Sunday Short Reviews

FotorCreated2I’ve recently been so caught up with life and midterms and college and internship applications and… well, you get the point. I’ve been reading novels, but haven’t quite had the time to post reviews for them. I’ve become a bit backlogged in the review department. Here’s some short reviews of books I was too impressed with to write an excellent, all-inclusive review (or not impressed with enough to bother writing a full review)!

I’m a busy college student, what can I say?

18775628It’s Spring Break of senior year. Anna, her boyfriend Tate, her best friend Elise, and a few other close friends are off to a debaucherous trip to Aruba that promises to be the time of their lives. But when Elise is found brutally murdered, Anna finds herself trapped in a country not her own, fighting against vile and contemptuous accusations.
As Anna sets out to find her friend’s killer; she discovers hard truths about her friendships, the slippery nature of truth, and the ache of young love.
As she awaits the judge’s decree, it becomes clear that everyone around her thinks she is not just guilty, but dangerous. When the truth comes out, it is more shocking than one could ever imagine…

PUBLISHER: Simon Pulse

PAGES: 388

MORAL RATING:

R: kissing, drugs, sexual content, and, oh, did I mention murder.

Your parents probably wouldn’t approve of this kind of vacation…

THE GIST:

One of my friends read this book before I did and she didn’t like it. “But everyone on Goodreads loves it,” I told her. I went into this book not knowing what to think about it, but I loved it. It’s not my typical read and it had dark and disturbing moments interspersed throughout. The writing wasn’t amazing, but it was suspenseful and thrilling. Abigail Haas crafts the perfect vacation-gone-wrong teen horror story with narration and characters you don’t know if you can trust. I was second-guessing myself through the whole novel. I finished the novel early in the morning and both of my roommates were asleep. It was so hard to keep myself from shouting “WHAT? WHAT?! WHAT!” at the top of my lungs, so I left my room and terrorized random girls on my floor with the plot of this book and the “WHAT? WHAT?! WHAT!” ending. I lost friends because of this novel. I’m okay with that. It was worth it. I would definitely recommend this novel for an audience of 17+ because of the disturbing content, but I can’t picture this novel any other way. Well done, Abigail Haas. You scare me. Congrats.

MY RATING:

5/5 hearts.

SOUNDTRACK:

Suzanne Sundfør’s Delirious is so perfect for this novel. A haunting song for a haunting novel.

~*~*~*~*~

Both-of-MeIt was supposed to be just another flight, another escape into a foreign place where she could forget her past, forget her attachments. Until Clara found herself seated next to an alluring boy named Elias Phinn—a boy who seems to know secrets she has barely been able to admit to herself for years.
When her carry-on bag is accidentally switched with Elias’s identical pack, Clara uses the luggage tag to track down her things. At that address she discovers there is not one Elias Phinn, but two: the odd, paranoid, artistic, and often angry Elias she met on the plane, who lives in an imaginary world of his own making called Salem; and the kind, sweet, and soon irresistible Elias who greets her at the door, and who has no recollection of ever meeting Clara at all. As she learns of Elias’s dissociative identity disorder, and finds herself quickly entangled in both of Elias’s lives, Clara makes a decision that could change all of them forever. She is going to find out what the Salem Elias knows about her past, and how, even if it means playing along with his otherworldly quest. And she is going to find a way to keep the gentle Elias she’s beginning to love from ever disappearing again.

PUBLISHER: Blink

PAGES: 272

MORAL RATING:

PG: Some kissing, weird hints at more than kissing

THE GIST:

A huge thanks to Blink and Jonathan Friesen for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

To be completely honest, I had no clue what was happening in this novel about 95% of the time. The writing was confusing and halting. The characters were flimsy and forgettable.

Jonathan Friesen seemed to have a unique, interesting idea with this novel about a boy with dissociative identity disorder, but the follow-through lacked depth for me. Although there was plenty of promise in the premise, this novel was a complicated mess of trying to understand what was going on and then puzzling through why any of it mattered to me. Since this novel is from a Christian publisher, Blink, I think there was a connection to Christ somewhere in the 272 pages, but I have no clue what that connection is. Elias–the poor boy–is used by his family and friends because he “lives” in two worlds. One of these worlds is called Salem, and this world is more fantastic than anything that exists in their lives, so they use him to experience Salem. It doesn’t quite make sense to me, either. Clara is a girl drawn into Elias’ complicated life by his attractive face and his secret drawings, but she appears paper-thin in the text, blown this way and that by other characters and external circumstances.

With lines like…

He ran into my arms and embraced me. I pressed my cheek against his chest. This was all I could hope for. Yes, I was home. He and I or the Other One and I or the searching me and him or the helping me or him… All of him with all of me.

…I’m completely lost.

Raise your hand if that makes any sense. No? Ditto, my people.

I scanned the last 30% of this book looking for anything redemptive. I couldn’t even find the energy to care about the last 25 pages of the novel, and I’m saddened by that. Overall, this novel suffered from a very, very, very busy plot where too many things are happening simultaneously.

MY RATING:

1.5/5 hearts.

SOUNDTRACK:

Daniel Bedingfield makes everything better.

~*~*~*~*~

Night-Circus-UK-cover1The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called “Le Cirque des Reves,” and it is only open at night.
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway–a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love – a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.
True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per-formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

PUBLISHER: Doubleday

PAGES: 387

MORAL RATING:

PG-13: Pretty tame plot, kissing, some hinting at more (but nothing explicit)

THE GIST:

This novel reminds me of childhood nostalgia. As a child, I went to the circus a couple of times. I attended Cavalia, a circus horse show, which stirred my imagination and I had an obsession with horses at that age. That being said, I’ve never been particularly interested in circuses.

The beautiful, magical writing had me captivated from the very first page. The characters each have unique, quirky personalities and I loved the alternating narrations. There was an air of delicious mystery throughout the whole story that kept me guessing until the very last page. Celia and Marco are lovely main characters with a tantalizing, slow-building romance and a connection that threatens to tear them apart. I still feel like I have questions about their duel that were never answered, but I was able to forgive some of the more vague aspects of this novel. After all, Erin Morgenstern is such a gifted writer!

There were times lulls in the story where I questioned whether I would ever finish, but I’m so glad that I kept reading through those slower parts. I really hope that the movie ends up being made because this novel would make an excellent film.

I finished this novel having absolutely no idea how I would review it. I didn’t think I could put it into words. I still don’t think I can. It made me feel bubbly, childlike, and awestruck all at the same time. I wish the Night Circus was a real thing–I would have been a rêveur. 😉

MY RATING:

5/5 hearts. No question.

SOUNDTRACK:

 Phildel is a mostly-unknown artist with an ethereal, otherworldly voice. I still don’t think this song is a perfect fit for the novel or Celia and Marco, but I don’t think I’m ever going to find a song that is going to appease the perfectionist in me. Also, the music video is surprisingly creepy. Beware!

~*~*~*~*~

22456909The fact that neither of her parents wants to deal with her is nothing new to Penny. She’s used to being discussed like a problem, a problem her mother has finally passed on to her father. What she hasn’t gotten used to is her stepmother…especially when she finds out that she’ll have to spend the summer with April in the remote woods of Washington to restore a broken-down old house.
Set deep in a dense forest, the old Carver House is filled with abandoned antique furniture, rich architectural details, and its own chilling past. The only respite Penny can find away from April’s renovations is in Miller, the young guy who runs the local general store. He’s her only chance at a normal, and enjoyable, summer.
But Miller has his own connection to the Carver House, and it’s one that goes beyond the mysterious tapping Penny hears at her window, the handprints she finds smudging the glass panes, and the visions of children who beckon Penny to follow them into the dark woods. Miller’s past just might threaten to become the terror of Penny’s future….

PUBLISHER: Simon Pulse

PAGES: 384

MORAL RATING:

PG/PG-13: Some frightening scenes that may scare younger readers

THE GIST:

First of all, a huge thank you to Simon Pulse and Carly Anne West for allowing me to read this title through Edelweiss in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.

I read this novel on the way to Switzerland. Sitting in the plush comforts of first class, hanging out with my mom, on my way to the land of fine chocolates and nice watches. Not exactly the perfect time to read a horror novel, yes? Contrary to popular belief, it was the perfect time to pull out this novel.

I liked The Bargaining, but I wasn’t crazy about it. It was an entertaining read, full of mystery regarding the Carver House (and the creepy woods) and Penny’s sass. I expected to be scared out of my mind, but I ended up being creeped out. There’s nothing wrong with a creepy read–I was just expecting something different. There was enough suspense and tension to keep me turning the pages and I did feel somewhat satisfied with the ending. The twists and turns at the end were the main highlights of the whole novel for me. Carly Anne West wrapped up the novel in an appropriate manner, but kept the reader wanting more. I didn’t feel like everything resolved in the end of this novel, and I think that was part of its charm.

RATING:

3/5 hearts.

SOUNDTRACK:

Armors is an up-and-coming band and their song “Parasite” fits perfectly with the creepy vibes of this novel.

~*~*~*~*~

There we go! I’m caught up! Thanks for reading my “short” reviews which ended up being not so short after all. Oh, well.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Sunday Short Reviews

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s