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A review of Perfect (Pretty Little Liars #3) by Sara Shepard

The thing I said about spoilers before my last review for this series still applies, so if you’re trying to avoid spoilers for this book, I would suggest avoiding this review.  

 

I don’t even know what to say.  

If nothing else, I guess I can say that it makes more sense now that I’ve actually read the second book.  

Also, I read this entire book while listening to OKNOTOK on repeat.  Radiohead music paired with Pretty Little Liars is a strange experience, it was kind of surreal, but I would probably still recommend doing exactly what I did.  

I really don’t like that in the prologue they call Ali (I could be spelling that wrong) “sexy”.  In the prologue, she’s thirteen.  You could call her very pretty, even beautiful, but calling a thirteen year old sexy is far too objectifying.  This sort of description isn’t weird within the context of the book, and I’ve learned to expect nothing more from this series, but still.  This book has some flaws that I’m willing to forgive, but objectifying children is not one of them.  

It kind of seemed like the author dropped the subject of Toby’s suicide pretty quickly.  For the first fifty pages, or less, of the book, Emily is very upset about his death, and she even thinks she might be at fault.  Then they just drop it entirely.  I understand that Emily is going through a lot of stuff, like A telling everyone that she’s gay, and her parents freaking out because of that; however, you’d think that, even though she’s going through a lot of other things, she would at least think of the suicide a little.  Even if the only thing said about it was some passing mention about her dreaming about his suicide, or something like that, I would be okay with it.  But it seemed kind of weird to me that it was entirely dropped.  I’ve never known anyone who committed suicide, but I can’t imagine that it’s something you get over quickly.  You’d think this would bother her for a long time, especially since Emily thinks she had something to do with his suicide.  

On that note, I’m still not over my sister’s pet rabbit who died back in early November last year.  I don’t think about it every day, but I avoid going through my pictures from that time, because I know that there are a lot of pictures of her.  I also can’t talk about it because it’s too emotional.  I would expect to be upset about a person dying for much, much longer than being upset about a rabbit.  Emily getting over it, or just not thinking about it after a few weeks or months (I can’t remember how much time passed in this book), seems unrealistic.  

There was a lot less exposition in this book, which I liked.  I do kind of see how the exposition could become important in the later books, because I’ve read only three out of the many books in this series, and they’re already blurring together.  I obviously still remember the important parts, but I could see myself forgetting some of the smaller details by the end of the series.  That said, I don’t know why there was so much exposition in the second book-there aren’t that many details to remember, and it’s the second book, so it’s not like you’re nine books deep into the series.  

There was also still a lot of product placement, and a lot about the specific colors of the clothes the characters wore, because THAT is obviously vitally important to the plot.  I’m not that far into the series yet, so who knows what’s going to happen with this, and maybe it’ll end up slowly fading away.  Or maybe it’ll end up being part of the entire series and I won’t be able to see this as anything more than a fluffy vanity series, which gives fashion more serious attention that suicide.  

I’ve said it before in my reviews for other books in this series, but I’m going to say it again, I don’t think I’m in the target audience for this book at all.  I’ve looked for stuff online about what the target audience for this series is, but all I could find is that it’s targeted towards people in their teens and early twenties.  I fall into this audience, but I still don’t think I’m exactly the type of person in the target audience.  I’m not trying to say that I’m not like other girls, or I’m edgy and alternative and different.  I know that my interests and personality aren’t special-I follow about twenty blogs on tumblr run by girls around my age who are interested in the same things I’m interested in.  I’m not unique, nor do I pretend to be.  However, I think that these books are probably marketed towards the preppier teenage girls who are looking for romance and fluff just as much as they’re looking for a murder mystery.  Obviously that’s entirely my opinion, and I wasn’t on the marketing team for this book, so how am I to know what their target audience was.  I love marketing, and I wish I could know what the people marketing this book said or thought, but that’s probably not possible.  

I mentioned in my review for the first book that I was kind of worried about this series because it’s so long, and I worry that the author won’t be able to make each book original and interesting.  This isn’t a comment against the author-I think it would be hard for any author to write a series this long without it getting boring and repetitive in some parts.  I’m getting more worried about this, though, because now the first three books have kind of faded into a blur in my mind.  I know that whatever I’m thinking about is part of the series, but I probably couldn’t tell you which book it came from.  

I do plan to finish this series, and I plan to pick up the next book fairly soon.  That said, I don’t have very high hopes for the series, and I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if I stopped liking it at some point.  Even if I do stop liking it, I will finish it.  I’ve committed to this series.  I’m going to find out who A is no matter how many books it takes.  But, like I said, no high hopes.  

Two stars.  

A review of Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

There’s one small spoiler and one bigger spoiler.  The smaller spoiler is in a larger paragraph which isn’t entirely about that spoiler, and it’s enough of the review that I don’t want to just mark it, because there’s so much you would have to skip.  The bigger spoiler is in a paragraph all its own, it is marked.  However, I would recommend going into this book not knowing too much about it, so if you haven’t read this book I would suggest not reading my review.  However, if you haven’t read this book and still want to read this review, go for it.  

 

I don’t want to say that I didn’t expect to like this book.  I didn’t expect to dislike it, I just didn’t expect to like it as much as I did.  

This book is surprisingly funny.  I don’t want to be one of those people who says they have a weird sense of humor that not many people get.  I’m sure that at times I’m a pretentious hipster (probably mostly about music), but I’m not quite that bad.  I’ve been watching stand-up comedy since I was twelve, so I have high standards for what I find funny.  I had heard that this book was funny.  I didn’t think that I wouldn’t find it funny, I just didn’t expect to actually laugh.  

I loved that this book, even though it was more serious and dark in some places-like when they find they burned body of the dead flight attendant-it still managed to be funny without it being really forced.  I’ve read some books where the humor is ridiculous, forced, and there just to make the book funny (*cough, cough* any book by Rick Riordan *cough, cough*), but this was not one of them.  

Before I go on with the rest of the review, I want to get my one complaint out of the way.  This complaint isn’t something that made me lower the rating, or made me put the book down, or made me angrily text someone to rant about it.  It just bothered me.  

In the book, there’s a character named Adina.  Adina doesn’t like pageants and is only doing this pageant because her mom agreed to get her a bass for her all girl punk band if she did this.  She also wants to destroy the pageant from the inside.  I like Adina.  She isn’t boy crazy or obsessed with her looks.  She plays bass in an all girl punk band!  Finally a bassist in a book who isn’t a murderer or a socially awkward loser!  (If you’re unfamiliar with my underappreciated bassist rant, check out my review for The Rules.  I’ll link it at the end of this review.)  Anyway, I really liked Adina.  And then the pirates showed up on the island.  I have no complaints about the pirates showing up.  It worked with the story.  There’s literally no way that the story could have gone the way it did if the pirates didn’t show up.  My complaint isn’t about the pirates’ existence, or something like that, it’s about Adina falling for one of them.  Up until this point in the story, she didn’t need a man.  She was an independant woman.  And then this *dreamy* pirate shows up and she gets a little bit drunk and then she sleeps with him.  What?  

After she sleeps with him AND THEN FIGURES OUT THAT HE FILMED IT WITHOUT HER KNOWLEDGE (which is a whole level of unacceptable that I’m not going to go into), she realizes that she really doesn’t need a man, that she’s perfectly fine on her own, which I thought was something she knew all along but apparently not.  I really, really wish that she didn’t have any romantic interest in the book at all.  Almost every book I read has something about a relationship, and I don’t like it.  Not every teenager wants to have a relationship when they’re a teenager.  I fully expect that I’m going to date someone at some point, but I have no interest in dating someone now.  I do find some people attractive, and if they happened to ask me to go on a date with them, I would.  But I would never ask them out on a date, and if they didn’t ask me out on a date, I wouldn’t be upset.  I have books to read and songs to write.  I don’t have time for dating.  I thought that maybe Adina would be the young adult character I’ve been waiting for.  The character who doesn’t have or want a relationship at any point in the book because her life is full and fulfilling without it.  But that wasn’t the case.  I still think she’s a good character.  I’m still glad that, for once, there’s a bassist who isn’t a freak.  But I’m not happy about how the whole relationship thing was handled.  

One more small complaint.  I couldn’t keep track of all of the girls.  Sometimes they were called their names, and sometimes they were called Miss whatever-state-they-came-from.  I only realized how confused I was towards the end, and it was really weird to suddenly realize that there are least three more girls on the island than I had realized.  It’s possible that, since I read this book mostly late at night, I was too tired to pay enough attention.  But whatever.  I’m not really upset about this.  It’s just a thing.  

Now that that’s out of the way, I can list all of the good things about this book.  

If you like to read books because of their diversity, you should read this book.  There’s a trans girl, a lesbian, a girl whose sexuality is never labelled but who isn’t straight, a black girl, and a girl from India.  I’ve read some other books where a character will be something other than a straight, white character, and they won’t have any development other than the fact that they’re not straight or white.  But these characters weren’t straight or white, and they were also really well developed and interesting.  

I heard in someone else’s review that there were commercial breaks in this book.  I didn’t know how I was going to feel about them because, at the time, that seemed weird.  I actually really loved the way the commercial breaks were done.  It gave you information you would need to know later without having information dumps.  Some of the information they gave you would be stuff that the girls on the island wouldn’t know, so it just made more sense to get the information through the commercial breaks instead of through weird bits of narration.  

I was a little worried about this book because the person who recommended it to me said it sounded like Lord of the Flies.  I’ve read Lord of the Flies, and I cried hysterically.  Even though this obviously shares similarities with Lord of the Flies, it’s not really like it.  There is a part in the book where one of the characters says something about Lord of the Flies, but I read this book a month and a half ago, and I don’t remember what the context of the quote was.  This book isn’t really as realistic as Lord of the Flies, but that’s not a bad thing.  I didn’t go into this book looking for some incredibly realistic book, and there isn’t a huge suspension of disbelief.  Honestly, I don’t think I’m ready for another Lord of the Flies yet.  

When I read this book, I had not yet read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and now, looking back on it, some aspects of this book remind me of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  Specifically, the bit at the end about the power point presentation.  I don’t want to spoil anything because you need to go into it not knowing the ending, but THE BIT ABOUT THE POWER POINT PRESENTATION.  

SPOILER One of the parts that I really, really liked was that Taylor was left behind on the island.  It’s not entirely a happy ending.  She went completely insane and was left on an uninhabited island.  Who knows what happened to her.  Everyone being safe, alive, and sane in the end would be unrealistic.  END SPOILER

I also like the last chapter with stuff about what happened after they got off the island.  It was done in a way that didn’t feel like an information dump at all.  

Five stars!  
If you’re interested in reading my bassist rant, here’s the link to the review:  https://haphazardlyreading.wordpress.com/2017/03/23/the-rules-by-nancy-holder-and-debbie-viguie/

A Review of Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick

Spoilers

“Even the dead tell stories…”  And they’re probably better than this one.  This book was so bad that I am now in a reading slump for the first time in two and a half years.  In the last three days, I have started, and then put down, seven different books.  The only book I’m able to read is The Restauraunt at the End of the Universe, which is a great book, but I’m not going to review it, and I don’t want to fall behind in my posting.  

Before I really get into the review, you should know that one of my big complaints about this book is that it’s religious.  I am not religious.  I’m not sure if I’m going to end up accidentally being offensive to someone who is, so if you happen to be religious, maybe just skip reading this review.  I lost two followers after I posted my Zombies VS. Unicorns review, and I’m pretty sure it was because of my possibly offensive joke about “killer unicorn Jesus” (it makes more sense in context), so obviously this has been a problem in the past.  I have nothing against people who are religious, unless their religion makes them homophobic, sexist, or racist.  I’m never trying to be offensive, I just write what I think, or write things that make me laugh.  Sometimes the things that make me laugh are jokes about killer unicorn Jesus, and I still think that’s great.  Anyway, this is just a warning, or possibly an apology in advance, because I may end up being offensive, and if you are easily offended and religious you really should not read this review.  

Now I will actually get into the review.  

I can’t stand thrillers that end up being religious.  This is the third book I’ve read in the last two years that was supposed to be creepy and ended up being about Jesus.  You never see a religious contemporary novel that seems like a normal religious contemporary and then ends with a group of proudly gay dinosaurs befriending the protagonist and teaching them about evolution!  Even though, now that I say that, I really want to read that book.  If anyone reading this wants to write it, please do.  I need it.  

I’m sure there are some times when religion in a horror story or video game makes sense.  In the Outlast games there’s some religion, and it’s fine.  I don’t even know how there would be any plot in the second Outlast game if there wasn’t religion.  I would make some kind of comment on the first game but I don’t remember it that well, so I don’t want to say something that may end up being wrong.  But, in these games, it’s entirely necessary to have religion, and it’s not forcing the religion on you.  In the religious horror I’ve read, it feels more like it’s forcing the religion on you to get another convert than to add to the plot.  If the author is religious that’s fine.  I don’t care.  I just don’t get why they feel the need to ruin a perfectly good thriller by making it be a “meaningful” lesson about God.  I put the word “meaningful” in quotes because, even though the author may see it as a meaningful lesson, I do not.  Why ruin a book that could actually be scary?  They make these books seem like thrillers, when in reality they feel like the opposite.  This is false advertising.  I would not choose to spend my money on a book like this, and yet I’ve owned three of them.  If they had been advertised as what they actually are, thrillers for Jesus, I never would have bought them and I would have been able to spend my money on something I would have enjoyed much more.  

Also, two out of the three books like this that I read have endings where the characters barely fight back against the killer attacking them, and, instead, rely on their faith in God to save them.  In this specific book, Sig literally gave the creepy man who was trying to kill them a gun because he was pretty sure that the bullets this guy had for the gun would make it explode, only damaging his hand.  He does this because he didn’t think that his mother would have wanted him to be a killer.  If I was in a situation where someone was trying to kill my sister and me, I wouldn’t really think about what my mom would think of anything I did.  (To be fair, Sig is a younger sibling while I’m an overprotective older sister, so our decisions are going to be entirely different, but still.)  Even if I didn’t have a little sister to protect, I don’t think I’d blindly rely on my faith in anything to save me.  Of course, it’s easy for me to say that I wouldn’t rely on my faith in anything because I don’t believe in anything divine, but still.  In these books, it seems like religion keeps them from actually doing things, and (remember when I said I might be offensive?) it kind of seems like they almost give up, deciding that whatever happens happens-God will see them through.  In these books, it also seems like the characters have ways they could fight back, but they don’t, instead choosing to blindly rely on faith.  I don’t do religion, so I don’t know, but if you were someone who believed that everything happens because God wants it to, wouldn’t you think that you were being given that opportunity to defend yourself because God wanted you to?  I could be wrong here since I’m not a god myself nor do I believe in any, I still find it weird.  

I could probably go on for several more pages about why I don’t like religion in horror, but I’m now on page four, and I don’t want my review to get tedious.  

I feel like some parts of the book drag on longer than necessary.  Towards the middle, it got a little boring, and I didn’t think that the amount of backstory was entirely necessary.  Maybe the author was trying to drag out some parts to add length?  Because the book is already short (my copy is only two-hundred-six pages long) maybe the author wanted it to be longer?  I don’t know.  The fact that some of it got boring and repetitive didn’t keep me from finishing it in an afternoon, it just made it so that I had to force myself to finish it.  

Some of the book seemed like it was trying to sound profound and deep, even when it wasn’t.  I think there was more of this in the first quarter of the book, but it went on through the whole thing.  Maybe some people like things that try to be deep, but this has always irritated me.  

My last complaint is that it wasn’t scary.  At all.  If it had freaked me out I would have been a little bit forgiving of it being religious.  Not that forgiving, but at least I would have felt freaked out.  Maybe the whole point of the book was to make me feel comforted that Jesus is my salvation, but since that isn’t my faith, I just feel irritated.  Like if you thought you got a really good cupcake cookbook, but it ended up talking about how you need to exercise instead.  I’m trying not to read any horror over the summer because I’m saving all the horror I own to read in September and October (I have big plans for October), and this was going to be the one thriller I let myself read.  And then it ended up being disappointing.  I don’t know of enough horror that I want to read to read another thriller over the summer and still have enough for my October plans, so my one summer thriller is a disappointment.  Sigh.  

One star.  

A Review of Panic by Lauren Oliver

Some spoilers, probably.  

 

Do you ever find a book on your shelf that you have no memory of ever buying or receiving?  It’s nothing like anything you would ever buy, and it’s nothing like anything anyone would ever give you-but there it is.  

Yeah.  I have no idea when I got this or how I got this, and, as far as I know, this just materialized on my shelf sometime in the last couple months.  But why not read the random book that possibly materialized?  

Whenever I started reading this book, several people commented to me that it seemed like it would be similar to The Hunger Games.  When I looked it up online several people said the same thing, so I kind of went into this thinking it would be kind of like The Hunger Games.  It ended up being nothing like The Hunger Games, which I’m actually really happy about because I didn’t like The Hunger Games.  I did end up not really liking Panic either, but not because of any similarity to any other book.  

I’m not going to go into detail about what makes the two books different, because one, they pretty much have no similarities, and two, I’m trying to not be too spoilery.  

I found this book similar to Rooms, which is the only other book I’ve read from this author.  The characters in both books seem very similar as far as personality goes, and in both books all of the parents are horrible.  Also, it seems like what separates this author’s young adult books and her adult books is the amount of sex and drinking.  Obviously there’s more to adulthood than just sex and drinking.  You also have to pay taxes and maintain your lawn.  

Obviously not all parents are going to be amazing parents, but not all parents are neglectful drug addicts.  This was such a big part of both books that I kind of wonder if the author is trying to work through something.  If that’s the case, I totally get it.  I went through a period of writing songs that were literally the same song with a different chord progression.  I didn’t try to make it about the same thing, but it’s something I thought about a lot, and, whether I wanted to or not, I ended up writing about it.  This period lasted about a year and a half, and I’ve only recently stopped writing the same song repeatedly.  If the author is working through something, then I take back any criticism of this, because I get it.  However, if this is the author trying to be relatable for the teens, I don’t like it.  I see many things going around tumblr and instagram, and pretty much every other place on the internet, about how people hate their parents.  Like I said before, not every parent is going to be flawless, but not every parent is horrible.  There are plenty of teenagers who get along with their parents.  Most, if not all, of the parents in this book were horrible.  That’s just not realistic.  Also, I’m so sick of reading about people hating their parents.  I don’t hate my parents.  I don’t always agree with them on everything, but no one always agrees with everything another person says.  

I also just didn’t relate to any of the characters, and they weren’t written in a way that made them feel real so you could connect to them.  (I’m going to end up comparing the way every character in a young adult book is written to the characters from Brenna Yovanoff’s books, so I have kind of unrealistically high standards, but whatever.)  A lot of the characters seemed like characters I’ve read about in other young adult books.  They were unoriginal and boring.  The characters that I thought were the most unoriginal were Bishop and Nat.  They just seemed like the stereotypical side characters that you could see in any young adult book.  

It’s said in the book that Carp is a town where everyone knows about everything, so why did it take years for the police to figure out about and try to stop Panic?  You’d think that if everyone knew everything, they would’ve known much sooner.  You’d also think that, since it injures people, they’d have figured out about it sooner.  This just doesn’t seem realistic.  

I did like that Heather was 5’11 with wide shoulders.  In a previous blog post, I said that I wanted to read a book with a female character who was six feet tall instead of five feet or shorter, and this does have a taller female character.  What I didn’t like about Heather being tall is that she seems to hate any girl shorter than her.  I totally understand that being taller than the people around you can make you insecure, but hating people because they’re shorter or because they have narrower shoulders than you is ridiculous.  I know that this is something that people do, but it’s just irritating.  Height doesn’t matter and it shouldn’t be a basis for hatred either way.  

I kind of expected this to be less of a contemporary novel, but it still seemed very contemporary, especially with all of the family drama that was happening through the entire book.  There’s nothing wrong with contemporaries, and I know that they’re very popular, but I’ve never liked them, so this book just ended up not working for me.  

I’m going to stop my review here, because if you do plan to read this book I would suggest going into it without knowing that much about it.  

I’m giving this book two out of five stars, because I didn’t really like it, and I probably won’t keep my copy, but I did stay up an hour and a half later than I normally do just so I could finish it.  

Flawless (Pretty Little Liars #2) by Sara Shepard

Even though I kept my review for the first book in this series fairly spoiler free, the rest of the reviews will probably have a least a few spoilers, so read with caution.  

 

Before I get into what I did and didn’t like about this book, I have two things to tell you.  

The first thing has nothing to do with the actual story but kind of has to do with the book, and I’m emotionally scarred so you have to be too.  I bought this book used.  I buy most of my books used.  I rarely find anything in the books I buy, and if I do find something, chances are it’s a bookmark.  I’ve never found anything really memorable in a used book.  Until now.  I was about a hundred pages from the end of the when I flipped the page and more than ten very long, curly, black hairs fell out of the book.  My hair is short, straight, and ginger.  I don’t even live with anyone who has hair similar to this.  A stranger’s hairs seemed to be tucked into the book.  Obviously this doesn’t change my rating of the book, I just thought it was particularly horrible.  

The second thing has more to do with the actually story.  I bought the first four books of this series in a box set, and I assumed that this box set had the books in order.  Every other book box set I’ve ever bought-even the used ones-has had all the books in order, and I didn’t think to check this one.  So I picked up the second book in the box.  

I was a little confused that there seemed to be things that happened that I hadn’t read about, but I thought that maybe this was just a series where a lot of things happened in between books, and maybe all of the missing details would be filled in through backstory!  I got fifty pages into it before I realized that it was the third book and not the second.  

I am not proud of this, but it is funny.  

After I actually started reading the right book it made a lot more sense.  

There is far too much exposition in this book.  This series is really long, so if the author decided to remind the readers of obscure details that happened several books back, that would make sense.  That would be helpful because chances are people won’t remember the obscure little details from five or ten books back.  But this was the second book.  There were pages of exposition.  Some of it was just repeating the exposition from the first book.  She didn’t just limit herself to small details that were very briefly mentioned that people probably forgot, the author retold entire scenes that were very prominent and long in the first book.  

I think this is why it took me so long to realize that I was reading the third book.  Like I said before, I thought that this was just one of those series where each book takes place weeks or months after the book before it.  People had broken up, and suddenly a certain character had committed suicide, but there was so much exposition that I thought this must have been the first it was mentioned.  It’s kind of irritating to read through all of it, because I remember how Hannah first became bulimic.  It’s a pretty big plot point.  I’m not just going to forget it.  Retelling the entire thing just bogs down the story.  In this book there was already so much stuff about The Jenna Thing, you don’t have to throw in huge parts of the first book.  

I don’t even know if all of this exposition would be necessary in the later books.  Obviously, like I said before, obscure details, but if the later books are trying to finish the story, and also remind you of the last ten books, how’s it going to read?  I read ten books between reading the first and second book, and I didn’t forget things.  I don’t know.  At this rate, it seems like the last book will be all exposition.

I know that this complaint is fairly minor compared to some of the other things I’ve complained about in reviews, but, like my amp/bassist rant in my review of The Rules, this is a me thing, and I can’t not bring it up.  

Spencer says that Wren likes the same indie bands that she does.  The only band they mentioned both liking was Radiohead.  Radiohead isn’t an indie band.  This book came out the same year as In Rainbows.  Radiohead wasn’t even slightly an indie band in 2007.  Perhaps they could be referring to a different band as their indie band, one that they didn’t mention before, but the author mentions quite a few different musical artists through this book, so you’d think if Spencer and Wren both liked another band she would have mentioned it.  

Also, instead of mentioning the brand of clothes that everyone wears, why not mention all the bands they like?  You can learn a lot more about someone by knowing what bands they listen to than you would if you knew what designer made their shoes.  

Remember how I said, in my review of the first book in this series, that I wanted there to be less brand names as things got more serious?  Things obviously haven’t gotten too serious yet, but they’re getting worse, and there are still a lot of brand names.  I’m only on book two, so there’s still a long way to go, I was just hoping maybe there would be a little bit of a difference.  

Since I picked up the third book instead of the second, I did accidentally read some serious spoilers.  I wouldn’t say that they ruined this book, but it did take a lot of the shock out of some of the things that happened.  Like Toby’s suicide.  I wasn’t surprised, but I had read the spoilers.  I probably would have been if I hadn’t seen the spoilers.  I’ve been watching the tv series on Netflix, and Toby seems to survive a lot longer there.  

I can’t remember if I mentioned in my last review, but I don’t think I’m really in the target audience for this book.  I mainly read YA books, and I’ve been getting more into mysteries and thrillers lately, so I’m not entirely out of the target audience, but I’ve said before that I’m nothing like these characters, and I just don’t think I’m really in the target audience.  

I considered doing a semi-ironic playlist for this, but I couldn’t think of anything to put on it.  

But I won’t leave you entirely without music.  

While I was reading this, I had three lines from the chorus of the Blur song “There’s No Other Way” stuck in my head on a loop for about four hours.  I wouldn’t recommend doing that purposefully, but it’s accurate for my experience of reading the book.  

I’m giving this book two out of three stars.  Because I intend to finish the series, I just don’t like it that much.  

About rereading books/a kind of review of The Poison Eaters/general thoughts on things and people changing

This isn’t really a review, and it’s not really a discussion.  I don’t have any specific plans for what I’m going to say or how I’m going to say it, I’m just going to write, and we’ll see where it goes.  Obviously, this will be edited, and you’re not just going to get five pages of rambling stream of consciousness, I’m just saying that I can’t promise anything with this piece of writing.  

 

I read this book for the first time when I was thirteen.  At that time, I had just finished trying to be preppy and happy, and whatever else I thought people wanted me to be.  I was really angry about most things, as many thirteen year olds are, and my way of expressing my rage was to become emo.  It probably looked ridiculous with my ginger hair, but everyone makes weird fashion choices at some point in their life.  

Anyway, at thirteen I hated most things.  (I considered saying that I disliked most things, but I think it’s more accurate to say hated.  I’m still cynical and pessimistic, I was just far more vocal about it back then.)  The only thing I didn’t hate-other than My Chemical Romance and my long suffering cat-were Holly Black’s books.  

These characters were everything I wanted to be.  None of them liked their parents, or their town, or most of the people they hung out with, either.  They were all dark, rebellious, and snarky.  I could relate to them more than I could relate to most of my friends, at the time, and I would have rather hung out with these fictional characters than with anyone I knew.  Which, thinking back on it, is pretty unfair to all of my friends.  Sure, some of the people I liked when I was younger were horrible, but most of them were fine, I guess that’s thirteen for you.  

I’m going to move on before this becomes several pages of me cringing at younger me.  

To say that I loved this book would have been an understatement.  This book was everything to me.  I used to not even put it on my bookshelf-instead keeping it beside my bed, so I could reread parts of it whenever I felt like it.  If I had reviewed this book back then, it would have had five stars, and the review would have been twelve pages of fangirling.  

But not anymore.  

Now, even though I’m not cheerful and preppy, I’m not nearly as horrible as I was back then.  I’m still alternative, I’m just grunge instead of emo.  I also don’t listen to emo music unless I’m feeling particularly nostalgic.  The books that live beside my bed aren’t by Holly Black, they’re by Ray Bradbury and Douglas Adams.  As I’m writing this, I’m not listening to Fall Out Boy, I’m listening to a playlist of Blur, Radiohead, Joy Division, and Placebo.  Thirteen year old me would see me now as an insufferable hipster, and I’m not upset about that.  

I’m a completely different person than I was when I was thirteen.  But I didn’t think that it would change the way I thought about this book.  This book obviously meant everything to me for a reason, why wouldn’t it mean everything to me now?  

Sigh.  

I regret rereading this book.  I don’t think I can say that I regret reading any other book.  I didn’t like reading Twilight, but I don’t regret it.  A Clockwork Orange made me uncomfortable, and I don’t think I would have missed out on anything if I hadn’t read it, but I don’t know if I would use the word regret.  

I, without a doubt, regret rereading this.  If I hadn’t reread this, I would remember it forever as the book that I love, and a book that I read until it literally started falling apart.  Now I remember it as being kind of disappointing.  

It wasn’t too bad until I read the two stories that used to be my favorites.  I had remembered the one as having beautiful, yet subtle, world building.  In my mind, the story sounded like how I want my instagram to look.  I remembered it as being a beautiful, dark, grungy world, but it wasn’t.  I remember all of the stories having an atmosphere similar to this.  It’s just this story in particular that I remembered having the most, or the best, worldbuilding.  A lot of the reason I wanted to reread that story in particular was because I wanted to be immersed in that beautiful world building.  I guess it’s appropriate that, in my mind, I described it as subtle, because there wasn’t any.  I had a very active imagination, and apparently I had just imagined all the atmosphere.  Now I realize that much of the reason I loved this story was because of what I made it and not what it really was.  

The reason I liked the other short story was because I found the main character to be very relatable.  Now, looking back at it, I see exactly why I related to that character, and exactly why I liked him, but now there’s only one way that I’m like him, and the rest of everything that he does irritates me.  Not liking this story wasn’t as upsetting as not liking the other one, but it was still upsetting.  

I honestly considered putting the book down after I reread my two old favorites.  In the end, I decided to keep going because I had nothing left to ruin.  

Even though while rereading this I didn’t like it, I can’t fairly say that it’s a bad book.  If you’re the emo of your family, or you like dark urban fantasy, give this a try.  They aren’t as bad as I’ve made them out to be.  It’s just that I’ve stopped being so critical of the world around me, like the characters in the book are, so I don’t relate to them so much.  Maybe this is about growing up.  Maybe this is about changing points of view.  Maybe this is about seeing my place in the world and my family more clearly.  Maybe it’s about all of that.  

Given the amount of times that I’ve read this book, I think I can say that it’s probably done at least a little bit to make me the person I am today.  I still plan on keeping this book, I just won’t reread it ever again, and I probably won’t reread any of her other books that I loved.  

I don’t know what I would give this as far as a star rating goes.  I would have given it all the stars when I first read it, but now I would probably give it a low rating.  I don’t know.  It’s not bad if this is the kind of thing that you’re into, or if you’re the family emo, but if you’re more like me now, or if dark fantasy isn’t your thing, it’s probably not your cup of tea.  

Places No One Knows playlist

“Popular” – Nada Surf

I thought that the title of one of Marshall’s chapters was a reference to the title of the album this song is from.  Also, after the Radiohead reference in Paper Valentine, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see a Nada Surf reference in one of her books.  I also thinks that this song could work for several characters, depending on how you look at the song and the characters.  

 

“Twin Size Mattress” – The Front Bottoms

It’s mentioned that Marshall has a twin size mattress.  And I think this fits the mood of most of his chapters.  

 

“Parklife” – Blur

I think this fits more with the first half of the book than the second, but maybe it could work for Waverly’s friend group?  

 

“Cute Without the “E” (Cut From the Team)” – Taking Back Sunday

Autumn was emo, and this is a classic emo song.  It would be wrong of me to make a playlist for this book without including some emo music.  

 

“The Artist In The Ambulance” – Thrice

I don’t listen to ninety percent of the emo music I used to listen to; however, this is a song that I still listen to occasionally.  It’s not my favorite song in the world, but this is much more bearable than most of what I used to listen to.  

 

“Dance, Dance” – Fall Out Boy

There was a dance in the book, which Autumn helped with.  And this is another classic emo song.  

 

“Passing Through A Screen Door” – The Wonder Years

Another emo song, but I think it could be relatable for Marshall or Waverly.  

 

“Coffee and TV” – Blur

This song has themes of feeling like you don’t fit in and trying to find your place in the world.  I think all the characters could relate to this in some way.  

 

I considered putting in a song by Mindless Self Indulgence, since they were specifically mentioned in the book, but I only know one of their songs, and it’s entirely the wrong mood for this book.  Also, The Offspring is specifically mentioned in that part, too, but I would rather delete my blog than ever recommend a song by them.  

A review of Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff

Spoilers.  

 

Since I always make good decisions, I thought it would be a good idea to not take notes for this book while reading it.  Obviously I would remember everything I wanted to say.  Obviously the review wouldn’t suffer at all without me already having a very detailed outline.  Sigh.  So, point taken.  Notes next time.  Sorry dear readers.  

Marshall seems a lot like Finny from Paper Valentine.  Tall, wide shoulders, dark hair (even though Finny’s hair was bleached, it was naturally dark).  No one really liked them.  They’ve had hard lives, but really, they have a hearts of gold, and they’re incredibly sweet.  The fact that they’re very similar doesn’t make them dislikable-I liked both of them.  For some reason, I prefered Finny, but, if you asked, I couldn’t give you any specific reasons.  Anyway, these characters both have pretty similar personalities and appearances.  

It’s not just Finny and Marshall who are like this, though.  A lot of love interests seem to be tall with dark features and wide shoulders.  I’m not saying that guys who look like that are unnattractive.  Guys who look like that are fine.  But, in books, there are lots of tall, attractive, dark haired guys with wide shoulders.  It gets a little tiring to read about basically the same guy repeatedly.  I don’t have any specific problems with Finny or Marshall, I just think they’re both a little cliched.  Finny is probably slightly less cliched, in my opinion, which may be why I like him more, but I could just think that because I read Paper Valentine first.  

Even though I did like Marshall, I don’t think his relationship with Waverly will work out.  I do think that they’re a cute couple, but there are many couples who are cute in high school who don’t work out.  They think they’re going to be together forever, but in the end they realize that they aren’t as perfect as they thought they would be.  I just feel like their personalities are too different, and they didn’t even get to know each other very well before they started dating.  Maybe it would work out.  Maybe I have no idea what I’m talking about.  Whenever I read books about a cute couple, I want to be able to think of them being together forever (which is weird for the cynical pessimist that I am, but whatever), and with this book I just couldn’t see their relationship working out.  I think it would be a nice relationship for a few months.  Maybe it would be a nice relationship until the end of highschool, or until the middle of college, but not forever.  

One of the things that I really liked about the book is that Autumn was a realistic, not at all stereotyped, emo character.  Most of the emo characters I’ve read about have been stereotypical emos who probably cry themselves to sleep every night, sulk constantly, and probably write My Chemical Romance lyrics on their converse because *aesthetic*.  Autumn wasn’t like that at all.  She was actually a lot like how I was when I was emo, and I’ve never come across an emo character who was the kind of emo I was.  It was really cool to actually see an accurate, relatable emo girl.  I don’t even mind that she became kind of preppy in the end, because that’s not unrealistic.  Despite what everyone says when they’re emo, being emo is normally something you grow out of.  Then you’ll either become preppy (again), or you’ll become grunge instead, and then you’ll obsessively play Radiohead on the bass, like me.  Autumn was just written so perfectly.  I loved her.  The way she talked and acted was so real and I JUST CAN’T.  I LOVE HER.  

I like that there were occasionally chapters from Marshall’s perspective in addition to the chapters from Waverly’s perspective.  You get so much more out of their middle of the night interactions with both perspectives than you would if it was just one person telling the story.  I am slightly disappointed that Marshall’s chapter called “High, Low” wasn’t a reference to the Nada Surf album High/Low, but that’s just me, and I’m not complaining that it wasn’t a reference.  

I felt like not a lot of stuff happened in this book.  Waverly starts dating Marshall; Waverly stops hanging out with Meribeth and kind of becomes her own person.  All of the characters seem to grow as people, but that can’t be the only thing that happens in the book.  I did love this book, and I would recommend it, but in the end I was left wanting more.  I don’t know how I would suggest changing it to make more happen, because things do happen, it’s just that not that many things happen.  Even though I’m kind of complaining about this, I don’t think there was another way this could have been written.  Maybe this book is more about the characters developing as people instead of doing things.  Obviously, emotion and character development are very important things, and a novel without any emotion would be miserable to read, but I was still left wanting.  

Even though I didn’t dislike Waverly, she really reminded me of someone I used to be good friends with.  Now that person irritates me, so whenever Waverly was being especially like that person, I couldn’t help but find her annoying.  Mostly, she was a really well-written, interesting character, and, like I said before, all of the characters grow as people through the novel, so it’s really interesting to see her become a better person.  If you didn’t used to know someone who was like Waverly, you probably won’t find her at all irritating.  

This book wasn’t perfect, but I did really like it so I’m giving it five stars.  In the end, I think I like books with more action to go along with the character development.  A nice balance between action, character development, and world building makes for the best book.  

A Review of Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard

Last night, I was reading Pretty Little Liars.  I was sitting in my bedroom that smelled like vanilla because that’s the kind of perfume I wear.  Literally everything I own smells like vanilla.  In the distance, I can hear a car alarm.  I wish that whoever was stealing that car would just steal it faster.  Oh my god.  I’m trying to read a book.  You’re ruining my aesthetic.  Anyway.  Picture the scene:  I’m listening to Blur, wearing pajamas, and my cat is sleeping on the pillows on my bed.  There’s a little bit of eyeliner smeared under my eye, and I’m tapping my foot to the beat of “Beetlebum”.  I set down the book for a minute to write this semi-ironic mockery of a page from chapter thirteen because I think it might make a good opening for my review.  

I don’t know how I feel about this book.  Part of my brain says that since I binge watched most of the first season of the show on Netflix, and, if I had the time, I would have read this book in a sitting, I liked it.  But the other part of my brain says that since I was embarrassed to be seen reading it in public, I didn’t like it.  

Honestly, part of me is still embarrassed to admit that I’ve read this, yet here we are.  

Let’s talk about characters first.  I couldn’t relate to any of them, but I honestly didn’t expect to relate to any of them, so this isn’t a negative point, exactly.  It’s not a positive point, either, but since I went into this expecting to not relate, it doesn’t take anything away from the book.  

That said, I still didn’t really like the characters.  All of them are pretty much the opposite of anything that I am.  Even though I said that I don’t care that I don’t relate to them-and I honestly do not care that I don’t relate to them-it goes beyond that.  I don’t even like them as people.  Hannah steals from the mall (seemingly frequently); Aria drinks underage and dates a teacher (more on that later); and Spencer kisses her sister’s boyfriend.  I didn’t mind Emily, but I didn’t love her, either.  

Aria’s relationship with Ezra really bothers me.  I know that the age difference between them isn’t huge, and in an older couple it wouldn’t be weird at all, but Ezra is in his twenties and Aria is still in high school.  This isn’t even legal.  Sure, you can find plenty of “Ezria” hate online, but you can find just as much, if not more, stuff about how this is true love, and a beautiful relationship.  I don’t think I ship it.  I’ve had problems in the past with relationships in books where one character is in their teens and the other in their twenties.  I’m not just going to let this one go because it’s a popular ship.  I’ve only read the first book, but from what I’ve seen from the commercials for the show, and from discussions on tumblr, it seems to be one of the main ships in the fandom.  I don’t know.  I just can’t get behind something like this.  When one person in a relationship is so much older than the other, it is too easy for them to take advantage of the younger person.  And, if not that, the older person’s personality could take over and the younger person could lose their identity.  There are times when it is good to have someone your own age to relate to.  When it comes to working out first serious relationships, this is one of those times.   

I noticed that there was a lot of product placement in this book.  The brand name of every piece of clothing was mentioned down to the specific color because nothing in this book can be left to the imagination.  But it went further than brand names.  In one part of the book, Hannah is looking for ice cream and there is literally this line:  “Her mom didn’t buy Ben and Jerry’s, so Tofutti Cutie 50-percent-less sugar faux ice-cream sandwiches would have to do.”  I feel like I just sat through an ad.  I feel like the author should have added “#not-sponsored” after that line.  Unless it was sponsored and, if it was, what even.  There were so many other ways that the author could have phrased that.  Maybe, “Her mom didn’t buy good ice cream, so the hippy vegan ice cream would have to do.”  Or something along those lines.  That line isn’t flawless, but you get what I mean.  

There’s only one situation where I would be okay with this.  If, as the series went on, and things got darker (because from what I’ve seen from commercials and tumblr things get really serious later in the series), the brand names would be mentioned less and less, until there weren’t any.  Almost like in the beginning of the series the characters were more concerned with brand names and fashion than anything else, and, later in the series, they became less concerned with it.  Or maybe they even stopped being concerned with it at all because they had much more important things to think about.  It would show character development.  I would actually be really happy if it ended up being that way.  Fingers crossed, at least they would have some redeeming qualities.  

This book reads like it’s being written by a preppy teenage girl.  Which was probably the goal, since it’s about a group of preppy teenage girls, but it was kind of weird to read.  Some of the ways things are worded makes them sound so vapid and irritating.  This isn’t my biggest complaint.  I know that the author probably did this purposefully, and even if she didn’t, it makes sense.  It just make me want to rip my hair out.

While I was reading the book I thought the author was misusing the phrase “hook-up”.  The characters seem to use it to mean sleeping with someone OR just making out with them.  There’s a huge difference between those two things.  Also, in every other book I’ve read, hook-up has meant only one thing.  According to the internets, hook-up can mean just making out with someone, but I’ve literally never heard it in this context before and honestly didn’t even know that it could be used in this context.  I guess it’s not wrong.   It’s just being used in a way I’m not used to, but I actually had to look it up to figure out how it was being used.  

I’m kind of worried about this series.  According to wikipedia, it seems like there are sixteen books in the series.  I don’t know how the author is going to keep this interesting for sixteen entire books.  From what I’ve seen, a lot of different people are or could be “A”, and there’s a lot of drama, but this has to go on for sixteen books.  How repetitive is this going to get?  I’m really hoping that this isn’t one of those series where each book has roughly the same plot, just different people doing the same things.  I’m kind of worried that this is going to end up being one of those series.  

On a kind of fangirly side note, I really liked that Spencer liked Radiohead.  I know it’s a very small part of the book, and it wasn’t a huge plot point, but it’s Radiohead, so it’s worth mentioning.

I ended up giving this book three stars on Goodreads, because this is my second time reading it, and I intend to finish reading the series.  I kind of hate myself for giving it this rating, but it’s honest and fair, so three stars.  

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