Oh, Chrys!

Book Review: Over You by Amy Reed

Exploring a toxic friendship and handling dark truths, Over You by Amy Reed is a book about self-discovery. The two friends, Max and Sadie, have known each other for years. They balance each other out characteristically, but their co-dependence on one another is stifling. Sadie is egotistic and materialistic; Max is level-headed and insecure. Sadie is the center of the show, while Max is the shadow - the rational side of Sadie. When Sadie is sent to her absentee mother, Lark's organic farm and commune in Nebraska, Max tags along. The two are inseparable like that. Of course, these things change as Max becomes aware of who she really is - especially when Sadie is not present.



Over You is told in Sam's perspective, though she often speaks of Sadie in the second person, reminiscent of an epistolary. Part One of the novel is dominated by Sadie. All Max talks about is Sadie. Readers see how inconsiderate and reckless Sadie is and learn Max's obsession with her is all that keeps her sane. Sadie is extremely needy and bossy. Though she is broken, it is very hard to sympathize for her with such unlikable traits. Most readers will undoubtedly be irritated by her. Because of this, the beginning of Over You soon became a scratched record with its incessant portrayal of Sadie's selfishness and Max's obsequiousness.



Things pick up in the following sections, when Sadie is not around much to have her dangerous hold on Max. Dylan, a mysterious romantic interest, is not what the blurb alludes he will be. He is not the one who transforms Max. He does make her go pitter-patter, but I never felt that he brought her to self-discovery. He is a douchebag who often berates Max, whether in regards to her field of study of her sexuality. This is definitely arguable, but I found his inclusion as a mere plot catalyst and not necessarily an inspiration for Max's evolution. The blurb is highly misleading, and would make one think that a love triangle of the sorts will be involved.


As Max slowly begins to identify herself, with Sadie barely around, readers see that she has problems of her own. Earlier, readers were fed with why Sadie's life was not perfect. Readers know that Sadie has an alcohol problem and an absentee mother (Lark). Like Sadie, Max also has an absentee mother in a metaphorical way. Her mother is very distant, though they live in the same house. These family troubles give Over You an even more gritty interior, but without overdoing it. Reed handles these dark topics in a delicate, yet absorbing manner, proving that social issues in literature do not have to take over a story to show their effects.


Over You is filled with such conflicts, but is centralized on Sadie's evolution. There are instances in the novel where Max does not know how to handle herself alone without the need to be Sadie's extension. These parts were impacting, as they rectified how Max was suppressing her individuality. Having been released from Sadie's control, Max begins to explore and enjoy her life the way she wants to. I honestly felt so proud of her to see that. I also loved that her bisexuality never seemed to be an 'issue' in Over You as it so often is used for. Her sexuality never defined her in this book, even if it was negatively confronted by other characters.


What I really loved about Over You was its writing. Reed's prose is pleasurable to read, with its figurative language. It is excellent. This is especially evident in the mythological interludes. They are these expositions that each focus on a Greek god. Not only were they beautiful passages, but they reflected one of Max's passions, which are often hidden behind the flamboyance of Sadie. These passages are not just for showiness either because they each represent the ensuing conflicts. Reed really has a penchant for compelling writing, and I am glad she hooked me with my first book of hers.


There is not that much more to say about Over You because it is highly introspective book. It really takes focus on Sadie and Max, so those looking for a character-driven book with strong romance will be left disappointed. It is a book I can see people reflecting on for days. It is definitely a convincing read, and it makes me glad I finally took a chance to read Reed. It is a cautionary tale that carries a message that we all should know, especially during teenage self-discovery. I do hope it inspires the Sadie and the Max in each of us, because let's face it, most of us can be bitchy, and we can be subservient. It's only human.


Source: http://www.ohchrys.com/2013/09/23/book-review-over-you-amy-reed

The Paradox of Vertical Flight

The Paradox of Vertical Flight - Emil Ostrovski With its hilarious and contemplative content, The Paradox of Vertical Flight is a riveting debut that has won me over. Embracing philosophy and oozing with originality, this novel is the literary equivalent of an onion with its many layers. Ostrovski never gives readers a dull moment in this fast-paced, not your typical "light" road trip read. There is not a second I can recall where I was not intrigued by the adventures of Jack, his best friend, Tommy, and his ex-girlfriend, Jess. The Paradox of Vertical Flight is a beautifully peculiar experience that will leave readers mulling and tittering over its content.Filled with angst and suicidal tendencies, Philosophy major Jack finds himself in a quagmire on his eighteenth birthday - his ex-girlfriend is pregnant and is giving up their child for adoption upon birth. That scenario is enough for a plot, but Ostrovski does not stop there. Jack impulsively kidnaps that newborn, taking him on an adventure meant to spend precious time together. Jack also uses this break to mold his son (who he bestows the apt name Socrates) into a philosopher, for the sake of the infant's future. The Paradox of Vertical Flight is therefore a road trip novel that will leave its readers questioning the many facets of life, whether it is friendship, romance, or even existence itself. This is mostly done through Jack's imaginary conversations with the actual, dead philosopher Socrates who is manifested by his infant son.Having taken courses in philosophy, I can say that The Paradox of Vertical Flight is highly didactic. This may be a major deterrent for readers who find philosophy uninteresting - especially if it is because of the unfounded belief that the ancient study is reserved for the pretentious. Ostrovski is definitely aware of this stereotype, because he presents the topic in conversational language. There are times when Jack rambles on and on, but I paid keen attention nonetheless. Normally, topics as heavy as philosophy and mythology are difficult to portray in dialogue or narrative without sounding convoluted. Then again, it could have been my education on the topic that made reading about it a breeze. If you groan at the sight of Nietzsche quotes or other philosophy concepts then The Paradox of Vertical Flight may irk you.When it comes to characterization, Ostrovski does an impressive job. Each character in The Paradox of Vertical Flight is exceedingly entertaining. Jack, Tommy, Jess, and the conjoined Socrates' each have a significant impact not only on the plot, but on the one's impression of life. They are compelling characters, whose characterization is independent and complex, whether secondary or not. This was very refreshing, I also loved how Tommy is a source of most of the comedy in the book, whether he feigns romantic love for Jack or defends the use of his German-narrated GPS.Road trip books are generally fun, and the plot that occupies The Paradox of Vertical Flight has a lot of room for it, making it a fast-paced read. The various encounters during the book, whether it is a sarcastic taxi-driver or a bickering, yet hospitable elderly couple, form a meaningful experience that will appeal to many. Though the events (ie. kidnapping a baby) were very odd, they were believable. The conflict is mostly internal, considering the strong presence of mental debates, but it is also external, when it comes to the police's involvement, Jess' anger towards Jack, etc. The plot was simply exciting.Ostrovski's writing style was ideal for The Paradox of Vertical Flight. It is in first-person narrative, giving readers the opportunity to get inside the head of Jack, who often seems to be exhibiting psychotic behavior. Also, there were times when this book portrayed a quirky 'quest humor' reminiscent of  Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. This humor made me enjoy the book so much, that my reading pace quickened. If I had to describe Ostrovski's writing, I would say it is functional. It is primarily colloquial, which is not something I often appreciate. In this case, it was the perfect way to present topics that require much depth without overwhelming readers.In a pistachio shell, The Paradox of Vertical Flight will leave you pondering. Ostrovski trusts readers to analyse how all the bits and pieces fit. He presents us with tough situations, while maintaining a strong sense of realism. The characters are intriguing, and the writing ideal. For his debut book, Ostrovski has done beyond an impressive job, and I look forward to reading anything he writes, such as his short stories I found here.GIVEAWAY: I have donated my paperback ARC of this title to the Little Blogger, Big Ambition project. Raffle ends September 20, 2013.This review first appeared on Oh, Chrys!

The Bookstore

The Bookstore - Deborah Meyler Centralized on womanhood and books, The Bookstore by Deborah Meyler focuses on Esme Garland, a British student studying in New York who finds herself in a quagmire - pregnant and jilted. Dejected by Mitchell van Leuven her blue-blooded boyfriend, Esme resorts to working in quaint bookstore, The Owl. Though she finds solace in the microcosm the bookstore provides, Esme has a lot to consider. Whether it is keeping the baby or giving Mitchell a second chance, readers see the various choices that Esme has to make as she progresses. Though reading of her Esme's hardships never bored me, The Bookstore failed to leave any sort of an impression on me - as much as it tried to.Studious and charming, Esme is quite the witty character who is studying for her PhD in Art History at Columbia University. With an inherent sarcasm, readers are led to believe that she thrives in independence. Throughout the rest of The Bookstore though, readers are presented with a main character who is fickle and dependent. One example that accentuates this is her constant back-and-forth with Mitchell. Arrogant and disloyal, Mitchell shows blatant signs that he is not in love with her. He is simply a mass manipulator, and seeing Esme duped by his ostensible charm left me frustrated. One moment Esme never wants to date Mitchell again, the next she is eating dinner in a five-star restaurant with him. Because of this I could not enjoy Esme's inherent sarcasm and wittiness. I feel that they failed to genuinely compliment her character.Despite her poor decision-making, reading of her progress, even at its retrogressive points, was intriguing. At times, she did redeem herself by taking control of her life.Esme's coworkers at The Owl are quite flat. Though they are secondary characters, they are active throughout the plot. One would expect characterization of advantage. Unfortunately, I did not learn too much about them at all. Whatever traits were presented ending up being drilled. The owner George is a chatty vegan, who deems The Owl an antiquated bookstore, and not a secondhand one.Luke, who serves as a potential love interest for Esme, is very shady. He keeps to himself and his guitar, and when he does talk to Esme it is about music. Readers do see him progress from his reservedness as he assists Esme when she is sick due to her pregnancy. Mitchell is the cliche rich boy living off inheritance and being an arrogant asshat to all. He is possessive and selfish, disloyal and proud. He is an unlikeable character, and stereotypical at that. These overall qualities of the secondary characters were repetitively portrayed, to the point where their presence became boring and predictable. I did enjoy the dynamics provided by this array of quirky characters though.A major aspect that really irked me throughout The Bookstore, besides its wishy-washy characterization, was its showiness that is reflected in the narrative and dialogue writing. Simply put, The Bookstore suffers from unnecessary verbosity. Though I am enthusiastic about expanding my vocabulary, I found the writing to be pretentious. At times, even archaic words were used in dialogue which read unnaturally. Eloquence is beautiful, but in The Bookstore it is overdone - as if it exists to impress and to sound cultured.  Ironically, sometimes, the dialogue is very juvenile and rudimentary, lacking creative words, such as the constant use of "say" and its variations when identifying interlocutors. This clunky writing definitely slowed down the novel's pace. The most basic actions, become incoherent, droning sentences. It felt like just too much detail. Sometimes though, a passage exhibiting ornate, yet powerful writing appears:"One age might pass over what another prized, and the next age might then revere it. Museums and libraries are in place, of course, to keep them safe through the neglect, but the museums and libraries have a flotilla of insignificant vessels that are just as vital. Secondhand bookshops are some of the tugs that can bring the bounty safely to harbor. The Owl is small, and it is definitely shabby, but it is tinged with lofty purpose."-Location 78 of 4185 (uncorrected proof)For some, such metaphors are unnecessary, but for me, with moderation they can show an author's masterful use of language. Literary allusions and bookish peeves are reveal themselves and are sure to leave readers chuckling when they can relate, and intrigued where they cannot. Overall though, the writing in The Bookstore lacks fluidity and naturalness due to its long windedness.In a nutshell, The Bookstore did leave my eyes glazing with its insipid characters and writing for most of the time. It was slow-paced and pretentious. However, I did like being taken into a realm of literature extended by the Owl. It did not grip me, but I was comfortable in a complex way. It also presents challenges that are definitely realistic, such as Esme's unexpected pregnancy and the increasing outflow of brick-and-mortar bookstores.

Pivot Point

Pivot Point - In Pivot Point, unbeknownst to the 'Normal' world the Compound is home to an exclusive species of people with varying paranormal, advanced abilities. These paranormals have even penetrated the 'Normal' world, living in secrecy (ie. Steve Jobs). With an affinity for reading and her boy-crazed best friend Laila, Addison (Addie) Coleman attends Lincoln High, where paranormals go to hone their special mental abilities, which vary from Memory Erasing to Mass Manipulation and Persuasion.As the blurb tells, Addie has the supernatural ability to "Search" the outcomes of pending decisions via her Divergent ability. She can see their impact for any duration of time.  This rare ability proves extremely useful when Addie's parents announce their divorce. Addie must make the painstaking decision of which parent to take residence with.  Pivot Point is this Search - the results of choosing to live with her "lie detector" father, who has to migrate to the 'Normal' world for his government job or to stay in the familiar Compound with her Persuasive mom.It is obvious the notion of parallel lives is chiseled from science fiction, but is definitely not abused. This allows YA readers to see a glimpse of a genre they might not be interested in due to deterrent, preconceived ideas. It is executed creatively via Addie's ability, which gives a creative spin to the element. Told in alternating chapters, both parallel lives are intriguing and fast-paced. They are both weighty decisions that can disrupt Addie's loyalty to who she loves. Her perplexing dilemma is something I would never want to find myself in.While it is not heavily intellectual in a scientific regard, West's worldbuilding is clever and compelling, especially since it is only a community (the "Compound") and not an entire different world or version of Earth. The conceptual clarity of Pivot Point, proves impressive as well. The development of the paranormal abilities, for instance, is not confusing or unbelievable. Similar to Harry Potter, the paranormals foster their abilities via academic lessons in their adolescence. Their abilities strengthen as they mature. Also, the tension and secrecy surrounding the Community provide a "top confidentiality" that will invest readers in a world so unlike their own.Pivot Point excels in more than just its plot devices and genre elements. Its characterization is stunning. Addie is such a sarcastic, strong-willed female lead. She deserves an award for being one of the Most Outstanding YA Heroines. She is daring and intelligent, sarcastic and loyal. I really enjoyed how West molded her into a such a relatable character. Unlike other popular heroines of today, she has this resilience that is not easily shattered by romance.Let me not forget to mention that she is a book lover too, so expect some literary allusions!The secondary characters are also thoroughly, but not exhaustingly developed. Laila is the complete opposite of Addie. She is sociable and energetic, and very protective of her friend. There are also the two romantic interests in Pivot Point, one of each who resides exclusively in Addie's parallel lives.  There is Duke who obviously is not compatible for Addie with his stereotypical quarterback reputation. He is gregarious, but very obnoxious. I enjoyed the fact that Addie did not just readily let him into her life, especially seeing how he practically pushes himself on her. But Trevor. Oh, Trevor. I cannot recall ever being swooned by a fictional character. I swear. Trevor is a Norm who attends the same highschool as Addie does in her "live-with-Dad" decision. I am already losing my trail of thought just thinking of how much I admire his conservativeness and creativeness. He is a person who I'd feel very comfortable around. Overall the romance in Pivot Point is well-developed. It never dominates the book, but most importantly, it never dominates Addie.Seeing that Pivot Point is about parallel lives, one must anticipate the plot to be quite active. Readers see Addie's life transform in two distinct ways, yet it is never overwhelming. It is also suspenseful since a plot layer revolves around Poison, a criminal who is being held accountable for murders and another focuses on the mysterious injuries of Norm high school football players. These two mysteries overlap each other in both lives as well, proving that separate choices may have intersections, that sometimes we just cannot dodge certain situations. I do wish that the case surrounding Poison was explored more, but its resolution still shocked me despite being a bit dull. The gap of time in the alternating times also allows for a reader's curiosity to swell, thus making the plot even more intriguing.What I most enjoyed about West's writing was its fluidity. Whether it was narration or dialogue the writing in , Pivot Point has a "contemporary" edge that offers a certain readability with its naturalness. This encouraged great pacing. At times, I did feel like the language was juvenile though. For her debut, West does an excellent job at captivating readers - even using humor to make it even more enjoyable! In regards to devices, West's contrast in Pivot Point is noteworthy. There is loud Laila vs. timid Addie, obnoxious Duke vs. quiet Trevor, Paranormals vs. 'Norms', mom vs. dad, choice one vs. choice two, and so on. This makes it easier to distinguish Addie's alternating choices, while maintaining balance, which although not necessary, is interesting.Pros:Well-developed characters // Subtle romance // Literary allusions // Dynamic contrast // Sufficient world-building // Conceptual clarity // Natural language // Great pacing // Humor // TREVORCons:Some plot layers not satisfying explored, though resolved (ie. Poison) // Not highly intellectual in a scientific regard, but in a paranormal oneThis review first appeared on Oh, Chrys!

Uses for Boys

Uses for Boys - Erica Lorraine Scheidt The thing about Uses for Boys is that I can't pass off my dislike for it by simply saying, "it wasn't for me". Books that promise a realistic approach to afflictions many endure in life attract me. Yes, Uses for Boys is one of these books. It is realistic and raw, dark and daring. Unfortunately, it was nothing more that that. Lacking any sort of substance, Uses for Boys, was just a package of shock value. This does not foster any sort of a pleasurable reading experience. Nor does it facilitate much discussion, review-wise.Readers are introduced to Anna at age seven. It is obvious that she is an abandoned child. Yes, her single mother is present, but she is preoccupied with finding potential husbands and boyfriends. This is certainly a sad situation for a naive child to be in, especially since she remembers a time when her mom cared - the "tell me again" times. Unfortunately, Anna learns at this early age that men can fill voids via this seemingly fulfilling lifestyle of her mother. This unhealthy exposure will be the pillar of her teenaged life as well.Though I was a bit intrigued by Anna's life, her angst and her relationships, there was nothing that I found substantial in Uses for Boys. It touches on gritty topics that need more development and significance, especially in regards to sex and sexual abuse. In regards to imagery, these graphic scenes are crass and detailed. Lacking extensive meaning, such scenes can only be reduced to shock value. I do understand that the Scheidt’s intentions were good, but how can a cautionary tale be successful when not told? Because of this lack of theme development and overall significance, Uses for Boys tells as though just an account on unhealthy sexual relationships. This is why it seems like just a book meant to make you jolt - not to deliver a moral.Overall, in regards to plot and characterization, Uses for Boys left no impression on me. The plot is circuitous and flat. Even when improvement does occur in Anna's relationships, things again revert. The characters beside Anna, such as Toy are weakly portrayed, offering no opportunity to strike readers. Sam, who is supposed to be the breakthrough boyfriend, failed to intrigue me.I wish I could say that my problems with Uses for Boys ended there, but alas the writing definitely irked me. I am all for unorthodox writing. I love when authors boldly dismiss style conventions; however, it felt as though it was forced to complement the shock value of Uses for Boys. Also, it has no distinction when it comes to "voice of age". Seven year old Anna sounds the same when she is thirteen and so on. The writing also lacks fluidity. This is especially disappointing since Uses for Boys is told in stream of consciousness narrative. Though it is great that readers get inside Anna's inner workings, it feels less beneficial since it is so choppy - a far cry from lyrical. In a nutshell, Uses for Boys suffered from a severe case of poor development. There was virtually no plot, no characterization, and most of all, no overlying significance. Not even the writing redeemed it for me. It left no lingering impression on me at all.

The Book of Secrets: A Novel

The Book of Secrets: A Novel - Elizabeth Arnold Chloe has been unhappily married to Nate for some time. At this stage of their life, they are facing a marital problem encountered by many - distance. Though she is surrounded by her passion, in an antiquated bookstore owned by the two, Chloe feels empty. After a tragedy struck years ago, nothing has been the same for the Sinclair couple. The two have known each other since childhood - or so Chloe thinks. This changes when Nate takes a sudden absence, leaving a trail of literary clues that reveal things Chloe has never known about her husband's past. Told in Chloe's perspective, in alternating times as her present self and as a child, The Book of Secrets is an unveiling, and a disoriented one at that.Though I certainly sympathized with Chloe for her decaying marriage, she proved to be a selfish character, doing questionable things, that made me dislike her. I also found her to be very dense. Of course, just because a character is utterly unlikeable, it does not mean that his or her characterization is shoddy. Unfortunately, a low of this entire novel for me is its characterization. I never felt that I had enough information about either character. Whatever I learnt of each character was repeatedly portrayed to the point of exhaustion.  Nate, who is the epicenter of the mystery in The Book of Secrets, is a murky character, and I enjoyed that readers got to learn some details of his woeful past. albeit the incessant repetition. As for Chloe, I found her to be too passive a protagonist; she is always reacting to the plot and never driving it. Though I did appreciate her flashback narratives, I still felt that she was underdeveloped. The same applied to the secondary characters in both alternate times, whether it was the overbearing Sinclair patriarch or Nathan's conservative sister, Grace.Seeing that this book is a mystery, the plot is certainly not impressionable with its slow pacing. It is stalled by lengthy flashbacks - often going off tangent to explore occurrences already closely-depicted. I find that this inactivity in the plot left my eyes glazing, though many a time I definitely pitied Nathan's childhood situation and his being an absentee father. I also felt that there was little suspense in The Book of Secrets, given that the eponymous object carries all the answers in code. While it is nice to see a cryptic approach to the mystery, I found the deciphering to be boring and unbelievable. There was just so much beating around the bush (ie. Nate's evasiveness, Chloe's guilt trips) in The Book of Secrets, that I just could not grapple the intended intensity of the mystery, I guess.  I found it all cumbersome.Admittedly, I did find redemption in Arnold's writing. However, it was never consistent. One minute I was in awe of lofty passages, and later they were marred by pretentious or convoluted language. The dialogue fell flat as well, but this can be attributed to the somberness that dominates the atmosphere in The Book of Secrets. Of course, what I really appreciated was the homage to outstanding literary texts. The literary allusions and bookish chapter titles were seamlessly used in the plot. I do think the fantastical happiness that Nathan and his siblings found in literature is what made him a book-lover. Juxtaposed to main characters' lives of hurt and loss, literature is a safe haven, a place where children and adults go to seek refuge in times of distress. That is the pivotal message that I got from The Book of Secrets amidst its unhidgedness.In a nutshell, I picked up The Book of Secrets by Elizabeth Joy Arnold for its literary references. I enjoy reading the 'books about books' genre; however, The Book of Secrets proved to be a stark exception. I found myself often frustrated by its obscurity in both plot development, characterization, and writing. Eponymously based on secrets, The Book of Secrets failed to engage me, albeit its promising traits.Pros:Literary allusions // Theme: Literature as an escape from reality // Lofty Language (1/2)Cons:Slow Pacing // Repetitiveness // Weak characterization // Dull mystery // Droning narrative // Convoluted Language (2/2)This review first appeared on Oh, Chrys! and is based on an advance copy obtained from the publisher in exchange for an honest review./b>

Some Quiet Place

Some Quiet Place - Kelsey Sutton [b:Some Quiet Place|15710557|Some Quiet Place|Kelsey Sutton|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1353174493s/15710557.jpg|21376811] by Kelsey Sutton was one of my most anticipated debuts of 2013. Intrigued by the notion of personified emotions, I just could not wait to see how the plot unfolded. I did not go into the book with high-as-sky expectations, but I certainly had some hope in the unique premise. That was still a bad idea.My high points for [b:Some Quiet Place|15710557|Some Quiet Place|Kelsey Sutton|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1353174493s/15710557.jpg|21376811] lie in Sutton’s writing. I could not deny how well-written [b:Some Quiet Place|15710557|Some Quiet Place|Kelsey Sutton|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1353174493s/15710557.jpg|21376811] was in terms of powerful sentences, believable dialogue, and stunning imagery. My favorite aspect of Sutton’s writing was her atmospheric detail. The novel is chilling, even filling me with an uneasiness at times. The constant presence of Emotions and Elements, lurking around people expressing them, is very eerie, especially when the Emotion is a negative one. I enjoyed how each Emotion and Element had physical traits that fittingly represented them too. Despite this, Sutton dismissed world-building, which made the atmosphere somewhat counterproductive. Rather than intensifying a well-described world, the atmosphere worked solo, gripping me for the moment, but not investing beyond that.With such neglected world-building, I felt that [b:Some Quiet Place|15710557|Some Quiet Place|Kelsey Sutton|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1353174493s/15710557.jpg|21376811] lacked conceptual aggressiveness. The Emotions and Elements are just there, and readers do not learn much about their kind beyond their obvious duties. Courage instills courage. Guilt instills guilt, and so on. Considering the uniqueness of such a plane, I felt that Sutton should have attacked their existence with more clarity so readers could be left in awe. They were just there with no sort of background. Certain occurrences in [b:Some Quiet Place|15710557|Some Quiet Place|Kelsey Sutton|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1353174493s/15710557.jpg|21376811] also left me speculative of the logic behind the other plane, especially in regards to their intimacy with humans. Without clarity and rationality, the execution of personified Emotions and Elements left me confused and unimpressed. It was too muddled. This disappointed me greatly since it was what attracted me to [b:Some Quiet Place|15710557|Some Quiet Place|Kelsey Sutton|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1353174493s/15710557.jpg|21376811].The characterization in [b:Some Quiet Place|15710557|Some Quiet Place|Kelsey Sutton|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1353174493s/15710557.jpg|21376811] did not strike me. Elizabeth, the female protagonist who is void of emotions, is justifiably bland. Of course, having no ability to feel will prove dull. Despite this inability, Liz pretends to be normal. For instance, she tries to comfort her cancer-stricken friend by feigning concern. Could you imagine not being able to feel – to be a living statue? Her disconnected narrative voice is chilling, but may prove difficult for those who like emotion-filled reads. She also comes from a dysfunctional home, and is shunned by her parents – even abused by her father. I can stomach such violence in fiction, but I wish that someone reached out to Elizabeth despite her condition. Her school counselor saw all of the prominent signs of domestic abuse (ie. bruises), but she did nothing but try to pry questions out of an elusive Elizabeth.Another dominant character is Fear. This spine-tickling Emotion has long been fascinated by Elizabeth’s being emotionless. He wants to let her taste his fear, but he repeatedly fails. I think his characterization was a lifeline for me in this book. I often read rushing to see when his snarky, dark self would appear. Unlike the other Emotions, readers are given much information about Fear. He is very invasive and inconsiderate at times, but he certainly entertains. Perhaps his best trait is contrasting Elizabeth’s inherent detachment, and this is very refreshing.Then there is Joshua Hayes, a farm-boy classmate of Elizabeth that introduces the seemingly obligatory YA love triangle. He overcomes his shyness, and tries his best to crack Elizabeth. Of course, without emotions, Elizabeth cannot succumb to his charms. Though she is unfeeling, I found that she was extremely selfish. When an Emotion, cryptically tells her that she will need (*rolls eyes*) Joshua in the end, she forces herself to adjust to him. Despite never succeeding in trying to connect with Elizabeth, Joshua continually attempts to do so. I really do not see how Joshua propelled the plot at all. Funny that for such an emotionless book, romance invaded.Now, what really made me aggravated about [b:Some Quiet Place|15710557|Some Quiet Place|Kelsey Sutton|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1353174493s/15710557.jpg|21376811] was its agonizingly slow pace. Throughout most of the novel, Elizabeth has these vague dreams that feature recurring characters. They are so mind-boggling and abstract, leaving readers to pick up the puzzle pieces. They frustrated me not because of the effort required to string them, but because they were not rewarding at all. In fact, towards the end readers are given an entirely new perspective of the dream that explains everything. What really speeds up [b:Some Quiet Place|15710557|Some Quiet Place|Kelsey Sutton|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1353174493s/15710557.jpg|21376811] though is the introduction of a mysterious stalker who is obviously a threat to Elizabeth. His inclusion creates a psychological buzz that is thrilling.All in all, [b:Some Quiet Place|15710557|Some Quiet Place|Kelsey Sutton|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1353174493s/15710557.jpg|21376811]is an okay read. I found that the powerful atmosphere, conducive for a mystery, demanded my attention. Had it not been so, I probably would have completely disliked it. It is a very detached book, but that is expected from having a lead who cannot feel. I was very much frustrated by the inclusion of a love triangle, and the repetition of vague dreams. I do think that [b:Some Quiet Place|15710557|Some Quiet Place|Kelsey Sutton|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1353174493s/15710557.jpg|21376811] offers something completely unique for YA Paranormal that does not involve shapeshifters and the like though.

The Silver Star

The Silver Star - Jeannette Walls Stunningly portraying the 1970s, [b:The Silver Star|16130291|The Silver Star|Jeannette Walls|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1371450469s/16130291.jpg|21955595] is a book that sheds light on a dysfunctional family in which Bean and Liz Holladay maintain stability whereas their whimsical mother, Charlotte cannot. Reminiscent of To Kill a Mockingbird with a feisty child narrator learning the ways of the world – a grueling life task – this novel gripped me. [b:The Silver Star|16130291|The Silver Star|Jeannette Walls|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1371450469s/16130291.jpg|21955595] is narrated by twelve year old Bean, who is a chicken pot pie enthusiast and rebel. Coupled with her sister Liz, this sister duo are abnormally independent for their ages. With their eccentric mother trying to achieve her lifelong musical aspirations, the two are often left alone to fend for themselves. When Charlotte is absent for too long though, the local authorities become suspicious, so the sisters take off to visit Uncle Hinsley unannounced, leaving California for Virginia.An apt bildungsroman, [b:The Silver Star|16130291|The Silver Star|Jeannette Walls|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1371450469s/16130291.jpg|21955595] focuses on the growth of Bean, who does not fully comprehend the history of her father, the turbulence of racism, and the ills of society until the move to rural Byler. Though she is driven by spunk and curiosity, Bean has a lot to learn, and her experiences with Liz rid her of a blanket naïvety. The anguish that the sisters endure together, whether it is searching for a job, being ridiculed at school, or being the center of a scandalous court trial, are relatable for many readers. Even if they are not Walls presents them realistically. She has a penchant for portraying realism as though an effortless task. [b:The Silver Star|16130291|The Silver Star|Jeannette Walls|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1371450469s/16130291.jpg|21955595] enraptured me with such authenticity.At many times the [b:The Silver Star|16130291|The Silver Star|Jeannette Walls|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1371450469s/16130291.jpg|21955595] was inevitably analogous to To Kill A Mockingbird. I am not one to use another book as a basis for comparison, especially the sort that was not too profound to me. However, the two novels are riddled with themes that portray how corrupted yet frail human nature is through a child’s eyes. For the most part these social afflictions were not handled perfunctorily. Whether it was sexual violence and its ensuing effects or the mistreatment of employees, [b:The Silver Star|16130291|The Silver Star|Jeannette Walls|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1371450469s/16130291.jpg|21955595] is a weighty book.Normally, reads like this tend to be overwhelming with such tales of unending woe; however, the characters that occupy the novel are delightful and memorable. Bean, of course, dominates with her bravery and wits. I did find the other characters lackluster in her presence. Liz, with her quirky rhyming spells, is calmer than Bean, and is often tangled in herself. Uncle Hinsley is a widower and hermit, clutching to the shabby remnants of the Holladay estate, in both material and name. The ever-erratic Charlotte is rarely around, and always exhibits manic behavior when she is. This eccentric lineup of characters gives [b:The Silver Star|16130291|The Silver Star|Jeannette Walls|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1371450469s/16130291.jpg|21955595] that complexity and universality so often ascribed to literary fiction.What really captured me about [b:The Silver Star|16130291|The Silver Star|Jeannette Walls|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1371450469s/16130291.jpg|21955595] though was its layered style and writing. It is enveloped in beautiful yet fulfilling metaphors and symbols – the kind that actually have a significance. The diction is of course dependent on the Bean’s voice which is that of a young child who is wise beyond her years, but with a lot to learn. Bean’s childhood innocence radiates nearly every passage, and this changes as she matures. The first-person narrative makes it easier for readers to associate with her story, and even provides comedic relief as she uses terms she has learnt from her loose-lipped mother.In a nutshell, [b:The Silver Star|16130291|The Silver Star|Jeannette Walls|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1371450469s/16130291.jpg|21955595] has certainly become a favorite of mine. I do wish that it ended with an impact, but unfortunately it did not. With an abstract ending, it left me in an interpretative gaze that eventually manifested as disappointment. I yearned to know what Bean and Liz would turn into, but such is the life of a reader – we are often so consumed by a book, that we forget it has to end sometime. Despite this, I can still rejoice in its excellently crafted writing and style, its intriguing characters and its overall depth, worthy of examining.This review appeared first on Oh, Chrys!

Armchair BEA, Day 4: Ethics in Blogging

Image credit: Nina of Nina Reads
Hey all, this year I am participating in Armchair BEA which is a virtual convention for book bloggers who cannot attend the Book Expo America and the Book Blogger Convention in New York. Below I have selected five questions that give more insight on me!
Ethics in Blogging

The internet is a wonderful display of intellectual work ranging from Epic Rap Battles between historic figures to reviews gushing about about books. With this influx of other's ideas comes great responsibility. Here are some thoughts (my opinions) to consider:


1. Don't plagiarize. Like duh. There are many times the ideas of someone else are so creative that they leave you thinking "now why didn't I think of that"? For some, plagiarizing is no big deal, so the "copy and paste" function (and some tweaking, mind you) is nothing of great concern - no matter how big or small their readership is. You all know this , but it still happens. We have seen it happen. Avoid it like the plague.


2. Provide sources to images and "trigger posts". If another article has inspired to you write on a subject matter, and you share very similar opinions, it is great to highlight the original source, especially if posting times are close to each other. Images also need to be credited to their owners. If you cannot link to the owner's actual site, link to the website you found the image on. Whether an SNL gif, or an infographic, if the image is not yours you must post a link to its origin. An absent link denotes your ownership and creation.


3. Do not redistribute digital review copies. It takes money, time and mental work to write a book. When an author sends you a review copy, it is only for you. Even if the book was the best you ever read and you gave it a glowing review, that doesn't mean you can share it with who you want. Even letting someone use your account information to access a book is unethical. If you feel like sharing a book, gift a copy. Nothing says you love a book than legally sharing it with author's. Or building a shrine for it. Or selling your first-born for a limited copy. UPDATE: Jessica from Literary, etc mentioned in her comment below that: "it's important to note too that if you're part of a multi-member blog, it's not okay to share that one ARC you received for review and distribute it to all members of your blog to read on their own time unless you have permission from the publisher or author." This is so true! Thanks for pointing that out, Jessica!


4. Don't sell ARCs. Or pay for them. An ARC always come with the instruction to not sell it. ARCs are expensive to make and to send out. Selling ARCs on eBay, Amazon and other sites is against the publisher's rights. I wish marketplace websites would emphasize this more, but it is not happening. If you ever receive an ARC from one of these sites, and you feel lucky, something is out of place (your ethics?) Get mad. Politely inform the marketplace of the incident. Ask for a refund. It hurts me seeing ARCs sold.


5. Don't try to pass a book you didn't completely finish or understand as a normal, non-DNF review Sometimes you do not need to finish a book in its entirety to comprehensively explain your feelings about it. Sometimes you can skim through the ending, and still have an overall reaction to it. I have seen it many a time. However, there are times it is obvious that a reviewer has no idea what the book was about. Once I read a very problematic book, yet another reviewer who completely abhorred it, mentioned a genre element that was not present at all (alongside misspelled character names). I immediately realized that she was trying to fake a full review after barely reading the book or understanding it. That is being duplicitous - a very unfair action to do to your readers. This is why DNF and micro-reviews exist.


6. Give credit to meme creators I would have expected this to be a minor issue, but I am noticing an increase in uncredited memes. All book blog memes that I have seen require a mention of the creator. If you are not the creator of In My Mailbox (which has recently been passed down to another blog) or whatever other meme, it's required that you credit the host. Remember, it was not your idea.


7. Have a clear, distinct review policy. A review policy is extremely important! Yes, it is great to know what genres you prefer to review, but what is your clause on accepted books? Do you promise to review them? Or are reviews not guaranteed? Or how about handling review requests? Do you ignore the ones you are not interested in? Or do you notify the author that you cannot accept their book? Whatever review quirks you have, whether it be the submission process or format preferences - be sure to clearly state them in your review policy. These are serious jumbles of text - they are like your blog laws! They dictate one of the most important aspects of your blog! You want authors to know exactly what will happen. Unless they choose not to read it, of course.


8. Don't be a snob! I am just adding this tip after seeing Charlotte mention it on Gypsy Reviews! I  had to unfollow some bloggers who obviously had a superior air to them. I always tried to interact with them, and they left me there in the dust. Yes, your blog may be successful, but you are not a celebrity. Everyone has the right to ignore people no doubt, but if you like to exercise it in the blogging world, especially on social media where followers are more comfortable, then blogging is probably not for you. Interaction should not be reserved for a select few. It only makes you look like a snob. Be nice to your fans! Aren't they one the big reasons you do what you do? Or are you just planning to request ARCs with "numbers"? I'm more than a statistic. Whew. I think that's enough for this topic! Hope my tips are helpful!

Source: http://ohchrys.blogspot.com/2013/05/armchair-bea-day-4-ethics-in-blogging.html

Things Fall Apart

Things Fall Apart - I

The Flute Player

The Flute Player - Shawn Mihalik Conveyed as though an oral, traditional story, [b:The Flute Player|2282139|The Flute Player|D.M. Thomas|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327785193s/2282139.jpg|2288335] is highly imaginative and enchanting. Taking place in the odd village of Drommar - a place where seasons and war are foreign ideologies - this novella will fancy those readers looking for a short, yet rewarding read.Oliver, the lead character, is restricted by his eponymous title in Drommar. His flute playing is what keeps the residents inspired. If he is ever unable to miss his routine performances, the villagers become heavily burdened. Afraid to lose his seat on the council, Oliver's father often reprimands him for not composing songs during the day. With such responsibility and rash treatment from his father, Oliver is a character who can only yearn for liberation. After his best friend Thomas drowns, the fragile task of being the flute player is placed upon him. He has no way out.Overwhelmed with satisfying Drommar and not himself, Oliver is obviously restricted despite his transition into adulthood. His character is practically depressing. Readers see how dull his life has become. Though he is pampered by servants and has esteem in Drommar, Oliver is very unhappy. He often has to pretend that he is composing new songs to console his father's ambitious intentions. For a while, I felt that the book would be lackluster, that is until Alexandria appears from nowhere in The Forest. From her very introductory screams of anguish, Alexandria is able to break Oliver's mundane routine, revealing to him the freedom he has not known for years.Alongside the mysteriousness of Drommar, Alexandria's unknown origin and her invisibility to everyone but Oliver certainly gives the novella a sense of intrigue. She is a sweet person, often cooking for Oliver and providing him with socialization opportunities. She is misplaced from her world, and has no idea how to return. Her return can be imminent or nonexistent, and though she is comfortable at Drommar, she misses her family. It was interesting to see how Oliver would help Alexandria go back to where she came from, sacrificing his only friend and freedom. The relationship between these two is remarkable, as they both need to be freed in different ways by the other. I also enjoyed the philosophical insight they provided. The discourse between the two often involved the contrasts of her world and Oliver's. Whereas Alexandria's world was at war, Oliver's had no concept of war. This goes to show that probably there is a way to attain peace in the world. But what is true peace, if you are living for your father and a village, but not for yourself?What I really enjoyed about [b:The Flute Player|2282139|The Flute Player|D.M. Thomas|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327785193s/2282139.jpg|2288335] was Mihalik's writing style. His rich storytelling is enhanced by vivid imagery, and his humor coincides with the warm atmosphere throughout most of the novella. At times though, the imagery was too conceptual, which may deter the effortless reader. I also appreciated how eloquently [b:The Flute Player|2282139|The Flute Player|D.M. Thomas|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327785193s/2282139.jpg|2288335] was written. However, at times I felt the sentences were incoherent, as though the author got a bit carried away.[b:The Flute Player|2282139|The Flute Player|D.M. Thomas|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327785193s/2282139.jpg|2288335] certainly held my curiosity and when the revelations I were waiting for occured, I chuckled in satisfaction. Every question I had was answered, especially through intermittent expositions that were not infodumped. This allowed me to leave this novella very complete and without any confusion. All in all, I am glad I gave [b:The Flute Player|2282139|The Flute Player|D.M. Thomas|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327785193s/2282139.jpg|2288335] a read. Its short length and magical storytelling made me adhere to reading it. It was simply dreamy and different.

Shadow of Wrath (Sins of the 7)

Shadow of Wrath - L.W. Patricks This review appeared first on Oh, Chrys!Shocking and eccentric, [b:Shadow of Wrath|17303425|Shadow of Wrath (Sins of the 7)|L.W. Patricks|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1359434168s/17303425.jpg|22431411] presents the harsh realities of a deranged society – without the censorship often portrayed in YA. Challenging the standards of its genre,[b:Shadow of Wrath|17303425|Shadow of Wrath (Sins of the 7)|L.W. Patricks|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1359434168s/17303425.jpg|22431411] is unorthodox and unpredictable at its best. Straddling a chilling and gruesome environment, its plot is engrossingly action-packed. There's gore, violence, and much abuse. I admired how the book had many controversial occurrences, though I know many will be easily offended. Readers are introduced to Dog, a homeless orphan who is abducted and forced to fight for his survival under the regime of the crazed, savage Ryker. He is one of many who have to endure this twisted version of Darwinism as he fights against other innocent captives in the forsaken Arena. Dog is the hardest character to connect with because he so bitter. His anger closets him from others, and because of the point of view used, readers do not directly know him. It was as if it were the real world, where we learn about a person by their reactions and not their immediate thoughts. It is his reactions to certain events that give more insight on his character. Dog embodies a valor that rids him of fear for death, and he never becomes desensitized to humanity. It is not often that I can say I felt distant to a main character and still enjoy a book.Contrastingly, Allegra is easier to attach to. She is kindhearted and pure, yet it is obvious that she suppresses her resentment to avoid being abused by Ryker – her owner and the novel’s villain. Allegra initially frustrated me. She often emulates a Mary Sue quality that instantly misplaces her from a world saturated by grit, gore and greed. It was as though she were an anachronistic character, from a time where the world still bared a thread of morality. Nonetheless, I never viewed her as a weak heroine, and I admired her self-reliance – an element that most YA heroines seem to lack. Her development throughout the novel is amazing. The other characters are also developed well. Ryker is undoubtedly a villain. His egoism and greed dictate his life. He lacks decency, and believes that he is the epitome of strength. He finds bliss in his sadism and brutality, authority in his manipulation and force. Tiberius, the Arena champion is violent during battle, yet a streak of compassion lies within him when he is not fighting. Despite this, I was disappointed at how easily Ryker had a hold on him considering his beastly abilities.Though the Arena provides a gritty backdrop, many may not feel it competent for a dystopian. Most of the plot action occurs in the Arena and its perimeter, and this may not satisfy readers looking for intense world-building. For me, I did not find the limited world-building to be a much of a problem. This is because [b:Shadow of Wrath|17303425|Shadow of Wrath (Sins of the 7)|L.W. Patricks|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1359434168s/17303425.jpg|22431411] contains a familiar dystopia. There is no need to introduce unknown technologies because they are the same as they are today. The proximity of the time period to ours makes the world recognizable. Nonetheless, I certainly would prefer if this book was marketed as mature YA, rather than a YA dystopian.What really made [b:Shadow of Wrath|17303425|Shadow of Wrath (Sins of the 7)|L.W. Patricks|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1359434168s/17303425.jpg|22431411] such a gripping read for me though is its dismissal of popular YA conventions – the dominant ones being unrealism and predictability. Even when moments of hope manage to surface, they are blasted by harsh reality. One example I can recall is when Dog wants to get a sentimental tattoo of a smiling moon. Instead, he cannot get it because Ryker’s preference to ‘macho’ tattoos. Even the little romance of the book is not your typical happy go-go kind. The violent, ‘you-can-die-any-moment’ atmosphere is not conducive to gratify the pangs of love. This alone proves how authentic and eccentric [b:Shadow of Wrath|17303425|Shadow of Wrath (Sins of the 7)|L.W. Patricks|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1359434168s/17303425.jpg|22431411] is. It is an edgy read, and the plot’s unpredictability made it even more exciting.As for Patricks’ writing style, it is proficient. It is direct and concise, echoing the very curtness of [b:Shadow of Wrath|17303425|Shadow of Wrath (Sins of the 7)|L.W. Patricks|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1359434168s/17303425.jpg|22431411]. I enjoyed his use of epistolary introductions featuring Ryker’s ex-partner that provide insight on Ryker’s viciousness and the Arena’s origins. Also, the dialogue is intriguing though at times I found it to be choppy. There were many instances where I was severely disappointed by Patricks’ descriptions. For instance, Dog’s fights almost always lasted less than forty seconds, with him triumphing. Rather than anxiously watching a bloody fight before my eyes, I was left with a rushed summary stating who won, and how long it lasted.From the very first pages to the very end, [b:Shadow of Wrath|17303425|Shadow of Wrath (Sins of the 7)|L.W. Patricks|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1359434168s/17303425.jpg|22431411] thoroughly engaged me. If you are looking for an absorbing, gritty read, and can handle violence and gore, I strongly suggest for you to read [b:Shadow of Wrath|17303425|Shadow of Wrath (Sins of the 7)|L.W. Patricks|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1359434168s/17303425.jpg|22431411]. It is a mind-bending read that defies all conventions of YA. There is no fragile heroine. There is no swoony hero. There is no fluffy romance. There is no predictability. There is no “powdering up”. It is simply realistic and unorthodox.

Going Under

Going Under - S. Walden Gritty and gripping. Review to come.

Digital Fortress

Digital Fortress - Dan Brown His first and worst book. Not too bad a read though.

Out of The Easy

Out of The Easy - Ruta Sepetys This review appeared first on Oh, Chrys!Having not read a Sepetys work before, [b:Out of the Easy|11178225|Out of The Easy|Ruta Sepetys|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1339784547s/11178225.jpg|16102692] was certainly new territory for me. It follows the aspirations of Josie Moriane, the daughter of a haughty prostitute, who wants a way out of the Big Easy (New Orleans), preferably a route to the Massachusetts university she dreams of. [b:Out of the Easy|11178225|Out of The Easy|Ruta Sepetys|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1339784547s/11178225.jpg|16102692] was not a gripping read, though it certainly could have been.An advocate of historical fiction, I must commend Sepetys for providing the young adult audience with a book that couples history with an engaging setting, easily understood with modern eyes. Portraying a vibrant city during a turbulent decade of mobster rule, racism, and class hierarchy emulates an intrigue even infrequent readers of historical fiction may find surprising. Her descriptions of the sordidness of the French Quarter, and the debaucherous lifestyles of its residents are interesting to read of as well. A melting pot of culture, New Orleans simply provides a refreshing and rich backdrop.Sepetys' characterization is well done. Josie is somewhat an admirable heroine. She has a strong sense of loyalty, and is ingenious. A lover of books and a dutiful bookstore clerk (and brothel cleaner), she often quotes Dickens and Keats, which will definitely get bibliophiles even more enthused about the popular literature of that decade. Her resilience is unlike other recent YA heroines, allowing [b:Out of the Easy|11178225|Out of The Easy|Ruta Sepetys|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1339784547s/11178225.jpg|16102692] to stand apart from the majority of its shelf-mates She is not easily flustered by the opposite sex, nor is she looking for any sort of romantic involvement. Her priority is her education, her ticket out of the Easy.Cleaning a brothel and interacting with prostitutes everyday typically complements a loss of innocence, but Josie is so angelic. She has not a foul word to say, and even when confronted with powerful temptation she triumphs. This archetype is not often seen in contemporary reads, where heroines and heroes are flawed. However, I feel that her child-like innocence endowed her with gullibility This is evident in the mother-daughter relationship. She has a nearly-unjustifiable affinity for Louise. I know that sounds excessively harsh, but Louise, is so unloving towards Josie. Louise's insatiable materialism and sensuality are at the forefront of her life, and she often blames Josie's existence for deflating her Hollywood dream. She victimizes her daughter, and gives her absolutely no encouragement.When Jesse, the charming mechanic that many French Quarter ladies adore, begins showing interest in Josie, I was wary. Shockingly, he does not pursue her for her physical self, or for what tricks a whore's daughter is believed to inherit. Rather, Jesse is such a concerned, genuine lad. He embodies a friendly charisma that Josie needs in her bleak life, though it does take a while for her to adjust.Other than Jesse, there is the intelligent, quaint Patrick who assumes ownership of Marlowe's Bookstore as the state of his father, Charlie deteriorates. He has known Josie since Charlie began to assist her when she was younger. Not only are Patrick and Josie close childhood friends, but they are united by their love for literature. Patrick, however, holds a secret that can test the bonds of their friendship and potential romance.Willie, the madam of the central brothel, is a domineering woman who despite her harshness truly cares for her employees and Josie. With her sleek hair and red kimonos Willie made me curious, especially when considering the secrecy surrounding her business and personal life. I also enjoyed reading of Cokie, the brothel driver, who Josie could confide in about anything. He encourages Josie to further her education, even going out of his way to make sure she does.Despite this cast of affecting characters, the plot of [b:Out of the Easy|11178225|Out of The Easy|Ruta Sepetys|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1339784547s/11178225.jpg|16102692] is where I found most of my reading experience to crumble. Often the book strayed, leaving me to wonder what intentions the authors had. Sepetys juggled many events, crushing readers and eventually leading to plot deficiency. Just as I was becoming engrossed in a specific event, I was distracted by another. For example, the murder mystery of Mr. Hearne, which could have been more thrilling has the dull consistency of flickering bulb. Had she developed plot events more meticulously, the book would have been enthralling, especially considering how an overactive plot can reduce the authenticity of theme portrayal. For example, prostitution - a chunk of the novel - is superficially portrayed. Writing about such a scorned practice, proves difficult for most writers, so it was no surprise seeing Sepetys plaster it with the "tart with a heart" trope. It is as though each prostitute is endowed with a hidden, even saint-like integrity. Now, I am not bothered that Sepetys portrayed them in a tasteful manner. I just wish she portrayed them creatively.As for Sepetys' writing style, I was very much satisfied. Her literary allusions were abundant, and reminded me of some classics I have yet to read. The imagery she conjures is authentic, transposing readers from the squalid streets of the French Quarters to the aftermath of a wild night at a brothel. I find that her method of writing is well-suited for this genre, and I appreciated that she transcended the stereotypical verbosity that has dubbed historical fiction as "boring".Though its first quarter enthralled me, [b:Out of the Easy|11178225|Out of The Easy|Ruta Sepetys|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1339784547s/11178225.jpg|16102692] is a book that I think was ultimately stifled by a crushing plot and a censorship that exuded from Josie's pure character. Sepetys' characterization is great, but this can easily be dismissed if you are looking for a fascinating, gritty read.

One Day More: A Life After Theft Novella

One Day More - Aprilynne Pike This review appeared first on Oh, Chrys!Having read an ARC of [b:Life After Theft|16065465|Life After Theft|Aprilynne Pike|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1361587713s/16065465.jpg|19071699], I was really expecting for this digital short to be functional. I wanted to know more about Kimberlee. Unfortunately, I found nothing significant, nothing that made me say "now that explains a lot". All I got from this novella is that Kimberlee is a bitchy kleptomaniac with a lot of emotional insecurities.Now, since this is a prequel, it would be unfair to review this short story as though I was expecting questions and doubts from [b:Life After Theft|16065465|Life After Theft|Aprilynne Pike|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1361587713s/16065465.jpg|19071699] to be addressed. Nevertheless, as a prequel novella [b:One Day More|10929|For One More Day|Mitch Albom|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1347937379s/10929.jpg|3125926] was okay. Had I read it first, I would have some interest in [b:Life After Theft|16065465|Life After Theft|Aprilynne Pike|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1361587713s/16065465.jpg|19071699]. It ended with a cliffhanger that is sure to get readers jazzed up for what Kimberlee's future holds. Will she redeem herself?It was refreshing to read from Kimberlee's point of view though, because readers get to learn of her "issues" directly and without any assumptions. Her narrative voice is mature, sometimes even humorous with her snarky comments. Though she is wealthy and can get away with anything because her father is a judge, Kimberlee is thoroughly unhappy. I found this message to be very powerful, as many young adults have to endure such problems. For instance, the absence of her parents at home is quite realistic in her case. Consumed with work, and a desire to strengthen their marriage, Kimberlee's parents practically neglect her, leaving her without supervision, discipline or emotional stability. Then of course there is her compulsive desire to steal. Often kleptomaniacs are associated with disheveled men sporting matted beards. It was ironic that a "rich-kid" succumbed to kleptomania.When it comes to a novella for a series, I believe it needs to be necessary - it must contribute significantly to the overall plot. I cannot say that [b:One Day More|10929|For One More Day|Mitch Albom|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1347937379s/10929.jpg|3125926] did that. Though it transitions flawlessly into [b:Life After Theft|16065465|Life After Theft|Aprilynne Pike|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1361587713s/16065465.jpg|19071699], I find that the two could have been merged. A simple conversation, occupying no more than half a page in [b:Life After Theft|16065465|Life After Theft|Aprilynne Pike|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1361587713s/16065465.jpg|19071699], would have eliminated the need for [b:One Day More|10929|For One More Day|Mitch Albom|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1347937379s/10929.jpg|3125926] .

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