What Annie Read: A Study in Charlotte Book Review

51im2bhf5szl

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
Published March 1st, 2016
Katherine Tegen Books

Find On // Amazon // ThriftBooks // Goodreads // Brittany Cavallaro //

Goodreads Synopsis:

The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament. From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar.

From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names. But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.

I rated A Study in Charlotte 5/5 stars.

This review, like all of my reviews, is spoiler-free.

Oh boy.  Where do I start with this book?  I’ll start with this: it’s amazing.

Jamie Watson and Charlottes Holmes are the descendants of the original detective duo and have the same wit and deductive capabilities as their ancestors.  Jamie, a boy on scholarship for his half-hearted rugby skills at Sherringford Prep, encounters the ever-so-enchanting Charlotte, whose penchant for the morbid and creepy is almost as striking as her raven black hair.  The stars seemed to align when Jamie and Charlotte met, but not for the better: within days, a Sherringford student turns up dead in his room.  And our leading guy and gal are on a suspect list that’s two names long.

I mentioned this book in Annie Gives Book Recommendations Based on Hogwarts House for it’s wit (I also mentioned how gorgeous the cover is in my post on my favorite book covers), which is this book’s most notable feature.  Jamie’s charming, dry look at life was captivating.  He’s thrust into a place that feels entirely foreign, but he approaches it with an uncharacteristic willingness.  He’s such a sport about dealing with the familial tensions created by moving to Sherringford as well as the whole Charlotte Holmes situation–she’s not exactly a walk in the park.  Overall, Jamie was a likable character, an easily supported protagonist, and what felt like a reliable narrator.  He looked at life with a certain clarity that comes with being mature beyond your years.

Charlotte had a similar maturity, but she was chaotic where Jamie was methodical.  I think Charlotte is best represented by the way Jamie describes the jar of teeth found in her lab: odd, extremely concerning, probably hazardous, but mesmerizing all the same.  Charlotte was a hurricane of sharp cracks of wit and superhuman deductive power.  She was a force of nature, but her destructive tendencies applied to herself as well.  She was just as flawed as the rest of us, even though she could deduce blood type without sticking a vein.

One of my favorite aspects about the book was that it was laden with just enough clues to make you, the reader, feel like a detective yourself.  Charlotte’s philosophy throughout the entire book was to not theorize before you’ve collected all the facts.  This methodical acquisition of facts, which we learned about as Jamie and Charlotte discovered them, gave me the chance to start putting theories together myself: maybe it was Mustard in the hall with the knife… or Violet with the dumbbell in the theater… or Green with the pistol in the observatory.  With the way Cavallaro wrote about their investigation, I felt like I was playing a game of Clue, using strategy to deduce whodunnit.

The setting was equally as fabulous.  I went to a private high school (and am going to a private college, which I’m moving into today!) so the formal yet quirky atmosphere that accompanies academia has a special place in my heart.  Sherringford Prep, where our two protagonists attend class (well, they ended up skipping a lot), was a prestigious institution in the rolling hills of Connecticut known for educating the sons and daughters of the high and mighty, but I found that the school itself was a bit like Charlotte.  The exterior was pristine, the facade was glimmering and well-built, but the school ran rampant with corruption and nasty habits.  There were drugs and violence and underground gambling, all showing that exteriors and interiors rarely match.

My one complaint is… well, I don’t really have a complaint.  I thought long and hard about something that I’d perhaps want to change, but I truthfully cannot conjure up an idea in the slightest.  Overall, this book was as pristine as Sherringford’s campus appeared to be.  The characters were dynamic and interesting, the dialogue was fresh and packed with cracking wit charm, and the book as a whole was like reading one of the  classic Sherlock novels with which we all fell in love.

Have you read A Study in Charlotte?  What did you think?

Don’t forget that I’m running a survey to gather some information about you and your thoughts on Annie Likes Words, which you can access here.  I want you to love my blog as much as I do, so let me know what you love, what you’re not a fan of, and what I can be doing better as a reader, blogger, and writer.  I look forward to reading your feedback!

Follow Me On // Instagram // Twitter // Pinterest // Goodreads //

signature 2

What Annie Read: My British Bear Book Review

35601026

My British Bear by Dawn Dagger
Expected Publication: September 1st, 2017
Self-published

I received a free copy of My British Bear from the author in exchange for an honest review.  This review is part of a blog tour for My British Bear.

Find On // Goodreads // Dawn Dagger //

Goodreads Synopsis:

After two months of hell living with her uncle, Maria is ready to give up. She’s already lost everything, and has no one to hold on to. Stuck in a small town where she knows not a single person, and physically abused by her uncle, she sees no hope. The only respite she gets from the hits on all sides is the small coffee shop down the road.

After an unlikely accident resulting in meeting a backwards British kid who is too polite and awkward for his own good, Maria starts to see a light in the darkness, but she’s also afraid of it.

She has her heart broken before, a hundred times in a hundred ways, and she doesn’t know if she’s ready to love, ready to let go, or even ready to face the reality of things. She doesn’t know if she’s ready to open up again and be happy.
She doesn’t know if she’s ready to live. 

I gave My British Bear 2/5 stars.

This review, like all of my reviews, is spoiler-free.

My British Bear tells the story of a young girl Maria, who has a chance encounter with British-born Brooks and is enchanted by his dashing looks and charming sense of humor.  In addition to struggling to comprehend her emotions, Maria lives in an abusive household and is caught between what her heart and her head are telling her to do.

This book had a lot of promise for me: a struggling character facing insurmountable challenges, a cute romance, a quirky cast of characters.  I wanted to love this book, but it didn’t live up to my initial perceptions.  Let’s talk about why.

I didn’t connect to Maria, the protagonist, probably because I didn’t enjoy her narrative voice.  For someone assumedly in high school, she had an immature tone that lead me to believe she was younger than intended.  I especially had a problem with a girl who spoke like a middle schooler contemplating love like she’d known her quasi-boyfriend for half her life.  Immature narrators and themes involving serious love are fine on their own, but I found they didn’t mix well.

Beside Maria and Brooks, the rest of the characters seemed flat.  Brooks and Maria’s gaggle of school chums were a fabulous device for comparing Maria to the picture-perfect image of a normal high schooler and were an even better device for representing her reintegration into normal high school activities, but they weren’t good for much else.  All of their friends seemed like cookie-cutter versions of the same character, but with different names and descriptions.  After a while, they all blended together and became indiscernible.

One of the major plot threads in this book is the abusive relationship between Maria and her uncle.  This subplot was supposed to tug at my heartstrings and make me feel for Maria, but I harbored a startling lack of sympathy for her.  Abuse is a heavy topic with multiple facets to explore and consider, but I felt that this book didn’t hit it out of the park.  I understand that every case of abuse is different, but this book seemed to show a sensationalized version, something that highlighted the causes but didn’t show the effects.  I wanted Maria to be vulnerable and open and honest and she was anything but.

The relationship between Maria and Brooks was frustrating on multiple levels.  First, I found that immense emphasis was placed on the fact that Brooks was British.  All we needed was one paragraph at the beginning or a few lines of colloquial dialogue to understand his heritage, not the constant barrage of reminders that he hailed from Great Britain.  In addition, a majority of their interactions felt forced.  Often, I felt that they were reading monotonously from a script rather than exchanging witty banter.

Like Maria’s narrative voice was uncharacteristically immature, Brooks had a similar childlike nature.  I found it hard to believe that he, who was supposed to be a hunk, slept with a bunch of stuffed animals on his bed.  There’s nothing wrong with stuffed animals–I still have the stuffed animal I slept with as a child–but it clashed with his existing character development so much that I found it unbelievable.  The teddy bears were an allusion to Brooks himself, which makes sense in theory, but didn’t exactly translate in the narrative.

Overall, this book was not for me.  I didn’t relate to the characters, found the narrative voice immature, and expected much more from this book than I got.

Have you read My British Bear?  What did you think of the book?

Follow Me On // Instagram // Twitter // Pinterest // Goodreads //

signature 2

What Annie Read: Captain Guinevere Book Review

514oqz4aq1l-_sx311_bo1204203200_

Captain Guinevere by Clara Bennet
Published November 21st, 2016

I received a copy of Captain Guinevere from the author, Clara Bennet, in exchange for an honest review.  You can check out Clara’s blog here.

Find On // Amazon // ThriftBooks // Goodreads // Clara Bennet //

Goodreads Synopsis:

Run! She has to run. Gwendolyn Patience has no intention of marrying a man she doesn’t love, but when her parents betroth her to the prince of Voyagea to unite their countries, her only option is to run. With the help of some new friends along the way, she commandeers a ship to sail away from her troubles, but instead she encounters the evil Ravenoth who has other plans for her. While trying to defeat the evil faerie, she finds the secret lies within herself. What she doesn’t expect is to fall in love with the very man she detests.

I rated Captain Guinevere 2/5 stars.

This review, like all of my reviews, is spoiler-free.

Before I begin this review, I’d like to give a little disclaimer.  Yes, I did give this book 2/5 stars, which is a low rating for me to give.  I’m just going to say it: I’m not a fan of medieval fantasy.  While there were a few issues (which I’ll discuss later) that had to do with the fundamentals of the writing, my distaste for this book stems largely from my distaste for the subject matter itself.  Medieval fantasy simply isn’t for me… and that’s okay.  If you prefer something a little more fantastic, this may be the book for you.  If you’re like me and want to keep it somewhat realistic, let’s chat about what I liked and didn’t like about Captain Guinevere.

When I received a copy of Captain Guinevere, I decided to go into it with an open mind.  With that said, I wanted to give this book a real chance before counting it out simply because of its genre.  I assessed the story for what it was and not what my preconceived notions might tempt me to believe.  Captain Guinevere is a unique story about a complex protagonist, packed with adventure, with a little bit of romance as the cherry on top.  Is there anything more we can ask from a book?

However, this novel had a lot of hasty beginnings and untidy endings.  For example, in the first few pages, protagonist Gwendolyn finds a magical book and learns about the girl trapped between the pages.  Gwen finds a way to release the girl by enlisting the help of a local witch, but I expected this storyline to go somewhere.  The book served solely as a delivery truck for a supporting character and I felt like I’d been cheated out of what could have been an interesting storyline filled with well-placed world development.

There was world development, but there seemed to be just a touch too much.  As someone who loves well-crafted settings, I’m shocked to even be writing this, but the world was overexposed.  There was an undeniable medieval vibe, but we were also on a different planet… where everyone spoke languages from Earth.  There was talk of people going to other planets in the book, but how did people from this antiquated culture travel from one celestial body to the next?  The setting was anything but cohesive and left me with more questions than answers.

My other bone to pick regarding the novel’s exposition comes with Gwen’s decision to forego marrying Prince Ignatius, who she claimed to be too possessive.  Choosing not to marry someone because of their tendency to be clingy is all fine and dandy, but we never got any evidence to back this claim up.  If Ignatius was possessive, how?  Why?  This was prime character development material but instead of building a realistic, flawed human being, we were left with a faceless cutout labeled “Possessive Male Protagonist.”

One thing I did enjoy about the beginning was a singular page (or two–I can’t quite remember) when Bennet portrayed Gwen’s thought process when deciding to run away from her betrothed.  Rather than typing out a string of “Gwen thought this, Gwen thought that,” Bennet italicized the whole page and simply followed Gwen’s train of thought.  This artistic choice was spot-on for conveying the decisions Gwen had to make without describing them in a monotonous way.

As a character, I liked Gwen.  She was headstrong and determined and passionate, but I felt that she changed personas far too often.  With her family, she was a brooding teenager.  When out shopping on her own, she acted like a curious child.  When aboard the ship she and her crew commandeered, she had the ferocity of a swashbuckling pirate.  I could hardly pin down who she was at her core.  The character development pieces were all there, but they pointed in different directions.

I did enjoy Gwen’s character when she was with her love interest, Shiloh.  He seemed to bring out the best in her, the softness she’d gained from years as a princess.  In the end, I loved where the romance ended up.  “Where does the romance end up?” you might be asking yourself.  Well, you’ll just have to read the book and find out.

Overall, this debut novel was somewhere in between a miss and a hit; I neither loved nor hated this novel.  As I said before, you may fall head-over-heels in love with this book if you’re a fantasy fan.  For me, it just wasn’t in the cards.

Have you read Captain Guinevere?  What did you think of the book?

Don’t forget that I’m running a survey to gather some information about you and your thoughts on Annie Likes Words, which you can access here.  Completing the survey and then logging it in Rafflecopter gets you FIVE automatic entries into the giveaway!

Follow Me On // Twitter // Pinterest // Goodreads // Instagram //

signature 2

What Annie Read: All Fall Down Book Review

22571275

All Fall Down by Ally Carter
Published July 20th, 2015
Scholastic Press

Find On // Amazon // ThriftBooks // Goodreads // Ally Carter //

Goodreads Synopsis: 

A new series of global proportions — from master of intrigue, NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Ally Carter.

Grace Blakely is absolutely certain of three things:

1. She is not crazy.
2. Her mother was murdered.
3. Someday she is going to find the killer and make him pay.

As certain as Grace is about these facts, nobody else believes her — so there’s no one she can completely trust. Not her grandfather, a powerful ambassador. Not her new friends, who all live on Embassy Row. Not Alexei, the Russian boy next door, who is keeping his eye on Grace for reasons she neither likes nor understands.

Everybody wants Grace to put on a pretty dress and a pretty smile, blocking out all her unpretty thoughts. But they can’t control Grace — no more than Grace can control what she knows or what she needs to do. Her past has come back to hunt her . . . and if she doesn’t stop it, Grace isn’t the only one who will get hurt. Because on Embassy Row, the countries of the world stand like dominoes, and one wrong move can make them all fall down.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

This review, like all my reviews, is spoiler-free.

When I received this book in the mail and so how tiny it was, I made a bet with my mom on whether or not I could finish it in one day.  Let’s just say she’s out a few dollars.

As aforementioned, the size was what struck me first and maybe this was for the worse.  I set my mind to devouring this book in a matter of hours (three hours to be exact), so I think I missed some of the witty charm that makes an Ally Carter book something special.

With that said, the book left something to be desired in all accounts.  It wasn’t poorly executed or poorly planned, but the quality of the book was about eighty-five percent of what I expected.  I imagined hard-hitting political drama (or as hard-hitting as young adult political drama can be) and characters with snark and sass and years of global education under their belts.  This book may not have exceeded my expectations, but it did get pretty close.

The characters felt a bit recycled from what Carter has written in the past.  I’ve read both her Gallagher Girls and Heist Society series multiple times (they’re my go-to’s when I’m in a slump) and I found tenants of her past characters in almost every major All Fall Down character.  I saw Gabrielle in protagonist Grace, Cammie Morgan in Meghan, Josh in Noah, Zach Goode in Alexei, Liz in Rosie, and many more cross-character similarities that made for a pretty confusing reading experience.

Grace was a well-developed character… with a few flaws.  Her reputation as the crazy daughter of Caroline Blakely, daughter of the American ambassador to the fictional Adria, was supposed to proceed her, but it didn’t.  For the girl who was supposed to be alone and lonely, she had a surprising amount of trusting friends.  It seemed too good to be true, as I’m sure it is.  I’m totally expecting her life to hit the fan in the second book.  Nothing is that perfect, even in book world.

My final bone to pick with this book is about the pacing, and I promise I’ll be brief: I felt that every plot point ended two pages too short.  I was left wanting more, but not in the edge-of-my-seat way.  Rather, I wanted more because the chapter felt unfinished.

Okay, let’s talk about what I liked after all that negativity.  The book was, overall, enjoyable and terribly entertaining.  Reading this was like walking down my proverbial middle school memory lane when I couldn’t be caught dead without an Ally Carter book in my hand.  (Who am I kidding–I still couldn’t be caught dead without an Ally Carter book in my hand).  Everything I love about her books was present.  The dialogue was sharp and witty, the characters had some spunk to them that was reminiscent of real life, and the plot was unique and intriguing.  Like with all her books before, Carter made me want to throw away my life and become the granddaughter of an international ambassador in some beautiful made-up European country.  Is that too much for a girl to ask?

Have you read All Fall Down?  What did you think of this book?

Don’t forget that my 500 followers giveaway is live right now!  Head on over to my post in which I freak out about having 500 to learn about the awesome, customized prizes you could win!  Head here to enter the giveaway.

Also, I’m running a survey to gather some information about you and your thoughts on Annie Likes Words, which you can access here.  Completing the survey and then logging it in Rafflecopter gets you FIVE automatic entries into the giveaway!

Finally, I’ve a Q&A post coming up, so give me some questions in the comments or on my Twitter and I’ll give you some answers!

Follow Me On // Twitter // Pinterest // Goodreads //

signature 2

What Annie Read: Eleanor and Park Book Review

71lklmxqgjl

Find on // Amazon // ThriftBooks // Goodreads

Goodreads Synopsis:


Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough…Eleanor.

Park… He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

I rated Eleanor and Park 5/5 stars.

For a reason that I cannot quite explain, I was skeptical about this book.  I had absolutely no reason to be, but I was nonetheless.  Maybe the hype was a little too much for me and my cynical side made me think that the book wasn't worth the hype.  I really don't know.

Regardless, this book blew my expectations out of the water.  For this first time in a long time, I was uncomfortable.  Every word, every sentence was pure poetry so it wasn't an unpleasant reading experience, but this book pushed my boundaries and forced me to fall in love with an awkward teenage romance that was doomed from the start.  I had to imagine the main characters for who they were: an awkward, self-proclaimed "fat girl" with red hair and a random sense of style, and a skinny, short Asian-American boy who likes to wear eyeliner.  I had to embrace them for their quirks in the same way that they embraced each other and not dreamcast them to be "prettier" than they were.

The strengths in this book lie in the characters themselves.  Eleanor and Park, our leading gal and guy, were phenomenal.  (When I was writing this, I actually had to pause and think about a word I could use that would capture the explosiveness of their character development.  That's how phenomenal they were.)   They were so well-defined while also so ambiguous that they might honestly be some of my favorite characters.  Ever.  Do you know how many books I've read?  Saying that they're some of my favorites really means something.

What I also loved about Eleanor & Park was the reality in their intertwined stories.  There was no sugar-coating here: the story was raw and real and painful and beautiful and a million different adjectives at a million different times.  When Rowell wanted us to root for them, she crafted the story so we would root for them.  When Rowell wanted us to scream with frustration, she crafted the story so we would scream with frustration.  Every word was purposeful and carried a palpable intention.

As aforementioned, the plot made me uncomfortable in the best way possible.  I love me a contemporary novel, but I prefer to stick to books that I know will have a happy ending, or at least a comfortable resolution.  I had no such luck with this book and that was okay with me.  I felt that the plot had an ease about it that just made sense.  With this natural flow, we sometimes entered treacherous waters filled with bitter realities, but I didn't mind.  The plot was a reflection of, get this, life.  In this reflection, I found so much beauty and fulfillment that I wouldn't have experienced had the plot been filled with fluff.

Overall, this book was a knockout.  If you have a pulse and want to read a fabulous book, this one is for you.  Eleanor & Park is a book of the highest caliber and I'm sure I'll be ranting about its fabulousness for a long, long time.

Have you read Eleanor & Park?  What did you think of it?

Follow Me On // Twitter // Pinterest // Goodreads //

signature 2

What Annie Read: Me Before You Book Review

what annie read me before you

220px-27me_before_you27

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Published December 31st 2012
Pamela Dorman Books/Viking

Find on // Amazon // ThriftBooks // Goodreads

Goodreads Synopsis:

Louisa Clark is an ordinary young woman living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has never been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex-Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair-bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

A love story for this generation, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Review:

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes is part of the pop culture vernacular: everyone knows the blockbuster movie that brought entire theaters to tears.  This book and its movie are probably best known for the ending that feels like a knife in the gut, but there is so much in between the bouts of heartwrenching sadness.

In this book, quirky, awkwardly confident Louisa Clark is fired from her job and takes a post caring for Will Traynor, a wildly successful businessman and daredevil turned quadriplegic.  Will is set on ending his life via assisted suicide and Louisa, the ever-cheerful and annoyingly optimistic, is his parents’ last attempt at changing his mind.

For such a heavy premise, the book was surprisingly light and airy.  From the first page, the banter and wit of Moyes’s cast of characters was enough to plaster a stupid smile to my face.  The relationships are rich and realistic and mirror life in a family just trying to scrape together enough pennies to pay rent and fill the fridge.

In the same frame of mind, the dynamic between Will and Louisa was entirely believable.  In books I’ve read where Little Miss Sunshine is sent to brighten up the grumbly grump’s life, I thought that the change in the grumbly grump’s personality was quite unrealistic.  I mean, really, can one person change that much?  Me Before You answers the question with confidence: yes, they can, and Louisa Clark can make it happen.  Will’s development as a character was perfectly timed and so well done.

What I loved most about this book was Louisa’s narrative voice.  She’s twenty-six (I think), unemployed at the beginning of the book, and sees no respite in sight because she didn’t go to college and is unqualified for several of the well-paying positions.  Despite her lack of higher education, Louisa is so smart.  She looks at life with an intelligence that is engrained, not adopted.  She may not have a college degree on her resume, but her wit and sense of benevolence place her way above the curve.

Overall, this book was a long, resounding yes.  Moyes handled the sad parts with grace and the happy parts with joy and everything was just yes.  I would recommend this book to anyone.  If you are reading this post, then you should read this book.  It was that stellar.

Have you read Me Before You?  How do my thoughts compare to yours?

Follow Me // Twitter // Pinterest // Goodreads // Wattpad // Spotify

signature

What Annie Read: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before Book Review

tatbilb book review

516wcmsapcl-_sx332_bo1204203200_

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
Published April 15th 2014
Simon & Schuster

Find on // Amazon // ThriftBooks // Goodreads

Goodreads Synopsis:

What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them…all at once?
Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved–five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

My Review:

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han is the story of Lara Jean, the middle sister of the Covey family.  Lara Jean has written a letter to every boy she’s ever loved (five in total) and stores them in a hatbox, which was given to her by her late mother.  One day, for reasons unknown, the letters are sent, sending Lara Jean into a tailspin.  However, Lara Jean maximizes on this unlikely opportunity: she makes a pact with Peter Kavinsky, one of the boys who received a letter, to fake-date in order to Peter’s ex Genevieve and Lara Jean’s crush Josh madly jealous.

When I picked up the book, I wasn’t entirely sure what it was going to be about.  Everything I’d read about it seemed cloudy: the blurb, the synopsis, the reviews.  They didn’t seem to give any indication about the book’s subject matter other than Lara Jean and her tendency to write letters.  Going into this book with no premonition was annoying and, at the same time, refreshing.  I got to see this book for what it was.

With that said, I felt that the beginning was rather slow.  Maybe my fresh perspective compounded this phenomenon in that I kept waiting for something major to happen before realizing that To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before wasn’t terribly structured in the first place.  It took me a while to get interested because the plot seemed to wander without purpose, waiting to stumble upon something that would stick.  Something stuck eventually, but it took about forty pages too long.

The rest of the book was fairly well-paced, but retained some of that aimless feeling.  We ended up where we needed to be, but the way we got there was willy-nilly and the proverbial scaffolding, the reasons why we took this path, were flimsy at best.  It didn’t seem logical that quirky-cute Lara Jean would throw herself into the arms of the school’s grade-A jerk only to make Josh, who had also dated Lara Jean’s older sister Margot, jealous.

However, I did enjoy reading about the characters.  There was ample variation between the characters and they each had their defining idiosyncrasies, making them feel like real people instead of cardboard cutouts or paper dolls.  I liked Lara Jean’s narrative voice in particular, especially when she described life with two sisters.  I have a sister myself and I can personally attest that life with a sister is as random and weird and wonderful as it sounds.

The dialogue was somewhere in between stellar and awful; it covered the whole spectrum.  Some conversations were charming and reflective of how high schoolers communicate, but others were forced and unrealistic.  Some dialogue made me want to cringe while some dialogue was the highlight of its respective scene.

Overall, I enjoyed this book for its unique plot, dynamic characters and relatively accurate portrayal of life as a high school girl who accidentally confessed her love to a bunch of teenage boys.  Despite its few shortcomings, I would recommend this book as an easy, heartwarming read to anyone who loves contemporary, romance, young adult, or any combination of the three.

Have you read To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before?  What did you think of it?

Follow me on // Twitter // Pinterest // Goodreads // Wattpad // Spotify

signature

What Annie Read: Glass Sword Book Review

what annie read glass sword

Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard, the second book in the Red Queen series, tells the story of Mare Barrow: a girl who straddles the divide that is tearing her country apart.  She bears the strange ability to conjure and control lightning, an ability akin to the Silver-blooded nobility, but her blood is red like the common people beside whom she was raised.  After a betrayal from someone she trusted most (I won’t say who because spoilers suck), Mare is on the run with the Scarlet Guard, who seek to start a rebellion and close the divide between Silver and Red.  Charged with seeking out and saving those like her, red-blooded with Silver abilities, Mare scours the nation with her merry band of thieves, cast-down captains, and a dethroned prince.

What I loved about this book was that it improved upon the first book in the series (you can read my review of Red Queen here).  While I thoroughly enjoyed Red Queen, I knew it would be difficult to surpass.  However uncharacteristic to such a trilogy, Glass Sword did the almost impossible: it matched, if not excelled beyond, the first book in the series.

What made this book so remarkable for me was that Aveyard showed how the characters suffered from acts of rebellion and bloodshed, especially the protagonist Mare.  She has her moments of strength, of weakness, of certainty and doubt.  She questions herself, asks if the end is worth the means.  She is scared of how she has changed and how she will continue to change.  There was not a static character in sight and Mare was a prime example.

Another aspect I thoroughly enjoyed was Aveyard’s writing itself.  Her descriptions are unique and accurate, dripping with phrases that sound more like poetry than prose.  She plays with words in Glass Sword, exploiting double meanings and foreshadowing like the best of them.  Her diction is purposeful.  No letter goes to waste; every word packs a punch.

The plot flowed and was interesting, but the pacing was a little funky.  I felt like we were constantly seesawing in between slow motion and fast forward: thirty minutes would last for chapters and an entire month would be covered in little more than a paragraph.  Maybe this was a function of Mare’s perceptions: the moments that stuck with her were going to stick with us, the readers, and Aveyard made sure of that.

Overall, I enjoyed this book.  While it was not my favorite novel in the world, it was far from my least favorite and I would certainly recommend it to other readers.  I gave Glass Sword 4/5 stars on Goodreads and cannot wait to pick up King’s Cage, the next book in the series.

Have you read Glass Sword?  What did you think?  Let me know in the comments and check out Annie Likes Words on Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, and Wattpad

signature

What Annie Read: Rosemarked Book Review

rosemarked book review

To start off, I want to give a birthday shoutout to my good old friend THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA for turning 241 today (full disclosure: I had to Google “how old is America” in order to write that sentence but nonetheless let’s party)!  *runs around waving a flag and shouting The Star-Spangled Banner*  Let’s celebrate with a book review, shall we?

Before we get started, I wanted to ask for your help: I’m planning a little Q&A to celebrate 250 followers (yay!) so leave some questions in the comments, on my Twitter, or send me a message using the form on my Get in Touch page and I’ll tell y’all what you want to know!

When I joined NetGalley about a month ago, this was one of the first books that I requested and I was so excited to see that I’d received an ARC for review.  I thought the cover was gorgeous, the synopsis was enticing, and the reviews were stellar.  I have to give an unpaid thank you to Disney Book Group for letting me get a sneak peek at this fabulous read!

Rosemarked by Livia Blackburne is a story told by two narrators: Zivah, a healer who’s contracted the lethal rose plague, and Dineas, a rebel fighter looking to take down the empire that threatens to overtake his homeland.  Zivah and Dineas are tasked by their respective leaders to work together in gathering intel about the Amparan Empire.

What stood out to me first was Blackburne’s method of world-building.  Throughout the book in its entirety, our two narrators developed the world in a way that was seamless and natural.  Based on Blackburne’s word choices and use of dialogue, I felt like I was seeing this fantasy(ish) world through its inhabitants’s eyes and I enjoyed it.  There was not a data dump in sight: I as a reader was given pieces of the world as Zivah and Dineas observed it in a way that was normal to them.

When I looked up this book on Goodreads, almost every review raved about the slow-burning romance between Zivah and Dineas.  I have to jump on the bandwagon here because I think the romance was done right in the context of the book.  I’d hate to spoil it for you, so I’ll just leave it at this: Blackburne did well in my humble opinion.

While there were a few clichés sprinkled throughout, I didn’t think that they were prominent enough to detract from the book’s summative originality.  The atypical romance subplot, stellar world-building, unique main plot, and dynamic character relationships made up for the fact that Zivah was a little one-sided.  Dineas showed a clear character progression, but Zivah was somewhere in between static and dynamic.

My only other criticism is the naming.  Personally, I prefer to know how to pronounce my character’s names, but I understand the need for originality.  Other than that, I was pretty pleased with the book as a whole and consider it a worthwhile read.

So that’s it!  You can preorder a copy of Rosemarked here or snatch one off the shelves when it’s released on November 7, 2017.  And don’t forget to check out my Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, Wattpad, and Spotify to spread the social media love ❤

signature

What Annie Read: The Handmaid’s Tale Book Review

51mi9ml12byl-_sx322_bo1204203200_

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is… well, if you’ve come out from under your respective rocks anytime in the past few months, then you know what this book is about.  The television show on Hulu is all the rage and has received only the highest praise while the book has become mainstream in a short amount of time.  In the fascist Republic of Gilead, Offred is a handmaid to the Commander and his barren wife and she is responsible for bearing them a child.  As you can imagine, forcing a woman into surrogacy because her ovaries are viable isn’t exactly the life Offred pictured.

I hate to be this kind of person, but I had my eye on The Handmaid’s Tale long before it trended on Twitter.  I’ve read a lot of young-adult, teeny-bopper dystopian fiction and the idea of reading a big girl version enticed me.

After reading the book, I can say without a doubt that The Handmaid’s Tale is the mother of dystopia as we know it.  Everything about it is crisp and unique, even in a time when you can’t take two steps without tripping over a book set in the future.

What made this book so fresh was that it was entirely plausible.  As we can learn from our history textbooks, misery parties form on the outskirts of society and gain strength until they can come into the limelight and take back what is not-so-rightfully theirs.  Either through intention or happenstance, people are divided into haves, have-nots, and have-nothings and have false beliefs pounded into them.  These are the stories of our forefathers and their forefathers.  These are the stories of our history.

Atwood was wise to exploit this ugly side to our existence because it weaves a tale that is too close for comfort.  I’ve read on several platforms that the release of the Hulu show, which has drummed up interest for the book, is “timely” because of America’s current political climate.

I beg to differ.  This book foreshadows a grim future based on my country’s place in history.  The Handmaid’s Tale has always been timely because it is a tale of belittlement and unfair classification based on the state of a woman’s ovaries.  The Handmaid’s Tale is not a cautionary tale about giving the wrong people the right power at the right time.

Rather, this book is about doing the most good for the most people.  This book is about the morals of making things better.  Better should mean better for as many people as it can.  Better should mean action without the intension to self-preserve.  Better should mean recognizing problems and fixing them: nothing more, nothing less.

Have you read or watched The Handmaid’s Tale?  Let me know your thoughts and let’s chat.  And don’t forget to head over to my Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, and Wattpad to show some social media love ❤

XO, Annie