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They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera – Review

39320556Title: They Both Die at the End
Author: Adam Silvera
Rating: 4/5

Themes:
death, friendship, love, celebrating life, courage

There’s something beautiful about death. When I picked this book up, I didn’t even bother to read the synopsis because I had heard good things about it and I just wanted to charge right in. I would say spoiler alert, but the book itself is a spoiler.

Plot and World-Building:
Conceptually, the idea of Death-Cast is intriguing. The idea is that you get a call on the day you’re supposed to die. No one knows how Death-Cast knows when you’re going to die, but they are never wrong. The idea of knowing when you’re dying has to be a heavy weight. Sure, some people get told they have a month, 6-months, a year, but these people get 24 hours maximum. And it’s all via a phone call from people that their entire job is calling these will-be-dead people called Deckers. I could probably read a handful of books from this world because I have so many questions about it. Does this make people do more reckless things on days they don’t get a call? Are people more outgoing? More violent? More loving? I think if we lived in this world I would get a panic attack in the middle of the night, just staring at my phone waiting for the inevitable and that just isn’t healthy.

I need someone to talk to me about this because I find it very interesting and I want more details. Even though this story is told from the perspective of Mateo and Rufus, I like that Silvera added some snippets from other characters here and there. Not only did it show that effects of “the call” on other people, but it also showed how many paths crossed with Mateo and Rufus along the way.

Characters:
Overall, I really enjoyed the characters. Rufus doesn’t necessarily have the best taste in friends, but they’re loyal and they have his back until the end and I think that’s really good. And yes, Peck, I would be extremely pissed off if my girlfriend’s ex came out of nowhere and beat me up, but I don’t think I would be so extremely pissed as to try and get him arrested or maimed on a day he is supposed to die. Just doesn’t feel very worth it.

The characters in this were very diverse, which was a pleasant surprise. I particularly liked that Lidia was a single teenage mother that works hard to sustain them both. It shows a healthier side as opposed to what reality TV says about teen moms.

Mateo:
In all honesty, I thought Mateo was a recluse from the beginning and for the first half of the book I just wanted to grab him by the shoulders and shake him yelling “Live a little”. Meeting Rufus was really good for him and watching that relationship grow and develop from the start isn’t something easy to do in a 24 hour period of time.

The one thing I don’t agree with is his initial feeling to not tell Lidia he’s dying. It just isn’t fair to her and that took precious hours that could have meant a lot.

Rufus:
Their contrasting personalities were interesting. Unlike Mateo, Rufus is tough and outgoing. But he has had a hard life, so I think meeting Mateo did him as much good. He needed someone to push the boundaries with him, emotionally, to help him open up a little.

Last Thoughts:
The fact that this is a YA book is earth-shattering. Usually, death is too real for people to handle, especially when it’s set in a world so similar to ours and the characters so similar to people we know. I think that breaks a boundary and really drives home that life is short and we should take advantage of the time we have. Counting the minute and seconds won’t get us anywhere. So, take the jump off the cliff, run around in the rain, tell that person you love them.

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The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller – Review

Image result for the song of achilles
**Quotes based on the US paperback

“Name one hero who was happy…you can’t.” He was sitting up now, leaning forward.
“I can’t”
“I know. They never let you be famous and happy…I’ll tell you a secret.”
“Tell me.” I loved it when he was like this.
“I’m going to be the first.” He took my palm and held it to his. “Swear it.”
“Why me?”
“Because you’re the reason…” (pg. 104-105)

The Song of Achilles tells a twist of The Iliad from the perspective of Patroclus. It follows the life of Patroclus from being a young, simple prince and all the way through the Trojan War. It tells a heartbreaking tale of him meeting Achilles and the progression of their relationship from strangers to companions to something more. 
I latched onto this story from the very start. In my freshman year of high school, before I knew this book even existed, I wrote a retelling of The Iliad where Achilles and Patroclus were implied lovers, but never explicitly said so. When I heard of this book, I knew I had to read it. This story was beautifully tragic and wonderfully heartbreaking. In the beginning, Patroclus is so depressing (yet somehow humorous) that you can’t help but feel bad for him and the bad luck the Fates seemed to bestow on him. 

“She wants you to be a god,” I told him.
“I know.” (pg. 55)

Watching Achilles grow in his experiences from a perspective other than Homer’s is unexpected and something I welcome. Seeing him embrace Patroclus as a friend so readily was so heartwarming. 
Thetis. The wrath I felt for the minor goddess was not something I had anticipated. She clearly loved Achilles and the fact that she wanted him to become a god is something I had never looked at before. Heracles became one, so why shouldn’t he? Her disdain for Patroclus was gut-wrenching and left me tense with every interaction. By the end, I was almost completely over her character, but the last few pages left me feeling only grief for the goddess.

“There is no law that gods must be fair, Achilles,” Chiron said. “And perhaps it is the greater grief, after all, to be left on earth when another is gone. Do you think?” (pg. 84)

It was when the war came that I truly began to feel the full weight of this book. Anyone who has read The Iliad or read up a little on Greek stories/history knows there is only one way for this book to end. I saw a deep change in Achilles during the Trojan War. He was no longer the same innocent boy and he knew what the war would mean. Not only for himself, but for Patroclus. In the war, it is the first time Achilles feels the full weight of his mortality as realization sets in that he will not be a god.

Achilles was looking at me. “Your hair never quite lies flat here.” He touched my head, just behind my ear. “I don’t think I’ve ever told you how I like that.” (pg. 182)

Patroclus makes it clear to the reader that he has no intention of surviving the war or ever leaving Troy. He will do anything to keep Achilles alive and even goes as far as to keep him from killing Hector. It is a running theme during the war for Achilles to claim he has no reason to kill Hector. It is obvious that he is doing this not only to buy time from the Fates, but to remain with Patroclus for as long as possible. 
The time in war weighs heavily on Achilles and even starts to change who he is. His hubris begins to consume him as he realizes that the gods never promised how much or why he will have fame. Patroclus fears that people will remember him for the wrong things, the terrible things he does in war instead of the Achilles he knows and loves. There is even a time in which Patroclus considers suicide in a fit of rage to punish Achilles for his selfishness. 

I forced my voice to match his in lightness. “I’m sure you’re right. After all, Hector hasn’t done anything to you.”
He smiled then, as I had hoped he would. “Yes,” he said. “I’ve heard that.” (pg. 247)

This book was the most beautiful book I have ever read. I could read the story of Achilles and Patroclus and still cry at the end. That is how amazing this is. I could go as far to say that this is now my favourite book and that I play to read it many many more times in the future. The Song of Achilles truly makes you appreciate the time you have while on earth, however short it may be. 

Achilles makes a sound like choking. “There are no bargains between lions and men. I will kill you and eat you raw.” (pg. 344)

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Just a Few Inches by Tara St. Pierre – Review

Title: Just a Few Inches
Author: Tara St. Pierre
Format: Paperback
Pages: 306
Rating: 4.5/5

25636813To see my interview with Tara St. Pierre, go here!

I received a review copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affects my review.

Carrie Roberts is your normal teenage girl that has something completely abnormal happen to her. She’s shrinking…in height. After taking some weight loss pills to fit into a dress for the school formal, Carrie loses a little more than ‘just a few inches’. Soon, Carrie finds herself shrinking almost an inch every day. The problem? She doesn’t know how to stop it. The doctors don’t know how to stop it. And even if they stop it, they don’t know if they can reverse it. And every one starts asking the question. What if Carrie never stops shrinking?

This book was spectacular. In the beginning, I found it a little slow going. I didn’t particularly like Todd and I found the small interactions between Carrie and her friends tedious at times. As for her feeling the need to lose the extra weight, that just made me mad. She’s a cheerleader and is obviously popular at school with friends that care about her and her boyfriend is practically a star in the eyes of the school, yet, basically out of spite, she buys a dress she knows won’t fit her, just to prove a point?! Ugh. I can understand wanting to aggravate your mortal enemy, if even a little, but ladies, please don’t do harm to your bodies to prove a point, you are worth more than that and you all look beautiful.

Carrie doesn’t notice that she’s shrinking right away, until she notices that she’s looking up at a friend she’s usually level with and level with a friend she’s used to looking down at. If you’re like me, then you’re already barely five foot tall and wouldn’t notice losing another inch or two (but what I wouldn’t give to have an extra three inches, eh?), but for a 5′ 8” Carrie, this is a drastic change. Carrie’s shrinking puts into perspective of who her true friends are and who she really wants in her live. Once things get more serious, you start to wonder if Carrie will ever stop shrinking…but I’ll leave it to the reader to figure that one out.

There’s this one part near the end of the book that really showed the real danger that Carrie got herself in. Being about the size of a doll and a little sister with little friends that don’t believe in people Carrie’s size…you can understand how quickly things can go wrong there. My heart started pounding and I was flipping the pages so fast I thought I might rip a page. This ending is amazing and, while it scared the crap out of me, was probably my favourite part. Certainly a must read for someone looking for a fun, quick read.

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The White Rabbit by David Balzarini (ARC) – Review

Title: The White Rabbit
Author: David Balzarini
Format: Epub (ARC/beta)
Pages: 238
Release: 6/7/2016
Rating: 4/5

25932997Marshall Lisser is a wannabe rock musician with a talent for singing, song writing, and guitar playing. While at a party, Marshall’s life changes forever. Silvia Sorenstam is a goddess. She’s mysterious, she’s beautiful, and she’s nothing but trouble. After a week long relationship, Marshall and Silvia are wed, with more trouble than they bargained for. As if family problems weren’t enough, Silvia becomes pregnant. The secrets just start piling up from there and you know what they say about secrets. Once you start keeping secrets, it’s hard to stop. It’s a good thing Silvia and Marshall are bound together in sickness and in health.

I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting to get from this book, but what I got was not what I thought. In all honesty, I think by not reading the summary before reading the book, I actually managed to get surprised by things addressed in said summary. So, maybe sometimes going in blind makes the reading experience better?

In any case, I have some very mixed feelings about The White Rabbit. On one hand, I do love how Alice in Wonderland references were made throughout the book. The drama was without a doubt the best thing that this book had going for it. It got to the point where I felt like every time I flipped the page, things just escalated.

Silvia made me repeatedly mad from start to finish. Moral of the story, if you meet a beautiful naked women covered in body paint at a party, you should run the other direction. Yet, even with all her awful qualities, I thought that maybe, just maybe, there would be some kind of redeeming moment for her. Marshall. Marshall, Marshall, Marshall. So misled, so stupid, so blind. That’s really all I can say. This book not only gives, what I would consider, a realistic perspective on the music industry and then layers it with so much deception. I think the ending was rushed. It could have been a little more detailed or built up to, because by the time I reached a certain point that I won’t talk about to avoid spoilers, I read and passed it. I had to go back and reread it a few times for it all to sink in.

Overall, this was an interesting book. I’m glad I read it, because I did enjoy it. And, yes, the characters made me mad the majority of the time and there were some parts that were detailed that could have been simplified and some were simplified when they could have been detailed, but The White Rabbit didn’t disappoint.

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With Malice by Eileen Cook (ARC) – Review

Title: With Malice
Author: Eileen Cook
Format: Paperback (ARC)
Pages: 320
Rating 5/5

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**I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review**

When Jill Charron wakes up in the hospital with no recollection of the past six weeks, her life is in ruins. The accident that put her in the hospital also killed her best friend, Simone. The worst part? Jill was the one driving and everyone seems to think that the accident wasn’t really an accident. Soon, Jill finds herself facing reporters and the harsh people on the internet that all seem to have one thing in common. Everyone thinks that Jill killed Simone. If only Jill knew what really happened. Was Simone’s death really an accident?

First thought after finishing With Malice? “Oh. My. Gosh.”

Pulling you in from page one, With Malice shows not only the struggles of Jill and how she has to deal with foreign police, her own injuries, and a blog that’s basically dedicated to trying to prove her guilty, but also the side of crime that I think many books leave out. About half of the book is dedicated to the reports given by the police, friends of Jill and Simone, random locals that witnesses the accident, and people they met along the way while in Italy. Giving these point of views really helps bring out how words and events can be twisted around. From people wanting the spotlight to honest misreading of the scenario, With Malice has it all.

Let’s talk characters.

Victim or not, I didn’t like Simone from the start. She seemed like the kind of person to trip someone in the hallway just so she could have a laugh or the kind of person to get someone else in trouble for something she did, because it would suit her better to play innocent all the time. Her character just sat wrong with me from cover to cover and I stick to that.

I felt bad for Jill, but I almost felt bad for feeling bad. Dealing with memory loss has to be awful, but when put in a situation where everyone’s asking “What happened?!” it certainly has to be worse. Especially since everyone thinks she was the one to blame for the accident, most people probably thought she was pulling the memory loss card just so she doesn’t have to tell her side. I think that’s awful. But with the lingering “Was is really an accident?” question floating around, I didn’t want to feel bad for her just in case she was to blame.

Nico. I didn’t trust him. No good looking foreign smart guy has good motives. Not to mention he’s obviously a flirt. And the very thought of committing murder-suicide for the likes of him (or any guy in general) should be unthinkable, but in this day and age, there’s just no way to know for sure.

I picked up With Malice with the promise of a fast paced, electrifying story that I wouldn’t be able to put down and I’m glad to say that I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest. Cook knows exactly what the reader wants, mixing in mystery, violence, friendship, and romance in a way that’s just right for the story. With Malice keeps you guessing from the very start, causing you to try and make connections with outlandish theories and assumptions that keep you hooked from start to finish and leave you wanting more.

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I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh (ARC) – Review

Title: I Let You Go
Author: Clare Mackintosh
Format: Paperback (ARC)
Pages: 369
Rating: 4/5

26026062Goodreads Excerpt:
I Let You Go follows Jenna Gray as she moves to a ramshackle cottage on the remote Welsh coast, trying to escape the memory of the car accident that plays again and again in her mind and desperate to heal from the loss of her child and the rest of her painful past. At the same time, the novel tracks the pair of Bristol police investigators trying to get to the bottom of this hit-and-run. As they chase down one hopeless lead after another, they find themselves as drawn to each other as they are to the frustrating, twist-filled case before them.

There’s not a lot I can say about I Let You Go without giving away half of the plot. What I can say is that this is the first suspense/thriller book I’ve read that actually gave me that thrilling feeling, like the plot kept building and building until I finished the book. At first I thought this would be a standard mystery book. The whole “Who Did It?” kind of thing where you take the pieces and put them together within the first one hundred pages. However, around the 100 mark, I realized just how wrong I was. I Let You Go is a terribly heartbreaking novel that fixates on loss and pain, but in a way that constantly throws your guesses in the wrong direction. This book shows more than one side of the story, breaking it up into three major viewpoints. The viewpoint of Jenna (the main character), the police force, and closer to the middle of the book a special someone that I can’t talk about without spoiling. I Let You Go is the perfect tragedy novel with a little something that sucks everyone in at some point. The constant twists and turns keep you guessing and once the story picks up, it’s hard to put it down.

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To Nowhere by C.E. Wilson – Review

Title: To Nowhere
Author: C.E. Wilson
Format: Ebook
Pages: 205
Rating: 4/5

25845358
I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Lyris’ life is turned upside down when she meets a handsome stranger while getting coffee. He’s odd and doesn’t say very much about himself. All Lyris knows is that his name is Wyatt and he has an obsession with the house next door to her’s, an abandoned building called the Shaw house. Wyatt warns Lyris against going into the house without him, especially a door that leads to nowhere. When her curiosity gets the best of her, Lyris is thrown into a world full of giants that speak in a language she can scarcely understand. Is Lyris stuck living the life of a pet or are things not quite as they seem?

When I first started reading this, I was a little confused. Wyatt seemed off and way too shifty for my liking. I kept wondering what on Earth was wrong with Lyris to trust a guy like that, clearly he had some problems! Their flirting was awkward and it just seemed weird. Things really picked up, though when Lyris ended up in “nowhere” . However, even with all the excitement, I was extremely frustrated with the exchanges between Brindt and Lyris. The amount of time they spent trying to understand each other threw me off and left my eyes swimming trying to make sense of the odd language. It was around this time I expected this to be a 3 star book. Thank goodness for the collar, without the communication between Brindt and Lyris, the constant back and forth of piecing together the giant language would have driven me up the wall. As the story progressed, I really felt sorry for Brindt, but Lyris was certainly not wrong in fearing him, because if someone triple my size that didn’t speak my language and kept me in a cage occasionally would scare the crap out of me. By the end of the story, I just loved the interaction Lyris had with Brindt and the last fifty or so pages caused me a lot of emotional distress because of it. Only problem with the end is that it ended off with such a cliff hanger I wonder if my copy somehow shaved off the last hundred pages. I do hope we get more of “nowhere” in the future!

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The Neverland Wars by Audrey Greathouse (ARC) – Review

Title: The Neverland Wars
Author: Audrey Greathouse
Format: Ebook
Pages: approx. 231
Release Date: 5/9/2016
Rating: 4.5/5

27910924Gwen’s stories are captivating and amazing. At least, that’s what her sister Rose would say. As much as she loves telling her little sister stories, Gwen has accepted that that’s all they are. Stories. Having already given into the inevitability of growing-up, her life gets turned upside down when Peter Pan steals her sister away during the night. It isn’t long until Peter and Rose come back to take Gwen with them to be a storyteller to the lost children. Unwilling to let her sister out of her sight, Gwen leaves with them without a second thought, when she’s sucked into the magical world of Neverland. A beautifully freeing place with mermaids and fairies seems all fun in games, but Neverland is being threatened. Is Gwen stuck in a doomed Neverland? Or can she team up with Peter and the lost children to fix everything?

I can honestly say that I’ve never actually read the original Peter Pan and what I remember is based solely on what I can remember from the Disney movie adaptation. This book is interesting instantly, because Gwen’s description of growing up and high school life is one of the most accurate that I’ve ever read. I loved how aware Gwen was with the world and accepting about how things play out. Peter was not what I expected. Again, basing my assumptions on the Disney movie, I expected a completely flighty (no pun intended) child that just wants to have fun, but Greathouse gives Peter’s character so much depth that it’s not hard to see what emotional traumas Peter’s been put through. The reader can obviously tell he’s struggling with keeping everyone safe, including Neverland. I was thrilled to see the controversy around the redskins. Before picking this up, I myself actually thought about that. As a child, it never occurred to me that that could be offensive, but society now has molded my mind to know that calling someone a redskin could be and most likely is entirely offensive, so I love how that was pinpointed! Gwen’s time with the mermaids was one of my favourite parts and something I would like to learn more about, I found them very interesting and they added greatly to the plot. The only thing that kept this from a solid 5 stars is the ending. In a way I like how open it was, because it leaves room for perhaps (I hope) another book in the future, but if there isn’t a next book, I’m left unsatisfied. It’s a toss-up, really, but overall I certainly recommend this book for lovers of Peter Pan and fairy tale retellings!

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The Body Electric by Beth Revis – Review

Title: The Body Electric
Author: Beth Revis
Format: Paperback
Pages: 460
Rating: 5/5

24451538This is a joke, right? I’m missing the last one hundred pages, this isn’t really a standalone, surely there’s more, because this isn’t fair. A story such as this needs to have more than 460 pages dedicated to it!

In the future, nanobots are a daily occurrence. Everyone has them, a part of everyone’s life, especially when your name is Ella Shepherd and your parents are famous scientists. Ella’s father is dead, killed by a terrorist attack on the lab he was working in and her mother has a disease called Hebbs Disease, which is fatal and causes the brain to deteriorate. Her mother has developed a way for people to relive their best memories, but everything changes when theory becomes reality. Ella can walk through people’s memories, something that was only thought to be theoretical. Her life is throw into chaos and it certainly does help when a mysterious boy shows up. Ella isn’t sure who to trust. Can she trust the mystery boy that has attachments to her father, but seems to have secrets? Can she trust her government? Can she even trust herself?

I’ve read one book by Beth Revis before The Body Electric, and I loved it, so my expectations were pretty high. My expectations were met. Ella is such an interesting character. She has layers of emotion and strength, but as the story progresses we also see her fears, which (I shall not spoil anything) I find very understandable considering the circumstances. I would have loved to see more interaction between Jack and Ella at the end of the book and every time they were together I did a mental happy dance, but at the same time made me want to throw the book at the wall, because it. Is. So. Frustrating. There’s almost always action going on, so I just kept flipping the pages. All of a sudden the book was over. How did that happen? The science alone is enough to keep my mind constantly interested, but the twists just throw a little extra something that makes me crazy. I still want more, I can’t believe this is just a standalone, this world has so much that it could offer and I hope we see more of it in the future.

Side note: Across the Universe reference, don’t think I missed you, I saw you and I love you.