Tag: three star review

REVIEW: Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly

REVIEW: Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly

Stepsister is a brilliant fairytale continuation with a lackluster ending (and far too many chapters!). I wrongly assumed that Stepsister was going to be a fairytale retelling of Cinderella from the point of view of one of the ugly stepsisters. Instead it’s a continuation of 

REVIEW: Breathless by Jennifer Niven

REVIEW: Breathless by Jennifer Niven

First things first, I’d like to say a huge thank you to Penguin for accepting my request to read Breathless via NetGalley. Breathless was my first Jennifer Niven read, and it didn’t live up to the hype. Following a girl called Claude as her parents 

REVIEW: Love & Olives by Jenna Evans Welch

REVIEW: Love & Olives by Jenna Evans Welch

I was so excited when Love & Olives popped up as one of the Riveted Lit Free Reads in December. Love & Luck is still one of my favourite YA contemporaries of all time, and I thought Love & Olives was sure to impress me just as much.

Unfortunately, I found Jenna Evans Welch’s third novel to be a bit of a struggle to get through.

Love & Olives follows a girl called Olive – sorry, Liv – who is looking forward to going away for the summer with her boyfriend before he goes to college. Her plans get quickly rearranged, though, when a postcard from her dad arrives out of the blue inviting her to spend the summer in Greece with him.

Her dad, who she hasn’t seen in almost ten years.

When Liv arrives in Greece, she is nervous about being reunited with her father and can’t imagine what it’s going to be like. She definitely doesn’t imagine being met by his (sidekick? cameraman? friend?) Theo, who is almost as gorgeous as Santorini.

It isn’t long before Liv discovers why her dad has invited her to Greece – and why Theo keeps shoving his camera in her face. They’ve been approached by National Geographic to film a documentary about the lost city of Atlantis, her dad’s lifelong obsession… And the reason that he abandoned Liv to return to Greece in the first place.

Will Liv be able to put her conflicting feelings about Atlantis behind her to help her dad make his documentary, or is this going to be the worst summer holiday ever?

My main issue with Love & Olives was that it bored me. The beautiful, sunny location of Santorini is a decadent setting, and the way that Jenna Evans Welch describes it makes me want to visit someday in the future, but it’s the kind of setting where characters are lazing around enjoying the sun and it made me feel restless.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a fair amount happening in this book… It’s just that when you get to the end of it and realise you’ve read 500 pages, you wonder how such a little amount of action stretched to such a length.

I was hooked at the beginning. I enjoyed meeting Liv, discovering why she was so against the postcards arriving from her dad and beginning to discover the list of things that he left behind. However, when she actually reunited with her dad my interest waned, and it didn’t come back in to shore.

The reason I loved Love & Luck so much was because I didn’t feel bored for a second. In my review for that book I mentioned that the story was pushed along ‘incredibly quickly’, and that was a huge selling point. That was the way things felt at the beginning of Love & Olives too, but then the pace meandered along and – sadly – that isn’t the kind of contemporary novel I enjoy.

I might have felt differently if I’d picked this up in the summer months, or had been able to read it on a beach somewhere exotic, but unfortunately I was so excited about this book that I didn’t think the cold weather would dampen my enjoyment of it. It was fun to learn more about the Greek islands and the myth of Atlantis, but Liv and Theo are not a couple who are going to stick in my mind as vibrantly as Addie and Rowan do.

If you enjoy slow-paced contemporary novels with luxurious settings, I’d highly recommend checking this one out. However, if you like reading contemporaries that you can fly through very quickly, I’d suggest trying Love & Luck instead. I still gave Love & Olives three stars because it wasn’t a bad book and I do really like Jenna Evans Welch’s writing, but it didn’t really do anything for me and I had no strong feelings towards either the characters or the plot.

At least I still have Love & Gelato to pick up at some point in the future. Fingers crossed that will impress me more than the last books in this series of companion novels!

Thank you for reading,

Alyce

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REVIEW: Mossbelly Macfearsome and the Goblin Army by Alex Gardiner

REVIEW: Mossbelly Macfearsome and the Goblin Army by Alex Gardiner

I read the first book in the Mossbelly Macfearsome series two years ago, and I really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I don’t really have all that much to say about Mossbelly Macfearsome and the Goblin Army. Although Mossbelly Macfearsome and the Dwarves of Doom seemed clunky 

BLOGTOBER Day 31: #10in20 review challenge #2

For today’s Blogtober post, I’ve decided to challenge myself to another round of #10in20. In this challenge, you write 10 books in 20 minutes, meaning you have only two minutes to write as much as you can about each book you review. This was a 

BLOGTOBER Day 25: Review: It by Stephen King

BLOGTOBER Day 25: Review: It by Stephen King

It’s hard to review a book like Stephen King’s It, because there is nothing I can possibly say about it which hasn’t been said before. Despite that, I thought I’d share my thoughts on this tome, because I’ve spent the past three weeks gradually clawing my way through it.

It starts off extremely strongly. We meet Georgie Denbrough – the iconic little boy in the yellow rainslicker – as he chases his paper boat down the flooded street. The boat disappears in a drain, and when Georgie goes to investigate he discovers a clown lurking down there… A clown called Pennywise which quickly grabs hold of Georgie, ripping his arm off and killing him.

Thus begins another cycle of terror in the town of Derry, Maine. Every 27 years bad things start happening again: kids are abducted and murdered, good-natured folk suddenly flip into psychopaths while bystanders turn the other cheek and refuse to acknowledge the truth of what’s going on. The only ones able to see what’s happening are Georgie’s brother Bill and his friends in the Losers’ Club, who have all come face-to-face with It and have managed to escape with their lives. They know that It is behind all of the badness in Derry, so they take it upon themselves to fix Derry’s problem.

However, they don’t quite finish the job, so 27 years later each member of the Losers’ Club receives a phone call from fellow member and librarian Mike Hanlon, summoning them home to defeat It once and for all.

The way that Stephen King crafts this story is impeccable. Jumping from 1958 to 1985, we meet each of the members of the Losers’ Club as adults, following them back to Derry, where we eventually get told the story of what happened when they were younger. As well as that, each of the parts of the story is broken up by an interlude narrated by Mike Hanlon, during which he shares more stories from the horrible history of Derry.

Weaving multiple stories together like that is so clever and it helps propel the plot: for a book which is so long the story moves quickly, even though it does feel repetitive at times.

That’s my main problem with It – it is repetitive, at times verging on formulaic. There are multiple moments throughout when each member of the Losers’ Club will share their experience with It, so you’ll get a similar scary story from Bill, Eddie, Richie, Ben, Mike, Stan and Beverly. By the time you get halfway through the lineup you just think, “I get it, It’s scary. Can we move on now?!”. It works brilliantly at the beginning of the novel when the Losers are adults who haven’t seen each other in years and who are leading vastly different lives. However, when they’re sat around as children sharing stories, the determination to give them each their own viewpoint grows grating (although it does make it hard not to care for each of these kids).

I cared deeply about all of the Losers: overweight Ben, asthmatic Eddie, Stuttering Bill, short-sighted Richie, Jewish Stan, tomboyish Beverly and Mike, the only Black boy in town. They all have their own trials and tribulations which makes them all strong characters, and it’s impossible to choose a favourite throughout the story.

However, the focal point of the story isn’t any of the Losers OR Pennywise the clown, it’s Derry. Stephen King takes pains to craft every single centimetre of Derry, and it’s so vibrantly realistic that I found myself unable to believe it when I discovered that Derry is completely fictional. The way he writes the streets, the canal and the park, you would genuinely believe this is a place he walks through every single day of his life.

In fact, I think the little vignettes of Derry – the Kitchener Ironworks explosion, the murder of Adrian Mellon after the town fair, the fire at the Black Spot – are the most interesting parts of the story. I flew through each of these sections, unable to put the book down during any of Mike Hanlon’s interludes, and then struggled to motivate myself to pick up the book during the later parts.

Part of this is due to the repetitive nature of the story, but part of it is because towards the end of the book it does get hard to keep track of what is happening when. Instead of switching from the present to the past towards the start of the chapter, King begins flipping back and forth hectically, and I found myself getting totally lost. It did detract from my enjoyment of the novel a little bit: he takes his time crafting 90% of the book and then seems to rush the ending, which seems like a waste!

There are a few plot holes which annoyed me, but it makes sense that there would be minor oversights in a novel of this size. I’m a picky reader so it was hard to look past those issues, but despite them I was still torn between a 3 and a 4 star for this book because it is impressive. I wasn’t a huge fan of the ending – that scene in particular seemed unnecessary and didn’t contribute to the plot – but I’m glad I’ve finally read It and can give the film adaptations a go.

Have you read It? If so, what did you think of it?

See you tomorrow,

Alyce

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BLOGTOBER Day 15: Review: Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

BLOGTOBER Day 15: Review: Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

Establishing a centuries-old conflict between the two countries of Kalyazin and Tranavia, Wicked Saints is a dual perspective novel following a Kalyazi cleric and the Tranavian prince. When we meet Nadya she’s in the cellar of the monastery where she lives, peeling potatoes as a 

BLOGTOBER Day 3: TBR Jar Round #8

BLOGTOBER Day 3: TBR Jar Round #8

In September I did things a little bit differently because it was Bookoplathon (hosted by Becca and the Books). I pulled five books out of my TBR jar as normal, but ended up pulling another two books out of the jar throughout the month when 

Blog tour: The Mall by Megan McCafferty

Blog tour: The Mall by Megan McCafferty

Hi there, and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Megan McCafferty’s The Mall!

First things first I’d like to say a huge thank you to the folks over at Wednesday Books for allowing me to get involved in this blog tour. I’ve been working with them quite frequently this year and it has been a pleasure.

If you’ve been to one of my blog tour stops before you’ll know I always start by sharing the title and synopsis of the featured book before I share my thoughts on it, so let’s dive right in.

New York Times bestselling author Megan McCafferty returns to her roots with this YA coming of age story set in a New Jersey mall.

The year is 1991. Scrunchies, mixtapes and 90210 are like, totally fresh. Cassie Worthy is psyched to spend the summer after graduation working at the Parkway Center Mall. In six weeks, she and her boyfriend head off to college in NYC to fulfill The Plan: higher education and happily ever after.

But you know what they say about the best laid plans…

Set entirely in a classic “monument to consumerism,” the novel follows Cassie as she finds friendship, love, and ultimately herself, in the most unexpected of places. Megan McCafferty, beloved New York Times bestselling author of the Jessica Darling series, takes readers on an epic trip back in time to The Mall.

Going in I only really knew that The Mall was about, well, a mall, so I was pleasantly surprised to discover a tale of female empowerment, friendship and… Cabbage Patch Dolls?

Within a couple of chapters of this story Cassie’s Plan gets horrendously derailed when she is dumped by her boyfriend, Troy. Before she knows it she’s left her job at America’s Best Cookie to escape from him and has managed to find employment at Bellarosa, her ex-best friend’s family boutique.

Drea Bellarosa is a whirlwind, and she quickly gets Cassie tangled up in a legendary treasure hunt throughout the mall. Both believing that there’s a fortune to be had, the girls rely on their smarts and sexuality to coerce and con various other mall employees to cough up the clues concealed in their stores.

Meanwhile, Cassie seems to be adding a new name to the list of people she’s avoiding every single day. Will the girls be able to find the treasure before Cassie has to avoid the mall for the rest of her life?

While reading The Mall I felt simultaneously too young and too old to enjoy it properly, which is probably the most confusing feeling I’ve had while reading anything this year. Being born in the mid-90s means that although I understood most of the references in this novel (a few were lost in translation from US -> UK) I didn’t feel any overt sense of nostalgia towards them. It did start some pretty fun conversations between me and my partner, though: “Oh my god, do you remember when you could buy cassettes in shops?” “Did you ever watch the 90210 reboot?”. I think if I’d been a couple of years older this might have ended up being a new favourite, but as it was it just made me have a bit of an existential crisis at the fact that YA set in the 90s is now being bandied about as ‘historical’…

That being said, I had a pleasant time reading this. The pace was a bit slow at times and I got frustrated that the treasure hunt kept taking a backseat – I’m a sucker for a treasure hunt! – but I could understand why because Cassie was dealing with a LOT of stuff. Even though this story deals with a teen character going to work every day there is a distinct lack of mundanity.

I liked the developing relationship between Cassie and music store employee Sam Cooke – as a big music fan I always like it when characters bond over their music tastes – but the shining point of this story is the friendship between Drea and Cassie. On the surface they couldn’t be more different: Cassie is buttoned-up and serious while Drea is footloose and fancy free, but throughout the course of the novel we discover different sides of the two characters and they become very realistic. Just because you’re the firecracker daughter of a boutique owner it doesn’t mean you’re an airhead, and just because you’re a serious student it doesn’t mean you can’t live on the wild side (occasionally!).

I ended up giving The Mall a high three stars. As I said earlier, I do think it could have been a new favourite if I’d been a little bit older, so if you were born in the late 80s or very early 90s I’d definitely recommend picking this one up. On the other hand, it’s great for the teens of today: if you wish you’d been born in the era of Nirvana and Robin Sparkles is your favourite How I Met Your Mother character then you will adore this book.

The Mall is available now from Amazon.






Megan McCafferty writes fiction for tweens, teens and teens-at-heart of all ages. The author of several novels, she’s best known for Sloppy Firsts and several more books in the New York Times bestselling Jessica Darling series. Described in her first review as “Judy Blume meets Dorothy Parker” (Wall Street Journal), she’s been trying to live up to that high standard ever since.









I hope you enjoyed my stop on the blog tour for The Mall. See you again soon!

Alyce

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Review: The Damned (The Beautiful #2) by Renée Ahdieh

Review: The Damned (The Beautiful #2) by Renée Ahdieh

When The Beautiful was announced, everyone I heard talking about it said it was a duology. Alas, after finishing The Damned I have realised that that is not the case – in fact, it’s rumoured that there are another two books to come in The