Author: Keira Drake
Published: March 27, 2018
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 3 stars
For her sixteenth birthday, Vaela Sun receives the most coveted gift in all the Spire—a trip to the Continent. It seems an unlikely destination for a holiday: a cold, desolate land where two nations remain perpetually locked in combat. Most citizens lucky enough to tour the Continent do so to observe the spectacle and violence of battle, a thing long vanished in the peaceful realm of the Spire. For Vaela, the war holds little interest. As a smart and talented apprentice cartographer and a descendent of the Continent herself, she sees the journey as a dream come true: a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to improve upon the maps she’s drawn of this vast, frozen land.
But Vaela’s dream all too quickly turns to nightmare as the journey brings her face-to-face with the brutal reality of a war she’s only read about. Observing from the safety of a heli-plane, Vaela is forever changed by the sight of the bloody battle being waged far beneath her. And when a tragic accident leaves her stranded on the Continent, Vaela finds herself much closer to danger than she’d ever imagined—and with an entirely new perspective as to what war truly means. Starving, alone, and lost in the middle of a war zone, Vaela must try to find a way home—but first, she must survive.
I found this book at the Barnes and Noble 50% Book Haul. The cover was nice and the description sounded interesting. I decided to move it up my list and read it relatively soon after buying it. It was ok. That’s the only word I can think of to use. It wasn’t bad and it wasn’t good. I had high expectations at the beginning; it had all the makings of a great story. But as the story progressed, the more disappointed I was. Vaela was a boring, rich girl. Noro could have been interesting, but Vaela brought him down. The political allegory of savagery vs. privilege was obvious and somewhat true, but when the Spire was condemned for minding its own business and not getting involved with the warfare on the Continent, I was done. Even the action was just ok. It held my attention only marginally. I was very glad when I reached the end. Snowflakes definitely won’t like this book, the ones on Goodreads made that very clear! I didn’t think it was offensive, just mediocre. I’m glad I read it, but I don’t recommend it to anyone.
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Published: September 10, 2013
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 3 stars
Cath is a Simon Snow fan.
Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan.
But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.
Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.
For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?
And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?
This is one of the books I read during Hurricane Florence with my little flashlight. I wanted something light and easy and I had heard great things about Fangirl and I figured it was a good time to read it. I went into it with a bit more clarity than when I read Eleanor and Park so I wasn’t nearly as disappointed when I realized that Fangirl was slightly over-hyped. I did enjoy reading it, and it helped pass the time really well. I liked most of the characters, though I wasn’t deeply connected to them. I thought Levi was adorable and he easily became my favorite character. He kept things closer to reality and seemed to be the voice of reason in most cases. Reagan was also likable and refreshing in her unfiltered honesty. Professor Piper is the once character that I identified with more than anyone. She had high standards as a teacher and didn’t let students get away with stupidity. To be honest, the character I liked the least was Cath. I know a lot of people identify with her and I will admit I did see a lot of myself in her: the nerdy-ness, the social ineptitude, the introvertness. But overall, she became that typical millennial stereotype who refused to look outside her tiny, safe bubble, and didn’t like doing things simply because they were too hard.
And listen, I love Harry Potter as much as the next booknerd. But I also realize that while books are an amazing escape, they cannot be substitutes for life. Watching Cath spend all her time writing characters that didn’t belong to her, refusing to use her creativity in any other way, actually using her fanfiction as an excuse to quit classes and justify bad grades . . . not cool at all! Even the college drama didn’t bother me as much as Cath did. I read a book about college, I was willing to accept all the drama that came along with it. But Cath and her attitude really bothered me. I bought Fangirl along with a copy of Carry On, but honestly, I don’t even want to read it now. Overall, I did enjoy reading this book, it was an actual escape from the hurricane and loss of power and I appreciate that to no end. But in an honest review, I have to say that Fangirl still disappointed me and I doubt I’ll be reading any more Rainbow Rowell books.
An Anonymous Girl
Authors: Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
To Be Published: January 8, 2019
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: December 10-24, 2018
Jessica’s Rating: 3 stars
Seeking women ages 18–32 to participate in a study on ethics and morality. Generous compensation. Anonymity guaranteed.
When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money, and leave. But as the questions grow more and more intense and invasive and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr. Shields may know what she’s thinking…and what she’s hiding. As Jess’s paranoia grows, it becomes clear that she can no longer trust what in her life is real, and what is one of Dr. Shields’ manipulative experiments. Caught in a web of deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly.
I absolutely loved Hendricks’ and Pekkanen’s first collaboration together so much that I was anticipating their second. Unlike The Wife Between Us, An Anonymous Girl did not deliver. The premise is intriguing and makes you think, but otherwise the novel is not believable at all. I can’t say much in detail without giving spoilers. And the protagonist’s name is Jessica!
There are two points of view that alternate throughout the novel: Dr. Shields and Jessica’s. Dr. Shields’ POV came off disconnected while Jessica’s POV was intriguing and I found myself rooting for her. Dr. Shields is a therapist and maybe that is why the POV was the way it was, but for me it was to the detriment of the novel.
In the beginning where Jessica starts answering the questions for the study as Subject 52, I found myself thinking about what my answers would be and what I would do. Could this be because I am also Jessica? Well, my personality is not similar to the Jessica of this story. I would not do some of the things ‘Book Jessica’ did.
As the book progresses it becomes a bit of a cat and mouse game between doctor and Subject 52, and it’s not believable at all. I found myself rooting for Jessica and did not know how this story was going to end.
Though not for me, I will read future collaborations between Hendricks and Pekkanen. Definitely give their first The Wife Between Us a read!
Many thanks to St Martin’s Press for sending me an arc copy to read and review!