Amanda Says

The girl who runs this blog is 20 yo, currently living in Sweden. A real presentation will be added once I'm finished finding out who I am. In the meantime I'll be getting lost in the magical world of books.

Tailspin by Raquel Valldeperas

Tailspin - Raquel Valldeperas

Undecided.

That's the best word to describe Tailspin. Like it's succeedor,Toxic, it's never quite clear what kind of story it wants to be. A heartfelt story about loss or a about a young man having to shoulder his parents' place when they die in an accident or a romance between a young man and a troubled young woman.

Tailspin is the story told from Nathan's POV, and the reader learns more about how his parents died, what happened within his family upon this loss, and how Nathan life was after it. Much like the first book, it's a little of all the above mentioned, but it's not enough of any of them for it to be compelling. The story is still perfectly fine (as I said in my review of Toxic, with all themes dealt with sensitivity. But it still lacks any depth in the characters' development and the plot. Add in that many of the chapters are retelling of exact scenes, just from Nathan's POV. This is rarely - if ever - interesting as the reader has already seen this scene, knows where it's going. Shortly: the tension is gone.

It's said this book can be read as a standalone, and I agree, but it's not in the book's favor. Without reading the first book there's a good chance the reader won't understand Lo, the heroine. It's clear she's an addict, but it's hard to get a grip on her as a character, as a person, so it's even more difficult to care for her. Which is exactly how Nathan came off in the first book. And perhaps here is the issue, the character development suffers from the rough transitions and (what felt like it) skipped scenes that would add another layer to the story, and the characters.

Undecided. Undecided in what the story wanted to accomplish with its plot and characters.

Toxic by Raquel Valldeperas

Toxic - Raquel Valldeperas

New Adult Tropes: 10

“Maybe you’ll tell me your story one day.”
I shrug my shoulders and say, “Maybe,” but I know that I never will. It’s a selfish story, full of ugly things that no child should ever have to witness and truths that no person should ever have to learn.


Toxic is indeed a story full of ugly things. We follow Logan - Lo for short - through her early youth through her teenage years. Years where she's put through what no human being should have to endure. Growing up with an absent father and a mother who's always looking for the next hit, Lo early on learns that she's "toxic". Or so her mother says, and so the mother of Lo's best friend. The latter causes Lo to lose her first real friend quickly, and when she's alone again, Lo's world takes another ugly turn. For years Lo is put through domestic abuse by her boyfriend. It doesn't take long for Lo to fall into a downward spiral filled with abuse and drugs. When Lo finally lands a job of her own as a bartender, things are looking up when the handsome owner, Nathan, takes an interest in her well being.

This is a perfectly nice story, despite the heavy topics (all dealt with sensitivity), and yet, it's hard to tell what kind of story this is. Is it a romance between Lo and the handsome owner of the bar? Is it the story of a struggling young woman? Is it a story about the world of drugs and abuse? It's hard to tell. It's a little of everything, but at the same time not enough of any. In theory, it's all good. The portrayal of Lo's childhood is dealt with well, but certain points are skipped over, and these are the moments that would showhow Lo descends into addiction. How the man who abuses her (sexually) turns into her boyfriend. While it's no long stretch to imagine these events, the reader misses insight into the mind of Lo, which, given the first POV narrative, is a big part of the story. And Nathan, he's a perfectly good guy - in theory. But here again, some parts seems to be skipped, and Nathan's character development takes the strongest hit. It's almost impossible to get a grip on him beyond what is told. So when a kiss occurs between Lo and Nathan, it's suddenly, a shock. There's almost no build up to their romantic relationship, again, because it felt as if certain scenes were left out.

As said, it's all perfectly fine, but it lacks a certain depth that would make these characters stand out, become complex identities that pop off the page. Instead they are rough at the edges, and not in a good way, but in a sense they feel unfinished. Which goes for the story as well. Each chapter is a date, so the reader knows how much time has passed, but there is a rough quality in the transition from chapter to chapter: scenes are left out and questions are unanswered.

This is the author's debut, and it's a good one. A solid one, but the best way to describe it is that: rough at the edges, just like it's characters.

Perfectly Damaged by E.L. Montes

Perfectly Damaged - E.L. Montes

New Adult Tropes: 20

“You know, I’m learning a lot, and there are times when it’s hard to love myself, but every time I think of you, I always think, if someone else can dig deep and fall in love with even my damaged side, then there is hope for me after all.”


Few things are as stigmatized as having a mental illness. I've met people who don't know how to react when hearing someone is diagnosed with a mental illness. Even when specifying what disorder it is, such as depression or bipolar disorder, they're still uncomfortable despite the two aforementioned are two of the most common disorders discussed openly. There are many misconceptions about mental illnesses going about, which is why it's so important to, when writing (or talking) about them, do it accurately to not feed these misconceptions.

It's also important - and I can't stress this point enough - to not romanticize mental illness. Which brings us right back to this book, Perfectly Damaged.

Jenna is a young woman who's lived with her parents her whole life. She's also diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, which has made her parents incredibly protective of her, almost believing she isn't able to do things on her own. Jenna, to some extent, agrees. Although she'd like nothing more than to get out from under their watchful eyes - but they're almost never home - she still doubts herself and her abilities most of the time due to her mental disorder. Add the fact that her sister died a few months earlier, Jenna has now lost her most important supporter. When Jenna's mother decides to build a guesthouse, she hires a company to do it. Enter does Logan. After an awkward meeting where Logan saves Jenna's life, and then Jenna demanding he kiss her, they now spend the days rather close to each other. Jenna is hesitant to let him in due fearing he'll leave when he finds out about her diagnosis. And so the story goes.

It's sad to say, but this is exactly the same story as any other new adult story there is. We have all the usual elements: hot guy saving a damaged heroine from her insecurities and past. A heroine with a tense relationship to her parents. A best friend that's obsessed with sex (and unfortunately that's as much personality this woman gets). Both the heroine and the hero constantly slutshames, and their thoughts (and comments) are filled with misogyny. For good measure there's also the topics of suicide and rape as well as death of a close family member (actually, there are two).

So where does the mental illness join the story? To be perfectly clear: The mental illness aspect of this story appears to be more of an afterthought than the crucial aspect it should be. As said, this story is nothing different from a lot of other new adult stories, but instead of rape or past abuse - two of the most common devices in new adult - the mental illness takes their place. Jenna is damaged because of it. It causes the tension in the family. It's what holding Jenna back from pursuing a relationship (of any kind). And yet, the focus is always on the romantic tension between Jenna and Logan. The illness isn't a big part of the story and could've easily been replaced by something else as an excuse for Jenna to be "damaged".

That said, I'll be the first to admit I'm not familiar with Jenna's disorder. As far as I gather, it's a disorder with the same symptoms as schizofreni, but also of a mood disorder. In this story it means Jenna hear voices, has hallucinations, and has periods of depression. It needs to be mentioned that Jenna's episodes (as she calls them) often seems to be convenient plot devices to progress her relationship with Logan and little else. Anyhow, Jenna hears voices at times (although I only recall two instances in this novel) and sees hallucinations (also two, if my memory serves me right). These scenes were very generic, but that's all I can say.

However, I feel more confident talking about her periods of depression. To be blunt: they sound nothing like depression. Jenna, as it's written, is not depressed. She whines, complains, and is just plain pissed off. Which is not what depression is, and I'm speaking from experience here. Given how inaccurately portrayal of her periods of depression are, it's hard to determine if the other aspects of her mental illness are portrayed this way. Accurate portrayal of the mental disorder or not, the story nevertheless romanticizes the condition. Jenna focusing on Logan accepting - and loving - her "damaged" part. Logan being portrayed as something akin to Jenna's savior. It all adds to painting a romantic picture around the mental disorder. Instead of a story about a young woman learning to live with her disorder, it's a story about a woman waiting for a man to love her despite her mental disorder in hope of accepting herself by accepting his love.

real life gets in the way

It's that time of the year again: Finals are coming up! Lucky me only have two of them this time, but I've had a hard time finding motivation to study for one of them. My friends keep reminding me that it's a course most students fail at least once. Like that's supposed to be motivating. Thanks guys, really. 

 

Anyway, the exams are both next week and I'll be stuck studying this week and will probably have very little time over for reading, reviewing, or checking in here. Just wanted to let you all know.

 

Happy reading everyone!

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves - Karen Joy Fowler
Language does this to our memories--simplifies, solidifies, codifies, mummifies. An oft-told story is like a photograph in a family album; eventually, it replaces the moment it was meant to capture.


We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is the perfect book for a book club. It raises question about our society, how we see animals and how we treat them, family, and ethics. It's prefect for discussion. It's clever and insightful. Funny at times, yes. A good read.

But it made me feel absolutely nothing.

Which most likely is due to my own views on certain themes in this story. All it did was remind me of an assignment my sister once had where they had to write a paper about whether a monkey should have human rights or not. When she first told me about it I laughed out loud. For a while, I have to admit. It sounded ridiculous. Not that we should treat animals with kindness, but I kept thinking that we have animal rights (not all over the world, but where I live). And yes, I believe there should be a distinct line drawn between human rights and animal rights. Which, more or less is what this book resolves around. What differs us humans from animal? How great are the differences?

It's also about family. About Rosemary, Fern, and Lowell. This part was easier to relate to, if you eliminated the big surprise element. If we're focusing solely on the family aspect, it's a story one can relate to. We're shown several characters who could use therapy (for a long time). Rosemary and Lowell the most, but also Rosemary's friend Harlow. They are interesting characters but Rosemary's narrative brings the story down.

The narrative is meant to show off Rosemary's unstable mind, but some of the choices of structure and style were constant frustrations while reading. The writing gets choppy and pretentious for a great part of the story, causing me to almost not finish this book. As said, the narrative is meant to show off the unstable mind of Rosemary, but it doesn't quite come across the way it was intended, unfortunately.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is, for all purposes and intents, an interesting story that raises certain questions that should (and are) discussed today. At the same time, while doing this it loses some of its ability to connect the reader to the characters, making it seem more like a chore to read than reading for the interest of the characters and story.

Collapse by Jared Diamond

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed - Jared Diamond

Did you ever wonder what happened to the people on Easter Island? Why the Maya populations died out? Or maybe what happened to the Vikings on Greenland? What caused all these big and small population to die out? Collapse and the author Diamond explores what happened and what caused these population to collapse.

This is a fascinating read for anyone interested in extinct cultures such as the one on Easter Island and others. Diamond explore several, both small and big populations from different times in human history to find why they are gone and what similarities there were between them. Diamond means there are five reasons, but the most central cause is about the environment. Changes in it, to be more specific, but both natural causes and human exploitation of the environment. Other reasons are size of the population, and friendly and unfriendly neighbors. Diamond explains the culture of the different population, traditions, way of life, and much, much more. It's not just a list stating what caused their downfall, but an exploration of the entire culture.

As said, fascinating and a great read for anyone interested. At the same time, the book itself has many shortcomings. Diamond has a way of stating the same thing over and over again. For example, he can explain scientific methods - like determining a tree's age based on its rings - several times in different chapters. It might be necessary to explain the first time, but the second and third is redundant. In the same manner, Diamond is easily sidetracked, it seems, when trying to make a point. He might start an argument and give proof of this, but then he's telling something else (for a reason unknown to the reader) before heading back to his original argument, which, at that point, the reader might have lost sight of what the original argument (and point) was in the beginning. This of course makes the book rich on details, but it's hard to get an overall picture while sorting through all the details that might or might not have been necessary to get the point across.

The second biggest issue is that in the end Diamond offers a list of reading for the interested, but no reference for his sources. For a big book like this, it must've been manysources. And while there's an index in the end, it doesn't make up for lack of the sources used. It lowers the credibility of the entire book.

To sum up: A detail exploration of extinct societies which at times turns a bit too detailed.

Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Just One Day - Gayle Forman
He showed me how to get lost, and then I showed myself how to get found.


Just like this book, I'm divided in three parts. (Not literally of course, I'm still alive, obviously.) But my reactions can be summed up like this: yawn, frustration, and wtf, no?. Let's see why.

Part One - yawn
Just one day opens up with Allyson being bored and disappointed in her trip to Europe her parents sent her on before college. The cities aren't as romantic as in the movies. Allyson just wants to go home and get it over with because of this, and I couldn't care less about her middle class, white girl problems. She's on a trip some people can only dream of, and sure, Europe might not be the magical place some people make it out to be in movies, but it's still amazing (objectively speaking, of course). It's more than just the big tourist attractions (Big Ben, Colosseum, and what more). Yet, all Allyson does is complain and whine, making it impossible to care for her.

Introducing Willem. Traveler Willem who is always smirking and laughing and sprouting off pretentious stuff about stains and love and freedom. With Willem, the author is all tell and no show, creating nothing but a hollow aura of a supposed personality that's supposed to be charming around him. Allyson does something so out of character for her - she agrees to let this stranger take her to Paris for the day before she's heading home to the States. Suddenly everything is the magical Europe she wanted it to be when he's showing her the city. When she isn't complaining about every single woman in this book, that is. Then it's all about how she's not pretty enough, how every other woman wants Willem (or some other boy) and how Allyson could never measure up to any of them.

Yup, Allyson's a complete Mary Sue.

Moving on, Allyson and Willem spend a day, full with adventures and flirtation, but due to the (my?) inability to sympathize with any of these two, it's mainly just a description (sometimes wrong) of Europe and Paris. Then. when the day is over, Willem is gone and Allyson must return to the States.

The first part is simply about a young woman complaining about how she's not pretty or interesting enough, and whining about her middle class struggles. Which is the entire reason for the yawn. Add in a supposedly charming boy and something very close to instalove, and that's the whole recipe for falling asleep.

Part Two - Frustration
Part two deals with the falling out of Allyson's trip to Europe. When she arrives at college, her mother has planned out her coming years for her. It's decided Allyson is to do pre-med, and her mother is constantly checking up on her. Allyson, who's falling into a depression, can do little about her situation and feels lost. Her grades are dropping, her old best friend is becoming more and more distant, and Allyson is generally very lost.

This part of the story is a great deal better than the first. Seeing Allyson's own frustration with her situation (both with college and her mother) is easier to relate to. Expectations versus what can actually be done. For a year, we follow Allyson through her year at college. Of her trying to hide the truth from her parents and almost friends. Of her trying to understand what she wants and needs. And his is the kind of story I appreciate.

At the same time as I sympathized and related to Allyson, she's still a Mary Sue and some parts frustrated me to no end. For example, while it's clear Allyson is depressed and wishes to hide this fact from her parents, it doesn't give her the right to let her parents spend 40k on her going into pre-med when she's actually taking pottery classes without letting her parents know about it. Here's the thing: you don't do that with other people's money. So I felt the frustration Allyson had while facing her depression and trying to force herself through college, and at the same time frustration over Allyson's at times childish behavior.

Part Three - wtf,no?
This part will make least sense as I don't want to spoil the ending. But basically, after a year, Allyson decided to go back to Paris, hoping to find answers. This I too appreciated. She's faced her depression and is now looking for truths about herself and also the time spent in Paris a year ago. There's a great difference in the Allyson from the year before and the Allyson returning to Paris. She's stronger and determined. Trying to find Willem again isn't an easy task though.

Here comes the wtf, no? part. Because we learn close to nothing about Willem in the beginning (and the relationship between him and Allyson was forced at best) it's hard to feel and understand Allyson's need to see him again. During her search for Willem, Allyson does find answers, both about herself and him. When the ending finally draws near, Allyson had almost, almost won me over. Her musings on their time together and what it meant to her is nothing but raw truths. Had the book ended two or three pages before the actual ending, I would've been all over that. As it is, I think the author went one step further than necessary (but completely necessary of you want a sequel...). It is really the last two pages that caused the wtf, no? reaction in me, everything prior to that was part frustration over Allyson's obsession with Willem - that still, due to all the telling in the first part on his character, wasn't convincing to me - and part cheering Allyson on for her newfound strength.

So while Just One Day takes a good look at depression, it's also lacking in characterization of its secondary character (mainly Willem). The first part wasn't capturing enough with its all tell, no show writing and lack of characters to sympathize with. But the second part is worth praise for its portrayal of depression, and then the last part swoops in and is both great and bad. All in all, a decent read that could've done with better characterization.

Kommer du tycka om mig nu? by Lina Axelsson Kihlblom

Kommer du tycka om mig nu? - Lina Axelsson Kihlblom

Kommer du tycka om mig nu? is, without a doubt, a book everyone will be able to identify with. It's about feeling like an outsider, about not fitting in, and self-discovery.

To be fair, I knew close to nothing about the author. Here's what I knew about her: she's been on television. That was it. I remembered her name and that it had been mentioned on TV, but I couldn't remember in what context. A quick google search gave me this: She was the principal (or Headmistress, if you'd like) at a school where only 55% of the students had grades that would not qualify them for high school (or gymnasium, as we call it in Sweden). The school was known for troublesome students and it had a bad reputation. Three years later, that procentare was 75%.

Color me intrigued. I still didn't quite know what to expect from her story. I expected it to be about those years at the school, but in truth this is the story of four different stages of her life. First, it's her as a child, struggling with her identity and other's perception of her. Second, it's about her struggles with fitting in in her teens, due to several reasons. She had troubles learning, and was more or less told she couldn't do better. Third, it's about her after her years at university, her first job, and realizing what she actually wants with her life. And, lastly, it's about her years at the school.

It's a fascinating story. Her determination as a young teen to get good, no, the best grades. Then, as she grows, her determination to be true to herself and with others. It all comes together in the end, during her telling us about the years at the school. These pieces of her story shows how her youth and early adult life shaped her, what her motivations are and come from. Let me just say this: I admire this woman. I'm practically in awe of how strong she is.

Because, another thing that permeates this book is the frustration and longing. As a child and teen, she has a goal: the future. In the future, she's going to live. She's going to be herself. She'll be what she wants to be, without people questioning her. But that's always in the future, after years of school when she's able to make decisions on her own, as an adult. And when she reaches the future where she can make her decisions, even if people greet her openly with what she wants, there are still obstacles that postpone her future further, and she's left wondering if she'll loose her early twenties, a time she thought she'd be happy in.

Kommer du tycka om mig nu?, while inspiring, could also have done with better editing. While the story itself is fascinating, the structure and writing style wasn't as good. Jumping between the four parts back and forth got tiresome (especially when some of them started to overlap). Perhaps it's a bit drawn out too (which could've been solved by another round of editing). But this is my only complaint, and it's a rather small one seeing how others might find this structure a good choice for telling this story. In the end, the book's message makes up for the, at times, stilted writing.

Reading progress update: I've read 57%.

Wither - Lauren DeStefano

I'm struggling with the story so far. It's dystopian YA where, after scientist manged to create perfect genetically engineered embryos, the offspring of these people have a shorter lifespan. Women live to be 20, and men 25. This is supposedly due to a virus that sets in, but it sounds much more like something in their genetics. 

 

First issue: It seems like all humans that aren't the first generation (the engineered embryos) are descendants from this first generation. Meaning no one had children the natural way, so to say. Which, of course, is illogical. Because this society originates from the one we live in today, and there are several groups that would never agree to make this change so easily. Like some religious groups wouldn't shift to this way of procreation. 

 

Now, the world we're in this book is set in the future, after a third world war. 

All we were taught of geography was that the world had once been made up of seven continents and several countries, but a third world war demolished all but North America, the continent with the most advanced technology. The damage was so catastrophic that all that remains of the rest of the world is ocean and uninhabitable islands so tiny that they can’t even be seen from space.

 

***

 

I educate myself on the polar ice caps, vaporized long ago by warfare, and an explorer named Christopher Columbus who proved the earth was round.

Apart from getting basic history wrong - Columbus did not prove the earth was round, this was known long before his time - there are several things about this that are wrong. First of all though I need to mention that the heroine grew up in Manhattan and is now living in Florida. The thing is, say there was a third world war. Enemies of the U.S. would most likely hit cities like New York, D.C., and other bigger cities first. I seriously doubt New York would be habitable if there'd been a third world war. 

 

Anyway, let's say New York survived and went about unscathed. Then if the ice caps had melted, it would be underwater. The same would go for parts of Florida. It's something a quick google search would tell you. War or climate catastrophe, Manhattan wouldn't be a place for the living. I could've let it slip, but the heroine is constantly going on about her life from Manhattan, and it bothers me each time she does.

 

Then we have the concept that young women are kidnapped and sold into polygamys marriages simply to have the man's offspring. It's apparently incredibly important to have offspring in this world where everyone will die by the time they are 20/25 (depending on their gender). This theme isn't explored enough. Let's face it, if you put a group of people from this age group on a remote island without a future, procreation wouldn't be on their minds. Neither would it be as important to these people as this book makes it sound. The parents won't be the ones to raise the child, seeing how they will likely be dead before the child is over ten years old. 

 

So yes, I'm struggling with this. On one side, the general story is overall okay, but the endless errors in basic facts and the world-building are making truly difficult to enjoy it. 

 

Life right now

Hi everyone!

 

 

I haven't been very active here lately, but I promise I'm still alive. There's been a lot for me to do the past few weeks, exams and other school related stuff, then there was Easter - hope you all had a great holiday! - and it's tradition to spend it with my family, but we're not living that close to each other so there's been a lot of traveling back and forth to see them all. I've also been in a bit of a slump lately (I'm blaming it on studying for exams), and haven't really felt like reviewing either. All in all, I haven't had much time to do anything book related. 

 

With Easter and my exams almost done (I have one exam left), I'm starting to get back in the mood for reading. Hopefully school won't be too hectic when my new classes starts up on Monday and I'll have time to check in here more (and read, of course!). 

 

So that is what's been up with me. Again, hope everyone had a great holiday! Happy reading!

Boundless by Cynthia Hand

Boundless - Cynthia Hand

This is like Penryn & the End of Days series all over. Okay, not quite, because I still liked the second book in that series whereas I detested the second on in this series. In both cases though, in the last book, morals were shoved down the reader's throat in a way that the previous books hadn't. Let me explain, but first a quick summary of the last book in the Unearthly series.

In Boundless Clara is back and the (supposed) suspense is trapping up. There's talk about a war. Clara struggles with her feelings for Christian and her own purpose. Angela, in the meanwhile, is acting strange. All in all though, the last book of the series is lacking in suspense (all twists are obvious from the go). It's boring with its predictability. What should've been a big part of this story (the only interesting part) is severed down to around thirty pages.

But that's not what I want to talk about, not really. In book two, the religious aspects were increased, as well as the accompanying morals this brings. Now, before anyone jumps to Christianity's defense, I personally believe everyone is entitled to their own beliefs and I know not all Christians are the same and have the same morals and/or values. That said, in Boundless stereotypical Christian morals are glaringly present. Saving oneself for marriage. A girl having sex for the first time with a fling ends up pregnant. Non-believers are presented as immoral, with tattoos and little clothing. A female angel's purpose in life can be to bear a child. Or, given these quotes:

"You healed him until you passed out, until you stopped breathing yourself for a few seconds, and then Jeffrey thumped him on the chest a few times, gave him a couple of puffs that I’m sure neither of them will ever want to talk about again, and he came back."

“We’re not—” I sigh. “It’s complicated. We don’t want to be together because somebody told us that we have to be.”
“And by ‘somebody’ you mean God, right?”
Of course it sounds insanely arrogant of me, insisting on a relationship on my own terms, when she puts it like that.


Along with some events in the first and second book, it's hard to overlook this. Not to mention that when the ending comes, the heroine relies on, not one, but two male MCs to help her save the day. In the first case, she needs one's strength to find her own. Yeah, not quite a great message to send to young girls. Hey, to be strong you'll need a strong man to help you find your strength. The second time, it's love that saves the day. Meaning that, if the heroine had not loved the male hero, she wouldn't be able to save them. Basically, in the end, the heroine wouldn't actually be able to do something on her own without her two male companions. Given that Clara is described as perfect, doesn't this send quite the message? Even a perfect young woman can't save herself and her friends without help from a man.

A poor ending to what could've been a good trilogy.

Hallowed by Cynthia Hand

Hallowed - Cynthia Hand
“Our purpose on this earth is not one single event, an accomplishment we can check off a list. There is no test. No passing or failing. There's only us, each moment shaping who we are, into what we will become.”


Unearthly didn't impress me, but I like to give series the benefit of the doubt, meaning I read the second book even if the first one wasn't all that. Sometimes that is a good gamble, sometimes not. Hallowed falls into the later category. It keeps the dullness from Unearthly, the lack of action and suspense and adds in religion. Neither was a good thing.

Hallowed takes up almost exactly where Unearthly ended. Like the first book, this one drags for a long time before anything significant to the overall story happens. In the meanwhile, the aspect of religion increases. For me, this was a bad thing. Because the parts of Christianity that is used for world building is severely lacking and doesn't really make sense at times. There are myths supposed to explain the world, but it misses the mark.

But they never truly belonged on earth, and their children lived a long time and kept multiplying, until there were more Nephilim than humans on the earth. Which became a problem.


Why? Why is that a bad thing? Because God wanted a world populated only by humans? Did the Nephilims run havoc? Suffice to say, the world building isn't working in this series.

To be fair, my biggest issue with this book is one conversation in particular, which ruined the entire book.

“Rape is not a Black Wing’s style. They prefer seduction. They want to win you over to their side.”
“What about Angela’s mom?” I point out. “She was raped.”
“Yes, so she says.”


Yup, the mom is actually accusing a grown woman of pretending being raped, and then told that story to her child. No one questions this. No one mentions this again. We - the readers - are supposed to wave this off as if it's nothing. Sorry, can't do that. There's no excuse for this.

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Unearthly - Cynthia Hand
“I didn’t ever think you were a freak. I think . . . I thought you were magic or something. I thought that you were too perfect to be real.”


Some of my friends say that the toughest reviews to write are the ones for books they loved. Another group of friends says it's the ones they hated. For me, it's the one in the middle. Books that are neither bad nor great, but the once that, once you've finished them, leaves you feeling nothing, more or less. Unearthly is one of those books.

Clara, we learn, is part angel. Because of this she has apurpose in life. She learns what it is by visions, each a fragment of what she's supposed to do. For years she's seen herself in a forest fire, heading toward a young man facing away from her. Then she learns where her vision takes place. A town in Wyoming. As expected, Clara, her mother, and her brother moves there so she can fulfill her purpose. Soon she meets the guy from her visions, Christian, a student at the high school Clara has enrolled at. But meeting him doesn't make her purpose any clearer.

Unearthly is, for a great part of the book, like any contemporary YA romance. Girl moves to new town, tries to fit in and make friends, finds herself crushing on a guy (who of course has a girlfriend that must be a bitch, or something close to it). It's mindlessly dull. Add that Clara is essentially perfect in every singe way. Her most common complaint is that, when her mother dyed her hair to cover up the glowing it does at times, it turns out a bad shade of orange. Such hardship. Everything Clara tries, she excels at (which is a treat shared by all part-angels.) This in particular makes it a difficulty to connect to her character. That and the fact that her voice isn't quite as engaging as you'd wish for.

Still, there's nothing necessarily wrong with any of this. The story moves, albeit a bit slow, along. We learn a little more about what it means to be part-angel. Again, though, it's not quite enough. The world building doesn't measure up, and what little there is, the reader is supposed to swallow up whole without questioning the details. Mostly, it's based on Christian myths/stories about angels.

In the end, Unearthly is a little too tame. Clara's tame personality isn't engaging enough and the plot never reaches a powerful climax. Still, there is absolutely nothing wrong or bad about Unearthly. It's a perfectly fine YA paranormal book. Maybe it's just me, getting older and wanting my paranormal/fantasy gritter and with a darker touch to it.

Falling for Fate by Caisey Quinn

Falling for Fate (Second Chance Book 2) - Caisey Quinn
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Tropes: 24

“It damn sure is my business. How can you do your real job if you’re out every night, prancing around half naked behind the bar till God knows when?”

Our leading man, ladies and gentlemen! Isn't he charming? (And yes, he says this to the heroine.)

Falling for Fate opens with Fate coming to New York for her first job. Initially, she was meant to move there with her soon-to-be husband, but when she caught him cheating on her with her best friend, Fate does the move on her own and calls off the wedding. That night when she caught her fiancé and best friend, she ran down the beach where a out of this world handsome man found her, and one thing led to another, and he took her virginity right there on the beach. When he left a few seconds, Fate ran. Now, back to present day and New York, she runs into the man from the beach. Who just happens to be her new boss, Dean. He's spent all his awake moments since that night trying to either forget about the woman who's virginity he took or doing his best to find her, both without much luck. When they meet, Dean wants nothing more than have her again, and Fate is hesitant to do so.

All right, let's just get this out of the way: this book is terrible. The only thing that isn't bad is actually the writing (which is one of the most common complaints about New Adult as a genre). It's good. But it doesn't make up for the rest of the book.

Introducing: our main characters. Dean is your typical creep, sexists/misogynist that the New Adult genre is so good on producing. He shames women for having sex, and treats them like sex objects. So when he finds Fate, our virgin heroine, and finds out she's a virgin, he falls in love. Suddenly he believes he has some kind of say in what she does with her body.
He’d been inside her, dammit. The first man ever. He sincerely hoped he was still the only man ever.

Excuse me for not worshiping the ground he walks on. Misogynist assholes aren't my type, that's all. Besides, Dean's obsession with the fact that Fate was a virgin until he came along is beyond creepy. He's practically more in love with this fact than he is in love with Fate.

In the other corner, we have Fate. Guess what? She loves to shame women too. Not only women having sex, but people in general. For example when Dean fires his female assistant (because she propositioned sex to him at the workplace) the assistant is replaced.
And his slutty assistant had been replaced by a fuller-figured woman who looked to be in her forties.

This implying that a woman with a fuller figure and in her forties is to be seen as someone asexual. (I'm not supporting what the first assistant did, sexual harassment is sexual harassment.)

Not to mention that Fate shits all over her own gender repeatedly.
You told me you didn’t know if you could offer me more than this weekend and I’ve told you repeatedly that I’m okay with that. I know it’s not the typical female response

Wonderful people, huh?

But hey, unlikable character aren't the end of the world (or a book). Although, it's clear these aren't supposed to be thatunlikable. Usually it's the plot that makes up for that, but inFalling for Fate, that's not the case. The plot is basically Dean and Fate tiptoeing around each other when all they really want to do is jump each other. There's nothing of substance that could be mistaken for a plot. Instead it's raging hormones, Dean obsessing over Fate's taken virginity, and Fate going back and forth like a swing. Which isn't enough to carry a book.

Masquerade by Nyrae Dawn

Masquerade  - Nyrae Dawn

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Tropes: 13

Bee is so different from any girl I know, that even something as simple as rolling her eyes is too ordinary for her.


Masquerade, is without a doubt, the weakest book in this series. This story deals with Maddox and Bee. The former is the brother of the heroine in the second book. Maddox is haunted by his family's past with his father's killing a boy and his mother loathing her daughter. Maddox is full of guilt for the part he believes he plays in how everything played out, and his current goal is to make sure their mother doesn't hurt his sister (emotionally). Bee is a bit lost too. Her past involves a kidnapping and now having returned to her biological parents. Both Maddox and Bee are reluctant to let people into their lives, but after a night together their paths starts to cross.

It was the second books biggest issue, and it's the same here: the pasts of the main characters aren't handled with sensitivity, and instead of exploring the psychological consequences and dealing with them, it's another case of letting love save the day. When they meet, Bee and Maddox immediately sense in each other that the other is suffering from some dark past. Why? No idea, but they do. Which is what the rest of their relationship will be based on as they grow closer. There's nothing beyond that to connect these characters, and this is not enough explain their attraction to each other when they usually are so keen on pushing people away.

In terms of plot, there is none. And if there ever was one, it got lost in bad writing. Because that's what's most memorable about this book; how bad the writing was. It's full of repetition, of awkward phrasings, uneven pacing, and some grammatical errors. With all the strange writing going on, it's hard to connect to either the characters or the story.

And, since this is New Adult, let's not forget this particular part.

It’s not that I’ve slept with a ton of guys. But I’ve never been an angel either. It’s not something that has ever bothered me but I don’t want Maddox to think I sleep around. Why does it matter? There’s nothing wrong with safely enjoying my sexuality.
“It’s like you said the first night, there’s nothing wrong with a woman knowing what she wants. And I can tell you’re not the type of person to sleep with everyone you meet.”


Bee is right; there is nothing wrong with enjoying her sexuality. Which is why her, a confident woman, thinking like this is just awkward. It just enforces the notion that women should be ashamed for having sex, which theyshould not. Honestly, I wished that particular paragraph should've been edited out, because it changed Bee's entire character (for the worse). And then we have Maddox reaction. It shouldn't matter if she did sleep with every person she met. So yeah, this kinda ruined his character too. These two paragraphs did a fine job changing the main characters' personas quickly.

Locked and Loaded by Nenia Campbell

Locked and Loaded  - Nenia Campbell
“I can take care of myself,” I said hotly.
“Darlin, you don't even know how to pleasure yourself.”


Yes! So many times yes! Christina and Michael are back! I'm just going to pretend I'm not going on full fangirl-mode right now, so bear with me.

The second book in the IMA series was a bit of a let down. I loved Cloak and Dagger and thought the second book was too slow and with too little action. For a moment I was worried this, the third book, would be like that. Man, was I wrong.Locked and Loaded brought back more mystery than the first book, and Christina is growing stronger in herself all the time. And Michael, I should dislike him, I really should, but damn, he's one smooth dude.

Christina is now working for the BN, but she soon realizes there is more going on than anyone is willing to tell her. And with her secret relationship with Michael being not secret at all, she doesn't know who she can trust - or if she can even trust anyone. In the meanwhile, Michael is back at the IMA, dealing with Adrian who's more crazy than ever and he has a new plan to broaden his network.

I love these characters. Twisted, damaged, strong... They are complex and the character development is spot on throughout this novel. And, as usual, the writing is great. But there's more, there's a strong plot with lots of secrets that are just begging to come out in the open, both with Micheal at the IMA and with Christina at BN. I don't want to say too much and spoil anything so I'll leave it at that.

Basically, I loved this novel. It's full of mystery and action, great characters, and solid writing.

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