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.

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.

I felt the pacing was a bit slow until I hit the 38% mark in the book, but 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.

The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

the-sunI couldn’t put my finger on what exactly tugged my heartstrings when I finished the book.
I couldn’t elaborate the feelings that I had when I closed the book. 
Something warm and bittersweet, poignant feelings washed over me. 

It was only a sigh that escaped me. Neither could I move nor speak. I didn’t even know what happened to me. I felt so overwhelmed and powerless.

I picked up this book knowing it deals with some heavy yet important issues. Although the book itself is categorized as YA, I couldn’t resist my temptation to get my hands on it.

First and foremost, this book totally crashed me; not only is the writing as beautiful and poetic as ‘Everything Everything,’ the story-crafting is also enthralling.

As I briefly mentioned, this book touches on some very important issues such as racism, discrimination, stereotypes, and political issues like deportation.

We tend to let such issues slip away being preoccupied with our daily lives, but surprisingly enough, this book made me realize racism and stereotypes are entrenched in our lives much more deeply than we might imagine. That aspect is explicitly described in the scene where Natasha and Daniel visit a shop Daniel’s father runs. It may not strike you instantly, but I believe the significance and the message will sink in on you as you process the scene.

The characterizations of the two main characters is also brilliant; Natasha is so clever and smart yet is adamant to pass herself off as someone who doesn’t believe in ‘love,’ or ‘fate.’ She love sciences and is pragmatic, but the change she undergoes through the interaction with Daniele comes so gradually and naturally, it feels even beautiful.

On the other hand, Daniel, who is Korean-American and a boy who possesses a mind of poet is just lovable. He is romantic, gentle and passionate. Just as adamant Natasha is toward nonexistent of love, Daniel strongly believes in the power of ‘love’ and ‘fate’ and does everything in his power to get Natasha to see things in his light. The road to success had already been laid out for him, entering Yale and becoming a doctor… yet he is willing to mess up his life for the sake of ‘love.’ The chemistry between those two characters is just beautiful and captivating.

I assume there are a lot of readers who don’t think much of ‘insta-love,’ but I think this one-day romance between Natasha and Daniel resonates with a lot of them; it’s got some special quality and power that speak to our souls.

The underlining limitation to the duration of their romance -‘one day’ -must have taken this story to the next level. They have only hours left and that is all the more reason why they become near-desperate to make it happen; make what happens between them sustainable. It felt kind of cleansing to me. So beautifully written.

However, this book also teaches there are things that are beyond your control, and they often stem from others’ conduct. Life can be ugly and tough; no amount of love or strong volition can overturn the decision that had been made. We just have to let it go.

This fact is told in a very quiet manner yet the message cuts right into my heart.

Speaking of writing, I found the writing style employed in this book was so unique and fantastic. This book is narrated in multiple perspectives, which means each chapter is narrated from a different perspective. The vast majority of the book is narrated from Natasha and Daniel’s perspectives, but you can also read the story from different charactes’ perspectives and it was quite interesting to read how the same thing can be differently perceived through others’ lens.

The author did an amazing job to even include some random characters to weave the story, the characters who only briefly involve in their lives in the specific day- Natasha’s last day in the U.S. before she’s deported back to Jamaica – and it described how each characters’ words and deeds can affect each other’s lives. This ripple effect kind of approach felt fresh to me.

To be honest, it took me a while to get invested in the story and I didn’t find it gripping until the latter part in the story, but from then onward, I was glued to the book, I just couldn’t put it down.
The ending is particularly spectacular – although I had mixed feelings about how the story goes, I was so happy when I reached the last airplane scene. The epilogue beautifully wraps up this amazing, beautiful story.

I really adore this book. This is not a mere YA book. I recommend everyone reads this.This is definitely worth a read.