Moros/Peter a human being turned digital character inside the Vista a digital utopia. Owen is almost downloaded into Peter’s digital body as a way for Peter to get out. Owen and Lilly escape with the knowledge Peter had. They flee to the mountains. They find Paul there with Evan-turned-Kael/Leech by genetic experimentation. The two save Evan and find the Sentinel the spirit of Rana, Lilly’s ancestor. The Sentinel says that Owen isn’t the Aeronaut. The story turns to the original Three with Owen inside Lük’s head. He sees the Three trying to destroy the Paintbrush of the Gods and failing. The world falls apart in the memory. Owen comes out of the memory and finds that Lilly and Evan are gone, taken by Paul. Rana and Owen go to Antarctica where the original city is rumored to be. They meet a band of military men. They almost save Evan and Lilly, but the Terra is taken. And the world is crushed by ice. Lilly, Evan, and Matheu (or however you spell his name) are killed. Owen survives with Rana’s help. Owen makes coffins for all three and send them out to sea. He is cared for by the military before he leaves to go on a Flotilla to have changes done to him. He gets a bionic eye and a bar code on his finger similar to the ones on the elite. He then goes to an Eden, seeking out passage to Egress the ship in space. He gets on with the Nomads help. He, sadly, betrays them when he gets there. He doesn’t blow up the station. Instead, Owen makes a deal with Paul to have Lilly revived. When about to talk to the Terra, part of his deal, he meets Lilly in her skull. They talk with Lilly making him decide he won’t agree to help Paul. Lük comes in, crashing into the ship using a spaceship he repaired. Rana, Kael’s spirit, and Owen escape the failing Egress. In the ship, they crash into missiles. Owen releases the Terra, saving the world. The Terra returns to the earth and starts healing the broken parts. Owen is revived in the Eden his story began in. Owen sees Lilly, and the story ends.

Character Development: Owen. Owen isn’t a favorite character of mine. Love overtakes all rational thought. And he’s the surprise attack. And he mopes. I don’t like him. He’s simply annoying. I do like that he is human. He mourns. He feels pain. It doesn’t seem like the original Three are not human. Even during the flashback.

Problems: A problem I saw was the world building. I haven’t read this series since the last book, book two. And the world wasn’t defined anyways. LoRad? What? Could there be a section that describes the purpose of these inventions? That would have been good. I like knowing these things. (Either that or it was explained, and I don’t remember.) The romance was a bit much. Kissing every moment. It was nice that Lilly didn’t say ‘I love you’ as if it was ‘pass me the salt’. It was a bit cute that they kept count. It was interesting why they did it. And the fact that they did it at all. I don’t like the romance, though. I don’t like romance in general. And this was part of the ‘general’. The plot, while action-filled, is not too interesting. I don’t particularly like it. It was just okay. The plot was a bit…dull. Betrayal. Fighting. It seems a bit repetitive. I don’t know why I think that. It seems like that happens often enough. Fighting. Betrayal. Loss. It’s becoming common enough.

Good points: ‘Far Dawn’ has certain things I like. Only a few. I like how Owen seems real. He goes through emotional and physical pain. He is real. He feels pain. He isn’t indestructible. When Lilly is dead, he mourns. He builds coffins. He goes on a suicide mission. Knowing he’ll die if he goes through with it. He is real. I like that. I like real characters. The plot is action. Action. Drama. Suspense. Surprises. It’s odd that I don’t like the story, but I have a minor like for the plot. It’s the action that I like. Not the story itself.

 

Score: 7/10

Recommended: If you like the series. If you like dystopian with a supernatural twist.

Wren Reviews: ‘Compulsive’

Title: Compulsive
Author: Myunqiue C. Green
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Realistic, Action
Note: I received this book from the author Myunique C. Green for a review. This doesn’t make me biased in any way.
Premise:
(Goodreads)
Was it fate, karma or just a stroke of bad luck that intertwined the lives of four strangers?

Dante, Liliana, Syven and Kendra all lead different lives, and aside from stolen glances, none of them could certainly never pick each other out in a crowd. But a mysterious force is at work; someone warning them of a damnation that has yet to pass. Enticed by their individual desires, will they heed the warnings before time runs out, or will their compulsions get the best of them?

Plot: This is a story told in four perspectives. I’ll divide the plot up in fours.
Dante. Dante’s story starts with him owing money to a gang led by Mike. He joins Mike’s gang after procuring the needed amount of alcohol. He meets Lacey the ‘hot girl’ in his story. He helps the gang break into a bakery. (This bakery is Syven’s, as found out later in the story.) The gang moves from bakeries to banks. Dante gets a small cut, wanting more of the money earned in the bank robbery. He goes to challenge Mike and finds some gang members dead. He takes the money and flees. He gives some of the money to his friend and some to his mother. He gets a call from Syven (not that he knows it’s Syven) telling him to bring the money. He does, seeing Tiffany instead of Syven for the transfer. Dante gives up some of his money but gets shot by Tiffany. He is killed.
Liliana’s story starts with her getting engaged to her long-time love. She leaves him for a bit before returning his calls. She meets a guy named Alton and starts dating him. She has a sister named Bianca. Bianca gets kidnapped, and Lily has to pay back Joe all the money she used to buy materialistic possessions. She ends up doing so, but she is kidnapped by Joe and by Alton. She sees another girl Kendra Belle who is Alton’s love. Bianca is hurt by the men, and Lily turns fearful. She ends up dying.
Syven is a baker who works hard to fund his family. His friend strikes the jackpot and wins the lottery. Syven is tossed into a world of riches, meeting a girl named Tiffany who attracts him. His parents’ baker is robbed. He sees Lily. (Syven liked Bianca before his friend won the lottery.) He finds out that Dante robbed a bank and his parents’ bakery by overheating Dante talking to his friend Jay. Syven decides to take revenge on Dante, calling him and asking him for money. (A threatening call.) Dante agrees. Together, Tiffany and Syven get the money. Syven is betrayed, though, by Tiffany who shoots Syven. Syven is assumed dead. But is he?
Kendra is a star who leaves stardom in exchange for a quiet life. She gets there and meets Byron a nice guy she takes a liking to. She starts a relationship with him. In response to her OCD, she goes to a therapist, but she is raped by said therapist. She goes to a bank and gets caught up in the bank robbery. She recovers. Kendra is thrown into a clash with Lily’s story as she is kidnaped by Al her bodyguard. She is threatened and is almost killed. But she ends up escaping. She ends up being pregnant with one of the men, Byron or Al’s child.
This is a very quick summary of these four stories. I tried to talk about all the major happenings.
Character Development:
Dante. I don’t like Dante. He starts out a weakling, but he has a rapid, almost unbelievable, change into a new, tougher person. I don’t see exactly why he does that. Joining a gang is one thing. Why did you steal that money from Mike anyways? I don’t like Dante. In any way.
Liliana. Gah. I hate these characters who date for love. Lily was trying to be some gold digger. I think. It was infuriating. I know it happens in real life…but did it have to be a character? I’m not sorry when I say I hate Lily.
Syven. Innocent at first. But a wild party guy. I have mixed feelings on Syven. He didn’t want to rob his friend. Which is one thing. And I like that. But he was all over Tiffany. He was sex and revenge. Why? Because he worked his ass off and his friend didn’t? Not a good enough answer.
Kendra. I am, in no way, a fan of the Hollywood characters who want to escape stardom. I mean, they can be written well. But Kendra…not exactly. She has a relationship with two men. (I’m seeing a trend here.) And she wants to have a relationship with Byron? With Al on the side? No. Just no.
Problems: I thought that this story has potential.
It was ‘young adult’. While I read, I labeled it more new adult. It has sex and drugs and alcohol. It seems less young adult and teen-friendly and more new adult.
Another problem is the plot. It just seemed messy to me. Sure. I liked the different perspectives mixing together, but it just didn’t work. I’m not a fan of realistic. And this is a realistic story. The darker side of humanity is intriguing, but this story is more on very coincidental things. The plot also was rushed. Time seemed to jump all over the place. Months were paragraphs. Days, barely sentences. I don’t like rushed stories. Nor do I like slow ones. But this is, at least, something.
They meet, all of them. They meet another in the story. You don’t know who Dante meets until later. Which isn’t styling I like. You have to just guess. You go ‘ah, I see’ at the end. Well…kinda.
The romance was annoying. There was more on sex and hooking up compared to building a relationship. The romances were rushed. And it seemed like everyone had a lover. Dante has the girl in the gang. Lily had two people. Kendra had Al and Bryon. Syven has Tiffany. It was a very ‘let’s hook up’ story.
Good points: I do like a few things. Not many, though. Just a few.
I like how Kendra has OCD. (It’s a disorder where you have to do certain things. For her, it’s cleaning.) It makes her seem more real. Doesn’t help her case much but it’s something. The author tried her best to add in realistic problems to try and get the readers to relate. It was a nice attempt. It just didn’t work for me.
There was action. Not necessarily good action but it was there. I won’t say I love or hate the action. It just wasn’t satisfying.
I acknowledge that some might like this book. I can see the potential. But, like with most realistic stories, I didn’t like it. Not really.
Score: 5/10
Recommended: If you like a story told in many perspectives. If you like a harsh reality, realistic fiction story.

Wren Reviews: ‘An Abundance of Katherines’

Title: An Abundance of Katherines
Author: John Green
Genre: Romance, Realistic, YA fiction
Premise:
(Goodreads)
Katherine V thought boys were gross
Katherine X just wanted to be friends
Katherine XVIII dumped him in an e-mail
K-19 broke his heart
When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton’s type happens to be girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact.
On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washed-up child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a bloodthirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight, Judge Judy-loving best friend riding shotgun–but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl. Love, friendship, and a dead Austro-Hungarian archduke add up to surprising and heart-changing conclusions in this ingeniously layered comic novel about reinventing oneself.
Plot: We start with Colin leaving his Chicago home. He is getting over being dumped by the nineteenth Katherine. He goes on a road trip, but he ends up in Gutshot when he wants to see the body of Franz Ferdinand. He ends up being a worker for Hollis the owner of the nearby textile faculty. He works with his road trip buddy and best friend Hassan for money by recording people talking about their textile factory work and past for Hollis. He starts working on a theorem to predict the future of a relationship.
He becomes friends with Lindsey Lee Wells who is Hollis’s daughter. He discovers that Lindsey is dating a Colin. He slowly meets the other people in Gutshot. The oldesters in particular.
Hassan starts dating a popular girl named Katrina. He, and Colin, are invited to hunt pigs. They are bitten by hornets and get attacked and muddied. Hassan discovers Katrina having sex with TOC, The Other Colin (Lindsey’s Colin.) Colin starts to get closer with Lindsey. Lindsey and TOC break up. They find out that Hollis is selling land. Lindsey is determined to figure out why. They find out that the textile factory is going under. Colin ends up with Lindsey after a few ‘dates’ and a few trips together. They end up together after Lindsey has an emotional break down.
Character Development:
Colin. I like geniuses. For some reason. I don’t know why. I like them because they are viewed negatively in society. Let me say this. I don’t like Colin. He dates girls left and right. He has the potential to do so much more. He’s just drowned in sorrows over Katherines. Can’t he see that they aren’t good for him? Can’t he just avoid girls named Katherine? Colin acts like a child sometimes. I truly hate that. He acts as if he hasn’t grown up.
Hassan. I love how he plays the part of a funny, ‘chubby’ guy. He overdoes it, though. He acts like he knows better. He is a good friend, though. That’s a good thing. I like how he stands up to Colin when Colin acts like a brat.
Lindsey Lee Wells. I don’t like Lindsey. I feel that she has a bit of low self esteem. She acts like a different person with different people. I like the low self esteem part of her. The part she shared with Colin alone. She seems more real. Then she talks to someone else and ends up acting differently. I don’t like this quick change. It is reality, though, which I like.
Problems: There are more problems than good points
The plot is dull and boring. I didn’t get anything out of this book. The plot had ups and downs, but I didn’t like the small plot twists. They were minor and insignificant. Where is this story going? Where will it end up? I don’t know. The story ends on a confusing note. Where are they going? Who will they pick up? It’s hard to tell with this cliffhanger.
Another problem is the characters. Colin is annoying. He is too obsessed with girls. He isn’t really focused on his studies. When he should. And Hassan? He overdoes the ‘fat boy’ image. I don’t see why he has to overplay it. That makes no sense.
Another problem is the romance. Where is the attraction between Colin and Lindsey? I don’t see it. Colin is a bit passive aggressive to things. He reacts to Lindsey saying things. The only thing that brings anything to the table is at the end in the cave. Lindsey and Colin don’t have any chemistry.
Good points: There are a few good points.
I like the comedy. I typically don’t like comedy books, but this comedy made me laugh anyways. I liked it. It was a good part.
The comedy is one of the only things going for this story. In its entirety.
Another good part is the friendship. This isn’t just a romance. It is about romance, but we get a good friendship. Hassan and Colin are admirable friends. They stay together through thick and thin.
Lindsey was annoying, but she was also real. She is more real than Colin or Hassan. She acts like a different person each time. People do that. It’s every day. And that’s what makes her real. I like realistic characters. You can relate to them better. I like that in books.
Score: 6/10
Recommended: If you like John Green books. If you like realistic fiction with romance and friendships.

Wren Reviews: ‘Of Beast and Beauty’

Title: Of Beast and Beauty

Author: Stacey Jay

Genre: Dystopian, Romance, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Supernatural, YA Fiction

 

Premise:

(Goodreads)

In the beginning was the darkness, and in the darkness was a girl, and in the girl was a secret…

In the domed city of Yuan, the blind Princess Isra, a Smooth Skin, is raised to be a human sacrifice whose death will ensure her city’s vitality. In the desert outside Yuan, Gem, a mutant beast, fights to save his people, the Monstrous, from starvation. Neither dreams that together, they could return balance to both their worlds.

Isra wants to help the city’s Banished people, second-class citizens despised for possessing Monstrous traits. But after she enlists the aid of her prisoner, Gem, who has been captured while trying to steal Yuan’s enchanted roses, she begins to care for him, and to question everything she has been brought up to believe.

As secrets are revealed and Isra’s sight, which vanished during her childhood, returned, Isra will have to choose between duty to her people and the beast she has come to love.

 

Plot: In the beginning, we have a domed city called Yuan which calls for a blood sacrifice every thirty years or so.

We have Isra a princess that goes to a rose garden to ‘see’ because she is blind. She gets attacked by a Monstrous named Gem. Gem is caught and imprisoned. Isra tries to find out how to stop the ‘poison’ in her body from Gem’s attack. She discovers that Gem is also good at herbs and knows how to reverse her tainted traits, being extremely tall and having peeling skin. Gem and Isra work in a garden to plant herbs to turn back being tainted. They form a friendship of sorts, with Gem vehemently denying that he cares for Isra. One day, they escape to the outside world, where Gem lives, and look for the bulbs that need to be planted in the garden. There, their love blossoms, and they kiss constantly. They return to Yuan. Time passes. Isra gains her sight after being told not to take her tea by Bo, her soon-to-be-husband. She rejoices, happy that she can finally see. Gem is forced to leave one night, and Isra gets married to Bo soon after. Gem discovers his tribe is either dead or dying. He mourns, staying away from Yuan for months. Isra is about to be killed by Junjie Isra’s advisor. She discovers that her father was killed by Junjie not a Monstrous. She and Bo narrowly escape the crumbling dome because Isra refused to be killed, to offer her blood to the monster that controlled the city. She is saved by Gem who comes back in the nick of time. He thinks Isra is dying, but, once they get to the outside world, Isra is saved by the magic of love. The two admit feelings for each other, and the world is saved.

 

Character Development:

Isra. At first, I hated Isra. She was whiny and annoying. She kept complaining about her fantastic life. She was the princess. Blind or not, she had a life of luxury. I could see why she hated it, though. I just thought she took things for granted. While I typically don’t say this, this book is the exception. The characters become better people because of love. They truly do. Well…at least Isra. I didn’t like how Gem changed, and I won’t say he became a better person because of love or Isra. Isra becomes a queen. Someone strong and determined. Sadly, she spends too much time worrying about Gem. I know that happens when you’re in love, but one might assume she was some obsessed fan of his not his lover. Or whatever she was in that point of the story.

Gem. I didn’t like Gem in the beginning or end. He starts out this stiff warrior who is determined to make sure his tribe survives. He’s stuck on this idea for most of the book. He finally breaks out of this when he falls in love with Isra. Of course, at the time, he didn’t realize it was love. He turns into this weepy, head-over-heels guy who is in love. Which is a terrible change. I felt like he could have been strengthened by love. But he isn’t. He ends up a sappy character. If there was a sequel to this book, I wouldn’t willingly read it. Why? Gem would be a puppy dog. I preferred him as the Monstrous warrior, thank you very much.

I would add in Bo here since he does become the narrator a few times, but I truly don’t like Bo’s character. I don’t think he’s a major player in their story either. He does have his moments, but he isn’t a main character like Isra or Gem is.

 

Problems: Okay. There are some problems with this book. I liked it. Mostly.

A problem is with the romance. Where is it from? I don’t see it. Sure, you share commonalities, but I feel like these two will have a falling out in the future. They are built on love. Which comes mostly from Isra. When did Gem start caring for her? Why did he start caring? I don’t see it. It is a relationship built on Isra not Gem.

Another problem is the confusing setting. Okay. It’s the future. Okay. It’s a distant place. Is this another planet? Not even our universe at all? I don’t see where this book is set. I just know it’s the future in a desert land with domed cities.

Another problem is the supernatural elements. The antagonist is this supernatural entity that doesn’t have much backstory except in the prologue. We don’t get why it craves human blood. Is it just that sadistic, or did I miss something? I can’t tell. I just don’t understand that.

I didn’t like the fact that there was a lack of action. The plot was dramatic but slow in the beginning. I felt like there was something missing, though. The romance was a bit much, with both sides falling in love almost instantly after realizing a bit of lust for the other. I don’t know how to describe this book, really.

 

 

Good points: I like the backstories. Goodness, the backstories were fantastic. I love how the betrayal was worked in. I wish I had more of Gem’s backstory. Who was his brother to him? What happened to them? I do think there could have been more backstory. Especially for Gem. I like Isra’s backstory. There was something that broke her in her past. It was quite fascinating to read.

I also like how the story is in the beginning.

The character Isra is interesting. I like how she is in beginning. She ends up a lovesick puppy at the end, though. Which is disappointing. I like how she is courageous. She is determined to make the Dark Side/One suffer until she dies of her own accord.

This book didn’t have the action I wanted. There was minimal action and more romance than I like. The book was an okay one.

 

Score: 7/10

Recommended: If you like romance. If you like a new take on Beauty and the Beast.

 

Wren Reviews: ‘United We Spy’

Title: United We Spy

Author: Ally Carter

Genre: Action, Adventure, Romance, YA Fiction

 

Premise:

(Goodreads)

Cammie Morgan has lost her father and her memory, but in the heart-pounding conclusion to the best-selling Gallagher Girls series, she finds her greatest mission yet. Cammie and her friends finally know why the terrorist organization called the Circle of Cavan has been hunting her. Now the spy girls and Zach must track down the Circle’s elite members to stop them before they implement a master plan that will change Cammie—and her country—forever.

 

Plot: This is an action-filled plot. We have the girls together again. Cammie is trying to save her friends and her family. She tries to save her world.

In all honesty, I don’t like ruining either a) good books or b) action packed books. Especially these types of books.

Here are the major spoilers I will say:

Townsend ends up being Zach’s father. (Remember Catherine is an ex-Gallagher Girl and Zach’s mother.)

Mr. Solomon and Cammie’s mom get engaged.

They end up rescuing people. (Specifically…Preston.)

That’s all I’ll say. Those are major spoilers, folks. I try not to spoil good books. But this isn’t an amazing book. It’s pretty good.

This series has memories for me. I started it a long time ago.

But this book has action. I loved the action. There were cheesy scenes, but the romance was limited. It was a good dose of romance, though. It wasn’t too much. I like that about this book. The romance isn’t overwhelming the ideals of family and friendship and togetherness. There is friendship. Liz, Bex, Cammie, and Macey are a fantastic group of friends. It’s nice to see them stick together for each other.

The ending, though, is nothing to be desired. I felt like it ended abruptly. The story was a bit rushed. I didn’t like that.

 

Character Development:

Cammie. Let me say this simply. I don’t like Cammie. She has her great moments, but her thoughts are confusing. She acts like a senior one moment and then a little, seven-year-old girl. I can’t tell if she’s older than she should be or younger. I feel sorry for her, though. She’s gone through so much. I know YA characters typically go through trauma, but I think Cammie’s gone through way too much. Kidnappings. Torture. Pain. Suffering. I don’t want to know why Ally Carter made poor Cammie go through all of this. I pity her and wish she didn’t have to suffer so much. But…it was the author’s choice. She does grow up. I remember her being so innocent and boy crazy in the first book. But she grows into a mildly senior personality by the end of this book.

Zach. Am I the only one not attracted to Zach? ‘Hot’ spy boy just isn’t for me. I don’t like Zach really. I think his commitment to keep his friends and loved ones safe is cute and admirable. Not many people would sacrifice themselves. He’s smart and quick, but I think that he is too flirty. I like how he evens out Cammie, though. He keeps her calm. I feel like he’s more of ‘Cammie’s boyfriend’ than a spy. Oh well…

Bex. I adore Bex. She’s brave, but she can let her walls down. I want to hear more from her. How does she react to these things happening around her? She isn’t given enough pages. I truly love her character. She’s fantastic.

Liz. I do think that there are good things about smart characters. They are good in calculations and other things. They can do things quickly, solving problems faster than, maybe, the main character. But Liz is extraordinary. I can’t imagine how terrible it is for her. She’s a genius amongst geniuses, but she seems like the impossible character. How can someone be that smart? I might never know. I think Ally Carter took her smarts too far really…

Macey. I think Macey has changed. She was a very stubborn and rich girl character. She is now a Gallagher Girl. I think that Macey is the character who changed the most. Or second most. I think that’s great for a character to be the one who changes drastically. Even if it isn’t the main character. As a person, I don’t particularly like Macey. She still clings to a bit of her rich girl persona, but I think she can shake it off.

 

Problems: Let me say that there are problems. There are definitely problems in this book. Here they are.

The ending seems rushed. Things tumbled in, happening left and right. There could have been a better way to end things, but Ally Carter didn’t take that route. I feel like there was the potential for a great ending without questions, but I want more. Surprisingly. I want more Bex and Macey. I truly do. I rather not have Cammie and Zach on missions. I want Bex’s perspective.

The characters are a bit odd. I like some of them like Bex, but I feel like some of them are stuck in the spotlight. Bex, for example, doesn’t get enough pages. I feel like she could have been expanded more. Bex has the potential for more. But we were stuck with Cammie the entire while. While I didn’t mind that, Cammie’s voice gets tiring. She is still a child sometimes. I feel like that young adults acting like children are nothing but nuisances. They need to grow up and settle into adulthood. Even if they don’t like it.

The story was confusing. I was confused on what the plot was actually on. We got different situations. I had to guess about what happened sometimes. It got me off-track sometimes. I didn’t completely understand what happened.

 

Good points: There are good points. I think that the story had good enough characters. There are interesting points to them. I like Cammie and how she deals with things. Zach’s past is intriguing as well.

I think that there is an adequate amount of action and romance. We don’t have just romance or action. We have both.

Another plus is the friendship. There isn’t just romance. There isn’t just Zach and Cammie. It’s Bex and Cammie and Liz and Macey. It’s family and friends and trust. It’s quite amazing. There are few books that involve these other romances not just love romance.

 

Score: 7/10

Recommended: If you like spy stories. If you like female spies.