28/06/2014

The Moment Collector/Vanishing Season - Aly

Disclaimer: This review first appeared on my Goodreads profile

4/5 stars.
The Moment Collector


*ARC provided by NetGalley. All quotes are taken from an uncorrected copy which may change subject to publication.*

It's a crescendo. It's tragic. Because I know what it means. It means we are - I am - a piece of the past.
And I can't save anyone on Water Street.
It means I'm only here to watch.
I drift out and away again. I turn my face away from the world.
This is no place for anyone with a heart.


Brought to you by the author of Peaches and Tiger LilyThe Moment Collector is a beautifully written tale of life, our purpose and first love. 

The writing is absolutely flawless, creative and poetic. It paints a vivid picture and you can almost see the story unravel before your eyes as if you were watching it on the big screen. It enthralled me from the very first sentence: 

A key is buried under the front stairs of 208 Water Street. Scorched on one side, was it in a fire? Who lost it, and when?


A ghost is haunting Water Street in Gills Creek. She doesn't know why, or what her purpose is, or even what she has to do to finally be able to move on. The only thing the ghost knows is that she is tied to Maggie and Pauline. She thinks, maybe, it's because death is coming to one of them...

I'm part of this house, and the residents can hear me in their sleep. I rattle the dishes and creak along the floors in the dark. I turn the lights on downstairs, though they're sure they turned them off when they went to bed. I watch a leg crash through the ceiling into the darkness and I reach out to touch it. But I have no hands, no arms, nothing I can see. I wonder if I ever did.


Maggie has just moved to Doors County with her parents from Chicago. She's lonely, feeling lost when a girl appears on her porch -- Pauline. Quickly, the two become good friends:

Pauline let out a laugh - so surprising and screechy it could scrape paint off a car. That was the first moment Maggie started to like Pauline - the moment she heard her rough, husky laughter that wasn't beautiful at all.


Their friendship is intricate and strong.

This is not a ghost story. This is a -- to quote directly -- "A friendship story bound in snow and starlight, a haunting mystery of love, betrayal, redemption, and the moments that we leave behind."

There is a love triangle:

"What are your issues?"
"Loving an unattainable girl my entire life," Liam said, easily, without hesitation.


And Maggie is right in the middle of it all. 

There is a killer on the loose:

But on the front page was a story about a teenager who'd died in Whitefish Harbor, four towns over. [...] She's been found drown in the lake, floating face down, with no signs of a struggle, and the police were trying to figure out whether it was a suicide, an accident, or something more sinister.


But nothing happens in this book. This is a coming of age tale, one that will leave you empty and possibly heartbroken, one that will make you question your very own existence. It is not a ghost story, or even a scary story. It is a story of two girls, a boy and the memories they cultivate and leave behind.

A must read

Burn for Burn - Aly


Disclaimer: This review first appeared on my Goodreads profile

3/5 stars.

Burn for Burn (Burn for Burn, #1)




This review contains spoilers. I'm not going to tag them, so proceed at your own risk.

You know what? I'm actually pretty peeved. You wanna know why? Because I was dead set on giving this book a glorious 4 stars before I reached the ending. 

That ending was awful. I have never been more annoyed at an ending before, especially since it stinks of cliffhanger gone wrong and a now-you-HAVE-to-read-the-second-book promotion. I was hoping this was a standalone but was left bitterly disappointed, especially since sequels are never as good as the first books and I don't fancy being let down.

So three stars will suffice. Moving on.

The Summary:

Bad things can happen, even to good girls, and sometimes the only way to make things right is to do something wrong.


Intrigued? You ain't seen nothing yet.

Welcome to Jar Island. It's small, it's quaint, it's posh and if you don't have $$$ you won't be special enough for consideration by the It Crowd. If anything, they will go out of their way to make your life a misery.

Sounds familiar?

Burn For Burn is a cross between Mean Girls and Revenge. Our protagonists are ruthless and cruel and hell bent on revenge... with more than enough reason.

Lillia Cho is part of said It Crowd. She's popular, loved by all, and best friends with Mean Lean Bitching Queen Rennie. Lillia is the complete polar opposite of her best friend. Where Rennie eats people for breakfast and spits them out, Lillia is behind her, cleaning up the mess. 

"Fingers crossed, we're getting new uniforms this season, and they're gonna be crop tops. That means I don't want to see a single French fry one anyone's plate at lunch. I'm serious. Also, Dori." Dori looks up, startled. "You need to retire that jacket. It makes you look like a soccer mom."


Too many people have been terrorised by Rennie's Evil Crew of Evilness. Reeve, quarterback and hottie and Rennie's boytoy, made Mary's life a misery...

Reeve stared at me with unbelieving eyes. Once he blinked though, he looked furious. He shouted, "Get the hell away from me!" And then he lunged. His palms went straight into my chest, and, throwing all his strength behind it, he shoved me towards the guys. [...]The pain had me gasping for air, my last breath before I plunged into the water.[...] I could hear their warbled laughter above me.
"Yo, she looks like a manatee!"


Now, Mary wants revenge and wants to make him suffer as much as she did back in school.

Kat has been cheated on. Used and abused by Lillia and Rennie's friend Alex...

And my second thought is -- Alex Lind is running game on me? With a freshman? I don't think so. Clearly he has no idea who he's messing with.


And he's not only messing with Kat. He's also messing with Lillia...

I stumble backward into a tree, then get behind it. Who's the girl? Is it the one from his party, the one he was lying in bed with?
I squint hard. The girl is petite. Dark hair.
Oh my God. It's Nadia Cho.


Now, the girls want to get even and they will stop at nothing to make Rennie, Reeve and Alex suffer.


Revenge

These three girls do some fucked up shit. They have no boundaries, nothing they won't try to screw over the three people that hurt them most. They smash cars, set a fake fire, humiliate the football team in front of their competitors. There is nothing they won't do.

And it's sweet, sweet revenge.

Oh, how I would love to take revenge on the people that made my life an absolute misery in school. I would love to screw around with them and make them apologise for every cruel thing they've ever done. 

Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian weave a brilliant story of girls gone bad, fuelled by anger and hurt. The story is incredibly real and raw: not only can you see them hurting, but you can feel it too. In my opinion, if you've been screwed around with during your school years, you will be able to relate to these girls on an emotional level. 

It's a bloody good book, one that will have you cackling evilly and egging these girls on.

Pet Peeves:

I realised too late that this book is shelved under "Fantasy" and "Paranormal" and that pissed me off a bit. Mary, it seems, can do some paranormal stuff. If you've read Carrie by Stephen King, you'll see a lot of similarities between Mary and Carrie. There was no need to put this random paranormal shit in the book. It only served as a scapegoat for when stuff got unexplainable.

So annoying.

If it hadn't had some random paranormal stuff thrown in, this book would've been a solid four stars.

Or maybe still three, because that ending was rage-inducing.

26/06/2014

ARC - Before You by Amber Hart - Aly



Before You by Amber Hart




Disclaimer: This review first appeared on my GR profile


*I received this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD. I'm not going to tag them, so proceed at your own risk.

What a joke.

This book is hands down the worst book I've read sinceBeautiful Disaster and that's saying something. It is chockablock full of plot conveniences, cliche's and stupidity. It's just awful.

BEWARE: RANT AHEAD. Proceed at your own risk.

I was so damn excited when NetGalley approved my request. Ethnic diversity? Awesome. Star crossed lovers? Great! Deep, dark secrets? EVEN BETTER. But now I regret it so bad.

What the hell are people thinking when they decide to write a book that has so much potential, but riddle it with stupid plot lines that fail in every way, shape and form to deliver? And what the hell are people thinking when they decide that a violent, arrogant asshole is the PERFECT love interest for the MC? And what the HELL are people thinking when they make the MC the most shallow, pathetic human being on the planet? I mean, really? REALLY?! 

Fuck this book.

Meet Faith. She's a shallow, boring, foolish eighteen year old who loves the smell of attention and exaggerates in every aspect of her life.

Meet Diego. He's a dickhead (but he's hot, so that makes it okay!), he's violent and an arrogant douchebag. But, you know, he's hot, so excuse me while I swoon!



Where do I even fucking begin?

I don't even know. This is the most ridiculous, badly written, pathetic piece of 'literature' I have ever had the displeasure of reading. It's the type of thing you would find on a writing site like Fictionpress or WattPad. It is NOT something you would want to publish, or even read. I don't understand where the ratings have come from, because this book is not what it's made out to be.

*Aly, breathe. Get a hold of yourself.* 

I'm going to list the things that got on my nerves.

- Diego and Faith have BIG SECRET DARK PASTS THAT THEY CAN'T EVER SPEAK OF BECAUSE FUCK YOU THAT'S WHY. Pasts that are revealed within the first 30% of the book. YAY, SUSPENSE. 

- Diego and Faith cannot ever be together because Diego is Cuban and Faith is white. Excuse me. I didn't know we were still stuck in the eighteenth century. Even if biracial relationships are a problem in some countries, I highly doubt, in America, that you'd get shot for it.

Oh yeah. You heard me.

And let me get something off my chest: I get it that 'coloured' people still aren't accepted in today's society and that in some places the racism is a huge deal. In this book though, what bothered me the most, was how Diego described white people. Fucking hell, excuse me, but racism goes both ways, okay? Don't you fucking dare call people 'white trash', 'white bitches' and 'white whores' and then get mad when people call YOU something nasty, Mr. I'm A Speshul Snowflake. I HATE racism in books, it gets on my nerves, but what I hate even more is hypocrisy. Moving on.

- Because Diego and Faith can NEVER EVER BE TOGETHER they obviously fall into instalove within the first two pages.

Uh huh. TWO PAGES. Two pages and Diego already imagines her naked and Faith wants to dump her boyfriend.





It is the shallowest, funniest, most ridiculous relationship I have ever seen in YA books so far. 

- Faith never SHUTS UP about how pathetic and lonely and 'restricted' she is. EVER. Every other page, she reminds us of her 'dark' past and how 'restricted' her life is because her father is a pastor. 

I find the outfit I'm looking for. A black knee-length pleated skirt, a loose-fitting white top, and two-inch wedge shoes. Looking good at school is a must. Not that I do it for me. It's for my dad's reputation. I have to play the part.


Susan, my stepmom, hands me a bagel even though I already declined breakfast. It's poppy seed. I'm allergic to poppy seed.


Boo-fucking-hoo.

"Faith, I will find a way to break you out of your mold," she says.
I laugh, partially because of the determination in my friend's eyes, but mostly because of the absurdity of her statement. Everybody knows that girls like me never break free.




*rolls eyes*

By 2%, I mentally punched her so many times, she'd have a face as flat as a fucking pancake.

And do you want to know what bothered me the most? Her life isn't that bad. It's really not. She has a curfew, but she has a brand-spanking new car, a gorgeous little sister, a fantastic social life, her father loves her... I'm sorry if I can't see howrestricted you are, but open up a can of man the fuck up. 

She paints her father to be an absolute monster who gives her no freedom at all but in reality, he's the nicest dad you will ever meet, just a father who is worried for his daughter and wants the best.

Faith, you're an ungrateful little bitch and I hate you.

- Diego isn't any better. If anything, he's WORSE. He has a disgusting attitude towards women where everyone who has a vagina is either white trash, a slut, a bitch or a fake. HEY ASSHOLE, DO YOU KNOW THAT NOT EVERYONE IS LIKE THAT? THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU? And the best part? He COMPLAINS when women avoid him. *head desk*

Lola is smiling. I wonder if she enjoys the attention. Probably. She fits the type.


A sweet smell hits my nostrils as I pass the fruit section. It reminds me my peer helper, and I'm reminded of my disgust for her. She thinks she knows me, but she knows nothing. She's a snob, trying to prove something. They're all the same.


*takes deep, calming breaths*

Fuck you, Diego.

- THIS BOOK IS FULL OF STUPID DESCRIPTIVE NONSENSE THAT TRIES TO BE DEEP:

I glance up at him, kind of like I do when I'm searching the moon in a sea of darkness.


Um...

When we were little, Melissa and I used to collect glass bottles. Whenever we accumulated twenty, we'd break them on the conrete. When the glass shattered, the slivered pieces made a breathtaking prism of light.
I cut myself on the glass by accident once. It was painful, but worth it. The beauty was worth it.


Right...

"Quite staring at me,"I say, glancing up at him. He laughs and strands of black hair fall into his eyes. I imagine it's a little like looking at the world through charred silk.


Oh my God.

Sitting is an indulgence for those who can afford to relax. I pretend for a moment that I'm one of them.


IT'S A CHAIR. SIT THE FUCK DOWN.

Rodolfo has a smile full of white teeth and a dimple on the left side of his cheek. What happened to the other dimple? It's as though God has an asymmetrical look in mind when He created him.


Come on. Please tell me you're joking.

BUT NO:

I grab a water bottle and head back to the table with Javier. Do people here know that most of the world doesn't get water from a bottle, but from a stream or river or muddy ground?


It's a fucking water bottle. Drink up, shut up.

I wish I had no memories. But I need memories.They remind me.


Bravo! Have a gold star you idiot!

She has wavy blond hair and blue eyes as big as the sky.


Jesus Christ. 

And this is nothing compared to the amount of attention seeking, woe-is-me, feel-sorry-for-me-please crap that is hurled at you left, right and centre!

People expect it from her - crazy, wild Melissa. If I said it? Watch out.




Sure, I've read the Bible from beginning to end. And yeah, I know key verses. I even bow my head at the right moments for prayer. But on the inside, I'm different. I have secrets. A dark past.




For makeup I went with blush, gloss, and a smoky eye. To hide the circles. To hide the evidence of tears.




This book tries SO HARD to make you feel sorry for the characters, but it doesn't work. It makes them seem whiny and pathetic, which is a stupid way to write them if you want your audience to, you know, like them. 

Oh and OH the plot conveniences burn your eyes! This is a spoiler warning. Proceed at your own risk!

- Diego gets in trouble with a gang. But it's okay, cos he knows how to fight and has killed people! (Mmm, sexy!)

- Faith fancies Diego, but that's okay because Jason is an asshole who dumps her when 'she needs him most'! Barf.

- Diego dies! Oh my God! OH NO! THE TRAGEDY! THE PAIN! OH-- oh look! He's alive! Turns out he was working for the government! HAHAHA, isn't that funny?! Happy endings all around!

Fuck this book.

18/06/2014

We Were Liars - Aly


We Were Liars


Disclaimer: This review first appeared on my Goodreads profile

 We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
My full name is Cadence Sinclair Eastman.
I live in Burlington, Vermont, with Mummy and three dogs.
I am nearly eighteen.
I own a well-used library card and not much else, though it is true I live in a grand house full of expensive, useless objects.
I used to be blond, but now my hair is black.
I used to be strong, but now I am weak.
I used to be pretty, but now I look sick.
It is true I suffer migraines since my accident.
It is true that I do not suffer fools.


It's not often that I am left dumbfounded by a book. By the time you hit your 20s, and you've been reading for years, you think you know every story line, twist and cliffhanger there is to know. You think, after years of reading, there there is absolutely nothing that can surprise you. You think there's nothing that can shock you.

Well, you're wrong. 

So very, very wrong.

We Were Liars is not your typical book. It's twisted with secrets, bitterness and a dank, hazy past which you desperately try to understand. It's a lyrical piece of work, the writing poetic and beautiful, the sort of book that, if it impresses you, may very well stay with you for a long time.

Three stars means "I liked it". It's not a bad rating, but it's a rating I use for stories I'm not too sure of. Although I've said it's a great book, it didn't really impress me for the first 70% of it. In fact, I quickly grew bored and irritated with Cadence's petulant whining and woe-is-me act.

Yes, Cadence, you had an accident, you hit your head, whatever, who cares. Must you remind us every five sentences? You come from a rich background and family, excuse me whilst I don't fall over myself with pity and sympathy for you. Those were my thoughts when reading this book.

Of course, now I feel really bloody awful, but you won't understand why until you read the book.

The summary:

Cadence Sinclair has had an accident. 

For two years, she has lived in a state of remembering/not remembering and details of her accident have disappeared. She doesn't know what happened or how, and no one will tell her.

One thing's for certain: she needs to go back to Beechwood Island, the place she had spent all her summers growing up, along with her cousins Jonathon and Mirren and, later, their friend Gat. She's sure that, if she returns to the island, her memory, also, will return.

One night, late in July of summer fifteen, I went swimming at the tiny beach. Alone.
Where were Gat, Johnny and Mirren?
I don't really know.
We had been playing a lot of Scrabble at Red Gate. They were probably there. Or they could have been at Clairmont, listening to the aunts argue and eating beach plum jams on water crackers.
In any case, I went into the water wearing a camisole, bra, and underwear. Apparently I walked down to the beach wearing nothing more. We never found any of my clothes on the sand. No towel, either.
Why?


The characters:

Oy very. This is where it gets tricky. Although I liked reading Cadence's narrative, she has to be the most self-centred, shallow narrator I have ever encountered. Sure, she's confused a lot of the time, she can't remember much of what happened in the past, but the way she handles everything, so dramatically, had me grinding my teeth in irritation.

This is the scene where I rolled my eyes the hardest:

My father put a last suitcase into the back seat of the Mercedes (he was leaving Mummy with only the Saab), and started the engine.
Then he pulled out a handgun and show me in the chest. I was standing on the lawn and I fell. The bullet hole opened wide and my heart rolled out of my rib cage and down into a flower bed. Blood gushed rhythmically from my open wound,
then from my eyes,
my ears,
my mouth.




Stop. Just stop. It's a painful, sad moment but really?! That's how you're going to handle it? By saying your father shot you in the chest and basically killed you? 



I don't understand the drama of it. So many authors have written harsher, more painful scenes than this without being over-dramatic and silly about it. If it happened only once, I could understand, but it didn't. It happened every other page or so.

Cadence could be an incredibly likeable character if she weren't so selfish. She represents #whitegirlproblems and #richgirlproblems to a T. Stop whining. I felt quite bad for her mother.

The other characters, unfortunately, we didn't see much of. They were mentioned as though in passing or in conversation. Most of Cadence's narration is based on memories and what she thinks of them, so you don't really get to know the other characters. Very little is said about them, in general, up until the end where it comes in such a rush, you don't remember half of it anyway.

The setting:

I absolutely love beach summer novels. School's out, all the friends are together, and plots move more smoothly than if it were based during a school year. So when I saw the words island,summersecrets I was intrigued.

The setting didn't let me down at all. Beechwood Island, as described, seems beautiful and peaceful, the perfect summer holiday destination. It didn't let me down throughout the book, either, which is always a good point in my book. If the setting becomes disjointed and boring, I lose the feel of the characters.

Insta-love or insta-hate?

Yep. It happens. Insta-love within the first five pages. Bore. Gat, our boy, isn't even interesting. Half the time, I wanted him to shut up and the other half I wanted push him into the ocean. He's one of those characters: do-gooders, in-your-face, presumptuous and a pain in the ass. Frankly, Cadence and Gat deserve each other. They both made me want to gouge my eyes out with their soppyyou are my everything's and I can't live without you's. 

Cry me a fucking river.

Overall, three stars. Although I didn't like the narrator or even the other characters, the story was executed so well, it whips you off your feet. The writing was lyrical and poetic and just plain beautiful. A good read that will leave you asking many, many questions at the end.

My Life Next Door - Aly



My Life Next Door



Disclaimer: This review first appeared on my Goodreads profile.

My Life Next Door (My Life Next Door, #1)


"Jase?"
"Mmm-hmm?" He lifts up on one elbow, his face barely visible in the twilight.
"You have to kiss me," I find myself saying.
"Yeah." He leans closer. "I do."


Well holey-moley, as far as chick lit's go, this one isn't all that bad!It's got pretty much everything a chick-lit needs for it to work - compatible, likeable heroine, hot, sweet love interest and some funny quips to make it a light, enjoyable read.

So why the three stars?

I have a very particular rating system when it comes to chick-lits. I love them and they're my go-to books when I want something light, fluffy and sweet. Something to relax me after a day of work, or something to take my mind off the last book I read. My Life Next Door ticked the following boxes:

-An abundance of fluff  
- Likeable characters 
- Flowing writing 

However, there were some things that didn't quite sit right with me, and that starts with the summary:

As the two fall fiercely for each other, stumbling through the awkwardness and awesomeness of first love, Jase's family embraces Samantha - even as she keeps him a secret from her own. Then something unthinkable happens, and the bottom drops out of Samantha's world. She's suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?


Let's analyse this, shall we?

Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

I despise it when people fit types of families into their own categories. None of the families in this book are considered 'perfect'. Jace, our love interest, comes from a huge family of ten people. They're loud, messy, and disorganised -- like most big families are, I can imagine. Samantha, on the other hand, comes from an even less perfect family - her mother is running for State Senator, which means she's never around, her sister even less than average and they don't have a father.

Personally, I would consider these families less than perfect, and I can't stand it when someone or something is considered 'perfect'. It's a very strong word to use. It would've sat better if it said'Which imperfect family will save her?'.

Another point: Or is it time she saved herself?

From the offset, you're predisposed to thinking that Samantha is a weak character with no backbone, purely for that one sentence. I, for one, thought exactly that before reading the book. However, that's not the case. For the situation she is face with, she's quite a strong person. It might come off as #whitegirlproblems or #richwhitegirlproblems, but it's far from that. Throughout the novel, we're shown time and time again Samantha taking situations into her own hands and sorting the problem. Alcoholic drug abuser friend? She sorts him out with a job and a friend that will take care of him. Cheating-on-tests-for-years best friend? She does the right thing and confronts said friend. Again, the summary could've been worded better.

The 'plot-twist':

Fitzpatrick did well with giving the relationship between Jason and Samantha some build-up before getting together. It spans over two/three months, and she handles all the characters incredibly well. The only complaint I have is the 'twist': we're given so much of Jase&Samantha lovin' that by the time it happens, it's almost a bother. Also, the way it's handled so quickly and no real drama happens, I think Fitzpatrick could've dealt with it better and maybe giving us more time to adjust to it. But no, the twist is over and done with in three very short chapters, and it adds nothing to the story, apart from the overused theme thatlove defeats all.

The writing:

It's a mixture of Sarah Dessen meets a screenplay. The paragraphs and chapters, although flowing nicely, reads very much like a TV show. It jumps from one scene to the next, like you'd expect in a TV drama -- there's no cut to adverts but there might as well be. In one scene, Samantha is at work and the next she's at home making out with Jason. Although it fits well around the book, it can get quite annoying, especially when you want more out of a scene.

The characters:

The characters are great! I absolutely loved Samantha and Jason, as well as Jason's huge family.

Especially little George, who is a bundle of laughs:

George backs out of the room, but not before saying, "His bed's really comfortable. And he never pees in it."
The door closes and we both start laughing.


There's Patsy, the baby:

George and Harry, my loyal fans, rave to their mother about my accomplishments, while Patsy immediately bursts into tears, points an accusing finger at her mother, and wails, "Boob!"


There's so many in the Garrett family that it's hard to keep track of who's who and how old they are and sometimes Mama Garrett will say someone's name and you'll forget who they are, but it works well for the messy, loud, large family they're supposed to be.

Overall, 3 solid stars. It's not a bad rating. It's my I-liked-it-and-will-probably-read-it-again rating, but the book just lost its momentum around 80% and didn't climax the way I hoped it would.