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. 

City of Masks- Stravaganza series by Mary Hoffman

City of Masks- Stravaganza series by Mary Hoffman

I am back, after a lengthy but much needed break I am ready to jump into the blogging game again. I am kicking the restart of my reading and book blogging with a review of one of my favorite childhood books that I was recently able to re-read due to a friend loaning the series to me.

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City of Masks is the first book in the Stravaganza series and the first book in a wonderful fantasy series. Find the book on Goodreads here.

The book takes place in London following Lucien, a 15 year old boy with cancer. After being given a notebook from his father with Italian origins Lucien discovers that he is a part of a group of people called the Stravaganti. He is able to travel across time and different dimensions (best way I can describe that.) to a different reality and time based on the real life Italy. In this different Italy, called Talia, Lucien is no longer sick. He isn’t tired, weary or any of the things that he is in his mortal life. As he enjoys this new found freedom and cure, he explores the complex world of Talia and the City of Bellezza.

This book is unique in the sense that I haven’t actually read a whole lot of books on time travel, mainly because I am not that into Sci-Fi books or even the huge fantasy books that take ages to read. I love them once in a while, but when it gets to the sci-fi aspect of things I just haven’t found an author that I really like while reading about things that like. I loved this book though, and it didn’t really drag on for me. I felt like I could really get into the story without being overwhelemd by the time traveling and different dimensions of the book. The book was a fairly quick read I managed to read it in one day while doing other household things as well. That’s not to say that it’s not good, the first book is just a little smaller than the others and it took no time at all to get through.

I really enjoyed the characters in this book, we didn’t always follow Lucien throughout the book and I enjoyed being able to get glimpses of other characters and what was going on in a world like that. Obviously being set in the 16th century (the alternate universe at least) things were a lot more complicated and definitely more tricky to deal with than just in our regular lives. There were different more strict rules, as well as feuding families and plots to overthrow certain powers.

The author was also really big into Italy and that whole culture, so it really tied over into the book and her writing. She made things very different yet almost the same as real life Italy, and it definitely added to the story and her writing. You could tell that the author knew a lot about what she was writing about, and it flowed over very nicely into the book. It didn’t seem as though it was far fetched, but as if that world she created could be real. The rules and the customs of that particular culture were complex and well thought out. World building is not an easy task but it was definitely pulled off very gracefully in this novel. Being able to capture the aspect of a culture while still making up a culture that parallels is amazing and Mary Hoffman did a wonderful job.

I loved the mystery and the intrigue of this book, although I can not tell you if it was shocking to me since I have read this book before. I remember when I was younger I was so glued to this book though, and re-reading it was amazing. Even knowing what was going to happen I was still anticipating the plot twists and the inevitable events that would happen. I didn’t feel like there really was a dull moment, as there was so much to learn in the book- about the culture and the world that was built- I didn’t feel as though a part of the book drug on or slowed down. There wasn’t any fluff or padding, just a heartfelt story and introduction to the world of Stravaganti.

If you love fantasy books, especially if you are looking for something equally good but not as dragging or draining as other books, this is definitely a good read. There is a great historical aspect to it as well, with all the research that went into it. It’s a great read, and I felt as though the author pulled off the concept to this book very well. I am eager to dive into the rest of the series as I have never actually finished this series before. This book is not for everyone, I have seen some complaints about not being terribly complex or thought provoking but I had no trouble with it. If you love the long fantasy books and need something extremely complex to read then I do not recommend this book. I really enjoyed this because I felt that the author did a wonderful job and it was refreshing to read a fantasy book that didn’t make me want to go into a months long reading slump. I rated this a 5/5 stars on Goodreads, partly because I really loved it and partly because of the nostalgia of reading it as a kid.

 

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

I read this a while back but I don’t think I ever did a review on it and if I had it was on my old blog that I had deleted without thinking to back anything up. So yeah, I want to actually get a review out on this.

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The Sun is Also a Star is about Natasha and Daniel; Natasha is a hardcore science and fact lover and Daniel is a poet. Natasha is 12 hours from her family being deported back to Jamaica, Daniel is late for a college admissions meeting that his mom wants more than he wants. Thrust together in a chance meeting on the streets and suddenly those things seem very forgettable. The universe and fate play a huge role in these two young lives, and now it’s up to them to play out how this story is going to be written.

This book really caused a lot of inner turmoil for me, mostly because I didn’t love it while everyone else seemed to instantly fall hardcore for it. But it didn’t click with me, and while I really enjoyed it as a book to read I just couldn’t connect with the characters or with the story. There were a lot of things that I loved, more things I didn’t see fit in the story and even more things that I just didn’t like.

The writing was amazing, I am going to start with that because as a want to be writer I admire all forms of writing and this book was just genius in the writing lay out sense. I loved it, each character had their own chapter and own back story. We got already developed characters but the author still allowed us to know their back story, to get to know why they were developed in the way that they were. Instead of being thrust full on into a world of already made characters we got glimpses of the past and the things that made them who they were.

There were also chapters on other characters, side characters that had played a role in the story, and they fit. I loved it so much. There was a point when they mentioned black hair beauty shops being run by mostly the asian population and they had whole chapters on the history of hair and how it played in the story. I am a sucker for some good history and this definitely added to the story.

I wasn’t a fan of the story itself, the whole premise of being thrust together randomly and how falling in love instantly is a huge thing just didn’t do it for me. I have never had any experience with that actually been true, nor have I known anyone who has lived that either. Love takes time, and I didn’t find it believable at all that you could meet someone on the streets and just love them. And that was the whole premise of the book, it was laid out pretty clearly in the description. There were just too many “what ifs…” in my mind about this instant love that I couldn’t fully enjoy it.

The characters weren’t all that likable either, while they were very developed I just wasn’t that into who they were as people. We have Natasha who doubts everything to the point of slamming your head into a wall and wondering how people can be THAT into hard facts and science. Then Daniel, who is such a pushover he doesn’t know what to do with his life until suddenly he  drops all that and becomes a full time poet when he meets a girl. Which by the way said girl mocks his poetry throughout the entire novel anyways.

It just didn’t seem to fit, it really didn’t. To me nothing made sense in this book, or was even a realistic play of how things would actually happen. The only thing that seemed to hold any reality for me was the end when Natasha gets let down by a real human error. I won’t spoil anything, but the ending was very real.

I did end up really liking the ending, I thought that it ended on a very good note and it definitely had a twist that I saw coming but still loved anyways. And the ending felt more like an alternate ending, because it wasn’t from Daniel or Natasha point of view, so I loved that it had the option of being the ending; or not if you so chose. It was a beautiful way to end such a story.

While this wasn’t my favorite book, I still enjoyed reading parts of it. It was still a fairly quick read too. I ended up with a rating of 3/5 on Goodreads mostly because I just couldn’t click with the story. But I would still recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a light (with hints of heavy) read or a pick me up book. Its a romance/contemporary read so if you are looking for something different, romantic and cutsey/cheesy this is a really good book to pick up. It’s very well written and very well done, I just hadn’t connected to the characters as much as everyone else had. My favorite parts definitely had to be the side characters/history chapters they were just so well done, so if you like some historical context or side character back stories in your books then I would highly recommend this as well just for that. It definitely made the book for me.

 

#Famous by Jilly Gagnon

#Famous by Jilly Gagnon

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I have JUST finished this book and while I am not one to rave about a book to the point of annoying everyone around me I feel like I need to do this with this book. I have so many things to say about this book, so lets see if I can even get a coherent thought in this review at all.

First off I was sent this book because I entered a giveaway on twitter and the ultimate lucky luck of actually winning.famous So I was sent an arc copy of #Famous by Jilly Gagnon and an arc of If Birds Fly Back by Carlie Sorosiak(on my TBR for my next read). So that right there was a huge plus, and definitely a win in my book. But that’s not what made me fall in love with this book. (Picture of the arc is taken by me and it can be found on my Instagram along with several others.)

I was hooked from the first page, but it wasn’t until I got to know some of the characters more that I really fell in love with this story. #Famous is a story of a girl named Rachel and a boy named Kyle, when Rachel Flits (Tweets basically) a picture of Kyle as a joke for her friend Mon it goes viral. Suddenly everyone loves Kyle and he is the next big thing; for basically doing nothing. Now thrust into the spot light what are these two going to do?

The premise of the story was very clever, and really caught my interest when I had read the description for it. I hadn’t really heard of any books that were covering this particular topic, yet stuff like this happens quite often for our internet involved world. Take Alex from Target for example, or all those people who made a vines account one day. I felt like this story could be relatable, even if it has not actually happened to the reader, simple because we can see people come in and out of trends all the time online.

The writing style was perfect, flawless. In fact I had to stop and think before I rated this book on Goodreads because I honestly could not think of one bad thing. Not a single one, and while I LOVE many books, there have not been very many books that I can’t find a single thing about it to dislike. The book flowed so well, the chapters were set up in a manner that I loved; it switched views from Kyle to Rachel throughout the novel complete with times the chapter was happening. My nit picky brains loves this, I was able to piece the story together in a time line based on times because of this. The dialogue was smooth, I felt like the things said could actually be high school characters and not just some outdated lingo that was somehow thought to be cool and published into a novel that clearly does understand high school. AND THOSE CHARACTERS!

Perfect representation of high schoolers simply for the sole fact that each one was different. Each person had a unique personality; while some personalities I disliked more than others and some personalities took a while to develop and figure out who they were, they were all separate well defined and independent thinking students that all went to the same high school. It is SO refreshing to read about characters who are comfortable with who they are, yet still have insecurities like basically all normal teens and just normal people in general. It was just so good to get all personality sides in this story; the good, the bad and the petty. Love love love the characters so much in this book. I felt like a lot of the time I could relate this to my own high school experience, and some of the things that happened actually had happened in my high school. A book that can cover a variety of personalities definitely makes for a good read. Plus the social media aspect was spot on, because there are definitely people out there who do each and every one of those things flitted (tweeted) in this book.

I can not get over how much I loved this book, it really clicked with me for some reason. I highly recommend this book to romance lovers, while it is a super cutsey romance with the usual romantically predicability I found it refreshing and adorable. There really is more to this story than the romance as well, and I found myself loving it even more because of that. Plus, I felt that it had a much needed confidence boost in that you do not have to be norm average skinny model girl that media tells you to be. People can and will love you for you and this book certainly helps to cope with some of the negative and positive ideas/comments on body image(for both girls and boys). Both characters were very relatable as well, with very real feelings and drawbacks. Frustrating at times, but definitely real.

I rated this book a 5/5 stars on Goodreads, with the encouragement to at least try this book. I realize it isn’t going to click with everyone, but you never know you might end up loving it like I did. The book is set to be released 2/17 (as says the little red date on the spine of my book) and you can pre-order it here on amazon. This is definitely a light hearted, cute and refreshing read.

 

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.