Review of Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer

Synopsis:
What happens when happily ever after…isn’t?

Delilah is a bit of a loner who prefers spending her time in the school library with her head in a book—one book in particular. Between the Lines may be a fairy tale, but it feels real. Prince Oliver is brave, adventurous, and loving. He really speaks to Delilah.

And then one day Oliver actually speaks to her. Turns out, Oliver is more than a one-dimensional storybook prince. He’s a restless teen who feels trapped by his literary existence and hates that his entire life is predetermined. He’s sure there’s more for him out there in the real world, and Delilah might just be his key to freedom.

A romantic and charming story, this companion novel to Off the Page will make every reader believe in the fantastical power of fairy tales.

Review:
This book is amazing. There are so many questions that so many of us go through all the time; what is real and what is imaginary? It is so easy to end up enthralled in this book, and the characters have great depth and personality. I absolutely love how there is a book within a book; I hadn’t expected such beautiful illustrations and highly recommend you buy a paper version so you can truly experience this novel. This is a beautiful story that is unique and so expertly told that it may always slightly linger in the back of the reader’s mind. There are many questions brought up but not quite answered about what people may wish or think of you and how that can affect you, positively or negatively, as well as thinking of your wants but also how getting what you want would effect others in your life. At the end, I certainly hadn’t expected what happened, but was also left with so many questions and the burning need to know more that I immediately went online and bought the sequel. I cannot wait to read more of what happens Off the Page.

Star rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of School’s Out – Forever by James Patterson

School’s Out – Forever
A Maximum Ride Novel (Book 2)
By James Patterson

Star Rating: 
Genre: Young Adult, Young Adult Sci-Fi, Young Adult Fantasy
Number of Pages: 448

Date Started: November 7, 2016
Date Finished: November 8, 2016

Synopsis: (From Amazon)c7c07bc87f36b238f3d257ff5d1dee20
Fourteen-year-old Maximum Ride and the other members of the “Flock”–Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gasman and Angel–are just like ordinary kids–only they have wings and can fly. It seems like a dream come true–except that they’re being hunted by half-human, half-wolf “Erasers” who can fly, too.

In Book 2 of the series, the Flock members are taken under the wing of an FBI agent and try to live “normal” lives by going to school, making friends–and continuing their relentless search for their parents. But the Erasers return, forcing the Flock to abandon their search and make their escape once again. The voice inside Max’s head keeps telling her that it’s up to her to save the world, but this is especially challenging to do when she is faced with her ultimate match: a newer and better version of herself, Maximum Ride II. Max’s heart-stopping quest to investigate the mind-blowing mystery of her ultimate destiny continues in the scariest, strangest, and funniest James Patterson novel yet.

Review:
This book does so well at showcasing what most adolescents want in life: freedom, fun, security.  Max is like most other teenagers, uncertain of herself, unsure what she is doing and how to get there, yet with the added fantasy elements of her amazing life.  This book also shows that adults often underestimate the abilities and desires of younger people, disregarding how capable they can be, and what they would be willing to do to get what they think they need to feel whole.

The characters really drove this book more than the action, in my opinion.  The issues of trust were very well laid, especially trusting yourself/your instincts versus people you’re uncertain of.  Everyone has a point in time when they aren’t sure they can trust others, or what they are doing.

Though the fantasy parts of this novel are random sprinkled about, the humanizing and deep characterization of our flock makes this book more than worth the read.

 

618wcp0vm9l-_ux250_Author Biography: (From Amazon)
James Patterson received the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community at the 2015 National Book Awards. His other awards include two Emmys, the Edgar Award, and the Children’s Choice Award for Author of the Year. He is a tireless champion of the power of books and reading, exemplified by his new children’s book imprint, JIMMY Patterson, whose mission is simple: “We want every kid who finishes a JIMMY Book to say: ‘PLEASE GIVE ME ANOTHER BOOK.'” He has donated more than one million books to students and soldiers and has over four hundred Teacher Education Scholarships at 24 colleges and universities. He has also donated millions to independent bookstores and school libraries. Patterson will be investing proceeds from the sales of JIMMY Patterson Books in pro-reading initiatives.

Review of Dark Companion by Marta Acosta

Dark Companion
By Marta Acosta

Star Rating: 

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Number of Pages: 368

Date Started: January 17, 2016
Date Finished: January 21, 2016Dark Companion

Synopsis:(From Amazon)
Orphaned at the age of six, Jane Williams has grown up in a series of foster homes, learning to survive in the shadows of life. Through hard work and determination, she manages to win a scholarship to the exclusive Birch Grove Academy. She finds herself accepted by a group of amazing girls. She even starts tutoring the headmistress’s gorgeous son, Lucien. He represents everything that Jane has done without in her miserable life, and she thinks that if she can have him, she’ll also have security, family, and safety from the dangerous world.

The more she learns about Birch Grove’s recent past, the more Jane comes to suspect that there is something sinister going on. Why did the wife of a popular teacher kill herself? What happened to the previous scholarship student, whose place Jane took? Why does Lucien’s brother, Jack, seem to dislike her so much?

As Jane begins to piece together the answers to these puzzles, she must find out why she was brought to Birch Grove–and what she would give up to stay there. Because even the brightest people make terrible decisions when they’re offered everything they’ve always needed. And that’s exactly what powerful forces were counting on when they invited a vulnerable and isolated teenager to live among them.

Review:
The author is trying too hard.  The ghetto that Jane is from is especially heinous, and the language she uses is not one that anyone would recognize.  At one point Jane explains that she had to teach herself to be educated and that she only knew the words “go, you, me” and cuss words, which is completely unbelievable.

Countless times Jane states that she doesn’t or couldn’t understand material in class, yet somehow managed to become an A+ student in the best classes at her school.  This is simply said, never explained or shown.  While Jane is having issues staying afloat and doing well in classes, she has somehow decided that she will get a PhD.

Purple prose is definitely evident in this novel as almost every minute detail is described, oftentimes with similes in sentences mentioning far too many colours.  And instead of apt word choice instead “bread stick things” are mentioned several times within three pages.  There are continuous words used that instead of giving context clues about, characters explain the definition.

The supernatural is evident from the start, and it is far too easy to know exactly what Lucian is well before it is properly introduced.  The only truly likeable character is Jack, whom seems to have an uncanny way of spotting supernatural beings, yet this is never fully explained.

Jane is not just plain but also oftentimes self deprecating.  While this might be done to show that high school girls often don’t feel like they are good enough, this was a constant thought of Jane’s stated far too many times.  It’s hard to enjoy a character who thinks of themselves so poorly.

Each chapter began with a quote, but none of the quotes were necessary to the chapters.  Much of the information and lessons learned, that foreshadow what is going to happen in the novel, are given through lessons in class.  Far too often the reader is brought into a class, learning about another book, and then brought back into Acosta’s novel.  If this had happened once or twice it would have been a neat twist.

The best part of this book is the trees and Jane’s reaction to them.  Much like Saratoga (now called Muse, by M. R. Pritchard), this novel had a very unique idea, but it was overrun by the already widely known/written about supernatural.  While Jack has an idea that Jane might be special there is very little time spent describing what makes her special, or dedicated to actually figuring out what she is (if she is, indeed, a supernatural creature herself).

While in the end Jane does realize who she is and that you can take your past with you without letting the bad parts of it control you, the lead up was excruciatingly painful.  Despite knowing better, she constantly puts herself into bad situations, and although she says she wants to study and do well in school, there are multiple described weeks in which she pines over Lucky and can’t concentrate on anything else. 

Author Bio: (From Amazon)
Marta Acosta’s dream job is to write heart-rending obituaries, because she feels they are the most under-appreciated of all literary forms. She’s the author of the recently-released THE SHE-HULK DIARIES, DARK COMPANION, a young adult gothic, the award-winning CASA DRACULA series, and NANCY’S THEORY OF STYLE (under the pen-name Grace Coopersmith).

She’s a Stanford University graduate and was a frequent contributor of features and op-eds to the SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE and the CONTRA COSTA TIMES.

A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Marta still lives in a fog-belt with her family and dogs. Her many attempts to grow tomatoes have failed, but she can finally bake a loaf of crusty bread. Her current obsession is vintage fountain pens and she’s happy to send personal notes to readers.

 

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Thank you! 

 

Review of Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Eternal
By Cynthia Leitich Smith

Star Rating: 

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Number of Pages: 320

Date Started: January 7, 2016eternal_PB_med
Date Finished: January 8, 2016

Synopsis:(From Amazon)
At last, Miranda is the life of the party: all she had to do was die. Elevated by none other than the King of the Mantle of Dracul, she goes from high-school theater wannabe to glamorous fiend overnight. Meanwhile, her guardian angel, Zachary, demoted to human guise as her personal assistant, has his hands full saving his girl’s soul while planning a fast-approaching Death Day gala. In alternating viewpoints, Miranda and Zachary navigate a cut-throat aristocracy as they play out a dangerous, diabolically witty love story for the ages.

Review:
The premise of this book was so promising that I couldn’t wait to see what happened with Miranda’s life and unlife.  The reader gets a solid grasp on what Miranda’s life was like, her aspirations and dreams.  Unfortunately, Zachary was a bit harder to empathize with.  While many might find it endearing that Zachary is falling in love with the girl he is supposed to be the guardian of, some will find it rather breaks character of an angel.  Zachary falling from grace, behaving abhorrently, yet being forgiven without having repented what he did seemed too easy– as if his actions were infallible.

When Miranda changes, everything about Zachary’s girl changes as well.  Everything about Miranda changes when she becomes a vampire, and she seems to completely go with what her new master wants– no mention of her parents, and brief mentions of her former best friend, Lucy.  It is not until very near the end that Miranda seems to think about her parents at all, and never once about how her disappearance would have affected them.  Her interests, which were once so her, only seem to float around, coming back into play at the last possible second.

Action based, there is a lot of running around and attempts to make Miranda and Zachary seem normal.  While their outing into the city is brilliant afterwards everything seems rushed towards the climax.  For how long the book is, more time should have been spent preparing for the big fight.

The opposition of good and evil was very straightforward, and more importantly, the knowledge that there is a choice.  Your circumstances might have been dictated by others, but it is ultimately you who decide your fate and who you will be.

This book is unconventional and odd, and seems a fair bit inspired by Twilight.  Overall, this book was a pleasant quick read.

Author Bio:
As the author has no amazon picture or biography, I shan’t have one here either.

 

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