Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

I waited a little bit before doing this review because it is such a heavy topic. This review will touch on 13 reasons why and the topic of suicide to forewarn anyone who does not wish to read about that. The review will focus solely on the book, a review of the show will come later.

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Thirteen Reasons Why is a book by Jay Asher that follows Clay, a classmate who knew Hannah. After her suicide Clay receives some tapes in the mail telling about why she did what she did and if you had the tapes you were one of the reasons.

The book follows Clay through out the whole night, as he listens to these stories of classmates he knows, and the rumors he had heard; wondering how he fit into the picture. He spends a night in agony, learning the horrible truth behind Hannah’s death, dreading how he is the cause of it and hating everyone who was involved. As the mystery unravels and we learn the truth as to why this happened our eyes are open the the consequences of both our words and actions.

I had first read this book when I was in college. I had seen it around a few times on occasion but no one had ever recommended it to me just yet. A friend of mine told me that they loved this book and lent it to me. I finished it in one setting, I couldn’t put it down. Never before had I read something like this or something so intense. The writing was truly wonderful as well, spelling out situations from high school as if the author had just been a teen himself. At least they felt real and relatable to how teens would really act. Thankfully I had gone to a high school that was not overly cliquey but I still had known the concept and dealt with it on several occasions.

I loved how the story followed Clay, and how he had to listen to all these tapes learning things that he should have never learned. He sees his classmates in a different light, learning the truth behind teenage cruelness and he learns that things like this can be helped and prevented if only someone would step up and care, or just not be so harsh. The tapes left Clay with many “what if” questions which added to the story and the pain of the reality of suicide.

I want to tackle the topic of the tapes in this review as well. I have seen many sides to what people think of this and it is a huge thing that Hannah had sent the tapes around. Some say it was cruel and no one deserves that, it’s petty and rude and there was no point it just glorified suicide. I felt differently, I felt as if the author was trying to get the point across that death is not the end all to pain. By Hannah doing this she set in motion so many consequences she could never have imagined. By sending out those tapes, a girl who was so hurt she desperately wanted people to know what they had done, she showed people what their actions could do. Should she have done it? Probably not, it was kind of a terrible move on her part. But Hannah is gone, she isn’t an active character. She had pain in her life and the only way she could think to deal with that pain was to place the blame where she felt it belonged. It added a human element to the story, and showed that even the victims are not perfect people.

The book itself deals with a very heavy topic, and while very good and well written it is very hard to read. I don’t recommend this book to just anyone. I would only recommend this book to people who can handle it, who are actively interested in learning more about how to prevent and people who can fully understand that this is not just a story to read and go “that was good” and pass it up. It is a learning experience, and it takes a lot out of the reader. But it’s a topic that often goes silent for too long. It needs to be talked about and I feel as though this book does a fairly decent job. I don’t think it glorifies anything, I think it shows that raw pain behind a choice like this. It is not the be all end all of books on this topic, there is always a better way to talk about suicide. But the topic tackled it in a unique way that got the readers attention, and did a decent job discussing things about the damage left behind.

I rated this book a 5/5 stars on Goodreads, I really enjoyed the book. It definitely opened my eyes up, and it made me think about things I hadn’t before. Again, it’s a hard book to read. It is not as hard to read as it is to watch the show though. If you want the story but don’t want it super graphic then I recommend to read the book. It is definitely worth the read. But again, it is not for everyone and not everyone enjoys it or sees it the same way that I do.

 

*Please keep the comments nice, I do not mind if you have a differing opinion but please do not comment on a post like this with negative and abusive comments. If you didn’t like the book or story find a way to portray your thought and feelings without telling me that mine are wrong. Thank you.

City of Secrets by Mary Hoffman

City of Secrets by Mary Hoffman

The fourth book in the Stravaganza series and the plot is getting more and more complicated with each book.

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This time we follow young Matthew, a teen who has sever dyslexia. He’s drawn to an old book in an antique shop and Matt has no idea why. He can’t read it. Suddenly he finds himself transported to another world at University in Padavia. With new laws threatening society and their ways of life Matt must come face to face with the dangers and purpose of being a stravagant. The Di Chimici are hot on pursuit and dangerously close to making a breakthrough on the stravagant secret.

I like this series and more and more as they go on, and the story keeps getting more intense as they go on as well. I say it every time but Hoffman is a genius when it comes to this series and I can’t understand why these books are not more popular or more widely talked about. I especially loved this story because the main character has dyslexia and I can relate to some level with him. Obviously the character has a more severe form of it, where as mine is a very mild case, but I felt like I could connect on some level and feel for the character more than others. Matt was an interesting character to read and I real felt as though I could connect and relate to him on a personal level, he is one of my favorites by far.

The story is getting a lot of build up to, as the story line goes on and processes it gets harder and harder for the teens to keep this a secret in their own world and in Talia as well. With more and more joining the botherhood each year they have now formed their own little clique at school, not without strain on their regular lives either. It’s getting complicated for them, having to lead double lives. Having to keep secrets in both worlds as well as trying to blend in natural in a different time and place.

I had first read the first book way back when I was like 15 and I loved the story so much, it intrigued me. I had checked out the book from the library because the cover was pretty and the description was good. I fell in love, the book was so good. Since then my library had remodeled and I had lost track of the books and the memory of the titles began to fade. But I never stopped thinking about them. A friend of mine had the whole series and was kind enough to lend them to me, which is when I started reading and reviewing them. They are wonderful books with a wonderful story and they really made me think. Even now, I start to read them and I keep thinking about they are going to end, what is going to happen. That is how a book should be, always keeping you wondering until the very end. I love it.

These books are truly wonderful and so worth the read. I highly recommend these to pretty much anyone, if you like action/adventure/sci fi/ fantasy then you will definitely like these and if you are looking for diversity in your books these are definitely a good read for you. I say this every time but I feel like these books do a good job of covering a wide range of characters and characteristics. The author never just focuses on one side she covers many sides and its amazing. I rated this book a 5/5 on Goodreads, I really loved the action in this one and I loved how intense and in depth it was getting as well. I am really excited to read the last two and finally see how this series ends.

City of Flowers by Mary Hoffman 

Continuing on with my review of the Stravaganza series as I (slowly) read through them. City of Flowers is the third book in the Stravaganza series and so far my absolute favorite. So much happens in this book, it really jumps into the thick of this story and world now. 

City of Flowers follows Sky, a young teen (who also goes to the same school as Lucien and Georgia do) who stumbles across a perfume bottle. Tired and worn out from taking care of his mother who has MS disease, sky stumbles into the world of Talia in the city of Giglia. Disguised as a monk and thrown into a feud between the DiChimici and the Nucci that has lasted years Sky must discover his purpose as well as stay alive. 

I loved this book in particular becuase the action really took a leap in this. Now we not only have the issues from the last books to deal with but a family feud between two warring families that must also be dealt with all the while keeping the Stravagante community hidden from the DiChimici Duke. 

Once again Mary Hoffman has captured my heart with this story, as well as a love for the fantasy world of Talia. I enjoy this books for many reasons, especially for the amount of work and research she did for them. Diversity plays a role in these books as well, which makes me love them even more. Once again diversity is a hot topic in the book community and these books definitely have that- with a variety of main characters as well as multiple supporting characters that all come from different backgrounds and races/ethnicities. These are wonderful books and I love the story so much. 

While these books follow a common theme they still vary widely between the sequels and I love that so much. Each book follows a different character, story line and city in the world of Talia. It also connects all the stories across the books as well, with tons of world building and story build up I feel as though I can never get enough of reading these books. I highly recommend them, especially for lovers of fantasy/SciFi novels. 

I rated a 5/5 on Goodreads, this book had so many action scenes I was immersed for the majority of the book, hooked and on the edge of my seat. This is a wonderful read and amazing series. 

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco 

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco 

Recently I read Stalking Jack the Ripper for a readathon on youtube/instagtam and twitter called the Biannual Bibliothon. I have gone back and forth in my thoughts on this book, I really enjoyed it a lot but I wasn’t sure on what my rating for it would be. So obviously with that being said the smart thing to do would be to review the book of course. 

Audrey Rose is the 17 year old daughter of Lord Wadsworth who has a huge secret; she loves the sciences behind forensic medicines. She loves to help her Uncle in his laboratory exploring the secrets of the dead. Against her fathers, and against societies, wishes she pursues a life of science and forensics. But her work drags her straight in the gruesome world of a serial killer brutally attacking women on the streets. Determined to find answers to the killings, her search and work brings her close to her own sheltered world that she so desperately tries to avoid. 

I loved the outline for this story, from the start I could tell that the author had put a lot of research into this book. As a person who is intrigued my historical fiction stories I truly loved this. Maniscalco put a lot of time and effort into this book, which is not to say that other authors don’t because all books take so much time and effort. She included a great deal of history in this book and her research really paid off. Another thing that I really liked was at the very end of the book there was a research page of everything she had included/didn’t include and then some things she had changed historically just to fit the novel. As a work of fiction, the story obviously did not happen and the characters for the story were fabricated; so by adding historical events that actually did happen she had to tweak them a little bit for the story to fit. I appreciated this a lot, the author took the time to make this book as accurate as a work of fiction can possibly be and to let everyone know where she had changed things in the original story of Jack the Ripper. 

I loved the main Character a lot, I thought a strong female lead who wouldn’t let anyone (not even her own father) bully her into what she didn’t want to do was a perfect fit for the story. Obviously as a women in the victorian age doing what she wanted to do was frowned upon. It was nice to read a character who was not afraid of what people would say about her. She was not perfect, sometimes she got a little too cocky and arrogant. She didn’t always have the answers to everything going on, and sometimes it took her a while to come to an obvious conclusion. But she was a women who knew what she wanted and nothing was going to stop her from her passions. I had been reading a lot of romance lately and this was a refreshing change from girls swooning over guys to a girl being able to stand up for herself and not depend on a guy for everything. 

The ending is what really threw me off. I won’t say anything to spoil it, but I really think this is what is holding me back from being able to retain a 5/5 rating on Goodreads. It wasn’t what I was expecting, even though I really was expecting it. It just didn’t seem to fit with the outlay of the novel. I had hoped that it would go in a different direction more along the lines of the original History of Jack the Ripper. As a work of fiction though the author was able to make whatever ending desired and that was definitely the case here. That’s not to say it was bad, it was really very good. I just saw the book going in a different route. The ending felt like it was a little rushed as well, the entire novel built up to this very end and then it was over in a matter of 5-10 pages. While the novel built the whole story up, the ending seemed a little crazed and rushed. It wasn’t flat, or a let down. Like I said, it was just not what I thought. I can’t really complain with the ending however. 

The love interest was also a major play for me in the story, especially a love interest set back in victorian times. Love and romance was an entirely different thing back then and I felt like this was really pushing those limits that society had been pushing on women. I can never complain when that happens because I felt it was entirely ridiculous to not allow a women to do what she wants. But hey that’s just me. I really did not like the love interest character set out for Audrey at first. His name was Thomas and from the very first time she spoke with him you just kind of knew that this would be a reoccurring forced romance throughout the novel. As the novel went on though he really began to grow on me. Again I don’t want to go into too much detail because I do not want to spoil anything. I will leave it at that for now. The love interest was an essential part I believe and towards the end I was really hardcore shipping them together no matter what. 

All in all, this book was a fantastic read for me. I ended up with a 4/5 rating on Goodreads. As much as I loved the book the ending is still throwing me for a loop and I can not get over it. I highly recommend this book, especially to anyone who loves dark/gruesome reads as it does have some detail pertaining to forensics. History lovers would like this book as well, as there is a huge historical element in this book and it is really cool to see how the author inserts her story around already existing facts. 

Ruined by Paula Morris

Ruined by Paula Morris

I had picked this book up at Half Price books for a dollar. A DOLLAR! It had a pretty cover, and the description was a little catchy as well, so for a hardcore book collector how could I resist this buy. I mean it was a DOLLAR. That’s like heaven for me. So of course I added it to my haul.

I have to say I was pretty pleased with this book, it wasn’t one of my all time favorites but I didn’t hate it and I had no regrets reading it. For a lower grade novel (it’s YA but I would probably say the age group could be tweens or early teens. It’s fairly mild as far as YA ghost stories.) I was pleasantly surprised. As will all younger targeted books there is always the risk as an older reader of thinking the book is too cheesy or too simple. I didn’t really get that vibe from this book while reading, it definitely was simple but I felt that it was still a good read and was still able to maintain my attention.

Ruined is a novel by Paula Morris about a girl named Rebecca who has to go to New Orleans to live with her Aunt Claudia while her father is away on business in China for 6 months. She has to transfer to a new school, a new town and a completely different world. She doesn’t exactly feel like she fits in there, the town of New Orleans is already established in it’s hierarchy in all levels of the town and there isn’t a place that is accepting of Rebecca. Thrust into this world she barley understands, Rebecca is confused by all the town happenings and rules. One night while visiting the local cemetery Rebecca meets a new friend, Lisette. There’s just one problem, Lisette is a ghost. As Rebecca dives into the mysteries of her new friend, she starts to unravels secrets and hidden plots beyond what she could ever imagine.

As far as book plots go I felt that this one was fairly straight forward and simple. The writing was, in my opinion, very well written. I do realize though that this book was targeted more towards teens/tweens and obviously there is a definite age gap. I was still able to enjoy the story. The novel was written in third person, which recently I have been coming to love in books. I feel as though third person does not limit the reader to one persons mind but allows a vast view of the story more so then if someone was describing it. I had no problems with the point of view the book was written in, but I know some people do not like third person and that can make it difficult to enjoy this book fully.

There were some pretty big plot twists, however the shock factor of them didn’t really get to me. It’s not that I had guessed the twists so much as I new there had to be some big twist and I was reading simply to find out what it was vs to be surprised. I had also realized that there was a second book the author had written and I read the description to that book and managed to spoil the ending for myself.  I feel like I would of been more shocked and I read this book while I was younger, but as an adult there are some plot twists that don’t really get to you anymore. I still highly enjoyed the storyline and all the twists though.

A lot of the book was also jam packed with information. History on New Orleans, on characters etc. I loved those parts of the book because I love to learn things about characters and the places they live. But I noticed in other reviews this seemed to be a huge problem among  readers who read this book. They viewed it as a huge info dump vs getting to the conclusion at a slower pace. I think that the author wrote the book this way simply because it was a younger target audience, so to make things simple and straight forward and to be able to have younger readers understand the plot (which for a younger targeted book it was a tad complicated at times) she spelled out all the information that they would need to know. If you like those kinds of info dumps then you will have no problem with this book. Sometimes it’s nice to just read a straight forward novel that allows the reader to get a lot of the information they need to know.

I rated the book a 4/5 stars on Goodreads. I originally was going to rate it a 3/5 because I thought if I rated it too high someone would comment on my rating questioning why I even liked the book. But in the end I wasn’t going to let that stop me from enjoying a book.

In short if you want a short, quirky read with a hint of mystery added in then this is a good book. It’s light, it’s quick and while it is definitely for a younger audience it is still fun to read and I really enjoyed the plot and story line the author came out with. It’s a simple read and I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a pick me up book or just something light to pass the time. I really enjoyed this book, I don’t know if I will read the second one I know that she wrote it a couple years later I think so you definitely don’t need to read both books.

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