Crossed  - Ally Condie

Review originally posted [here].


I enjoyed this book, more so than I did Matched. With Matched, Condie just scratched the surface of her characters and we saw more depth to them and their stories in Crossed. I'm really enjoying the Matched trilogy because unlike the Hunger Games (which all dystopian young adult novels are inevitably going to be compared to), this trilogy focuses heavily on the characters rather than the society they are a part of. Granted, this has left me with a bunch of questions about "The Society" and high expectations for the final installment to answer these questions.

I like Crossed more than Matched because things started to happen - characters took action and the plot started to move along (the plot does comes along slowly within this trilogy). I loved how we got a second point of view and fingers crossed we get a third POV in Reached! Downside, the end felt a bit rushed so heres hoping it picks up quickly in Reached

The Light Between Oceans: A Novel - M.L. Stedman

Review originally posted [here].


I had a difficult time getting through this book. The writing was good, the plot was interesting, and I enjoyed the characters but for some reason the book didn't grab me. I wanted to know what happened in the end but I could have easily put the book down and walked away. However, for being a book I felt very neutral towards, it did make me cry at the very end - only the second book to ever make me do so (and when I say cry, I mean hysterically). I'm having mixed feelings about it. I would recommend it, and looking back at the book it was enjoyable, just not magnetic like many have reviewed it as such. A bit hyped up but still a good book.

Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls - David Sedaris

Review originally posted [here].


Really loved listening to this audiobook and hearing David Sedaris himself read his essays. It brought the stories alive and made me enjoy them much more than if I would have read these on my own.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail - Cheryl Strayed

Review originally posted [here].


**This review contains spoilers**


I really disliked this book. Like REALLY, REALLY disliked it. I had a very difficult time managing to read it. The author and narrator, Cheryl “Strayed” (the invention of her new last name, probably the most pretentious and obnoxious thing I had to read) was close to intolerable and very unlikeable. Every man, woman, and child she came across while hiking the PCT praised the ground she walked on, PLEASE. I wanted to vomit. Cheryl claims to be a feminist and yet every one she met went on and on about how an amazing feat it is that she was a woman alone hiking the PCT - and I won’t deny that it is. It is an incredible feat and she deserves a lot of credit. However, the people she came across, or really just the way she portrayed them, acted if she was the first woman alive to do anything daring, to take a risk, to be independent and strong and on her own. They acted like she was some revolutionary ground breaking feminist of her generation. It was very nauseating to read page after page of her praise. Especially when she would brush off heavy topics that you would think the author would work through with the book being a memoir. She wrote a single line stating she had an abortion, while in the same sentence telling the readers what she bought at the store. But she spent paragraph after paragraph writing about the trees and the mountains. No emotions about her abortion and with Cheryl claiming to be a feminist, I would have assumed she’d dedicate at least a page or two about what she went through.

Cheryl takes away very little from the PCT. Prior she does heroin - which don’t worry is “just a phase!” that she can stop whenever she wants (are you kidding me?!) - and yet while hiking she takes opium from a stranger (only moments later realizing how dumb her decision was). She still has sex with men she barely knows which is what she did to self-destruct her marriage from her loving and supportive husband. She tones up, loses a few pounds, gets a nice tan, her hair gets blonder, and she appears to have learned very little. She is still the same selfish and inconsiderate person she was when she began her journey. Maybe I’m being a bit harsh, but to me, Cheryl really just spends the entire book painting herself out to be as such.

House Rules - Jodi Picoult

Review originally posted [here].


I know some may view Jodi Picoult as a questionable writer as her books are commercial fiction - I am constantly undecided on my views about her; they are always changing. After reading Nineteen Minutes, A Change of Heart and Plain Truth, I was very open, and even willing to read other Picoult novels. Being unable to get through Keeping Faith, I was a bit hesitant. House Rules greatly adds to that hesitant. For the positives: The characters Picoult created are interesting and pull at your emotions. And like in real life, their actions leave you frustrated when they do or say the wrong things. Learning about Autism, Asperger's specifically, was fascinating - an interest of mine which caused me to pick the book up in the first place. The court and legal aspect of the novel was explained well and easy to follow. The telling of past events was also done well and held my interest.

**This review contains spoilers**

Positives being said, there are far more negatives that left me angry and disappointed with the book. First of all, there was a huge hole in the book. A huge gap that created the problem of the plot but could have easily been solved. The book was centered around the murder of Jess Ogilvy with Jacob Hunt as the prime suspect. Throughout the novel Jacob CONSTANTLY says he did the right thing, he is telling the truth, he didn't mean to hurt Jess, it was his only choice, etc. Every time a character - specifically his mother, Emma, and his lawyer, Oliver, get close to asking Jacob the ENTIRE truth, they change their minds. They don't want to hear it. Perjury. She'll love her son no matter what he did, blah blah blah. Let me tell you this is INFURIATING because the entire problem, the entire case, would have been solved if they had asked Jacob what happened from start to finish (albeit that would leave Picoult without a book but this made the plot incredibly weak).

Another issue I had? I solved the crime right away. The second the murder came into play I knew exactly what happened. This left me with 400+ pages of waiting to see when and how the truth would come out. Perhaps if the overall plot was stronger and not so incredibly simple, this would have made for an enjoyable read. Instead it was just aggravating.

The ending of the book was beyond abrupt. It isn't until the last 20 something page the characters finally catch up with the reader and the truth is revealed, leaving no explanation of how things conclude or how the characters come to terms with what really took place. Picoult creates interesting and dimensional characters but leaves them hanging at the end. She doesn't conclude their subplots or rushes them, when they are very interesting and do deserve a proper send off.

The relationship between Emma and Oliver was unnecessary, rushed, unfinished, lacking substance...the list goes on. I won't continue it was THAT unnecessary. (And slightly ridiculous how Jacob just gets over it right away - like come on! you spent the entire book saying Jacob can't empathize and all of a sudden, over night, he's fully accepting of his mother and his lawyer's relationship when the previous day he called his mother a slut for it?!)

There was so much the book was lacking, many loose ends, rushed story lines, and a crater in the plot that ultimately made the book an unpleasant read.

Divergent - Veronica Roth

Review originally posted [here].


**This review contains spoilers**


Extremely overrated. A few things I had an issue with: 

I don’t mind the completely illogical and unbelievable society Roth creates. The idea of five factions based on character traits is interesting. I would have liked to be given more insight to each faction; that would have actually been interesting. I would have preferred to read about the five factions interacting, their histories, or how they functioned, rather than the horrible initiation process of the Dauntless faction, which the entire book focused on. The premise of the book had a lot of potential, but I just did not like the direction Roth took the story in. 

This book glorified violence to the point where it became disturbing. Especially when the book is targeted towards teenagers and young adults. The narrator (a sixteen year old girl who previously spent her entire life attempting to be selfish and having no individuality or say in her life) quickly becomes violent and deadly. Characters are forced to physically, mentally, and emotionally hurt each other just for the chance of being accepted into the Dauntless “community”. Many characters enjoy this and want to succeed. I have no idea why this is appealing to people.

Tris and Four. I get that every young adult novel needs a romantic aspect. Whether it is the ever-popular love triangle or just a complicated relationship. However, Tris and Four relationship is poor executed (haha) in their violent world. Okay, it is sweet that he helps her while training, the small and helpless girl who is actually top of her initiation class (She’s divergent...what did you expect...). I did like them talking about their fears to one another and how they can relate on both being Divergent and transfers from the Abnegation faction. But one chapter they kiss, the next she slaps him, and then they barely mention it and are kissing again! Abusive! At one point, Tris decides she can’t kill Four (even after watching both her parents die and killing countless people as well as a close friend) and would rather die herself. Her death and Four’s survival would mean that the war between three factions continues and thousands of mindless zombie-like Dauntless “soldiers” - her new family - would kill thousands of innocent Abnegation citizens - her old family. OKAY THEN (girl, you clearly never belonged in Abnegation!)Four is in a trance due to serum developed by the intelligent Erudite faction, and by their genius leader at that...but being Divergent and in love the sound of Tris’ voice magically wakes Four up and neither has to die or kill their beloved. Well then. 

The ending? Three fourths of the book is about Dauntless initiation and yet the ending is a rushed mess of a violent and sadistic war that is hardly mentioned or processed by the main characters who survived it (because they are so in love and the two of them are alive and that is what matters). Tris tells Four her parents are dead, they died for her. He responds by telling Tris he thinks he loves her and they then proceed to make out in front of Tris’ brother, Four’s abusive father, and some guy who tried to kill Tris that one time as they all ride off into the sunset. I don’t know either. This war is very rushed and the set up leading to the war is lacking.

There are other things I disliked such as Tris’ familial relations and the way Roth handle’s the topics of intimacy and suicide. I won’t get into either though. In my opinion, Divergent is very overrated and I’m glad it was a quick read. (Unsure if I will read Insurgent...)

Darkly Dreaming Dexter - Jeff Lindsay

Review originally posted [here].


**This review contains spoilers**


Darkly Dreaming Dexter is one of the rare occasions where the television show (or movie) is better than the book. DDD falls extremely flat when compared to its television counterpart. Jeff Lindsay is not an expertise writer, he fails to build suspense during some of the most dramatic story plots (for example, Deb’s disappearance!!) and gives little character development or page time to any character that isn’t Dexter. This wouldn’t be a problem if Book Dexter wasn’t really. Book Dexter is boring and quite conceded when talking about his peers. Lindsay leaves half contemplated ideas on the page that causes Book Dexter to fall flat. The writing is very easy to read and comes off a bit elementary (the style, not the violent material or some of the vocabulary). Also, the plot is a bit boring, especially compared to the show which has twists and turns, romance, character interaction, and much more. The show builds a kind of family out of the Metro Dade Homicide Department - one that is filled with banter, fighting, love. laughter - everything that makes a family, a family. The book fails to do that completely. The show builds up to LaGuerta being a power hungry political animal rather than the book, where it is just pointed out and where she proceeds to come off as a manipulative, unintelligent woman who uses her body for power. This is not the strong female constantly having to prove herself to her male superiors in a male dominated work place that the show provides us with. In the book, Deb is weak and relies on Dexter to do all the heaving lifting detective work for her, while in the show Debra earns her badge due to her own hard work and dedication. Also, Lindsay’s use of Dexter’s dreams, “lizard brain”, and voice in hid mind just seemed like an easy way to get out of creating a plot with connections that actually made sense (the show succeeded brilliantly at doing this). Dexter appears to just miraculously come to the realization that “something nameless was born born in this place, something that lived in the darkest hidey-hole of the thing that was Dexter” (p. 265) with absolutely no logical thought process or clues or anything that would realistically lead him to this conclusion.


Over all, I’d give this book a 3 out of 5 rating. Dexter is definitely a unique character and one to remember. Lindsay had a good idea. However, the show does a much better job of captivating it’s audience and telling the story well. Lindsay is not much of a writer, but rather a guy with a creative imagination who fails to put it all down on paper effectively. He fails to develop his idea. I’m not sure if I’ll read the second book - it goes in a different direction than the show and that, along with the book being a fast read, really would be my only reasons for the series to still hold my interest.


(Also, the use of the word faggot and a gay rape joke by LaGuerta (p. 261) was definitely unnecessary.)

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