Review: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Socially, awkward Lincoln works at an IT department of a newspaper office, whose job is to scan through emails of the journalists; not an easy feat in 1999, at the cusp of the dreaded Y2K. Because his job starts at night, he barely interacts with the employees working at the paper. But in his loneliness, he entertains himself by reading through the emails of two colleagues. Without intending to, what began as an innocent monitoring turns into avid interest into the lives of Jennifer and Beth, and unwittingly, Lincoln falls in love with one of them. After a series of close encounters, Lincoln must decide if there can be love before sight.

Personal Take: After reading Landline, I’ma  huge fan of Rainbow Rowell’s writing. At first glance, Attachments seemed to be like most romances tangled up in the digital age of emails; light-hearted and funny. I thoroughly LOVED the email interactions between Beth and Jennifer. They are hilarious, witty, and just so much fun. Also, Rowell does a good job adding a bit of seriousness in their lives, and somehow subtly be told through their exchanges. In contrast, Lincoln’s point of view are in chapters. His is more morose and lost, but he’s still a loveable character. The people around him; his family and friends, are the real showstoppers in the book, after Jennifer and Beth. There were some hilarious punchlines throughout the book, most of them made by Jennifer and Beth. I have to say though, halfway through the book, I expected the pacing or tension to ramp up. But instead, I felt that it stayed steady until the end.

I still enjoyed reading it though, and I do recommend it as a fun and light read.

Audience: Older readers, for some language.

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Other recommendations: I’ve read and reviewed Landline. Rainbow Rowell is also the author of Fangirl and Eleanor and Park. Check out her other works!

Review: The Diviners (Diviners #1) by Libba Bray

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After an upsetting incident, Evie O’ Neill is sent to her uncle in Manhattan. For Evie, this means a second chance to reinvent herself in the big city. And maybe, just maybe, control her episodic visions. But  cult serial killer is in the loose, and Evie finds herself helping her uncle solve the crime. With each bizarre clue, Evie is convinced that what they’re facing is something supernatural. Evie must use her supernatural powers to track him, and stop him, before anyone gets hurt. But the events stir a deeper darkness, drawing together a band of unlikely allies and enemies.

Personal Take: I was enthralled by this story. There’s just something about the Roaring Twenties that was so glamorous, and Bray captured it perfectly, from the parties and entertainment, to Evie’s new modern slang and fashion. The mystery itself was so well done, I was sucked in completely. It was chill-inducing and creepy in all the good ways. The characters themselves are well written, and for worried a little that there were too many characters, but their point of views were well done, and the intersection was done perfectly.

The only disappointment I felt was the romance. It was so forced, and unexpected. I felt the characters were so out of character because of it, and it was just so unnecessary, I felt. I’m still interested to see what happens next, and I’m a huge Libba Bray fan, so I’ll keep reading the series.

Audience: Older teens and readers, for gross scenes.

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Other recommendations: I’ve read and reviewed Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle series, as well as Going Bovine.

Review: Our Dark Duet (The Monsters of Verity #2) by Victoria Schwab

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It’s been six months, and both August and Kate made their choices. August is now a soldier in the fight against the monsters in Verity, and accepting his fate to cleanse the sinners among the humans. But no matter how hard he fights, the other side seems to get stronger. And for Kate, it seems no matter how much distance she puts between herself and Verity, the monsters keep following. In one of her missions to dispatch a monster in Prosperity, she comes across a new type, one that feeds on anger and violence. And as luck would have it, it’s new target is Verity City.

Personal Take: It’s been months since I’ve read Our Dark Duet, and I’m struggling to articulate how amazing and heart-wrenching this book was. It’s the characters, it’s the tension, it’s the world itself. The inner-conflict for both August and Kate is so raw and real. The stakes are high, it almost seems impossible to resolve. And yet, Schwab does, in the most unimaginable way possible. The villains are so evil it’s palatable. I love that she takes risks that makes sense. She surprises me with each chapter. On thing I’ll appreciate is that the romance is not the center of this book. It’s nicely woven in, and really, just a glimpse of it made me swoon. It is enough to believe and cheer them on, and it does not twist characterization in any way. Her books reminds me of how the old YA books used to be. It’s about the story.

While this puts an end to Kate and August’s story, I do hope we get a spin-off of this monstrous world.

Audience: Older readers, be they teens or adults.

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Other recommendations: I’ve read and reviewed This Savage Song, which is the first book of The Monsters of Verity series. I’ve already read her fantasy series, A Darker Shade of Magic, A Gathering of Shadows, and A Conjuring of Light.

Review: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows

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The young King of England is dying. Edward VI, only at sixteen, must now decide who inherits the crown. This is not easy as the kingdom is grappling with hostility and uneasiness towards Edians; humans with the ability to shape-shift. Between his two elder sisters whose loyalties he’s still not sure of, Edward decides to place his kingdom in unexpected hands — his cousin Jane. To ensure the line of succession, Jane is arranged to marry the son of one of the king’s advisors, who’s absence from court sparks quite the rumors about his lifestyle, such as his whereabouts when the sun is out. Unbeknownst to the king and his cousin, forces are on the move to disrupt the power in England, starting with the hunt against Edians…

Personal Take: I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading this, but from the first page, it was clear that it was going to be a fun read– and oh, how fun it was. The book covers the three point of views; King Edward, his cousin Jane and her betrothed Gifford, each with their own dilemma. It seemed to balance well until halfway through, when three people were just too much for one book (I know George R.R. Martin does more, but I can’t explain it!). The tone was hilarious- I have not laughed this much while reading in so long! As the authors warned at the beginning of the book, it’s really loosely based on historical events, but it didn’t feel too scandalous as the book was meant to be comical all the way.

The book was predictable towards the end, but I enjoyed the lightheartedness. I wouldn’t mind reading the next book for more laughs.

Audience: Mostly older teens and readers.

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Other recommendations: All three authors have independently published books of their own, so be sure to check out Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows and Brodi Ashton!

Review: A Conjuring of Light (A Darker Shade of Magic #3) by V.E. Schwab

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An old darkness has taken over Red London. The Maresh royal family prepare for the worst to guard their kingdom against the unknown invader. Political enemies and allies are formed, and Kell and Lila must join forces with an old enemy to find a way to destroy the new threat. But time is running out, and as the darkness becomes more powerful, Red London’s only defence may not hold for long.

Personal Take: The last instalment of the series is quite an emotional one, and I tried not to reveal too much in the synopsis, as a lot of things happen. The book begins with high stakes, and my nerves were nearly fraught with tension. I have to say, I loved all of the characters, especially the secondary ones. More light is shed on their backstory, and I loved them all. Which was why I was gutted with the payoff each time. The villain, too, was so well crafted. The storylines were well-tied in the end, and Schwab did an amazing job in giving each character the right ending, and not deliver a copout because it was expected.

I cannot wait for the other books to be published about this world, because I still want more.

Audience: Older readers for language.

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Other recommendations: I reviewed A Darker Shade of Magic and A Gathering of Shadows. I also reviewed This Savage Song, which is part of the Monsters of Verity series (this is a MUST READ!). Schwab has also written Vicious, The Archived series, and The Near Witch.

Review: A Gathering of Shadows (A Darker Shade of Magic #2) by V.E Schwab

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It’s been four months since Red London was ravaged by the power of black magic. Four months since Kell abandoned his illegal activities. Four months since he had saved his brother, the Maresh prince of Arnes, in the only way he knew how. As Arnes and its people try to move past the horrors of what it experienced, the magician’s competition between the three ruling kingdoms came at the right time to Red London. As the other kingdoms make their way to display their magic prowess, Rhy risks political stability by enrolling Kell into the games, while it also draws a mysterious sailor back to Red London, along with a certain pirate.

Personal Take: After the adrenaline-inducing events from the last book, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the sequel. In what one can call Schwab fashion, the book started slow, then built up momentum so fast, I could not stop reading. In A Gathering of Shadows, we are introduced to the politics in Kell’s world. The expansion of cultures was a great addition. Although this seemed isolated from the seemingly bigger plot in the book, I still enjoyed the many POVs that connected towards the end– and oh, what a finale it was.

There is something about Schwab’s writing that just demands full concentration, and you just cannot let go of that world. And with that cliffhanger, I’m dying to see to know what happens next!

Audience: Older readers for language.

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Other recommendations: I reviewed A Darker Shade of Magic, as well as This Savage Song, which is part of the Monsters of Verity series (this is a MUST READ!). Schwab has also written Vicious, The Archived series, and The Near Witch.

Review: The Anatomy of Being by Shinji Moon

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As Shinji Moon’s debut book of poetry, The Anatomy of Being is youthful and fragmented, a journey inward from the perspective of the hopes and pains of adolescence. Broken up into four chapters, she holds your hand and takes you inward with her, from skin to flesh, to flesh to bones, from bones to all that lies within. Both heartbreaking and hopeful, The Anatomy of Being marks a very distinct time in a young girl’s life, and aches and aches to be heard and devoured. (from Goodreads)

Personal Take: This book was quite an emotional experience. The poetry, though longer than what I’m used to reading, is so raw and pure. The confessional style both hits home where its relatable, or bounces off base, but the imagery is so specific and engrossing, I could almost feel what she wrote about. This book didn’t contain poetry alone, but prose as well, which also followed the confessional theme. The tone was equal parts dark and brooding, and hopeful. The Anatomy of Being has the sense of an artist who has put her soul into her art, and it shows. There is precision in her pain and reflections, and nothing pretentious in her journey. There were poems I couldn’t relate to, but I couldn’t help admiring purity of it.

If you’re into poetry, this is a book worth delving into.

Audience: Older readers for raw style and sexual themes.

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Other recommendations: Shinji Moon hasn’t published anything after this book, but readers will also enjoy Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey.

Review: Lullabies by Lang Leav

Set to a musical theme, love’s poetic journey in this new, original collection begins with a Duet and travels through Interlude and Finale with an Encore popular piece from the best-selling Love & Misadventure. Lang Leav’s evocative poetry speaks to the soul of anyone who is on this journey.

Leav has an unnerving ability to see inside the hearts and minds of her readers. Her talent for translating complex emotions with astonishing simplicity has won her a cult following of devoted fans from all over the world.

Lang Leav is a poet and internationally exhibiting artist. (From Goodreads.)

Personal Take: I’ve read bits and pieces of Leav’s peppered all over the internet, but having a collection in my hands; that just left me breathless. I loved that the themes were connected to music. The poems and stories itself were beautiful; all at once guttural and emotional, but still poised enough to be delivered clearly. Some of her poems can be a bit heavy on the tongue, or too long, but that was just a minor observation. Her stories too, were beautiful one-shot moments.

If anything, this book left me feeling emotionally spent, because it hooked me along its lines throughout. I’m definitely a huge fan, and will continue to collect and learn from her work.

Audience: Touches on sensuality, so I’d say older teens and adults.

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Other recommendations: This is the first Lang Leav that I’ve read, but I know I’ll be picking up her other works: Love & Misadventures, Memories, The Universe of Us.

Review: Getting the Girl (Wolfe Brothers #3) by Markus Zusak

Brothers Cameron and Ruben Wolfe have always been loyal to each other – even when Rube goes through dating girls he has no intention of being serious with. Until Cameron meets and falls in love with Rube’s latest girlfriend, Octavia. Already struggling to not hide under Rube’s shadow, Cameron isn’t even sure if a beautiful girl like Octavia would go for a guy like him. And even if she was, would it be worth breaking the brotherly bond between him and Rube?

Personal Take: After being given an amazing spoonful of such good, emotional writing in the second installment of this series, I had high expectations for the last book, specifically when it came to Cameron’s personal growth. There was growth, but not the “awakening” kind I was expecting.

But before I go into that, I want to point out one thing I noticed was that Zusak approached this book without referencing a lot from events in the previous book Fighting Ruben Wolfe, which was weird, as it was a turning point for both brothers. In Getting the Girl, it felt like Rube was the one that found his ground, while poor Cameron had maybe a semblance of a foundation (and there were plenty!), but not enough to prop him up.

Having said that, the self-discovery and struggle Cameron goes through is still emotional and heartfelt (and sometimes quite shitty, actually), and the beautiful prose keeps blossoming as he finds his ground. For the romance though, it was eh. It was too fast, and it didn’t feel like Octavia was much of a character. I think that, along with the constant awkwardness of Cameron, were the two only downsides.

While this series doesn’t show the best of Markus Zusak’s writing, it’s still brimming with his talent of writing.

Audience: I’d stay older teens for a few choice words.

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Other recommendations: I’ve read and reviewed the first two books in this series; Underdog and Fighting Ruben Wolfe. Also read the much critically acclaimed The Book Thief, and I Am the Messenger.

Review: Underdog (Wolfe Brothers #1) by Markus Zusak

 

Cameron and his brother Ruben are hopeless. Not quite sure how to fill their time, the two get into quite a lot of trouble– needless violence, humiliating moments, and making up robbery plans that never take place. But then Cam falls for a girl, and suddenly things aren’t quite so simple. While Cameron hangs his heart on his sleeve, he isn’t too sure about how to approach her. After all, who could ever fall for an underdog like Cam?

Personal Take: This is quite a different tone from Zusak’s other books. Not quite a masterpiece like I Am The Messenger, but it still packs a little rawness. The setting Zusak paints for his characters is quite bleak, and yet, they fit so well in it. Cameron, his family and friends, the people he interacts with– it’s all so well crafted into this short story that I was still captivated by it. The format was also interesting, ending each chapter with a little of Cameron’s dream that feeds into his reality somehow. This is the first of three books, and while it doesn’t delve too deep into Cameron’s life yet, I enjoyed reading about his “beginnings”.

It’s a little rough around the edges compared to his other works, but it’s still a page-turner.

Audience: Older teens and adults.

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Recommendations: Markus Zusak is well known for two major works: The Book Thief and I Am the Messenger (which is my personal favorite). He also wrote The Wolfe Brothers trilogy.