Acceleration by Graham McNamee Review

acGenre: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller

Plot According to Goodreads: It’s a hot summer and in the depths of the Toronto Transit Authority’s lost and found, 17-year-old Duncan is cataloging misplaced belongings. And between Jacob, the cranky old man who runs the place, and the endless dusty boxes overflowing with stuff no one will ever claim, Duncan has just about had enough. Then he finds a little leather book filled with the dark and dirty secrets of a twisted mind, a serial killer stalking his prey in the subway. And Duncan can’t stop reading. What would you do with a book like that? How far would you go to catch a madman?

My Thoughts: The plot of this book was very intriguing to me. I grabbed it off of my shelf because it’s a shorter read (240 pages) and it seemed like something that would be easy to get into. I enjoyed it quite a bit.

The Good:

  • The plot was very enticing…the serial killer angle is interesting and terrifying.
  • The story reminded me of an old-school mystery. It almost felt like an updated, grittier version of one of my Nancy Drew stories from back in the day. Duncan, the main character is a great amateur detective.
  • There are definitely some thrilling scenes in the book that caused my heart rate to go up.
  • The story is short but I didn’t feel like it wasn’t enough. The author must have been a good editor because it seemed like the perfect length for the story. It’s also a standalone novel, which seems to be rare in young adult fiction lately.

What I didn’t Like:

  • I felt disconnected from the characters. I liked the characters but I didn’t feel like I knew them.
  • There were some definite unrealistic parts to the book.

My Rating: 4/5 stars.

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Paper Towns by John Green Review

ptGenre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Judging the Cover: I love the cover of this book. It is unique and is very relevant to the story.

Plot According to Goodreads: Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs into his life—dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows. After their all-nighter ends, and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues—and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew…

My Thoughts: I bought this book about a year ago but after reading Looking For Alaska and hearing that this book is very similar, I decided to donate it. Then I joined a book club and they decided to read this so I had to borrow it from the library. I had a lot of reservations going into this book because I wasn’t a huge fan of Looking For Alaska and I didn’t want to read the same story again with different characters. There are many  similarities between the 2 books but they have a lot of differences as well. The characters of Margo and Alaska are very similar (free spirits, disenchanted with life) and the characters of Quentin and Miles are also very similar (sweet boy pining for a girl that seems unattainable). There were a few scenes that I really enjoyed but there were also  a lot of moments that had me wishing I didn’t “have to” read the book (because otherwise I would have DNF’d it).

The Good:

  • This book has a lot of adventures that are a lot of fun to read about.
  • I enjoyed Quentin and Margo’s adventure in the beginning of the book.
  • I liked Radar’s character and his obsession with the wikepedia-like website.
  • There were a few funny moments that made me smile.

What I didn’t Like:

  • The story starts with Q and Margo encountering a very traumatic event…I was under the impression that this would be explored further but it was rarely mentioned later in the book.
  • I don’t like John Green’s writing style. The book felt like a book written by an adult trying to channel a teenager….it doesn’t feel genuine to how teenagers talk and behave.
  • I despised Margo (sorry, not sorry). I just found her to be very selfish and unlikeable.
  • The ending was frustrating.

My Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5 stars. This just wasn’t my cup of tea.

Absolutely True Lies by Rachel Stuhler Review

atlGenre: Adult Fiction, Chick-Lit, Contemporary

Judging the Cover: When I was about 8 years old, I had a pair of heart shaped sunglasses like the pair featured on this cover, so I obviously love it! (To be honest, I was drawn to the book based on the cover, so it’s a winner).

Plot according to Goodreads: Struggling writer Holly Gracin is on the verge of moving back home to upstate New York when she gets hired to write the memoirs of eighteen-year-old Daisy Mae Dixson, a former Nickelodeon child star who has moved seamlessly into both blockbuster movies and pop music.

Holly quickly realizes that Daisy’s wholesome public image is purely a work of fiction, as Holly finds herself trailing the star as she travels around the world on yachts, gets stalked by paparazzi, and sneaks out of five-star hotels in the dead of night.

My Thoughts: I’ve always been curious about the personal lives of celebrities and this story gives the reader a glimpse into their not so perfect lives. I found the parts about Daisy, the Nickelodeon pop starlet to be the most interesting. There were a lot of subplots that I found to be very slow and eyeroll -worthy but, to be fair, I am not a fan of romance about 90% of the time when reading a book. In all honesty, if I wasn’t reading this as a review book, I most likely would have DNF’d it.

The Good: Daisy, the celebrity in the book, was very fascinating and entertaining to me. She could be very frustrating but I think that her character was a fairly accurate portrayal of a lot of teen celebrities in this day and age. The author did a great job of showing what it’s like to be in the presence of a celebrity, someone whose wants and needs are of utmost importance, much more important than anything anyone else is experiencing.

What I didn’t Like: There is a love triangle in this book, which I despise. As mentioned above, I very rarely like romance in books and love triangles really frustrate me. In my opinion, the romance could have been completely removed from the story and it would have been more enjoyable. I was not a fan of the main character, Holly. She was in a constant state of self-pity and spent the majority of the book complaining about her job but very rarely completing the work she was hired to do. I found myself bored at many points in the book and was happy when I was finished.

My rating: 2/5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews Review

earlGenre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Judging the Cover: I adore this colorful cover. It hints at the fact that the story is fun (which it is) but the girl on the bottom, along with the title, are contrasting to the cheeriness of the fun colorful cover.

Plot according to Goodreads: Greg Gaines is the last master of high school espionage, able to disappear at will into any social environment. He has only one friend, Earl, and together they spend their time making movies, their own incomprehensible versions of Coppola and Herzog cult classics.
Until Greg’s mother forces him to rekindle his childhood friendship with Rachel.
Rachel has been diagnosed with leukemia—-cue extreme adolescent awkwardness—-but a parental mandate has been issued and must be obeyed. When Rachel stops treatment, Greg and Earl decide the thing to do is to make a film for her, which turns into the Worst Film Ever Made and becomes a turning point in each of their lives.
And all at once Greg must abandon invisibility and stand in the spotlight.

My Thoughts: I wanted to read this book because the movie trailer was just released and it looks like a lot of fun. I went into it with very little expectations, not knowing if I would like it or not. I found it to be a very entertaining book that addressed a very serious situation in a realistic way. It showed that a book about cancer doesn’t always have to be a sobfest.

The Good: There were moments when I literally laughed out loud. The characters of Greg and Earl were so delightful to know. The story is told in first person by Greg (in a very unique and fun way) and there were times when his words would say one thing and his actions would say another. The author did a great job of showing instead of telling. I also loved that the story is set in the awesome city of Pittsburgh. It was exciting and fun to read about familiar places.

The author mentions the typical YA cliches found in a lot of books and jokes that you won’t find them in his story. The fact that this book really doesn’t have the typical cliches made it very enjoyable. I appreciated that it wasn’t a “cancer love story” book. There was love, but not in the conventional “in your face” way that is typical of most young adult stories.

What I didn’t Like: I wish we could have gotten to know Rachel a little better. She was a big part of the story but because we only got to see her through Greg’s eyes, we didn’t get to know her as well as I would have liked. There were some parts that dragged a bit. I also personally hate to see the name of Jesus to be used as a curse word. I realize that this doesn’t bother a lot of people but to me, it is very hurtful and offensive and takes away from my enjoyment of a book.

My rating: 3/5 stars. I can’t wait to see the movie!

Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore Review

bsweetGenre: Adult Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Mystery

Judging the Cover: This book has a beautiful cover…it depicts a place that seems like a great place to escape. It even has a shimmer which makes the lake look more realistic.

Plot according to Goodreads: On scholarship at a prestigious East Coast college, ordinary Mabel Dagmar is surprised to befriend her roommate, the beautiful, wild, blue-blooded Genevra Winslow. Ev invites Mabel to spend the summer at Bittersweet, her cottage on the Vermont estate where her family has been holding court for more than a century; it’s the kind of place where children twirl sparklers across the lawn during cocktail hour. Mabel falls in love with midnight skinny-dipping, the wet dog smell that lingers near the yachts, and the moneyed laughter that carries across the still lake while fireworks burst overhead. Before she knows it, she has everything she’s ever wanted: friendship, a boyfriend, access to wealth, and, most of all, for the first time in her life, the sense that she belongs.
But as Mabel becomes an insider, a terrible discovery leads to shocking violence and reveals what the Winslows may have done to keep their power intact – and what they might do to anyone who threatens them. Mabel must choose: either expose the ugliness surrounding her and face expulsion from paradise, or keep the family’s dark secrets and make Ev’s world her own.

My Thoughts: This book would be a great one to take to the beach or on summer vacation…the atmosphere of a lakeside community really made me long for a nice quiet camping trip. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this story. It kept me interested throughout.

The Good: There is a lot of “stuff” woven into this story and I could honestly say that this fact was both a positive and a negative. I enjoyed meeting the many characters in the book and pondering over the mystery of the family’s wealth and secrets. The setting was great…I found this lakeside “compound” that only includes members of the Winslow family to be very interesting. The main character, Mabel could easily be an unlikeable person but I appreciated her honesty. As an example, Lu, one of the Winslows gives Mabel a friendship bracelet that she made and Mabel is a bit disappointed because she expects more in a gift from such a wealthy person. For some reason, this struck me as funny. Mabel is a very naive person, albeit a bit stereotypical (virginal, chubby, plain girl). The writing style made for a quick read and I didn’t want to put it down.

What I didn’t Like: I found the revelations to be a bit lackluster and some of the story was far-fetched. I also felt that we didn’t really get to know the characters as well as I would have liked. There was a bit of insta-love that didn’t feel realistic to me. Because there was a lot happening in the story, some aspects of the story weren’t explained adequately enough…they were shortly visited and never mentioned again. The ending was a bit confusing and could have been explained with more detail, I wanted to know more.

My Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.