Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A New Chapter

After some much needed thinking about the blog, I've decided that my time with blogger has come to an end. I've been using it for many years now, but thought I needed a change.

Which is why I'm closing down this blog and I've jumped ship to Wordpress. My new blog, Booking Rehab - http://bookingrehab.wordpress.com/

I'm hoping to be more consistent with that one and hopefully have a lot more things there.

Thanks to everyone who read this blog and stayed with me!

Friday, August 02, 2013

Sorry for being MIA

Hey guys,

Sorry for being a bit MIA and only posting reviews here. I do have a bit of a vision on what to do with this blog; and hopefully, within the next few weeks there will be some changes. I just want to wait for Ramadan to end so I can then focus on this.

So more reviews, more features, maybe some interviews here and there just to add some variety. But there will be more.

Till then,


Thursday, July 04, 2013

Review: Girls of Riyadh by Rajaa Alsanea

Girls of RiyadhGirls of Riyadh by Rajaa Alsanea
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Riyadh, for personal reasons, is a place that is near and dear to my heart and since I needed another book for my Muslim reading challenge, I thought I should give Girls of Riyadh a try.

Girls of Riyadh had a lot of hype and controversy when it first came out. Some people blasted it for exposing unIslamic stuff, while others praised it for being a modern Saudi novel that shows how Saudis are really like.

So when I opened up the book, I was expecting to either be shocked and intrigued by all of the stuff that's actually happening in Saudi, or angry that it was just a book that's meant appease the West as it bad mouths Muslims. Or, I'd be surprisingly pleased at the balanced look it gave to my Saudi.

Now that I'm done, I'm not shocked, I'm not intrigued, I'm not angry, and I'm not pleased. I don't really feel anything. I think one of the biggest reasons for this is due to the hype surrounding this novel. I had big expectations and none of them were fulfilled.

Girls of Riyadh is just Gossip Girls without the sex and alcohol. It's the lives of privileged Saudi women who try to find their place in the world. Only, it's not really that. It's actually a story of four women, one of them tries to complete her dreams, while the rest fall in love, get hurt, and become bitter about men and love.

As a Muslim, marriage is a big thing to us. Everyone, men and women, want to find that special someone so they can be married and fulfill the hadith (traditions of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him)) where he said that marriage is 'half of ones deen (religion).'

It's a pretty big deal, so I did enjoy reading about the girls obsessing over that. But then, it got to the point where their lives were dictated by the men that they love. And once it didn't work out, they'd be an emotional wreck until the next guy comes.

It got boring after awhile. Out of the four, only one doesn't fall in this trap and surprisingly enough is the only one who ends up happy in love and not scorned.

By itself, Girls of Riyadh isn't a bad novel. It flows well and it will keep you reading, but if you've read up on all of the controversy surrounding this book, you might end up disappointed when you find that this is just a regular run of the mill chick lit.

I dunno. I just expected more.

2 stars out of 5

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Review: Skunk Girl by Sheba Karim

Skunk GirlSkunk Girl by Sheba Karim
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I first heard about Skunk Girl after a friend of mine posted the cover on Facebook. I thought it was funny and wondered if Skunk Girl was about a girl who smells. It isn’t. Instead, this is a book about a hairy Pakistani Muslim.


There are not that many books about Muslims out there, so once I saw this at the library, I wasted no time in picking it up. Was it everything that I wanted and more? Sadly, no. But I think this is due to my expectations for this novel. I originally thought it would be about a hairy Muslim teenager coping with Islam in a non-Islamic society. Let me explain: from the synopsis, we can see that she has a huge crush on Asher. She wants him, but in Islam we don’t date. We get married. So the challenges of being like everyone else while still trying to keep your religion in tact is something a lot of us face, and so, I was hoping to see that here.

Instead, this is mostly a story about a teen girl who has strict parents who constantly compare her to her older sister. She has a crush on a new guy who might just like her too. And she has hair…growing…everywhere.

Except that it’s not. There’s no real plot in this novel, just a series of events that are joined together. There are many conflicts that are presented, which are interesting, but they’re never really resolved. And by the end the novel, you’re left wondering, ‘Is that it?”

Even though Nina is one I can easily relate to, I just couldn’t like her or care about her. Wait, wait. I’m not saying this because she wanted to do things that were considered unIslamic. That’s normal for a girl her age. And it’s not that she did unIslamic things either. What I had a problem with was Nina’s interaction with the ‘mean girl’ Serena. Nina hates her and doesn’t hide it at all. Why? Because of an incident when they were kids. This made me sympathize with Serena and made me want to slap Nina a few times.

They do come to a sort of understanding, but the interactions between the two were clearly in Serena’s favour. Was this supposed to happen though? I don’t think so. I think we’re meant to root for Nina, but when it came to these two I just couldn’t.

There are some good points though. Nina’s parents, while strict, are not bad people, nor are they depicted that way. And Nina’s best friends are developed nicely as well. And I did like that Nina discovered a sort of balance at the end and that she learned from her mistakes, I just wish the journey to this was done better. And that Islam and her culture had a bigger role, instead of just being a means to restrict Nina’s freedom.

3 stars out of 5

Review: Whispers in Autumn by Trisha Leigh

Whispers in Autumn (The Last Year, #1)Whispers in Autumn by Trisha Leigh
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

Whispers in Autumn was a book I wanted to read ever since I heard about it. The synopsis sounds great, the book covers for this series is simply gorgeous, and the writing is top notch. And yet, Whispers in Autumn also took me two months to complete. I only had maybe 15 pages at one point, but I just didn’t want to read it.

Is it due to the writing? Absolutely not. I enjoyed Trisha Leigh’s writing and will probably read more books by her in the future. Was it the plot? Kind of, but not really. I did like how instead of a traditional dystopian world that we’ve all read and loved, maybe even hated, we had the added bonus of Aliens. You can never go wrong with aliens and I love reading them almost as much as I love reading about zombies. Was it the characters? Again, kind of, but not really. Althea is a pretty typical female lead and Lukas was pretty awesome. The side characters were great as well and did have some depth to them which I appreciated. Was it the romance? I’ve stopped caring about romance in YA, since I feel like it’s never done right and always feels unauthentic. Whispers of Autumn is no different.

So what was it? For me, the downfall of this book was the world that was created. I liked the idea of an alien race taking over. Everyone on the planet, or at least what’s left of it, is mind controlled. They’re always happy and don’t know anything. They don’t know what kissing is or what tears are. If anything happens, they just accept what the authorities say and continue on living their blissfully brain controlled lives. Althea is the only know who isn’t affected by this, which makes for a compelling story.

But here is my problem. Althea is stupid. She’s a nervous wreck. She fidgets, she not as talkative as the others, and she sticks out like a sore thumb. After so many years living under this dystopia, you’d think she’d learn to blend in, but that never happens. When everyone smiles, she frowns. She frowns! How is she able to get away with this knowing what we know about the aliens? Althea constantly mentions that if the aliens figured out that she’s not mind controlled, she would be killed.

I don’t know about you guys, but if I’m going to be killed due to my lack of brainwashing, I’d do my level best in trying to be like everyone else. I’d smile, smile, and smile. And Althea does try to do this. She does, I can’t dock her too many points in this department, but the amount of times she displays other emotions in public just doesn’t make sense.

Althea’s specialness, while interesting, was also another point of confusion for me. If this happens every season, how did the aliens not clue in on this until now?

The world is interesting, but if the aliens are so scary that they’ll kill you if you act out of the ordinary, how is it possible for them to completely overlook someone who looks as guilty as Althea? These are the same types of aliens who will kill you if you ask the wrong question or talk back to them. If they see you fidgeting all the time and sweating buckets when you’re near them, then how are you still alive? [And how are you able to travel to different cities without anyone noticing that this isn’t normal human behaviour? (hide spoiler)]

These questions were constantly in my head while reading this novel and it kind of took me out of the whole experience. I wanted to like Whispers of Autumn, but the world and the actions of Althea just doesn’t make sense or ring true.

2.5 stars out of 5

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Review: Quiver by Holly Luhning

QuiverQuiver by Holly Luhning
My rating: 2 of 5 stars


“In sixteenth-century Hungary, Countess Elizabeth Báthory tortured and killed over six hundred servant girls in order to bathe in their blood; she believed this brutal ritual would preserve her youth and beauty. Danica, a young forensic psychologist, is drawn to Báthory’s legend. She has moved from Canada to England to work at Stowmoor, a Victorian insane asylum turned modern-day forensic hospital. One of her patients, the notorious Martin Foster, murdered a fourteen-year-old girl in homage to Báthory. He cultivates his criminal celebrity, and Danica struggles to maintain a professional demeanor with the charismatic Foster as she begins to suspect that his activities may be linked to a cabal that idolizes the countess.

Danica’s life in London becomes increasingly complicated when Maria, a glamorous friend from Danica’s past, arrives to do archival work in the city. She claims to have discovered Báthory’s long-lost diaries and she slowly reveals to Danica the horrific, yet fascinating passages. As Danica’s career and her relationship with her artist-boyfriend, Henry, falters, Maria lures her into a complex social sphere. Unsure of whom to trust as her professional and personal lives become dangerously entwined, Danica must decide what she is willing to risk to satisfy her attraction to Báthory’s ominous legend.”


I can understand why one might compare it to the Historian. Both deal with historical figures and the drama surrounding them and the present time. But where the Historian excelled, Quiver kind of falls flat.

Quiver follows Danica a forensic psychologist who has been given the go ahead to interview Foster. Foster is a man obsessed with Countess Elizabeth Báthory, aka The Blood Countess. She was one of the most prolific serial killers. Stories have been written about her. Myths have been made. Bits of Dracula have been inspired by her. So Foster decides to take his obsession with her to the next level. How you ask? By killing a virgin girl of course.

He's captured and Danica now has job to evaluation his mental state while trying not to get charmed by him. You see, Danica is also somewhat enamoured by Báthory as well. I mean, why would someone of that status go out of her way to kill what is rumoured to be over 9000! 600 girls?

Now I know what you're thinking.

Danica sits down with the famed school girl killer. Alone in a room she conducts her interview trying to get Foster to repent and come to terms with what he’s done. He says what she wants to hear, but starts to ask questions of his own. When she asks why he did it, he mentions ‘Have you ever been so in love with someone that you would do anything for them?” Taken back by his confession of love, she asks who he’s talking about. He starts talking about Báthory and Danica’s eyes start to change. Foster notices that she’s as much into Báthory as him, starts to use this to his advantage. The mind games begin and Danica starts to fall lower and lower into the hole Foster digs for her. She starts obsessing even more over Báthory and loses her boyfriend, her friends, and almost her jobs due to it. At the end, the dark world of the Countess comes to life with Danica, while Foster, who remains behind bars, smiles as he hears about the series of murders spreading throughout the city. The book ends.

So does this happen?


No. Nope. Nada.

Despite how the synopsis sounds, there is hardly any interaction between Danica and Foster. She meets him once and nothing happens. She meets him again, nothing. The third time was a meeting only in passing. And the fourth didn’t really do both parties any favours.

Due to the little screen time he’s provided, we don’t really see anything to be at awed at when Foster is mentioned. So is he charismatic? No, in fact I don’t think you can even call him charming. He does spend one part complaining about his ginger hair and freckles, so I guess that gives him some depth…My only feeling for Foster was that he's just some sick Báthory otaku who thought it would be fun to kill in her honour. Usually, when it comes to books like these, you'd expect more from a killer. But no. He just didn't do anything for me.

Thankfully, the book isn't really about Foster. It's about Danica....and…um…ah! It’s about meeting her friend Maria. You see, Maria is a master manipulator, narcissistic, and kind of a sociopath. Someone you are drawn to, but wary of at the same time. Danica, who is pretty weak willed, knows all this, but still allows Maria to play puppeteer over her life. Why would someone do this you ask? Well, it’s quite simple really. Maria loves the Blood Countess as much as Danica and to top that all off, she claims to have found the rumoured Báthory's diaries. Diaries that Danica has been wanting to read for years!

It's through this that we get to see some of the more interesting and cruel aspects of the novel. The diaries provide a look into Báthory's mind as she recounting her time as a serial killer. Danica, at first, doesn’t trust that these are authentic. But she still can’t stop herself from reading it.

Flashbacks happen. Present stuff happens. Criminal behaviour is shown.

And near the end Danica figures out everything, which is great! She solves the crime and stops something terrible from happening. Sadly, for those reading, we figure out who is the mastermind behind this fairly early on. So instead of being surprised at what Danica uncovers, you’re left wondering how Danica could be so stupid.

It was frustrating and just made Danica look naïve. Almost like a little kid stepping into the world of adults. The kid isn’t going to be smart, but you expect this. With Danica, you wonder how she went through life with this level of absentmindedness. I mean, she’s a forensic psychologist. How? How….

Quiver did pick up near the middle of the novel and I did enjoy reading it after that. The ending was a bit quick though and left me wanting more from this resolution. I almost feel like the novel could have been a bit longer, though not Historian long. Instead, Danica finds out the truth by accident, things happen fairly quickly after that and it just ends. This was the most disappointing part for two reasons:

1. Once Danica finds the truth, the consequences of this could have been explored and made the villain actually look more like a villain. [And once Danica knows the truth I was hoping to see some mind games between her and Maria. (hide spoiler)]

2. Because there was so much potential for Quiver to be a fantastic novel and once it starts to develop some life, it just ends.

Should you read this? If you like reading about Elizabeth Bathory then maybe you should pick it up. The diaries really are the best part of this novel. And if you want to check out a new Canadian author, who I suspect we’ll be hearing more from, then definitely give this one a look. But if you are looking for a thriller, a mystery, and a compelling lead character, then you might want to take a pass on this.

2 stars out of 5

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Review: The Unquiet by Jeannine Garsee

The UnquietThe Unquiet by Jeannine Garsee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm not really sure where to start with this review, other than saying I enjoyed my time reading The Unquiet. When the book first opens, we're introduced to Rinn. A girl with a troubled past who, along with her mother, is trying to make a fresh start after what happened 3 months ago.

What happens three months ago is revealed fairly quickly. In fact, I thought we'd find out near the end, but nope. Rinn's past and her mental condition is brought up before the real novel actual starts.

Real Novel you say?

Yes, the real novel. Despite Rinn's colourful history, which has all the makings of a book by itself, the Unquiet is at its heart a ghost story. A ghost story that will take it's time to develop. A ghost story that will have you wondering, "Isn't this suppose to be a ghost story?" And maybe asking yourself, "Where's the ghost?"

Trust me, this will happen. I myself was wondering when a ghost will appear. Now mind you, the ghost is mentioned quite a bit, but nothing really happens in the first part of the novel.

This may be a good or bad thing depending on your patience, but once I completed the novel I was fine with it. In fact, I actually prefer the book this way. I feel like if the 'ghost' portion of the novel came sooner, it might not have had the same sort of oomph as it did here.

The only downside is that I feel like Garsee was trying to make the reader doubt Rinn as a narrator for some scenes, only it never really worked. Even when we see Rinn off her pills, the sudden change in her behaviour did feel out of place. Not in the sense that it wouldn't happen, it would. I don't doubt that. But the quickness of it happening seemed a bit too fast for me.

Then again, I'm not too too familiar with the inner workings of this condition, so I can't really say if it was too fast or not in reality. But in book form, it felt that way.

However, that didn't really deter from the story or from Rinn.

Was I scared, no. But I did love every minute of this, especially the limited screen time to the romance portion of this novel.

Overall, I just couldn't stop myself from reading this.


+ The ghost isn't friendly
+ Rinn is a great lead character
+ Romance didn't play a bit part in this novel
+ The story surrounding Rinn's past was heartbreaking
+ The writing is flows well
+ I couldn't stop reading it. I even put another book on hold just to see how this one would end.


- The novel does take its time in getting to the ghost story
- We never doubt Rinn, despite her mental condition telling us to do that. I felt like we were suppose to feel this way at some points, but it didn't work.
- (view spoiler)[I understood why the children of Millie, Joey, Luke, and Monica were targeted by Annaliese, but why Meg and her parents? Or even Lacy? What was the point of hurting them when they had nothing to do with what happened? (hide spoiler)]
- Wanted a conclusion for some of the characters, but never got it.

4 stars out of 5

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Review: Hopeless by Colleen Hoover

Hopeless (Hopeless, #1)Hopeless by Colleen Hoover
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hmmm. I'm hopelessly trying to figure out how I feel about this book and what I should rate it. There were things I liked, but things that just fell flat. I did want to love love LOVE this novel though. After reading the synopsis, seeing the cover, and reading the first chapter I was pretty much sold on loving this like there was no tomorrow.

But now that I'm done, I'm not really sure how I feel.

The Good:

The writing was top notch here. The dialogue flowed nicely and I never got bored reading this novel, even when the characters did stupid things.

I also liked the story with Sky. Not the romance one, but the other one which I can't talk about because it's a spoiler. I thought the plot for this was done nicely and liked how everything came together at the end. And boy did it ever come together. Was it melodramatic and a bit over the top? Yea, it was. But I loved it.

I know this may not seem like a lot, but trust me it’s more than enough for me to enjoy this novel.

The Okay:

I liked Six, from what we saw of her (which isn't much) I thought she was pretty awesome. There were times when I felt like her dialogue and character meshed with Breckin, the Mormon gay bestest friend of Sky who is a Mormon and isn't afraid of saying Mormon a lot, because Mormons like to do that. Mormon.

This did bother me a bit, because I still don’t understand why Six had to leave and be away for the majority of the novel, only to have a replacement come in who isn't as awesome as her. Brekin is pretty much a carbon copy of Six, but Mormon. Plus, the moment Holder comes into the picture, we hardly see Brekin too. So I mean, how Six can you get with that?

Speaking of which, I did like a lot of the side characters, along with Six, and wish we got to see more of them. Sadly, they too also got the shaft.

The Bad:

I've mentioned this before, but I've never been in a relationship. This may be the reason why I'm always so skeptical on the romance portions of novels, because they never do anything to me.

Couples hook up, get angry, don't talk, make up, and the novel ends and I'm left wondering, "Why didn't you just get over yourself and talk to each other when you wanted to? Maybe if you did that, you wouldn't have wasted so much time feeling sorry for yourself." I just don't understand. Maybe when I get into a relationship, I'll be able to understand where these characters are coming from, but till then, it's just not doing anything for me.

Knowing that, it didn't surprise me that the romance here didn't work. Not because of the misunderstandings between Sky and Holder, but because Holder just seems.....what's a good word to describe him. Sky used intense, so I'll go with that.

The first time they meet, Holder glares at her, chases her down, blocks her from going into her car, and then punches his car. You find out why later, but if I was in Sky's position I'd say to myself, "Pdbkwm, do you really want to lust after a guy as unhinged as Holder? Sure he may look good, but he also gets angry and punches things for no reason." I'd then reply with, "You know what, I agree. Let's just ignore the intense fellow and be on our merry way Tralalalalala."

And that would be it. Instead, Sky let's him in and we see more of his...intense behaviour. Does he get better? Sure in the boyfriend department. As the story progresses, the only bad thing about him his inability to stop saying, "Baby" this and "Babe" that. But my first, second, third, fourth, and fifth impression of him weren't good enough for me to like or root for this relationship.

I mean, if we're meant to like him, no, live or love him by the end of the novel, why did he need to be so...intense for a good portion of it?

Readers, is this type of behaviour hot? Please help me understand, so I can understand this relationship.

I know I talked about Holder a lot, but can I also mention that this relationship between him and Sky seemed purely physical. Where is the love? It's gone. It's been replaced with lust, lust, and more lust. So when they were going through Sky's better plot in the story, I didn't really understand why he needed to be there so much. Plus, their love was just a mask of their unhealthy co-dependency towards each other.

I'm sounding really heartless here, so I'll stop here. But yea, the romance portion of the novel, which was a good portion of it, didn't do anything for me.


I loved one of the plots, hated the romance, and couldn’t stand Holder. I guess that makes this a solid 3ish…I guess. I’ll probably pick up another book by Colleen Hoover in the future though. The writing was really good, so I do want to see more from her.

3ish stars out of 5

Friday, May 03, 2013

Review: Entangled by Cat Clarke

EntangledEntangled by Cat Clarke
My rating: 2.75 of 5 stars

I read Entangled right after I read Dare Me. I wanted something light to read, after reading about such horrible characters. It was a good book, but I wanted a thriller with characters I could relate to.

So I opened Entangled and my first though was. "I love this cover." It's quite gorgeous, eh? Cat Clarke tends to have really great covers, so whoever does them. Thank you. Not only from me, but my eyes as well.

The book starts off with Grace in a room. She doesn't know how she got there, she doesn't know what happened. But the only thing she can do is write and remember things she doesn't want to remember.

Sounds intriguing.

And it was, until you figure out why Grace is in the room. This will happen fairly quickly; however, there is another plot in here that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Sal, Grace's friend, and Nat, Grace's boyfriend, have been acting strange. And once you see them acting strange, you figure out the reason why as well.

I wanted to like this book a lot more, but each mystery wasn't subtle. It was drilled into your head to the point that once the reveal actually happened in the book, you don't really care.

In terms of characters. I have to say, I found the characters in Dare Me, despite their horrible ways, to be less horrible than the people in this book. Grace is whiny, Sal, while sympathetic at first, is stupid, and Nat is a jerk.

Since we see more of Grace, I didn't like her the most. I've mentioned this before, but I don't like it when characters bad mouth their parents. In my culture, if you act the way Grace did then you get shipped out to Africa and play around with the lions and hyenas. Once you do that, you come back and you behave yourself. I'm kidding about playing with the lions...there isn't any where I'm from. Just hyenas and some other animals.

[I'm kidding about playing with the lions...there isn't any where I'm from. Just hyenas and some other animals. (hide spoiler)]
 I wanted to like her, but she's a horrible friend and only thinks about herself. I do like how Clarke showed how bad Grace's self esteem issues really were, but it still wasn't enough for me to care or even like her. Her reason for cutting wasn't really established for me to understand why she did it.

Entangled, while it may have a beautiful cover, isn't what I expected, and I don't mean this in a good way. The only saving grace (haha) was the writing. So I'll read Torn for that reason...and the fact that it has a beautiful cover. It's gorgeous. I think I like it even better than this one.

2.75 out of 5

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Review: Dare Me by Megan Abbott

Dare MeDare Me by Megan Abbott
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

This is a book about bad people doing bad things. If you're hoping to see mean girls, this book is for you. If you're hoping to see said mean girls get their just desserts, then you're not going to find it here.

Dare Me starts off on a fairly good start. The cheerleading coach has to leave and the school is bringing in a new one. The old coach pretty much let the girls do what they want. And when I mean girls, I mean the captain. Beth. The Queen Bee of this novel and the group of teens.

But all that changes when the new coach arrives. She quickly dethrones Beth and becomes the leader of the pack. This might make for a interesting read, but to top it off it seems like the new Coach use to be the Queen Bee back in her hey day and seems to relish in being one again.

The girls are taken by Coach, including our narrator Addy. This makes Beth angry and she decides to seek revenge.

At this point, I was with the novel. Coach seems to have never grown up and while she is unhappy in her marriage, she seems to open up and love being the leader of teenagers. However, since she hasn't grown up herself, we see scenes with her bringing the cheerleaders to her house and letting them drink and smoke. Her husband seems concerned about this at first, but doesn't do anything.

Which makes me wonder where the parents are in this novel. Even though Coach is an adult, she doesn't behave like one and even calls Addy her best friend in this novel. Her relationship with Addy, and the girls in general, isn't healthy and her behaviour makes me wonder why the other teachers haven't done anything. Why her husband hasn't done anything. I mean, this is an adult who would rather spend her time with teenagers, instead of picking up her kid at daycare.

The parallel between her and Beth is fascinating though. It makes you wonder if Beth will grow up to be like Coach in the future.

That quickly changes though, when Beth decides to go into cray cray mode in order to take down Coach and bring Addy back to her side.

Dare Me isn't for the faint of heart. The behaviour of the teens and adults in this book is shocking and troubling. Everyone gets away with their bad behaviour, except one and even then said person was pretty much the only good one there.

Will you relate to any of the characters? I hope not. I sure didn't, but that didn't stop me from continuing to read this novel till the bitter end.

3.5 stars out of 5

Review: Requiem by Lauren Oliver

Requiem (Delirium, #3)Requiem by Lauren Oliver
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Once upon a time, I read Delirium and liked it.

Once upon another time, I read Pandemonium and liked it even more.

Now, in the present, I just finished reading Requiem and by golly am I shocked. Shocked by how bad this book was.

Seriously, what on earth happened here?

I really liked this series; I loved how Lena grew in the first book from someone who was all about rules and order, to someone who was in love. Then when Alex 'died' I liked that, because Lena had a very unrealistic view on love and started to understand why people wanted the cure. The cure, would keep this pain away from her.

Then the second book came and the book introduced a different more grown up Lena. Alex was gone, but Julian came and he was awesome. I liked him better than Alex, which should have been the first sign to me that I should stop caring about him because he gets totally shafted in Requiem. But that's jumping ahead. In the second book, Lena and Julian are lovey dovey and bam Alex returns and we've entered the forsaken love triangle realm of YA.

Requiem then comes and instead of getting only Lena's view on the world, we also see Hana. I liked Hana in the first novel, so I enjoyed seeing her here. She's different, now that she's cured, but her story is still a lot more interesting than Lena, who I've officially come to hate in this novel.

Before I get into her, here's what I thought about the book.

The Good:

Julian. He's still loveable and an all round great guy. He's also not childish and considerate of other people's feelings. He's awesome! I don't want him to be with Lena and I don't ship them, I simply am a fan of Julian.

Hana's plot was interesting too, her chapters were too short so we never got a better look into her world, but it was still good. Hana has to deal with getting married and the guilt that has plagued her since Lena left. Her husband to be isn't all that great and the more she learns about him, the more she begins to question everything else.

I also liked how sure of herself she was. She's cured and she likes it. Granted, I think if you're cured you'll like it either way, but I liked that she wasn't struggling with the loss of love. She accepted it and moved on. It is what it is and what's done is done.

But the best thing about Hana's story, there was no love triangle. In fact, there was no romance at all. It’s just Hana being cool.

The Okay:

I still don't really understand what the loss of love really does. Hana's parents seem to care about her a great deal, but I don't see how that's possible if there is no love. It isn't described much in this novel, compared to the others, so I suppose that's a good thing.

The Bad

There are spoilers ahead, so be warned. There's also a lot of ranting....lots.

Lena and Alex are, to quote GlaDos, horrible. You know, I think they might just be the worse couple that I've read in a YA novel thus far. They're childish, petty, and so incredibly stupid. Once Alex shows up, he sees Lena with Julian and decides to let her go. Because that's what good boyfriends do.

But in order to do this, he acts like an ass. He's rude, he's whiny, and he's just downright horrible to Lena. He tells her that he doesn't love her and that they've changed. Lena cries, he acts like he doesn't care. So what does Lena do? She runs into the arms of Julian. She needs comfort and to make Alex jealous. Alex, not one to be upped in the childish games, finds a love interest for himself in Coral. Lena hates her. Alex hates Julian. Coral likes Alex. Julian loves Lena.

Coral and Julian both get strung around while Alex and Lena continue their petty games.

Seriously, Alex and Lena just suck.

So they fight, they both run into the arms of others, then at the end of the novel Alex and Julian fight and Alex leaves. Before he does he leaves a note mentioning the story of Solomon. Get it, Lena is the baby and Alex is the mother who doesn't want her chopped up. See, he's such a caring guy that he's letting Lena stay with Julian. Awwww.

Once this happens, Coral tells Lena that Alex really loves her and Lena decides the best way to deal with this is become cold and distant with Julian. Julian, should cut his losses. Lena is only there for him when Alex isn't in the picture and when he's being a jerkwad.

And this is my biggest problem with love triangles. Why introduce another character whose only purpose is to be used like this? It's not fun, it's not cute. It's just depressing and makes the MC look really bad. Why do I need to see the MC kiss another guy, when I know that she's in love with someone else and would rather be with them? That's horrible. Just horrible.

It's even worse when the second guy is better than the first.

With Requiem, there is actually no point to Julian's character other than to play second string to Alex.

Now you may be thinking that I'm stressing way too much over this, but when Lena's chapters came this was the main storyline. There was some stuff about the rebels and invalids, but the main theme was Lena loves Alex, Alex loves Lena, but they're too childish to communicate.

I mean, there was even a conversation between the two where Lena tells Alex to go run off to Coral and he says, "You don't get it do you?" Of course she doesn't you moron! She can't read your mind, she only knows what you tell her and you keep telling her that you don't love her or need her in your life. What else is she suppose to think!

Honestly, if this is what love makes people do in this world, then I support the program to remove it from their lives.


This is a disappointing ending to an otherwise good series. Requiem is just beyond disappointing and the love triangle was horrible. All it did was make me hate Lena and Alex, which is a shame, since I liked them in the first book. Even worse, is that it left me with a bad taste with regards to this trilogy  Instead of thinking, "Hey, this is good." I'll always think, "Lena and Alex *spitting noise*".

2 stars out of 5 

Review: Never Let You Go by Emma Carlson Berne

Never Let You GoNever Let You Go by Emma Carlson Berne
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Megan and Anna have been best friends since first grade. Megan, was that kid who wore the wrong clothes, did weird stuff, but that all changed when she was saved by the popular and beautiful Anna from social suicide. From that day on, Megan feels like she owes Anna everything and Anna won't let her forget what she did.

Then, during one drunken night at a party, Megan did the unthinkable. She makes out with Mike, Anna's boyfriend. She becomes an outcast once again. No one will speak with her. No one will sit with her at lunch. But just like first grade, she's saved by Anna, who comes in and sits with her at lunch. Everything seems to be back to normal.

But will fate repeat itself when Anna invites Megan to work at her uncle's farm for the summer? There's a new boy that Anna likes and wants, but that doesn't stop Megan from finding him attractive or finding herself alone with him.

Anna hasn't forgotten what happened with Mike and she isn't about to let Megan steal another boyfriend. Because if she does, it will not only ruin the friendship, but it might cost someone their life.

Dun Dun Dunnnnnnnnnn!

Sounds like an amazing book. You have frenemies who seem to walk on eggshells when they’re together, a betrayal due to an affair, a love triangle involving two girls and a guy, a summer out in the country, organic farming, and add in a dash of thriller and crazy and you have the makings for a beautiful book.

Unfortunately, and I feel bad for this, but the book doesn't really deliver in its promise.


The plot has a lot of potential, but due to the size of the book, you never really get a good sense of any of the characters. Also, it's not fast paced, which is what you'd expect from a thriller. It wasn't until the end when things started to get interesting. The build up towards the climax had a mixture of really good moments, but slow as well. We see Anna forcing her relationship with Jordan on Megan. This causes Megan to feel uncomfortable, because she doesn’t see what Anna sees, but still wants to be super supportive. That’s what bbfs do. They support their friend’s delusions about guys they like. And by golly, Megan is trying to do this hardcore. Only there’s a problem. She’s starting to develop feelings for Jordan and is noticing that he feels the same way.

Anna notices too and she won’t let Megan stand in her way, even if they’re bbf4lyfe. Odd, I’ve never typed that word before and yet Word/Firefox never gave me a red squiggly line for it. My name will always get a red line, but bbf4lyfe. Nothing.[Odd, I’ve never typed that word before and yet Word/Firefox never gave me a red squiggly line for it. My name will always get a red line, but bbf4lyfe. Nothing. (hide spoiler)]

The plot isn’t really a bad point in this novel, yes it’s too short so we don’t have the story fully developed to its potential, nor do we get any memorable characters. But it is interesting and will keep you reading.


This, sadly, is where the book fails. Before I talk about the main characters, I’ll talk about the supporting staff since there are a lot of them in this book.

There’s a lot and they’re forgettable. There were times I was mixing characters together, because even though they may show up quite a bit, they’re never really there.

The story isn’t about them, so this is forgivable though. The story is about Anna and Megan.

Anna is a really good character and I liked how we never really knew what she would do. We learn early on that Anna is cray cray, but we never know why. We get flashbacks of her doing shady things, but it's mostly to show us how off her rocker she really is. She's prone to doing stupid and dangerous things, but she's still a kid. If she was always like this, then there had to be a trigger of some sort.

Sadly, we’re never shown this. Instead, we’re mostly shown Megan’s internal struggle to do good to her friend while stopping her feelings for Jordan. This isn’t bad, but Megan is an emotionally weak character. She’s quick to please Anna, never stands up for herself, and basically allows Anna to treat her like crap. Why? Because Anna saved her when she was young and forgave her for kissing Mike.

To be honest, you never really find out why the two girls are friends. Megan wants to please Anna, but she doesn’t seem to like her all that much. And Anna, why does she want to be friends with Megan? Maybe she’s facing problems at home and decides to find a weak willed person she can boss around to make herself feel better? I dunno, this wasn’t ever explained.

Anna’s purpose is clear. She’s there to be crazy. Megan was there to show us how she’s actually a good person who tries to reel in Anna’s crazy, without being the cause of said craziness. I guess she was the glue to hold Anna together and we do somewhat get a sense of this when Anna mentions that Megan was the only person she could trust. But after the betrayal, Anna hasn’t been the same and I just wish we knew more about this.

She’s a far more intriguing character than Megan, who is incredibly useless. Even though I was meant to feel sorry for Megan, I was secretly hoping that Megan would end up being the crazy one who framed Anna for everything. That would have been deliciously twisted and made the ending really stand out. Alas, that was not the case.[I mean, how twisted would it be if Megan was the one who killed Sweetie and blamed it on Anna, just so she could get closer to Jordan and make herself look like a victim. That would have been crazy on top of crazy. (hide spoiler)]


The book is short and you can easily finish this in a few hours. It does have a fairly interesting plot with some good characters and the ending did leave the door open to a sequel. But the story was about Megan and how Anna isn’t the friend who she really wants in life.

It’s fairly predictable, since the synopsis really does tell you everything, but the ending is good, Anna is great, and if there is another book I do kind of want to read it.

So why the two stars? I was originally going to give it three, but once I finished the book I pretty much forgot about it. It doesn’t leave a lasting feeling. You read it, you’re done, and that’s it.

Lots of potential with this novel, but the lack of content really made the entire story fall flat.

2 stars out of 5

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Review: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Insurgent (Divergent, #2)Insurgent by Veronica Roth
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Insurgent...Insurgent. What can I say about Insurgent. I guess the first thing I can say is that this review will contain spoilers for Divergent and some spoilers about Insurgent, so read at your own risk.

I could also say that I thought the plot was pretty interesting and liked that we got to see more of the world. I got bored of all the training in Divergent, so I was happy we got none of that here. I also liked that the book started right where the first book ended. After the cliff-hanger, doing anything else would have been annoying, so I liked that it just went straight into things. I also liked that we got to see more from Tobias. Yes, he's a bit of a jerk here, but considering his upbringing I thought his harshness made sense. The best part was being able to see all of the factions. Overall, I liked it a lot better than Divergent.

The story is about Tris and her gang trying to take down Erudite. A bunch of things happen, sometimes serving no purpose at all, but things happen. In the end, we're introduced to a cliff-hanger and finally answer one of the questions I had back in Divergent.

Sadly, this book and series still doesn't make sense. I'm trying, I really am, but if you thought the world and the faction didn't make sense before, be prepared for it to not make any more sense here. I mean, at all. Amity likes to strum banjos and eat toast that makes you high happy, they also grow all the food, so they still serve their purpose. Candor, I don't understand the point of them other than being jerks. What's the point of having all of your secrets laid out in the open? What do they do? Lawyers? Why would you need one in this world? What is the point of them? What's the point in any of them?

Anyways. That isn't my biggest problem. My biggest problem in Insurgent is still the biggest problem I had in Divergent. Tris. She's a horrible human being, you guys. Just horrible! She's a Divergent, which apparently isn't all that special, but she's more special compared to all the other Divergents. This means that her mind isn't easy to control and instead of falling under one faction, she actually falls under more than one. She falls under Abnegation, her original faction, Erudite, and Dauntless.

This should make her selfless, smart, and brave. Only, she's selfish, stupid, and reckless. I never got the sense that she belonged with anyone other than Dauntless. So why is she a Divergent? She doesn't think and is on some mission to sacrifice herself so she can join her parents. I get that's she's hurt, I do, but she does this so many times without talking to anyone, but expects everyone to tell her the truth and plans. She's irrational. The sad thing is that everyone looks to her for advice, because apparently you can't think properly unless you're an Erudite. The factions...why must they make no sense? Why!

...*deep breaths deep breaths*...

I really disliked how she lashed out at others, even when she's in the wrong. There is a scene where Christina and Cara are talking about her, because she killed Will, and they're not happy about her. Instead of understanding their grief, she makes it all about her and how she's a victim. She's not. She killed Will and went straight for a head shot even though she let Eric and Peter live. Why didn't she shoot his hand or leg? You want to know why. It's a curse, it's the

Remove every couple, so Tris and Tobias look normal curse

In Book One, Will and Christina hook up and it's cute and loveable and you root for them. Then Tris kills Will, leaving Christina alone. Tris also watches both her parents die, even though both were incredibly interesting characters that I would have liked to seen more of, they die because they're protecting Tris. And when I say protecting, I mean getting out of the way so we don't see a healthy relationship.

In Book Two, Edward becomes a psycho making Myra leave him, even though both seemed so in love with each other. Uriah and Maureen hook up and in pretty much the next chapter she dies. Lynn loves Maureen, so she has to die as well. Even when it seems like Christina might have someone else, he dies after saying she's cute. Shauna and Zeke are the exception to this rule, instead of dying; Shauna becomes paralyzed and has to be on a wheelchair. I suppose Caleb and Susan might be an exception too, but we don't see enough of them for this couple curse to happen. Thank God for that, because I actually like those two together.

Thus, every couple that seems to become normal and cute must have someone die so that Tris and Tobias are last couple standing.

I expect more couples dying on each other in the next book. Caleb will probably die then, so Tris can be the only person in her family alive and allowing another couple to 'break' up.

Even though I enjoyed this book a lot better than Divergent, it still has a lot of the same problems. The world doesn't make sense, the need for factions in order to find peace seems okay at first until you find out what the factions do and then you wonder what is wrong with these people. Tris is still annoying and not a strong female character. When she betrays Tobias and goes with Marcus to Erudite headquarters, she lets Marcus hit Caleb and instead of getting angry at that she gets angry that Marcus did the same thing to Tobias. With the Caleb hitting, it's justified because he's a traitor, even though Tris is technically considered a traitor at this point too......

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Why is it okay for her to betray everyone and not tell anyone the reason why, but it's wrong when Caleb does it? Caleb could have a great reason to do so, why don't you...hmm, I dunno. Talk to him instead of getting angry? That would be the logical and selfless thing to do, right? Right?
I just can't with Tris.

Anywho, the ending is interesting so I'll be reading the next book the series to see what happens next. I'm hoping the next book answers my questions and makes me understand this world. I also hope that no couple is harmed by the curse.

So I guess I should end the review here. Insurgent is better than Divergent, but it's still so so flawed.

3 stars out of 5

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent (Divergent, #1)Divergent by Veronica Roth
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

This book was the book to read last year. I got emails talking about how great it was, bloggers everywhere were singing its praises, and whenever I went to the store I saw this book a lot.

My expectations were high and for good reason. Divergent is an action packed face paced novel that will keep you reading and reading and reading. Sunday is the only day when I can actually sleep a few extra hours, so after I prayed Fajr I decided that I was going to sleep. Somehow, the book came up and well I didn't end up sleeping much after.

So there are a lot of good things about the book, but it's also doesn't really make a lot of sense. Let me explain. Divergence takes place in a notreally dystopian city, where people are separated by their beliefs on how the end war. You see, a long time ago, people decided that religion, race, nationalism, and politics were not the causes of war. Humans were the cause. In order to change this, they created five factions to eradicate war. Abnegation believed that selfishness was the reason. Amity believed that aggression was the cause. Candor thought it was duplicity. Dauntless said it was cowardice, and Erudite blamed ignorance.

And thus, the five factions were created, despite the fact that getting into groups like this will probably mean you're in for some discrimination of some kind or another. But whatever, they wanted to end war and end it they did. Oh, and to make this even better, each group only has a specific job. Dauntless are guards, Abnegations are in the government, Amity are farmers, Candor are lawyers, and Erudite are reporters and researchers. Again, not sure what the old citizens of Chicago were thinking when they thought up these rules, because it seems like a recipe for disaster to me.

If you’re wondering about the other jobs, the factionless peeps do those. We meet one in the book and he seems like a crazy hobo who is dirty and smells bad. At this point, you might find yourself wondering, “Why was Old Chicago so desperate to separate them like this and have lower people work for them? Doesn’t this mean that eventually there will be a revolt or factions will start fighting against each other? Why try to eradicate war, by presenting a problem that can cause it?”

Don’t worry. That’s part of the fun that is Divergent. There is one interesting factor that isn’t ever developed in this novel. The city, for some reason or another, is barricaded. The Dauntless guard these doors. From what? From who? I have no idea, but I’m really hoping its explained in the following novels.

Anyways, let’s get back to the book. Divergent starts off with sixteen year old Beatrice, our heroine, who has to decide which of these five factions she belongs to, to help her decide; she has to take a test. There’s only one problem, Beatrice belongs to more than one faction. People who are like this are called Divergent.

After we learn this and then see the ceremony, I started to wonder what was so great about being a Divergent. According to the rules, the test tells you which faction you belong to, but then you can choose whatever faction you want at the end. I don’t really see the purpose of the test, other than finding Divergents. This could very well be the case, but it’s never really explained either.

So Beatrice decides to go to Dauntless. Dauntless are a brave people. Brave in the sense that they are kind of psychotic and incredibly stupid. They jump down buildings, jump into moving trains, beat each other up, and get tattoos.

Seriously, Old Chicago, you really should have thought these things through.

I mean really, there are some huge flaws with every group. Dauntless are stupid. Amity spends their days smiling, hugging, and playing the banjo. Abnegation think of others before they think of themselves, which sounds nice, but it’s caused them to bottle up everything. I’m surprised there are not a few crazies in the group. Erudite are arrogant. And Candor are loud, brash, and don’t really care what others think.

As a whole, this doesn’t really matter because the story is about Beatrice’s, now named Tris, journey in becoming a Dauntless member. If she fails, she becomes a factionless. If she succeeds, then she’ll discover a new world that she never had in Abnegation and get to experience some good ol’ fashion YA loving.

Divergent is well written, but the world that Roth created has a lot of holes. Not that this is necessarily a problem, but since it’s a dystopia, I’m left wondering how something like this could ever happen. People may be stupid, but not stupid enough to do something like this. I kind of wish the genre was different. If it was fantasy, it would have been fine.

Also, I didn’t really care for Beatrice. She’s told that being a Divergent is dangerous, but does she listen? No. She continues to do things that will get her into trouble.

The last few chapters were great though and the story started to finally make sense and the arc about Al was really well done. (view spoiler)[ I also liked that we learned that Beatrice’s mom was a Divergent also. After we find out she dies, which sucks since it would have been nice to hear more about her. (hide spoiler)]

There are some good things and some bad, so I gave this three stars.

ps. (view spoiler)[ Was I the only one who was kind of troubled to see Beatrice kill Will? She doesn’t do the same thing to Eric and Peter, but Will, her friend and ally, she kills. When I read this I had two feelings about the situation. 1. Beatrice is a jerk. She could have shot his leg and continued running. 2. The moment there was another couple, they had to separate. Edward and Myra left together after he got stabbed in the eye, and once Christina and Will become an item, he has to die. Kind of sucks for the guys in these relationships, eh? (hide spoiler)]

2.5 stars out of 5

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Muslim Reading Challenge

After reading Skunk Girl, I thought it would be fun to read more books that deal with Muslims. As a Muslim myself, there are not that many books about us and when there is, it isn't always in the best of light. Still, I wanted to read more books about Muslims, so I thought it would be fun to try a Muslim Reading Challenge. Not only because I wanted to see what was out there, but I also wanted to read a book and say, "Hey, I can relate to this."

If you have any books that come to mind, please let me know. I've made a list that is currently found on goodreads - you can see it here.

I think this will be a fun challenge. I'm usually a bit more critical when it comes to books about Muslims, so I'm hoping that this will also help me read the books for the sake of reading.

Anywho, I'm excited to see what books I'll be able to read.

Review: Secrets of the Henna Girl by Sufiya Ahmed

Secrets of the Henna GirlSecrets of the Henna Girl by Sufiya Ahmed
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've never been outside of my country since I got here when I was a wee lil one. I haven't left the city for an overnight stay in years and I work in the summer. But if you have a life and go places in the summer, then imagine being sixteen and going to visit your home land. The beautiful landscapes, the relatives, and the food, all await your arrival. Your parents seem testy, but you're not too bothered. It's been awhile for them since they've been back home.

But once you arrive, you realize why they were acting so differently. Not only do you get to visit your home country, but you also get to get married against your will. It's what every little girl dreams for. Only not.

Zeba Khan thought a trip to Pakistan would be a summer without much fun, but all that changes when she's told that she will get married to her cousin Asif and that her consent doesn't matter. Zeba doesn't want to be married to him. She's only sixteen and has her whole life ahead of her. However, her parents will not listen to her, her uncle won't either, and everyone keeps telling her that she should simply put up and shut up. (not exactly like that, but it's the same thing).

Will Zeba find happiness with Asif, will she make her escape, or will she die trying? Dun Dun Dunnnnnn!

Before getting to the actual review, I just want to send some major props to Sufiya Ahmed for making a clear distinction between forced marriages and arranged marriages. They're not the same, and surprisingly, not many people know that. Often, when it comes to books like this or articles or tv shows, they don't mention that Islam condemns forced marriages. There is no marriage without the girls consent. Since this isn't mentioned, when non Muslims see this, they think our religion is all for it.

Let me make it clear, Islam forbids the practice of forced marriages. Arranged marriages are very different and are more like marriage meetings or blind dates. You get set up by your parents, but you get to decide whether you want to go through with it or not. A good example of this is found in Love In A Headscarf

Forced marriages. It's illegal, it's stupid, and it's completely from culture and not Islam.

Arranged marriages. It's okay and not as drama inducing.

With that out of the way, here's the review.

The Good

The setting, the topic, the characters, and the writing was great. You feel horrible for Zeba and wondered how her parents could ever think of doing this to her. At the same time, you kind of understood where her father was coming from. Shame is a big thing for them and he wanted to keep his nephew safe. It was wrong, but it was somewhat understandable.

Nannyma, Sehar, and Farhat were my favourite characters in the novel. All of these women were strong in their own way. Nannyma had respect and status in her village and tried to get people to see women and the world differently. Sehar was feisty and never gave up her dream to escape and live her own life. She was stubborn, but she had a good heart. Farhat, despite her upbringing, was cute and always tried her best to do the best job that she could possibly do. Her love for Sehar and her change in attitude was a real joy to see. I wanted to meet and befriend all of them while reading this.

I loved that religion was seen as a good thing. Like I mentioned before, whenever you see stories like this, Islam is always to blame. As a Muslim, this always saddens me, because Islam is as much against this as everyone else.

In the novel, we're told that there is an Imam (religious leader) who ordained the marriage of Sehar and her husband against her will. At first, he's seen as part of this horrible system and that there will be no hope. Later on, we find out that he's against this practice and thought that she accepted. Had he known that she was against it, he never would have done it. I loved that this was revealed and that the Imam was actually a good guy.

The Okay

Zeba's parents forcing their daughter to marry her cousin, is something I can never understand. But I'm also left wondering how her mother truly felt. While her dad was fleshed out nicely and had some nice conflict going on with him, the mother just seemed cold and distant. I wonder why she didn't try to have a proper relationship with Zeba and how she could be so different from her mother and sister.

The book is straight forward, and while there are some twists, you know how the story will be in the end. This doesn't make it a bad book. With a topic like this, you only have three possible directions to go. 1. She escapes. 2. She dies. 3. She ends up falling in love with Asif and lives happily ever after. Since this is in the YA category, I guess there is another option. 4. She starts to fall for Asif, but starts to fall for the mysterious stranger who promises to help her escape.

So yea, there isn't much of a change up in this story, but that doesn't really hinder it.

The Bad

I kind of wish we got to see more of Asif. He ends up being a decent enough guy, who is simply oblivious to the world around him, so it was kind of a shame that we didn't see enough of him.

This bad isn't really a bad thing for the book, it's more of depressing. Through Secrets of the Henna Girl, we got to see a different side of Pakistan and it's one that I hope changes, because I don't want to see stories like this in real life. The men kept talking about their honour this and their honour that, never realizing that the honour that they have in God's eyes diminishes while they do stupid things like this. It's sad. That's all you can really say. I do hope it's changing though and it's not as bad as what was written in the book. It's such a stupid mentality that really needs to be changed.


I really loved this book. The characters were great, the message was important to tell, and the writing was clean and crisp. The only downside is that Zeba's mom never really warmed up or felt human and Asif wasn't shown as much. Despite all that, Secrets of the Henna Girl a lovely book that more people should read.

4 stars out of 5

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Review:Choker by Elizabeth Woods

ChokerChoker by Elizabeth Woods
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Here's a funny story. Once upon a time a delightful young girl named pdbkwm was looked up books. She read one called "Living Dead Girl" and was blown away by the novel. She decided that she wanted to read more from the author, so she searched for more books. There was only one problem. She forgot the author’s last name. Instead of searching her library's history, she decided to guess and well, to make a long story short, she stumbled onto Choker and thought, "Hey, this is a different author, but the premise sounds just as delightful. I think I'm going to have to read this."


Moral of the story, sometimes you mess up the author’s name and stumble onto some awesome finds.

Anywho! I mentioned all that because I’m on the fence.

Choker has a lot of good things going for it. It's a fairly well written debut from Elizabeth Woods, it has a plot that is very different from the usual YA novels that I read, and it has a beautiful cover.

But while I found the novel entertaining, I also felt like once you figure out the plot (which happened early on) the book kind of loses its appeal. Many of the reviewers (good and bad) have mentioned that the book is creepy, but I didn't feel the same way. In fact, some things were kind of predictable.

Did I like it? Yes.

Did I get sucked into the mystery? No.

Did I continue reading? Yes.

And that's why I'm torn. Yes, it was predictable, and yes the mystery is incredibly obvious, but I kept reading just to see what Woods would do.

The Good:

This is the debut novel of Elizabeth Woods and I think she has a bright future ahead of her. The writing was well done and I never got bored or felt like the story dragged on. It was face paced where it needed to be and it slowed down when it was on an important scene. There are some problems here and there, but it's easy to look over that. The writing is simple, yet it has an air of tension throughout. I enjoyed it.

This might be because I haven't read many books lately, but I liked that this was different from the other YA novels that I usually read. It’s not original, but it is different and I liked that. It kind of makes me want to go out and find more books like this. Well not exactly like this, but the same sort of genre. We need more YA thrillers out there.

The Okay:

If you don't know what's going to happen, this will be a great book. But if you figured it out, and you might because the clues start dropping early on, then the suspense and creepiness factor really go down. This won't make you stop reading, because you'll want to know what happens next, but it does take away some of the appeal and punch of the novel.

The Bad:

There's a good amount of characters in this novel, and yet, there isn't. The story is mostly about Cara and Zoe's friendship, but I felt like other than those two, everyone was very one note. Alexis and Sydney, Cara's bullies, were the typical clichéd popular girls who torment those underneath them. Ethan, Alexis' boyfriend and Cara's crush, was perfect and sweet. There are girls in the track team, but we don't really know much about them and they're kind of interchangeable.

Zoe and Cara, despite their importance in the novel, also suffer from this too. Not as bad as everyone else, but I did want them to be fleshed out some more.

Normally, the third person style wouldn't bother me, but I think if this was written in first person I wouldn’t have felt such a disconnect from Cara. When she would go on about her school and life and Ethan and Zoe and her bullying and whatever, there was a distant between us that never really got solved even after I finished the novel.

I realize that I praised the writing earlier so this might sound like a weird complaint, but regardless of whether this written in first or third person, I just wanted to get a better sense of Cara. And at the end of the day, that is the most important thing.


I'm still on the fence. I'm still torn. And I'm still undecided on whether I should give this 4 stars for keeping me entertained or 3 stars because it was predictable and the characters were lacking.



Let's just give it 3.5 stars. I think that works.

3.5 stars out of 5

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Review: Reached by Ally Condie

Reached (Matched, #3)Reached by Ally Condie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While reading Reached, I had one thought in my head the entire time. Xander, you truly are

forever alone

If I didn’t feel bad for him already, I did in this book. He loves Cassia and Cassia loves him, but not as much as she loves Ky. In Crossed, Indie loved him, but here; she’s switched teams and joined in on the Ky love train. Then there was Em, who might have been a possibility if she was ever mentioned. And finally, there is Lei, who loves someone else for most of the novel and spends time talking about him or you know, being sick.

Home boy just can't catch a break. After awhile, I got over this feeling, but all that changed when during one of Cassia's chapters she says this:

“I come back to myself as the song ends, when the string makes a sound like hearts breaking. And then I can’t help but look for Xander.”

You know whose heart broke during this scene. Mine did. Sure he’s not jealous anymore, but it’s still incredibly sad.

But Xander being forever alone wasn’t the only thing that happened in Reached; there was an uprising, the pilot showed up, a plague killed people, poems were read, and, we get the added bonus of not having just one, or two, but three different narrators in this novel. All of these are great things, especially for the final book in the trilogy. And while I felt like Reached was the strongest book in this series, it still didn’t wow me.

The Good:

I feel like such a fan girl for mentioning him again, but Xander was my favourite thing in this novel. Yes, I felt sad for him. But I loved how his chapters, for the most part, were never about how he lost Cassia or how much he loved her. It was about helping people or finding a cure to the Plague. He learned some shocking truths about the things that he believed in and yet he kept going. He never gave up, never ran away, he just did what he felt was the right thing. I admire that. Out of all the characters, he was also the one who showed the most growth.

I do like the poetry that is used throughout the series, but sometimes I just want to know what happens and not have a poem stop things. So it was nice that Xander didn’t know any poems and didn’t read any. He just kept being awesome.

Another thing I liked was the Rising, mainly because; they were just like the Society, but in better clothing. The way both sides used one another is quite complex and I wish we spent more time on it. They both did shady things and for their own interests, instead of the interests of the people, and that made both sides look scary. With the Society, you live a peaceful life as long as you don’t overstep the boundaries, but the Rising, you’ll get to do things you’ve always wanted to do, as long as you don’t overstep the boundaries. With the Society, they give the citizens some form or strain of the plague with the blue pills. With the Rising, they give everyone the Plague. What if both are not even at odds with each other and were working together from the very beginning?

Who would you go with then?

I really liked that Condie didn’t make the Rising seem perfect, they were just as horrible as the Society. Granted, we still didn’t get to see a lot of it, but it was good for the most part.

I also liked Lei and felt like she was a great new addition to the cast of characters.

The Okay:

Cassia and Ky and Ky and Cassia, I don’t know what happened to you two crazy kids, but I found myself disappointed with them. I don’t know if it was just me, but once Cassia and Ky declared their love for each other in Matched I wanted them to not be with anyone else after that. So when Cassia kissed Xander in Crossed, I wasn’t okay with that. In Reached, Ky kisses Indie and Cassia is fine with it.


I don’t understand. If someone I loved kissed someone while we were doing a long distance thing, I’d be hurt. Cassia just says, “Well, you can never stop Indie, so if she kisses Ky it’s okay.” [not exact words] Indie has done a lot of horrible things to Cassia, this might be the worst thing in fact, and there was nothing to indicate that this was wrong or in bad taste.

I get that they love each other, but I wish they at least discussed things or Cassia didn’t act like “Oh, it’s just that Indie. A hoi hoi hoi!” I felt like after three novels, we’d finally see a growth in their relationship, but we didn’t. I don’t even think we’ve gone further than just scratching the surface with these two.

When their chapters came up, they spent most of it talking about how much they loved the other. However, I still don’t think it was enough to show how strong or deep their love was. I’m fine with them being a couple and I got that they were a couple, but I just wanted more from both of them.

The Bad:

Reached had some great things in it, but it was long and dragged on and on. I also felt like almost every big moment that happened never had an effect on me, because I knew things would work out, especially if it happened to one of the main three. If one of them got the Plague, you knew that they’d survive. There was no suspense. Even when their chapter came round and instead of writing, there was just a blank page, I felt nothing. I even said to myself, “Meh, the next time (said character) shows up, they’ll be cured so why worry about it.” And then I flipped the page and sure enough, they were cured.

(view spoiler)[ The only thing that shocked me was when Lei didn’t die. I thought she would, which would add to Xander’s Bermuda Triangle of love and misery, but she didn’t. This was the only thing that actually made me feel something. (hide spoiler)]

There were a few deaths, some of pretty important people, but they were glossed over. For a group of people who grew up in a world where people live till they’re 80, I would think that death would affect them a bit more strongly. These are people they knew and loved and the death is mentioned and they move on to the next scene. To me, I didn’t feel like this made much sense. We’ve seen how much Cassia’s grandfather’s death affected her, so why didn’t she behave in the same manner here?

I think the biggest problem was that there were things that are mentioned and then never brought up again. These things were never resolved, which was a bit of a letdown.


Like I said before, Reached is the best one in the series, but this is still a series that is just okay. It’s not great. It’s not bad. It’s just okay. I liked Xander, he really came into his own in this book and the dynamic between the Society and the Rising was refreshing to read. But, we still are at the surface of Cassia and Ky’s love story. And the book is plagued (hahaha...) by too many pages and not enough of the story to move the plot at a faster pace.

Would I recommend this series to someone? Maybe, I think? But not before recommending other things to them first.

3 stars out of 5

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Review: Matched by Ally Condie

Matched (Matched, #1)Matched by Ally Condie
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

When I first heard about this book, I was immediately drawn to it because of its awesome cover. Then I heard all of the raving reviews for this and knew that I had to read it sooner or later. Then Reached came out and I realized that I needed to buckle down and finally start this series.

So I did.

And um, I'm kind of mixed about Matched. There were things I liked, but things that I didn't. It's hard to explain so I've been putting this review off, because I wasn't sure how to convey what I what I felt.

The Good:

I really like the world that Ally Condie created. The Society is a place where Officials governs and dictates everything from what you eat, where you work, who you’ll be married with, and when you’ll die. From the outside looking in, it seems restrictive and scary. To those who are in the place, it seems ideal. No one gets sick, you know when you’ll die, and for the most part, everyone is happy.

Only, it seems like there are people who are frustrated and annoyed with the Society, but they remain silent, because if you cross the Society then you put yourself and your family at risk.

From this, you know that the Society isn’t as great a place as it originally seemed. Plus this is a YA novel, a dystopian at that, so you know that the Society will be shady and that the main characters will try to take it down. In any case, I did like hearing about the Society.

I did like all the poetry that

The Okay

Remember how I said that I liked hearing about the Society? That’s still true, only we never really learn a lot about them. We do know a few things, but not enough to show how scary or wrong this way of live is. There were a lot of things that never made sense either. The poems and stories of the old are illegal, but you never really understand why. Is it because if you read them, you’ll stop wanting to follow the Society? If that’s the case, why does it seem so easy to find them? Also, I don’t understand the reason behind making sure no one writes anything. Since the Society allows people to read, how would this stop people from writing things?

I was a bit disappointed that we never really learned too much about the Society, but this isn’t the main story of Matched so I could forgive it.

The Bad:

The main plotline in this novel is the love story between Cassia and Ky. Cassia was matched with her best friend Xander, while Ky wasn’t matched due to his status with the Society. One day, while Cassia looks at her microchip to see Xander’s picture, she sees Ky’s picture instead. The Society tells her that this is a glitch and to ignore it, but it only makes Cassia want Ky now.

I get that their relationship is meant to be free, but it didn’t feel like it was. Cassia isn’t meant to be with Ky, but she’s drawn to him. True love and all that. The only problem is, the reason why Cassia wants Ky instead of Xander. It’s not free pure love, as it’s meant to be depicted, it’s the forbidden kind where you’re told not to touch something, but it only makes you want to touch it more. The fact that Ky was also told about the screw up, means that he pursued her after this as well.

There is a line near the end where Cassia says she chose to love Ky and that the Society didn’t make the choice for her, but I kept thinking that she wouldn’t even care about Ky if this whole thing didn’t happen. (view spoiler)[Plus, it’s later revealed that the Society knew that she was going to go after Ky anyways so they purposely told her things to mess with her. (hide spoiler)]

The whole thing didn’t make sense to me and it only made me feel horrible for Xander. He was in the friend-zone, got out of it, only to be placed back in it because Cassia found something better. Forever Alone.


I wanted to like this book, but the love story is really contrived and depressing for the other guy. This book reminds me a lot of Delirium. In both stories, the main character is matched with someone that the society picks out for them, but they soon discover another kind of love which makes them question everything. The only difference between the two is that I felt like Delirium was executed a bit better.

There are good things in the novel, but there are a lot of annoying things as well.

2.5 stars out of 5

Review: Fathomless by Jackson Pearce

Fathomless (Fairytale Retellings, #3)Fathomless by Jackson Pearce
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In Sister's Red, we learned about the Fenris. The Big Bad wolves who love to kill and eat people. In Sweetly, we learned that Fenris need some love. But their love is a bit too dangerous, so they need dark ones. Dark ones are created to be the lover of Fenris. They’re girls who lost their twin, either naturally or by Fenris, and are then thrown into the sea. There, they’ll become mermaids and eventually become the dark ones.

So, can you guess what this book is about?

The Good:

After I finished Sweetly, I really wanted a book that didn’t have the Fenris as the main villains. I understood it in Sister’s Red, but I felt like it was a bit of a stretch in Sweetly. So imagine my surprise, where the Fenris hardly show up in this book. Are they still the main villains, yes. I think at this point that’s just how it’s going to be so I might as well deal with that, but I did like that the story didn’t focus on them.

I liked that the huntsmen were not huntsmen here. Instead, we get Silas’ and Samuel’ little sisters. Granted, they’re not much of hunters, but they do have powers that seem to be unique to them. I do wonder if they got it because they’re girls in a family of huntsman, or because they’re triplets. Sadly, we never really get the answer to this, but I did like that the guy wasn’t a huntsman.

Lo and Nadia’s personalities felt very different, but still the same which I liked. I might be bias though, since I quite liked Lo. She felt real to me, so her struggling to keep Nadia, but still stay with her sisters in the sea was a dynamic I enjoyed reading about.

The Okay:

If you haven’t read Sweetly, then the ending with the Fenris might come from nowhere, but if you did, then you might feel slightly disappointed. The moment we’re introduced to Lo and she tells us that an ’angel’ brought her to the sea, you pretty much knew what was going to happen. The longer the girls let go of their humanity, the faster they’ll become dark ones. The faster they become dark ones, the faster they’ll get some lovin’ from the Fenris.

So when Lo/Nadia is trying to figure out what happened and Molly tells her the awful truth, it was kind of a letdown because Sweetly already told us this.

Celia, along with her sisters Anne and Jane, have special powers. Anne can see the future, Jane can see the present, while Celia can only see the past. Celia feels left out from this group, because her power isn’t as awesome as her sisters. Her sisters....there wasn’t much about them, so her feelings of being left out didn’t really grab me.

With Sister’s Red, the dynamic of the sisters were done better, then again, the sisters were the main characters of that novel. Here, it’s just Celia and Lo, so her sisters never really did much other than say that they should stick together and get some guy to buy them fondue.

The Bad:

I don’t know what it is about this series, but I can never seem to get into the romance. Granted, this one was pushed to the back burner, but still it never felt authentic. Celia and Lo both love Jude, but I never understood why. He hardly even shows up, so where did this love happen? I know it was there to the Little Mermaid retelling full circle, but I kind of wish this was developed a bit more.

Whenever Lo surfaced and walked on the beach, there would be a trail of blood. Not sure why no one noticed this trail. Sure, the beach my sweep some of it away, but if she’s sitting down and walking to a church then wouldn’t people start getting suspicious?

This book did tend to drag on and didn’t feel as real as Sister’s Red and Sweetly. I really like how Pearce creates these settings making you feel like you’re actually there, but for some reason that magic didn’t really happen here.

Considering the fact that Celia, Jane, and Anne are from the huntsman family, why is it that they seem to know nothing about the Fenris. Plus, Celia saw her father’s past, so wouldn’t there be Fenris memories there that she could see or pick up on? Why didn’t her brothers ever tell her who she really was? Why does Celia, Jane, and Anne feel like they only have each other? Do they even know that they have brothers?


I didn’t like this book as much as I liked the other two. I’m not sure what happened here to be honest. The writing is still great and the retellings are interesting, but this book felt a bit flat. That being said, I did still enjoy it and liked Celia and Lo enough to not get bored. I just feel like there was something missing with this story.

I think the main problem is that if you read Sweetly, you already know the mystery surrounding the ocean girls. So when Lo/Nadia is searching for the truth, you already know it.

The series is still fun to read though, so this won't stop me from reading Cold Spell.

3 stars out of 5