There She Goes: After Alice by Gregory Maguire

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After Alice

By: Gregory Maguire

Released: October, 2015 by William Morrow

Length: 273

Rating: Two Stars

Acquired: BEA 2015

 

“The day is wound up and begins even before the last haunted dreams, the last of the fog, those spectral and evanescent residues, have faded away.”

 After Alice takes place in an alternate universe where Alice was followed down the rabbit hole. Ada had hoped to find her only friend to play with. What Ada sees instead as she spots Alice, is her falling through this strange hole. Curious, and maybe even worried for Alice, little Ada jumps in to save her. What Ada soon discovers is a strange place called Wonderland where she meets talking flowers, a Mad Hatter, and the Red Queen as she seeks to find and save Alice. What ensues is a journey unlike Alice’s from the original text.

Ada’s journey, although a bit fanciful, is slightly dull. She mostly just questions everyone. Although not spineless, she doesn’t necessarily have a courageousness to her. While she is inquisitive, she tends to accept things and follow the leader. I wasn’t impressed with this narrative. But, to be fair, it was more exciting than the second narrative of that of her sister trying to find her with a new visitor by her side.

My, how bland! I passed certain parts as they were uninteresting. It was mostly just Ada’s sister bashing her for disappearing again. There wasn’t much to this narrative. There was a present day twist that was interesting, but it was towards the end. If you gave up on this book, the same way as I almost did a few times, you haven’t missed much. If you haven’t read this book yet, but want to, might I suggest the adult fantasy series by Christina Henry instead. Ada is not exactly featured, but the concept is certainly different and unique. I will be writing a review within the next couple of weeks.

Maguire fails to hit the proverbial mark. Although at times entertaining, or more so surprising, it didn’t capture this big fan of the original text. I had hoped for so much more from this book. Maybe because I had created hype for myself, but honestly it’s not worth a read. There are too many spots where one might want to give up. The first forty or so pages were hard to get through! If you make it past that, you are possibly in the clear to continue. But, it will drag. The twist at the end is the only redeeming part; and why I decided to give it two stars.

The DUFF Stops Here; The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger Book Review

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The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend

By: Kody Keplinger

Released: 2010 by Little, Brown

Length: 280 Pages

Rating: Two Stars

Acquired: via netgalley

What happens when the school’s Male slut calls you your friend’s DUFF? A drink gets thrown in his face? Check. You sleep with him? Wait, what? This is a book where the main character makes some really bad choices

While at a teen night club, High School Senior Bianca Piper is approached by the attractive, sleazy, no good Wesley Rush. During their brief interaction, she is called the DUFF, a drink is spilled, and Bianca’s life is forever changed. What soon follows is a few months of bad, bad choices. The first…sleeping with Wesley Rush to “escape” her problems. Her mother is never home. She believes the DUFF label. Her Dad is becoming an alcoholic again. So, to Wesley it is. Then, the lying to her best friends happen. The ditching them comes next. Followed by a few spoilers I will not reveal. She’s a mess. And a character I could not get behind. There was no liking her. No feeling sorry for her. Nothing. I know that sounds bad, but she was a really hard character to like. She cursed A LOT. Did a lot of bad things and complained about it afterwards. Didn’t care that she used a human being. She was awful.

Many bad things happened to Bianca. Her parents were about to get a divorce that her mother suddenly sprung. Her dad relapsed after seventeen years of being sober. She realized some stuff about herself. But, in no way does that justify her behavior, selfishness, and attitude towards Wesley. I was team Wesley all the way. Now his life sucked. He basically lived alone. Was pretty much banned from seeing his sister. And his grandma, with whom his sister lived with, hated him. And, yet, he wasn’t acting sorry for himself. Yes, he was sleeping with everyone, but still. I really liked him as a character and oh man, the end! The end was amazing! That’s the only reason this book got two stars and it’s all because of him. Totally team Wesley.

Although I gave this book two stars, I would surprisingly recommend it just for the ending. It’s worth the struggle. I read this book in a day. Less than that. I couldn’t stop reading the train wreck. It’s one of those books you love to hate I think. I love to hate this book.

The Garden of Letters was a Wall…; The Garden of Letters by Alyson Richman

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The Garden of Letters

By: Alyson Richman

Released: September 2nd, 2014 by Berkley

Length: 384 pages

Rating: Two Stars

Acquired: BEA

Portofino, Italy, 1943. A young woman steps off a boat in a scenic coastal village. Although she knows how to disappear in a crowd, Elodie is too terrified to slip by the German officers while carrying her poorly forged identity papers. She is frozen until a man she’s never met before claims to know her. In desperate need of shelter, Elodie follows him back to his home on the cliffs of Portofino.

Inspired by a true story the author was told by a friend’s relative about being rescued by a stranger in the same situation as Elodie, The Garden of Letters tells the story of two opposites who must learn how to grow and rediscover themselves after separate losses as they are brought together under dire circumstances.  It’s an interesting plot. I must say I was intrigued from reading the synopsis. Unfortunately, this book did not hit the mark for me. It dragged on in parts. Was often boring, or just okay. I wasn’t wowed or invested much in either of the three sub plots. I liked Elodie’s sub plot the best; as well as finding her the most interesting, but not by much. Unfortunately, the two other sub plots took up much of the story that Elodie’s wasn’t enough to make me like the novel.

The sub plot I liked the least was actually when Elodie gets rescued. It takes up the least amount in the novel, but I found it lacking. The end wasn’t very good. It tidied things up in a way I was dissatisfied with.  The relationship between Elodie and the Doctor was quiet and soft. It seemed too neat. Too fitting for two strangers who just met and are forced to live together. I didn’t find it very realistic.

The characters were decent, though. As much as I didn’t like the novel, Richman did write okay characters. Elodie and her best friend were great characters. The Doctor was the only one I didn’t like.

Now, the garden of letters. THERE WAS NO GARDEN!!!! This may be a spoiler (sorry!) but I was annoyed by this. It’s a wall. The wife of the doctor pastes his letters onto their bedroom wall while he is serving in Africa. She makes it look like a Garden, kind of.  But the book title is still a little misleading. For me, at least. Maybe I am too literal.

I won’t recommend this novel. It just didn’t do anything for me. I can’t honestly stand behind it. It sounds good in theory; maybe it will work for some, but it didn’t work for me.

The Liars! The Liars!: We were Liars by E. Lockhart book review

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We were Liars

OBy: E. Lockhart

Released: May 13, 2014

Length: 240 Pages

Genre: YA

Rating: 2 Stars

Acquired: BEA

 

 We are Sinclairs.

No on is needy.

No one is wrong.

Oh, those Sinclairs. They are rich, snobby, and train wrecks waiting to happen. The narrator is Cadence “Caddy” Easton, the eldest grandchild. She got on my nerves the most. She called her mom, mummy. It became a huge pet peeve of mine that I didn’t even know I had. I didn’t like her at all. I didn’t find her interesting or relatable. She was a little too whiny, actually. After the great accident that left her with mysterious headaches and memory loss, she was even more grating.

Categorized as a suspense novel, I didn’t find it as such. At least it didn’t seem that way on the surface. Sure, there was one event that happened that you don’t know the facts of until the very end, but there was much suspense leading up to it. The suspense leading up to it, if you want to think of it as such, was just Caddy’s constant falling over due to her headache. She does question certain family members over her memory loss, but it’s not truly in a suspenseful whodunit way. If you are looking for a good suspense/mystery novel, I would look elsewhere. What I will say, though, is the reveal at the very end, the twist, is amazing. It’s revealed in not the best of ways, kind of like an after thought, but it’s a great reveal. It’s just unbelievable. I loved it. It’s the only reason why this book gets two stars instead of one. It’s smart, edgy, and caught me off guard.

Let’s talk characters. Boring. Boring, boring, boring. I didn’t connect with any of them. None of them left a mark on me. Caddy’s mother was a nightmare; her sisters weren’t shining stars either. Grandpa was MEAN and very racist. Then there were the liars- three cousins and a family friend, Gatnik. I only remember Gat because he of his unusual name. But, out of all of them he was the most annoying. He was constantly talking about politics and race etc. He was trying to sound smart and impress Caddy. He was also a cheater and smooth talker. The liars didn’t really lie, so I am confused about their name, but that is for another discussion.

Overall, I was an unsatisfied reader. I read the book really fast, so you would think I liked it, but I didn’t. There wasn’t much to it. The suspense wasn’t very suspenseful. The characters were lackluster. The plot was just okay. There wasn’t much that I liked. However, I know I am in the minority. This book won goodreads choice book of the year. It’s one of those love/hate books. I just happen to fall in the latter category. If you pick this up, you may fall in the former. John Green calls it “Thrilling, beautiful, and blisteringly smart.” How can I disagree with John Green?!?!? But, I do. Sorry, John! Read at your own risk.

Not My Kind of Nest: Nest by Esther Ehrlich

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Nest

By: Esther Ehrlich

Released: September 9th, 2014 by Wendy Lamb Books

Length: 336 Pages

Genre: Middle Grade

Rating: Two Stars

Acquired: via publisher

What lengths would you go to make your life stay the same? How would you feel if the person you love most in the world stops smiling?

For eleven year old Naomi “Chirp” Orenstein, her mother is everything to her. When her dancer mother gets a devastating diagnosis that stops her from dancing and smiling, Chirp doesn’t know what to do. Soon after, her mother spirals into a depression. Nest tells Chirp’s sometimes heartbreaking journey as she trudges through life during this time with adventure, escape, and self-discovery. It isn’t all bad, but it isn’t all good, either.

This novel deals with some very adult issues at the heart of this middle grade novel. The character may be a middle schooler, may behave like one, but the situations are anything but. I had a slight problem with that. I usually don’t read middle grade novels, so I am not sure if this is an usual occurrence. But, may did it take an adult turn. Too adult, I would say. It made me very uncomfortable reading it. As it is a spoiler, I am not at liberty to reveal it, but it made me dislike the book. I loved Chirp. She developed a nice relationship with the boy next. They had a cute conversation towards the end of the novel that I loved.  However, this was not enough to give this novel a better rating. What took place towards the later middle/end was too heavy for me. Not heavy for me as an adult, but heavy as me reading a middle grade novel. It isn’t something that I personally believe should take place for this age group. I don’t think they can handle it, grasp it, and it takes away from the rest of the novel because of that.

It was a big shocker for me. If this was a Young Adult novel, I don’t think the event, if you can call it that, that occurred, would have taken me so off guard, but since this is for a younger audience it did. I don’t think it needed to happen to get the author’s point across. Yes, what happened completely at the end was a great character development exercise, but could have been reached without what took place because of it.

Although I did not find this novel extremely heartwarming, I definitely can see where a reader can. This is, at its core, a middle grade novel, but too much of it is adult for me. But, if there wasn’t that one thing, this would have been a great debut for me. Like I mention before, the characters were great. The plot, for the majority of it, was pretty decent. It evoked the right emotions. It showed how powerful friendships could be. It was poignant, honest, and positive.

I am torn on recommending this book. There were some great positives about this book. But, the negatives were so negative. I really feel strongly about what took place that makes it too inappropriate for its age group. I can’t seem to get past that. But, at the end, it was uplifting. There was a positive message. I would say, look at the back. Think about it. It’s heavy. It’s mostly about mental illness; and, the affects it has on our loved ones. If that’s hard for you, I’d say pass. It gets emotional, just so you know.

Happy reading!

Told in Reverse: The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai Book Review

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The Hundred-Year House

By: Rebecca Makkai

Released: July 10th, 2014 by Viking Adult

Length: 352 Pages

Genre: Fiction

Rating: Two Stars

Acquired: via publisher

 

Makkai tells an original family saga in reverse in The Hundred Year House. From family suicide to mysterious deaths, and an old artist colony filled with secrets, The Hundred Year House doesn’t disappoint with the amount of secrets. In this family comes first drama, you learn what it means to be a Devohr.

There was plenty to take in, in this novel. There were the general plot lines of the characters: Doug and his struggle to write his book while hiding the fact that he’s become a ghost writer for a popular teen series that is a little embarrassing; there’s his wife, Zee who is doing her best to secure a spot for “jobless” Doug, by implicating a fellow professor for stuff he isn’t doing. Then there is the couple living with them that are slightly minor. Plus, there’s Gracie, the mom, who is blocking Doug from finding out about certain things that happened in the artist colony.

This novel was intriguing, while a little lackluster for me. I found myself reading it days in between. It didn’t hold my attention as well as I had hoped it would. Although, it did get better in the end. The beginning was slow. Would this be a book I would recommend, no I don’t think so. It took too long for me to feel invested. The characters weren’t my favorite. The plot was a little interesting, though. I liked the ghost haunting the house, but that was not a sub plot that was fully developed, unfortunately.

Jane Doe walks into a Hospital…;Gemini by Carol Cassella Book Review

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Gemini

By: Carol Cassella

Released March 4th, 2014 by Simon and Schuster

Length: 352 Pages

Genre: Mystery-medical

Rating: Two Stars

Acquired: via netgalley

 

Dr. Charlotte Reese must do all that she can to save Jane Doe. But, will she get too close? Will Jane’s true identity be revealed?

Set in Seattle, ER doctor,  Dr. Charlotte Reese, gets delivered Jane Doe while on the night shift severely injured and practically beyond repair. Told through both Charlotte’s perspective in the present, and Jane Doe’s first in the past as far back as her childhood to current with her identity known only to the reader. There is an unlikely connection between the two  women that the reader later finds out in the middle of the novel which is perhaps the only intriguing event that happens.

At 352 pages, I felt not much happened. I often skimmed through the pages, or read through them halfheartedly. I didn’t attach myself to either women. Not that there was anything wrong with them. They were developed nicely, actually. I just didn’t find something in them that I found powerful or unique to feel something. The writing was very straight forward, leaving it to be a little bland at times. There wasn’t necessarily anything wrong with the novel that warranted a two star rating, I just didn’t really like it. There was much that pulled me in. I did like the connection that sprung up; that shocker was a good tie-in, but I felt it came a little too late.

I think this was just one of those books that was out of my typical genre comfort zone, so it wasn’t so enjoyable. I got through it in a day, only through skimming and half caring though. Never a full commitment. Would I recommend this book? I think it’s for you to decide. This one’s a tricky one. It wasn’t bad. Just not my taste. It might be yours, though.

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