The Cabin by Natasha Preston // What a Shocking Ending!

Friday, 20 July 2018 1 comments
The Cabin, by Natasha Preston
Publication: September 6, 2016, by Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Thriller
Pages: 327
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased

There may only be one killer, but no one is innocent in this new thriller from Natasha Preston, author of The Cellar and Awake.
When Mackenzie treks to a secluded cabin in the woods with six friends, she expects a fun weekend of partying, drinking, and hookups. But when they wake to find two of their own dead and covered in blood, it's clear there's a killer among them.
As the police try to unravel the case, Mackenzie launches her own investigation. Before long secrets start to emerge, revealing a sinister web of sins among the original seven friends. The killer is still free. Every one of them is a suspect. And Mackenzie starts to realize that no one is innocent…

My Thoughts:

The Cabin was highly anticipated by me, as I really wanted to read another good psychological thriller by Natasha Preston. I have previously read two of the authors' books: Awake and The Cellar, and reading about the summary of this one really impressed me and made me excited. It's rare to find psychological thrillers for YA readers, and this one was a pure success. It kept me guessing, sitting in suspense, and left me wondering about who in my life I should trust, and who I should not. While it was not written in the fastest pace possible and in the writing style I prefer as a reader, it was an excellent read that I recommend to all of you.

The story unfolds when a group of six friends head off to a cabin to spend the weekend partying and celebrating their summer. Mackenzie, our protagonist, is not too excited about the idea, as she will be forced to spend time with Josh, a guy who deceived her and who she does not approve her best friend of dating. While there, she meets Josh's brother, Blake, and all goes well until everyone wakes up the next morning to find two of them dead. Murdered. The police suggest that there is a certain chance that the murderer is one of the four left, causing Mackenzie to question all she's ever known and who to trust.

This book certainly started in a whirl. It began as fast-paced, and I kept waiting for the murder to happen; I was so intrigued. After it happened, my expectations fell as the book's plot began to slow down as we readers tried to find murder suspects and try to see who is innocent or not. Eventually, the pace picked up as another person was murdered, and the book became entertaining once more. The ending was super shocking, and left me wanting more, though only because it fell short in the last few sentences. I wish we had another chapter or epilogue to really close it. Once you feel like the story is closing, it actually isn't, and more suspense is left. 

The author really succeeded at capturing a nice romance: the one between Blake and Mackenzie. While readers may suspect that it was rushed, I really enjoyed it and supported it. 

The Cabin initiated as a boring read that *seemed* predictable. It really wasn't, and I was wrong. Although it was lacking through the middle, the story eventually picked up once again and totally impressed me. I can't wait for more of Natasha Preston's work.

What are some GOOD YA thrillers?

A Million Worlds With You by Claudia Gray // Not As Good As the First Two

Tuesday, 17 July 2018 0 comments
A Million Worlds With You (Firebird #3), by Claudia Gray
Publication: November 1, 2016, by HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 419
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased

The fate of the multiverse rests in Marguerite Caine’s hands. Marguerite has been at the center of a cross-dimensional feud since she first traveled to another universe using her parents’ invention, the Firebird. Only now has she learned the true plans of the evil Triad Corporation—and that those plans could spell doom for dozens or hundreds of universes, each facing total annihilation.
Paul Markov has always been at Marguerite’s side, but Triad’s last attack has left him a changed man—angry and shadowed by tragedy. He struggles to overcome the damage done to him, but despite Marguerite’s efforts to help, Paul may never be the same again.
So it’s up to Marguerite alone to stop the destruction of the multiverse. Billions of lives are at stake. The risks have never been higher. And Triad has unleashed its ultimate weapon: another dimension’s Marguerite—wicked, psychologically twisted, and always one step ahead.
In the conclusion to Claudia Gray’s Firebird trilogy, fate and family will be questioned, loves will be won and lost, and the multiverse will be forever changed. It’s a battle of the Marguerites…and only one can win.

My Thoughts:

A Million Worlds With You has been marked as currently-reading on my Goodreads account forEVER. Why, you ask? Because I began reading it months ago and found that it was boring, and so much was happening at once that I needed to slow down and wait to read it during a time where I would be able to concentrate. Whenever I kept peeking at its (gorgeous) cover, I would shiver, reminding myself of the boredom it provided me. However, I recently produced the guts to read it (and remove it from my currently-reading list), and I was thoroughly disappointed. This was supposed to be amazing, just as the first two books in this trilogy were. Unfortunately, it was not amazing.

Don't get me wrong: I love this series and still would recommend it to all interested readers. This book just proved itself to be unpromising. While reading, I felt like too much was happening at once, and our main character, Marguerite, was switching between too many worlds (or 'verses') too quickly. I wasn't able to determine what her role in this story was. Apparently it was to save the other versions of herself, but too much was happening and I was unable to really feel that. Instead, I just felt Claudia Gray attempting to ramble on and on, taking up 'space' in the book, instead of entertaining readers in a slow, blissful manner.

This series is really all about its gorgeous romance between Marguerite and Paul. In this novel, their romance felt very flawed (which is normal), but to the point that I stopped being interested because they faced TOO many problems. It seemed as if the characters were getting tired of each other (even though Marguerite attempted to tell herself that she is in love with Paul), and I myself got tired. 

There were pros and positives in this story; I really liked the conclusion, and it really made me feel sad, knowing that this was the last time I would be able to read about these characters. I liked how we were able to see a relationship boost amongst Marguerite and her parents, especially in the other verses. I will truly miss this series, despite the lows of this finale.

A Million Worlds With You was disappointing in comparison to the other two novels in this series. It lacked depth and a faster pace that would keep me entertained for my entire reading experience. I constantly longed for more. Goodbye, Firebird series, I loved you.

Have you read a series with a disappointing ending?

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins // Not Understanding the Hype

Friday, 13 July 2018 0 comments
Into the Water, by Paula Hawkins
Publication: May 2, 2017, by Riverhead Books
Genre: Adult Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 386
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher

In the last days before her death, Nel called her sister. Jules didn’t pick up the phone, ignoring her plea for help. Now Nel is dead. They say she jumped. And Jules has been dragged back to the one place she hoped she had escaped for good, to care for the teenage girl her sister left behind. But Jules is afraid. So afraid. Of her long-buried memories, of the old Mill House, of knowing that Nel would never have jumped. And most of all she’s afraid of the water, and the place they call the Drowning Pool . . .

My Thoughts:

DNF @ 150 pages

Paula Hawkins always *seemed* like an author whose writing I will one day enjoy. In case you didn't know, I am the biggest fan of psychological thrillers, so, naturally, Into the Water really intrigued me. I never read (or watched) The Girl on the Train, though after hearing about all its hype, I figured that this new release would be the kind of read I would enjoy. I was completely wrong, let's say that. This book was not my cup of tea—I was really disappointed with its outcome, and found that there are many, MANY better thrillers out there that I will surely enjoy in the coming future. 

From my viewpoint, Paula Hawkins' writing is so overhyped. I don't understand why everyone is going crazy: have y'all not read other better thrillers before? B.A. Paris? Mary Kubica? UGH. This book was really confusing (with the millions of perspectives - I couldn't tell who was who by the time I reached page sixty) and it lacked any kind of plot. I hate when this happens during my reading experience; aren't books supposed to have a purpose and a plot? Well, this unfortunately lacked any sort of purpose and interesting writing style that would allow me to want to pay attention to the storyline (or lack thereof). I really disliked this book, and I must say that it's one of the worst I've read in a while. I don't think I've ever been disappointed by a psychological thriller, but Paula Hawkins' newest story just did that. I can say I'm absolutely disappointed; I'd never pick this one up again. 

Into the Water was a complete disappointment. Trust me: do not risk being confused and bored; read other thrillers!
*A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for a honest review. Thank you so much!*

What is the worst book of 2018 for you?

I Hate Everyone But You by Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin // Trashy.

Thursday, 12 July 2018 0 comments
I Hate Everyone But You, by Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin
Publication: September 5, 2017, by Wednesday Books
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, LGBT
Pages: 344
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher

So begins a series of texts and emails sent between two best friends, Ava and Gen, as they head off to their first semesters of college on opposite sides of the country. From first loves to weird roommates, heartbreak, self-discovery, coming out and mental health, the two of them document every wild and awkward moment to each other. But as each changes and grows into her new life, will their friendship be able to survive the distance?

My Thoughts:

DNF @ 150(?) pages

I hate to say this, but this book was awful, and probably the worst book I've read this year. I Hate Everyone But You lowered my expectations for contemporary YA stories. Will we keep receiving and reading books that are written in this awkward format, solely because the whole world is under a social media craze? This book was written ONLY in the format of emails and text messages, which I found lacking. Because of this weird, boring format, the story lacked any sort of purpose, and any sort of a plot. In total, the most I can say is that there was no point to this story. I do not see why we had to read about two characters who did not have any depth in them, and who were just trashy. Gen and Ava are the definition of trashy characters. I did not enjoy the whole college partying sorority setting where the authors literally focused on drugs, sex and alcohol. COME ON. There's more to friendships and college than just that. 

What was this book's purpose? To highlight the friendship between two damaged characters? I guess so. I'm also aware that the story eventually focuses on some LGBT aspects, but I did not read far enough to sense that. And I can imagine how lacking that would be — it's probably just an extra addition to catch the attention of some readers. Ugh.

I Hate Everyone But You was a complete disappointment. And I don't even feel bad about giving this a one-star rating. It was boring, dumb, and the format just made me yawn. Skip this one for a better contemporary read. There are many.

*A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for a honest review. Thank you so much!*

What was the worst book of 2018 so far for you?

Foe by Iain Reid // Unbelievably Mind-Warping

Wednesday, 11 July 2018 0 comments
Foe, by Iain Reid
Publication: August 7, 2018, by Simon and Schuster
Genre: Adult Fiction, Thriller
Pages: 224
Source: Publisher
Format: ARC

We don’t get visitors. Not out here. We never have.
Junior and Hen are a quiet married couple. They live a comfortable, solitary life on their farm, far from the city lights, but in close quarters with each other. One day, a stranger from the city arrives with surprising news: Junior has been randomly selected to travel far away from the farm...very far away. The most unusual part? Arrangements have already been made so that when he leaves, Hen won’t have a chance to miss him at all, because she won’t be left alone—not even for a moment. Hen will have company. Familiar company.
Foe examines the nature of domestic relationships, self-determination, and what it means to be (or not to be) a person. An eerily entrancing page-turner, it churns with unease and suspense from the first words to its shocking finale.

My Thoughts:

Foe by Iain Reid was a surprise. It was a surprise because it randomly showed up in my mailbox (I never knew that it was going to be released, or even that Iain Reid was writing a second novel that'll be also a psychological thriller), and a surprise because it was amazing. If you're looking for another book that will mess with your mind just like I'm Thinking of Ending Things did, read this. I've been noticing that some of the other early reviews are skeptical of this book being classified as a 'psychological thriller,' however, I feel like it can be. THIS IS A THRILLER. It will absolutely thrill you to the core. Whatever you take away from the summary is not what the book's even close to being about. There's much more to the story, many more details and events that will scare the heck out of you, and make sure that you will not sleep at night, or trust the people around you.

Without spoiling anything, Foe is about a happily married couple, Hen and Junior, who are living in the countryside, far away from any nearby homes or people. One night, they receive an unexpected visitor from an internationally famous company who states that Junior has been selected, through a random lottery system, to travel far away from their farm. In return, Hen would be taken care of while Junior sets off on this 'life-altering experience.' This book focuses on the journey towards Junior's 'instalment' into this new phase of his life, and the struggles he faces as he comes to terms with this new part of his life.

From the start of my reading experience, I was obsessed. I couldn't stop reading, and I knew that this is the kind of book that should be finished in a maximum of two sittings. And that's how I was able to complete my reading experience. This is an approximately 200-paged story that kept me intrigued in every moment. The chapters are relatively short, and the dialogue is written in a way that sends chills down my spine. There are so many hidden aspects in the story that, by the time your reading experience is over, will show you that they were added by Iain Reid for a reason. I love these kinds of books, because every part is important; there's no random junky writing that solely appears to take up pages. Iain Reid's writing is beautiful, and features important details that make the story even more terrifying than initially suspected.

What I loved most about the story was its ending. If it had a mediocre ending, I would've probably given this book a 4-star rating. However, the ending did everything for me. It contained such a drastic plot twist that I felt my heart palpitate. If you're looking to be shook, please read this story and see what I'm talking about. I am in love, and this is one of the best books of the year.

Foe changed the way I look at psychological thrillers; it moved me, and introduced a new idea to my favourite book genre. Iain Reid, you are the master of scaring readers. 

*A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for a honest review. Thank you so much!*

Who is your favourite author who writes books that are consistently well-written?

Whenever I'm With You by Lydia Sharp // Completely Disappointed.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018 0 comments
Whenever I'm With You, by Lydia Sharp
Publication: January 3, 2017, by Scholastic Press
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 304
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback

After Gabi’s parents’ divorce, she moves from California to Alaska with her dad. At first, it feels like banishment—until she meets Kai. He welcomes her into his life, sharing his family, his friends, and his warmth. But as winter approaches, Kai pulls away for seemingly no reason at all. He's quiet, withdrawn. Then one day, he disappears.
Kai’s twin brother, Hunter, believes Kai is retracing their missing father’s steps in the wilderness north of Anchorage. There’s a blizzard on the way, and Kai is alone out there. Gabi's frustration over his emotional distance quickly turns to serious concern. This is the boy who saved her from the dark. She can't lose him to it.
So Gabi and Hunter agree to head out together on a wild journey north—a trip that will challenge them physically and emotionally, as they try to convince the boy they love to return home.

My Thoughts:

Whenever I'm With You seemed like a great, quick read that would surely impress me, as I predicted that it would be similar to the style of Kasie West. However, this was a true disappointment. I did not enjoy it. When reading the summary on the back of the book's cover, I expected this to be a unique, unpredictable read as it takes place in Alaska. ALASKA. A setting we've all never read about. I found this to be super boring as it included stubborn, confusing characters whose story began before we even started reading. That's the worst part of this all; we barely had a chance to see the characters develop. In the meantime, I also became extremely bored with this novel and couldn't stand to continue reading; I wanted to move on. 

Ultimately, I spent my time flipping through pages, skimming through the paragraphs and trying to make sense of what was happening in the story. I couldn't catch up with anything. I just did not enjoy this story.

Whenever I'm With You by Lydia Sharp was a disappointing story that would've been better if the romance was more prevalent. It otherwise felt like a boring story with no purpose. Additionally, it was cheesy and featured no depth.

What was the most recent disappointing read you've read?

The Possibility of Now by Kim Culbertson // Cheesy But Enjoyable

Monday, 9 July 2018 2 comments
The Possibility of Now, by Kim Culbertson
Publication: January 26, 2016, by Point
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 304
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback

Mara James has always been a perfectionist with a plan. But despite years of overachieving at her elite school, Mara didn't plan on having a total meltdown during her calculus exam. Like a rip-up-the-test-and-walk-out kind of meltdown. And she didn't plan on a video of it going viral. And she definitely didn't plan on never wanting to show her face again.
Mara knows she should go back, but suddenly she doesn't know why she's been overachieving all these years. Impulsively, she tells her mom she wants to go live with her estranged dad in Tahoe. Maybe in a place like Tahoe, where people go to get away from everyday life, and with a dad like Trick McHale, a ski bum avoiding the real world, Mara can figure things out.
Only Tahoe is nothing like she thought. There are awesome new friends and hot boys and a chance to finally get to know Trick, but there is also still massive amounts of schoolwork. Can Mara stopping planning long enough to see the life that's happening right now?

My Thoughts:

While writing this review, I just realized that the author of this novel is Kim Culbertson, author of Catch a Falling Star, another book published by Point which was a horrendously cheesy story I did not enjoy. I think that if I was aware of that beforehand, there would have been a large chance that I wouldn't have picked this one up. The Possibility of Now was a cheesy chick-lit contemporary romance, but, as you can see, it was a 4-star read, meaning that I did enjoy the cheesiness. The storyline was quite predictable, but I must admit that it was interesting and unique, as it is quite rare to read a YA book set in a ski resort or even California. This was a lovely coming-of-age story about a protagonist quite similar to myself, who is a perfectionist and enjoys succeeding in schoolwork.

Mara James lives in San Diego with her mother, stepbrothers and stepfather, far away from the ski-filled adventurous life her absent father is living in Lake Tahoe. After a humiliating event in which Mara has a panic attack over a calculus exam, she decides that it is better for her to head to Lake Tahoe to relax and rejuvenate for a few months. There, she is forced to confront her absent father and meet new friends, who are skiers. And of course, a romance blossoms.

For the first hundred pages or so, I wasn't too into the book. I found that it was a little juvenile and typical for a contemporary romance, however, I later found that it became difficult to put down, as I was curious to see how Mara would enjoy her life of living in Northern California, and being away from a competitive environment which her old school in San Diego had. I found myself really relating to Mara and her character, even though her whole list-making ideology became a little annoying at times. However, I just found this entire story to be a feel-good read.

The Possibility of Now was a lovely read which I recommend to people of all ages. I adored the romance, the characters, and the setting of this all.

What are some of the recent 'light' books you've read?

A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena // Such an Important, Special Read

Friday, 6 July 2018 0 comments
A Girl Like That, by Tanaz Bhathena
Publication: February 27, 2018, by Farrar Straus Giroux
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 378
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Rating: ½

Sixteen-year-old Zarin Wadia is many things: a bright and vivacious student, an orphan, a risk taker. She’s also the kind of girl that parents warn their kids to stay away from: a troublemaker whose many romances are the subject of endless gossip at school. You don't want to get involved with a girl like that, they say. So how is it that eighteen-year-old Porus Dumasia has only ever had eyes for her? And how did Zarin and Porus end up dead in a car together, crashed on the side of a highway in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia? When the religious police arrive on the scene, everything everyone thought they knew about Zarin is questioned. And as her story is pieced together, told through multiple perspectives, it becomes clear that she was far more than just a girl like that.

My Thoughts:

A Girl Like That was a shock. That is probably the most important sentence I will state in this entire review, as it's the complete and utter truth. I was really excited about reading it, as I heard about the book through a blogger event held by Raincoast Books, the book's Canadian publisher. However, when I began reading it, I automatically felt as if it would be disappointing. All of the perspectives got me really confused from the first few pages, and I didn't understand what the purpose of the story would be. From its summary, I was aware that this wouldn't be a typical contemporary story, and I was aware that it did produce a ton of emotions in readers. However, I was not ready for this story to showcase the struggles of females in the Middle East, due to the harshness of governments and laws. I did not expect to adore this as much as I did, either, as I was really confused for the first fifty pages or so. I expected this to be about the car accident in which the protagonist, Zarin, and the male character, Porus, end up in, however, Bhathena's story is really about what leads up to this accident. And, it really helps us answer the book's main question: who is Zarin Wadia? Who is she really? 

So, as mentioned, this story follows Zarin Wadia, a sixteen-year-old girl living in Saudi Arabia. She is an orphan living with her strict aunt and uncle, and is not native to Saudi Arabia, as she is Parsi. Throughout the novel, we readers see her outlook on life as she encounters many relationships with boys, exploring her femininity and personality. However, when she meets Porus, who also comes from the same culture as Zarin, she is intrigued with him in a different way than most boys, which leads to them both being killed in a car accident. This story shows us readers what happened before this accident, and what major event stirred this.

A day after I closed the book's spine, I still cannot get the characters and story out of my mind. I cannot help but wonder what happened next, and how each of the characters were doing in reality, as if they existed. Tanaz Bhathena did an outstanding job at creating three-dimensional characters who seemed so realistic. This rarely happens in novels, though Tanaz successfully achieved this, and I felt as if they were so real. I cannot wait to see what other ideas the author has in mind, and to see if her future stories will be similar to this one. 

I found the book to be quite fresh, in the sense that I finally found a story which took place somewhere else other than America or Canada. (Though honestly, Canada's even difficult to find). I learned so much about the Saudi Arabian/Middle Eastern culture through this story, and I wish that more YA authors would pick up on this idea and continue the legacy which this author has begun. 

THIS BOOK JUST SCREAMS OUT FEMINISM. Our protagonist, Zarin, is a true advocate for women's rights, and based on the tragic event that happens to her in this story, there is no better way to build on feminism than the way Tanaz Bhathena did. Zarin was so kick-butt and memorable, unlike many of the weaker females I've read about who let boys take advantage of them. The relationship she developed with Porus was a rare one, that's for sure. How often are we readers truly able to see a relationship blossom through friendship? They usually form very quickly from characters seeing each other for the first time -> flirting -> dating. NOT IN THIS CASE. Thank you, astonishing author, for defying the stereotypes. 

It is time for more diverse books in the YA genre. Sure, we do get our fair bunch, but I find that those books usually fall under the fantasy/sci-fi genre. A Girl Like That was a difficult book to read, in that it messed with my emotions and really was devastating. It's an important read for everyone to pick up, as it touches upon many tough issues that need more addressing. Grab this one and love it with all of your heart.

*An advanced review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for a honest review. Thank you so much!*

What are some latest diverse YA reads?