Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

2813153■Synopsis (from the back cover)

Clay Jensen returns home to find a strange package with his name on it.
Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker – his classmate and first love – who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

Hannah’s voice explains there are thirteen reasons why she killed herself. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.

All through the night, Clay keeps listening – and what he discovers changes his life…

Forever.

 

This book didn’t blow me away as much as I hoped it would.
I did enjoy the reading experience and found it a quick read, but it just didn’t completely click with me.

In fact, I’m still indecisive about this book; while I don’t particularly adore this book, I still find this very haunting; it definitely left a vague, yet lasting impression on me.

This may be a kind of book that one may not particularly love yet can’t help thinking about. That’s exactly what’s happening to me, to be honest.

Like I said, this is a quick, engaging read. In each chapter with the number of cassette tapes you’re on – you’ll listen to Hannah narrating her side of the story as to what led her to taking her own life. Personally, I found it pretty voyeuristic.
There are thirteen reasons why she killed herself and are thirteen people on the list to whom the cassette tapes will be passed on.
Which means, each and every one of them will be listening to what each of them on the list had done to Hannah – in detail.
With regard to this, I think it’s very clever and engaging.

As for the writing style, it actually took me a while to get used to.
While the story is basically narrated in the first person -from Clay Jensen’s perspective, since we are supposed to be listening to Hannah’s soliloquy throughout the thirteen cassette tapes, namely thirteen chapters, there’s a constant back and forth between Hannah’s narration and Clay’s inner thoughts which I found pretty distracting and I actually had to do a lot of re-read to figure out which perspective I was on.

However, it may be only me who feels this way, but Clay’s teenage angst and wandering around the town not being inclined to go home kind of reminded me of Haulden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye.
I don’t know why, but it just did. Please share your thoughts if you felt the same way.

Story-wise, I particularly liked the change that visits Clay’s mind after hearing Hannah’s tapes.
This story tells you what big of an impact you can have on someone else’s life; how your words and deeds can affect others. The ripple effect of your conducts, even though the effect of which is unbeknownst to yourself.

And once you know the truth, that’ll change how you view things and people.

Being blatantly shown what he could have done to save her but he didn’t must have been too much for Clay, trust me – it was so hard to read, I felt for him – but I liked how he changes – or tries to change – after such a revelation.

And he actually puts his determination to action.

That’s enough for me; it’s such a hopeful, rewarding end.

I gave this 3.5 out of 5 stars, but this rating could be changed afterwards (probably in a positive way.)

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six of CrowsI gave this book 4 out of 5 stars. This book definitely measures up to the hype and I quite enjoyed reading it.

Despite that, I must note that it took me quite a while to get into the story.
The reasons are:

a)I wasn’t particularly familiar with the Grisha world (I haven’t read the Grisha Trilogy) and,
b)There are just too many characters making an appearance at the early stage in the story and some of them turned out to be minnows who I didn’t necessarily have to keep track of.

What really drained me is b): the number of characters. As I previously mentioned, many of them ended up being of no importance thus I didn’t necessarily have to spend my time and energy in keeping track of.
However, I ended up doing a lot of re-read and skipping ahead to understand who is who and who the character is connected to, which drained a lot of energy out of me.

For those reasons, the first 40 pages, particularly the parley scene was really excruciating and mentally draining to me.
I didn’t find it info-dumpy, it was totally immersive and gripping once I picked up the book and started reading, it was really an exciting read. But once life got in the way and I put aside the book, the mental exhaustion that I had experienced in the first 40 pages actually made me a bit hesitant to pick it up again and I ended up dragging the hesitation the entire time until I finished the book.
Other than that, I really enjoyed reading this book.

Apart from the unfamiliar names and settings that come with the Grisha world, I think the writing is on point, brisk and very easy to get through. It’s also very descriptive and I could easily visualize each scene; some scenes actually made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.
I found the plot a bit predictable, particularly what was supposed to be a huge twist in the end, nevertheless, it didn’t make the story any less interesting. I really enjoyed it.

I gather this is a kind of book that you should go blindly knowing the bare minimum about the plot; even a brief mention about the heist seems to be quite spoilary to me. (So I wouldn’t.)

As far as the character goes, my absolute favorite will be Kaz Brekker and Nina. I assume Kaz will be a heartthrob to many, but I absolutely love Nina’s character. She is sexy, gentle and strong and capable. I particularly adore the romance between Matthais and Nina in the end… it made my heart swoon (not as much as it did for Cinder and Kai in The Lunar Chronicles, but it did).
But Nina, oh my gosh, Nina. What have you done?! It was actually one of my favorite scenes in the book. Some may see it as overly dramatic, but I just adore the scene. Love it.

Kaz’s feelings toward someone whose name I won’t name came as a bit of a surprise – I wouldn’t say I didn’t see it coming at all, nonetheless, it was a nice surprise. It actually made me a bit warmed up to Kaz.

The friendship built amongst the crews is also what I really liked about this book.
My favorite goes to the one between Inej and Nina and Jesper and Wylan.
The rest of the crews first disregard Wylan at the earlier stage of the heist, but as the story goes, as they go through a lot of predicaments together, they start to look at Wylan in a different light and think more of him. I liked the change A LOT.

Overall, I think Leigh Bardugo did an amazing job in weaving such an exciting, thrilling story by tactfully entwining each character’s background story with the main one with vital clues and revelations as to, for instance, why Kaz Brekker always wears gloves and things along those lines.
Despite the initial mental exhaustion that I experienced, I found the latter half is such a page-turner, a great read.

Although I’m yet to be ready to dive right into the sequel, ‘Crooked Kingdom,’ and I’ll be most likely to take a bit of a break, I highly recommend picking this up.
It is definitely worth your time and energy. It’s such a rewarding, exciting read. Definitely lived up to my expectations. I’m glad that I finally finished this book.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

16143347I picked up this book because of its hype this book has gleaned from the book community, and most importantly, YA is my jam; I started this book with high expectations.

It’s been nearly four days since I finish this book, but I still haven’t been able to make up my mind when it comes to deciding whether I like this book or not.
Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely enjoyed reading this book. This is such a page-turner with a huge, surprising twist in the end. That being said though, when it comes down to the issue of liking it or not, I still don’t know which side I am on. I’m somewhere in the middle.

I gave this book 3 ~ 3.5 out of 5 stars.
As I previously mentioned, I enjoyed reading this; this book made me keep turning pages.
There’s not much of a plot going, it’s just narratives of the ‘Liars’ summers on the island where their grandfather has a great influence on. The Sinclair family is a well-off, distinguished family and they have almost everything and they have the luxury of spending summertime on the island every year.

What I found interesting is the relationship between the ‘Liars,’ Cady, Johnny, Mirren and Gat. They get along really well on the island, yet their relationship never goes beyond the summer; they lose in touch at some time or other and let it fall through the cracks until next summer. I wonder why, but they do and I assume that’s exactly what makes their summers on the island really special.

Another aspect that I found interesting is the crumbling relationship between their mothers. On the surface level, they seem to get along all right, but deep down they’re constantly against each other and currying favor with their father to secure the better family possessions.
The underlying enmity slowly elevates the matters to the point that comes to a head and that eventually drives the ‘Liars’ into taking the matters into their own hands – which leads to the shocking, devastating consequence.

A huge twist in Part 5 literally took me by surprise; It made me hold my breath and cry, ‘Oh my gosh,” I didn’t see it coming at all.

The writing is one of the strongest points in this book, I gather. As the story is basically narrated from Cady’s perspective, everything feels kind of hazy and untrustworthy; I constantly wondered whether to take in everything she says as is or not. I absolutely enjoyed the platonic, beautiful slow-burned love between Cady and Gat, but on the other part of me constantly doubted if it was what was actually happening. I personally think that’s what heightens the sense of suspense and makes this book gripping.

I enjoyed Cady’s narration as well – it’s very lyrical at times and the prose is very beautiful. I also enjoyed reading the short stories presumably written by Cady inserted here and there in the story.
It indirectly insinuates the consequences of her/their actions and reflects her emotions.
It was really well-done.

The ending literally wrecked me. I definitely saw some hope in it, but it was, at the same time, very sad and haunting. Cady has to live on dragging the luggage of what she had done in the ‘Summer Fifteen,’ and how she herself recognizes it just broke me. It was heart-wrenching, yet also beautiful. I lost my words after closing the book.

As I said earlier, I still don’t know whether I adore this book or not. But I definitely have a soft spot for this kind of book.
I can vouch that this is a great summer read, such a page-turner. I recommend you picking this up if you haven’t already.

A World Without You by Beth Revis

27272505I got this book having watched my favorite BookTuber Mollie Reads video in which she literally cried her eyes out holding the book, saying she has no words to describe it.

As some of you probably know, I like books that emotionally destroy me; it may sound weird, but I seemed to have developed a penchant for emotionally disturbing books somehow, I don’t know why, but upon watching the video, I thought this book would definitely be right up my alley.

And it proved me right; an inexplicable feeling washed over me when I closed the book and I got welled up. It was hard to hold in my emotions from gushing out.

I gave this book 4 stars out of 5 stars.

This book opens with a funeral scene of a girl by the name of Sophia who is said to have committed suicide. Her boyfriend and the protagonist of this story, Bo, doesn’t buy what everyone says and tries to save her from the past where she is trapped by using his special powers of maneuvering timestreams.

I went into this book pretty blindly and didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t even know the synopsis much other than this book is about mental illness, so I wasn’t quite sure if I should take what I read at face value or be skeptic. That sense of suspense added a lot to my excitement as I read along.

Just like another book on mental illness, ‘Under Rose-Tainted Skies,’ I felt like I was sneaking inside Bo’s head and seeing what was going on in his mind and how he was processing his emotions. It felt really accurate and realistic, painful at times.

The writing is crisp and straight-forward, it didn’t come across particularly beautiful, but I thought it was quite visceral and emotionally evocative.  I particularly liked how well Beth Revis describes Phoebe’s vacillating emotions and her honest feelings wanting to be as she is without disguising herself.

The diverse cast of characters are all well-fleshed out and felt down-to-earth, not fictional at all. Again, I particularly liked Phoebe for her own imperfections and her self-doubt. Her inner conflicts make this story more gripping and add a lot of depth to it.
The scene where I get to see the snippet of Dad’s true feelings and angst is just heart-wrenching. The whole family, Bo’s family is just going through the motions of being a ‘real family,’ acting as though nothing had happened while bearing loads of baggage inside them, and that scene underlined the charade so perfectly and brilliantly. It felt so poignant.

As the ‘reality’ dawns on, the story get heavier and I found it difficult at times to keep reading. It was getting incredibly gripping but knowing what the ‘reality’ implies, I felt torn between me wanting to keep on and me needing to take a break for a while.
The last 60 pages or so is such a page turner. As the story inches up to ‘the core,’ the harder it gets to put it down.

What made me cry was the epilogue. Until then, I didn’t think I would cry over this book.

That said.

I cried.

When I read the remark Bo made in the dialogue with Phoebe, it hit me in the feels, thinking,

He says THIS, after what he went through, after the choice he made, he says THIS!

Personally, the epilogue is just amazing and stunning. I am quite happy with that.

As I mentioned, this book is on mental illness, so it is not a fluffy book with a happy vibe.
It is gripping, beautiful, yet serious and heavy.
That being said though, I think it is definitely worth reading it.

I am glad that I did.

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

7824322I gave this book solid 4 stars. It could be 4.5 stars, yet I’ll be honest, and I will say it’s a 4 stars book for me.

I docked a star because it took me a while to get myself on track. For some reason, this book didn’t grab me at my first attempt. The first chapter was brilliant and strong, it actually sucked me in right off the bat, but from then onwards it kind of lost its momentum and I started feeling the words slipping away not fully sinking in on me.
When I was about halfway through the book, I decided that I couldn’t go on like that; I went right back to the beginning to read it again with a clear mindset.
The enormity of the atrocity dawned on me surprisingly well the second time. The book immediately reeled me in and kept me engaged the entire book.

Despite the chilling and upsetting inhumane conducts committed by the Soviet guards, I felt something calm running through the book; Lina’s narration is surprisingly calm and subdued. That said, I must say there were times when I held my breath. The writing is clear-cut and powerful, it adds a lot to the underlying tension and I kept reading with bated breath. It was so much and so hard to take all in; I just can’t imagine what it would have been like to survive with barely any food on their hands in a place like Siberia. It’s beyond my imagination.

The characters are all well-developed; I adore Lina for her feisty yet solid, independent and strong character while Jonas being so pure and adorable. Her mother, Elena is literally an epitome of goodness. She is so compassionate, warm-hearted and strong.

The latter part of the book, particularly close to the end is so poignant and strong; I was pretty close to tears.
However,  I also found it so therapeutic and purgatorial to find goodness even within someone who appears -or we think to be absolutely evil.

I must admit I was completely sold on the epilogue. It was stunning and utterly amazing.
I felt as though the time had stood still with the world around me grinding to a halt. The writing is so beautiful and descriptive; I could clearly visualize the scene. It was beyond reproach.
In addition to that, I was so happy to see the main two characters whose names I wouldn’t divulge here end up being together.

I adore the couple. It is a sole delight in the entire story; I breathed a sigh of delight and relief.
It was definitely worth a read not to mention a good historical lesson. I’m glad I read it.

Chasing Echoes by Jodi Perkins

chasing-echoesI got an e-book format copy of this book in exchange for an honest review last weekend.
It all came as a complete surprise – would I ever have imagined someone would actually hit me up with such an offer! I was momentarily lost for words.
But I was all game for a new challenge and a new reading experience, so I took up the offer.

“Oh, my gosh. Whoa!” was my first response when I closed the book.
I’ve really started sounding like a broken record, but to be honest with you, I was a bit concerned about starting this book for fear of this book not living up to my expectations.
Contrary to my misgivings, this book actually turned out to be a great, fantastic read. I really, seriously enjoyed it. It’s so much better than I expected!!

I don’t even know in what category this book can be pigeonholed, but THIS ‘Chasing Echoes’ is a fantastic, exciting read with a lot of suspenseful, riveting twists.
The opening chapter is simply amazing – it starts off with a high school party scene in a gorgeous hotel banquet hall, it all looks normal, there’s nothing special or bizarre to it, but then, SOMETHING happens there and the author did an amazing job in introducing the main character, Taz and (albeit briefly) what she is capable of. It partially reveals the special powers that Taz has yet not completely, it kind of leaves readers some shadow of doubt. It is so powerful, so descriptive, and exquisitely written. I got sucked in right off the bat and was kept on the edge of my seat the entire time!

The writing is really so solid, on-point, yet amazingly descriptive and strong. I think her writing possesses the power and class to capture readers’ imagination and hold them in thrall. Simply brilliant.

And the plot. THE PLOT. Oh, how amazingly crafted it is!! The setting surrounding Taz and her family felt a bit too far-fetched to me at first, but before I knew it, I got used to it and I actually came to appreciate it.
As if to say that the concept ‘time loop’ wasn’t unique and novel enough, the ‘shrinking time loop’? Oh, man, it doesn’t get any better than that! You have to read it to find what it is like.

There is one part I felt a bit confusing and I felt the pacing was a bit slow until I hit the 38% mark in the book, but the the plot thickens from there and it only gets even more entertaining and riveting. The latter part (from 60% percent of so) is so thrilling, such a page-turner, I just couldn’t put it down. I was totally engrossed in the story.
It is amazing how the author managed to condense a lot of aspects into one story. I particularly found amazing how beautifully and naturally the notion of ‘forgiveness’ and ‘honesty’ blended into one and I really enjoyed reading how Stryder reaches the particular decision to break the curse. It is so well-done.

I simply love all the characters – particularly Taz is amazing. She’s a bit feisty yet very compassionate and kind, not to mention FUNNY. I immediately adored her. I also love the dynamics of the four sisters; it’s very endearing and they are all so funny, impish and adorable! I wanted to see a bit more of them all.
Although it took me a while to get warmed up to Stryder, seeing how he changes albeit gradually is also entertaining and heart-warming. The slow-burned love made my heart go pitter-patter. It is, again, beautifully written. So swoony.

I can’t gush enough about how amazing this book really is; I just can’t believe why this book hasn’t got as many high-reviews as it should deserve.
Although this book ends with somewhat like a cliffhanger and insinuate that there’ll be a sequel, I’m afraid it hasn’t come out yet. I’ll definitely read it once it’s out!

I highly, VEHEMENTLY recommend whoever loves YA fictions picks this up.

Just read. And then you’ll know what I mean 🙂

Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

under-rose-taintedI gave this book 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.
As some of you may know (as I kept talking how I got this book literally everywhere), I got to know about this book through my favorite BookTuber, Mollie Reads video.

Let me begin with telling you that I LOVED it. I really enjoyed reading it.
That said, I was a bit iffy about how many stars this book deserves. For me, it was not like straight five stars. I debated whether to settle for 4 stars, actually.

The reason that I gave it 5 stars is the fact I had never read any book feels so realistic that deals with mental illness. I seriously doubt any fictions have ever faced the issue of mental illness head-on other than non-fictions. As far as I’m concerned, I haven’t. I must admit that I have hardly ever read such books in the past though.

Anyways, for that reason, despite some issues that I had with this book, I gave it five stars. I wanted to acknowledge the author’s integrity in weaving a story revolving a character who has been suffering from OCDs, anxiety and agoraphobia.

What really impressed me was the writing; it is so powerful and solid. I think it comes from the fact the author herself has been battling against agoraphobia, so the words and descriptions of Norah’s emotional turmoil and conflicts when she’s assaulted by panic attacks feel so realistic and painful at times. It felt as though I had sneaked inside her brain and seen what exactly were going on. Everything, every word felt so poignant, gut-wrenching, and so brutal. The author didn’t sugar-coat nor minced words thus Norah’s angst and plague came right into me and sliced into my heart. I felt like I had a first-hand experience of panic attacks or OCD-induced anxieties.
It was so raw and heavy, yet I really, truly appreciate the truthfulness and integrity.

As to the story line, -buckle up for an unpopular opinion here – I couldn’t help but think this book reminds of ‘Everything Everything’ by Nicola Yoon because of some similarities in the story and character settings.
In both books, the main characters are confined to their house; Maddy for having an extremely severe case of allergy while Norah has been suffering from agoraphobia which literally stops her from going out – she can’t even make it to the car parked in the front porch.
Secondly, the boys; Olly and Luke. They both move in next door and gradually, ever so slightly get to know with the girls.

Nevertheless, I do believe it’s rather popular story setting which does happen often, and none of those similarities hindered me from enjoying this ‘Under Rose-Tainted Skies.’ I really enjoyed the entire book.
On top of that, what separates those two is the underlining despair and conflicts that Norah goes through. While she feels her spirits going up and up as she gets closer with Luke, she is also plagued by the mere thoughts of so many things she can never possibly do. Again, it feels so heart-breaking and sad.

What I find amazing about this book other than the integrity is Norah. Despite all the flaws and imperfections she has, I adored her and related to her.
I did get irritated by Norah when she pushes off Luke who is trying to reach out to her, but I knew she can’t help it – that’s her anxiety’s doing and not Norah’s. So, it didn’t bother me at all. If anything, that made me want to see her get over her illness even more. I also found she is undeniably brave. She knows all too well her ODCs and the limitations that are imposed by her illness, yet she also tries to find ways to strengthen the relationship she has built with Luke. If she wasn’t brave, then what would she be?  I got so invested in Nora and the story, I just wanted to hope for the best.

My only disappointment with this book is Luke. Although I do adore the slow and steady romance between Norah and Luke and how compassionate and patient he is with Norah, I felt a bit sorry that I didn’t get to see what kind of person he actually is. I didn’t find his character fleshed out well enough.
Since Luke plays such an important role in this story, I wanted to see more of him and get to know what he is like.
Other characters – her mother and her doctor – are just amazing in terms of how solid and grounded they are. They know what they are talking about and always do what it takes to support Norah. This is another thing what I think make this book jump out and prevents it from being reduced down to being a mere YA fiction.

All in all, I did enjoy this book quite a lot. This book taught me a lot of things – particularly, it taught me that trivial things what anyone without any form of mental illness would easily brush off can trigger red-warning lights in those who are afflicted, how things can go haywire in their brain.

I really appreciate this book for tackling such serious issues straight up. Being a YA, but I highly recommend this book to anyone.