Review: Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

Love Lettava-dellaira-love-letters-to-the-deaders to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
Genre: Contemporary
Published By: Hot Key Books
Pages: 327
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★★★
Where to Find:
Goodreads | Amazon

Love Letters to the Dead was….definitely an interesting if not slightly unexpected read. I went into the book (obviously not literally) expecting it to be a more adult version of ‘Love, Aubrey’ by Suzanne LeFleur and came out the other side having read a parallel version of ‘Perks of Being a Wallflower’ where all the main characters are the opposite gender. Definitely not what I signed up for.

My lovely friend, Jasmine, recommended this book to me. Jasmine isn’t really an obsessive reader like I am, so for her to say it was ‘good’ was like me saying it was ‘the universe cannot exist without this book’ (as I did with the entire Percy Jackson franchise).I thought: “I love books about sisters.” ‘Fangirl’, ‘Sisters Red’, ‘…and unfortunately, I am used to one of the sisters dying…’The Lovely Bones’, ‘Love, Aubrey’. I thought: ‘definitely the book for me!’

Unfortunately not.

The book contained a lot of themes that I was uncomfortable with, for example, underage drinking and drug use. This meant that I felt quite isolated from the characters and didn’t feel like I could relate to them at all. Sad. I know that these themes can be a realistic portray of some teenagers’ lives, but to me, their actions were too toxic and led to bad decision that I couldn’t feel as much sympathy for.

However, this book also conquers a lot of themes that I feel need more exposure in young adult literature, for example, homosexuality and abusive relationships. (Can you see where I’m drawing the ‘Perks’ parallels?) These topics are always interesting to read because reading about something and getting these kind of subjects out there is fuelling social change. Although Hannah and Natalie’s relationship held the same troubles as Patrick and Brad’s, this didn’t take away from the struggles the girls faced, even if it wasn’t the most original relationship dynamic.

Some of my favourite parts of the book was when Laurel would write about May when she was alive and young. Their relationship was built around Laurel idolising May, and May having to keep up the facade of her perfection for Laurel’s sake. The way that May died, or the cause of her death, remains slightly ambiguous but I like to hope it was the wind that broke her wings. I was fully submersed in the world that May created, and wasn’t at all surprised about how Laurel reacted to her sister’s death because of their close bond. It must be difficult to be the younger sister. Thank goodness I’m a twin!

The reveal at the end of the book….disappointed me. As I’ve said, it dealt with an abusive relationship that was similar to what Charlie experienced in ‘Perks’. I wanted Laurel not to feel so broken, because she had the power to make herself whole and it wasn’t helping that she wouldn’t open up to the one person who truly cared about her, Sky, the love interest. Sky also knew May, so there was an intriguing question building between the couple of whether Sky liked Laurel for herself or simply because she resembled May (to be honest, Laurel was wearing May’s clothes.)

Overall, I give ‘Love Letters to the Dead’ 3 out of 5 stars. I really enjoyed the letter writing format. There was nothing more rewarding than when I knew who she was writing to. Two poems were also used throughout the book “The Art of Losing” by Elizabeth Bishop and ‘I carry your heart’ by E.E.Cummings. (Did Dellaira just watch the movie ‘In Her Shoes’ while writing this?!) and a few of the poets I will be studying next year, which let me classifying reading ‘Love Letters’ as homework.

Generally, a nice debut. Don’t go into this thinking it’s going to be like ‘Love, Aubrey’ but if you’ve already read ‘Perks’ then maybe there’s no need to read this one…unless you prefer a female protagonist, in that case, this is the perfect book for you.

Review: Pivot Point by Kasie West

Pivot Poipivot point westnt by Kasie West
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
Published by: HarperTeen
Pages:
352
Format: Paperback
Rating:
★★★★
Where to Find:
Goodreads | Amazon

I borrowed Pivot Point by Kasie West from my local library and I liked it so much I think I’m going to have to buy it for my own library. I also need the sequel, pronto.

There wasn’t an awful lot of world building, but I got the general feel for the Compound and really enjoyed the sections where we learnt more about the mind powers and the variations of those powers. Although I love the X-Men I haven’t read any YA where the main feature is super powers, but I guess, in a sense, Pivot Point isn’t primarily about the powers themselves but what they are used for.

Addie’s power is ‘Divergence’ meaning she can preempt the outcomes of her choices by looking into her future. The story is split into two alternating futures where she chooses to live either with her Mom, or her Dad after their divorce. I was gripped by the characters on both sides of Addie’s choices, and right until the end I couldn’t decide which one I wanted her to pick. However, when it got round to making the decision I knew which one she would go for, and it wasn’t what I wanted. Alas, I hold out hope for Split Second because I am not willing for Addie to let go of that part of her future.

Dramatic irony plays a very lead role in Pivot Point, because after something happens in one future, it happens again in the other but you get it from the ‘Normal’ rather than ‘Paranormal’ perspective and visa versa. This meant that I was gripping the edge of my seat in the final chapter pre-choice because I knew what was going to happen but Addie didn’t! She can’t say I didn’t try to warn her.

Despite dramatic irony I didn’t manage to guess every plot twist – apart from the obvious ones. I think this is one of the main reasons why I am going to give this book four out of five stars. Not only did I enjoy Addie’s character, although she was slightly annoying in places I forgave her due to circumstance, but I was incredibly impressed at how easily the storied blended together and how easy it was to follow both without being confused. I loved the story as a whole; it was a wonderful break from some other more intense reads and was the perfect thing to get me out of Lola and the Boy Next Door withdrawals.

Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Genre: Supernatural, Contemporary
Published By: Quirk Books
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★★★
Where to Find:
Goodreads | Amazon

This book wasn’t what I was expecting. It was peculiar, but then I guess that was the point. I went into this book not knowing much about it, only that it contained some marginally creepy photographs and Jesse the Reader loved it.

My reason for reading the book? I wanted to read one of Ransom Riggs’ books first, as Bee had already read Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi and I needed to lay claim to half of the adorable couple.

The story begins with Jacob, who has a job given to him by the powers of nepotism. His grandfather had always told him odd stories about his past and how he lived with all these children in a home that catered for their peculiar talents. Having written all of his grandfather’s stories off as…well, stories Jacob was in for a major shock when he witnessed a horrific event and realized old Abe was telling the truth. Monsters were out there and so was Miss Peregrine.

This book took me to so many unexpected places. A riddle was given to Jacob that he had to try and solve but I, and he, had no idea that the resolution was going to involve time travel, or a time loop (all lingo is explained in the book, don’t worry) also transfiguration akin to Harry Potter and an underwater shipwreck that Ariel would have been comfortable with.

There was nothing wrong with the strange elements of the book, overall they added to the mysterious tone. But I find myself being unable to actually describe how I felt about the novel because I completely wasn’t expecting the outcome. I loved the plot twist at the end, there’s nothing better than a plot twist that you never saw coming, and the narrative was reminiscent of a John Green novel, but with subtler wit. The book had me laughing at relevant points and, if I’m honest, left me a little bit spooked for the next book, ‘Hollow City’, the title of which I now understand.

Characters were well built, and I thought the pictures were integrated really well into the story, I’ve never seen something like it before, that’s for sure. The presence of romance between Emma and Jacob did seem a little bit convenient and, if we were to look at the history Emma shared with Jacob’s grandfather, then it’s weird, but this issue is addressed by Jacob himself, so if he’s cool with it so am I.

I’d definitely recommend ‘Miss Peregrine’s’ to anyone looking for an unusual read that has a consistently interesting plot. There were definitely no boring moments and the change in direction of the plot kept me reading in rapture. In conclusion, I give this beautiful oddity 3 out of 5 stars because it isn’t something I’d usually read, but I loved it and definitely will be reading the sequel as soon as my library get it in stock.

Review: Just One Day by Gayle Forman

12842115Just One Day by Gayle Forman
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Published by: Speak
Pages:
369
Format: Paperback
Rating:
★★★★
Where to Find:
Goodreads | Amazon

Just One Day by Gayle Forman was a light and easy read. Although I couldn’t quite get my head around the idea of someone just going to Paris with a stranger, I let that slide considering how enjoyable this was. The writing style pulled me in and I was fully immersed in Allyson’s story.

My favourite part was the second section: One Year. I wasn’t all that fussed about her One Day, but the year she had after I thought was wonderful. The character development was palpable, and if there is one thing I love, it’s character development. Allyson went from someone who couldn’t stick up for herself and always had to be in the shadow of someone else – her mother, her best friend – to someone who could make their own choices and adventures. I know this was a result of her One Day with Willem, so I guess by extension I also liked her One Day.

My favourite character you ask? Dee.
Why? Because he was exactly what I wasn’t expecting and exactly what Allyson needed. Plus, he had a good sense of humor.

The way that the Forman tackled the ‘oppressive Mom’ was extremely accurate. I felt that Allyson’s relationship with her parents was beyond relatable, and was partly the reason why I kept reading. I wanted to see how our protagonist dealt with it and if we would get the oh-so classic:
“But you’re giving up on your dream!”
“Not my dream, Mom. Yours.”
Wonderful, I never get tired of those speeches.

I loved the minor characters that were introduced, particularly Wren. Although you didn’t know them for long, you felt like they had been with you for the whole book – and I think that was the point. This novel was extremely poignant, because everything linked back to the beginning. And when that happens you realize how wonderfully crafted the whole story is and you just get lost in narrative. The very first page questions Shakespeare’s ‘To Be Or Not To Be’ and I have to say I forgot that that point was made until everything circled right back to it at the end. I think that’s the true teller of a good book, if it can knock you off your feet because of its profound…ness.

Not being a big fan of travel, I wasn’t sure how much I was going to like the travel element to the book. Travel by yourself just seems like such an overwhelming experience, but all the characters seemed to make light of it and make it sound like a fun and worthwhile experience. I loved the change between Allyson’s first and second trip to Paris because she had come so far in the space of a year. Tracking Willem down was also enjoyable to read, because you felt the pang of pity when Allyson hit a dead end, but apparently life if full of coincidences and the majority of them can be found in Paris, France.

Overall I gave Just One Day four stars, because I did love the narrative, and the characters and development. There is just so much more I want to write about, but I wouldn’t want to spoil the story, because, just like Allyson, sometimes you have to take an adventure of your own.

Review: Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

Bur13406425n For Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Published by: Simon & Schuster
Pages:
358
Format: Paperback
Rating:
★★★
Where to Find:
Goodreads | Amazon

I managed to read this book in a day. It was that gripping. It probably helped that the chapters were short due to the changing perspectives, but something about this book meant that I couldn’t put it down. By the end, I still couldn’t work out which perspective I liked the most. Although, it’s probably a tie between Lillia and Kat, considering Mary faded into obscurity in some moments, considering she was the new girl and was not allowed to be seen with her cohorts in public situations.

I desperately wanted to like the book even more than I did, but my moral compass said that it would be wrong to completely agree with the revenge that the girls were enacting. Yes, the characters may have deserved a little bit of karma due to insane personality defects, but my stomach clenched every time they took revenge because you just know that they have to get caught out at some point.

It’s always interesting to read about the American school system and experience, because it sounds completely different from the UK system. There were quite a few clichés in the personalities and cliques, but that’s just what gives these kinds of books their charm. The social hierarchy is always a ‘fun one’ to experience in writing, especially when you get the ‘insiders view’ – which is never as perfect as you think it’s going to be. But I found it odd that we didn’t hear about any of the other friends that Mary must have made at some point, despite the fact that she’s the new girl surely she would have been able to make at least one other friend – I know she’s reserved, but considering her past I’m sure she wouldn’t purposefully want to be alone.

I liked how the character’s backstories were integrated into the novel, particularly in the beginning where in Lillia’s chapter a lot of names are thrown about and you have to work out who’s who and what relationship they have with the others. Then to find out how Kat and Mary fit in with this little gaggle of the socially elite, was simply wonderful. It was as if the stars had aligned and you knew that these characters were destined for *looks to the stars* great things.

The cliffhanger was exactly what was needed to make me want to read the sequel, and having read the plot line, I’m sure it will be just as good, if not better. I’d heard some mixed reviews about this book, and I think that’s mainly because of the controversial topic of ‘revenge’ and then the subsequent questions of ‘What is right and wrong?’ and ‘Can we really take it upon ourselves to enact justice on those that have done terrible things in the past?’ Overall, this book is wonderful for such philosophical questions, but if you’re not into questioning the meaning of existence or defining rights and wrongs, then it’s the perfect beach read too! Burn for Burn is definitely the kind of thing that I feel in the mood to read when the weather gets a bit warmer, and I want to stay clear of the novels with heavier plots and fantasy worlds.

There is no doubt in my mind that I will continue to read this series, because it was enjoyable, as long as I didn’t think about it in too much detail, and restrained myself from wanting to reach inside the book and punch certain characters in the face.