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The Storyteller - Jodi Picoult Originally posted at Gypsy ReviewsJodi Picoult is one of my favourite authors, no matter she likes to employ a familiar in her books but she manages to write people so beautifully and realistically. Each of her books focuses on a different issue and through her books she manages to spread awareness about them and provide an insight view into those people’s lives and puts us in their shoes. The Storyteller was one of my most anticipated reads this year with the synopsis but despite that and the fact that it deviated from the typical Jodi Picoult formula, it wasn’t as amazing as I had hoped though it still managed to deliver a very strong message and was a very emotional book.Sage Singer has gone through a lot in the past few years, she’s constantly hiding and scared to make herself be known. It might be because of the scar on her face or the fact that she’s become so used to being unimportant and not having people care about her. But she loves to bake and that’s the only thing that matters right now. It was hard to like Sage in the beginning, she was really mopey and it got tiring. I didn’t like how she was so ready to just close the door on her happiness and settle for second best for example sleeping with Adam even though he’s married and she basically just says this is what she deserves, she doesn’t deserve an actual relationship where she comes on top. She deserves a relationship with a married man where his priority will never be her. But slowly, especially after Josef makes his request, we see the more headstrong side of Sage who is angered by Josef’s request and feels she has to do something at least.The story is told through a few perspectives as typical for a Jodi Picoult novel and it’s what really makes her novels. There’s also a story component and you get a few snippets of this story at the beginning of each chapter, rest assured it is connected to the entire story. We have Sage’s perspective, Josef’s perspective from his past, another character’s perspective (not going to mention because spoiler) and another person’s perspective from the past. What displeased me was the pacing of the novel, a huge chunk of the novel is set in the past and I think it’s just way too long. By the middle I was clamouring to get back to present day.Usually Jodi Picoult novels go from an issue to bringing it up in court and the rest of the book chronicles the trial but The Storyteller only makes it to the first step. I think those who are tired of Picoult’s formula will be glad that this book is different however I felt that without it and being replaced by the whole insert of the past, it got boring quick. But this does not mean Picoult was not able to use this opportunity to focus on other aspects and use them to the story’s advantage.Even though the flashback to WWII was long, it was filled with such raw emotion. Learning about WWII in school, it gets drilled in that the Germans were absolutely heartless to murder all those Jews and to keep the war going and that doesn’t change from reading The Storyteller but it opens your eyes to how the soldiers felt. Has it occurred to you that despite following orders, maybe they were sick of all the bloodshed? That having to live with the stink of rotting bodies and the metallic smell of blood was mental torture? That the constant killing actually would take its toll on the soldiers too. I’m not feeling sympathetic towards the soldiers, this is just more of an eye-opener as we get to see from the perspective of a soldier which we wouldn’t normally get to read from. They say the grass is greener on the other side but is it really? I like that Picoult was able to draw attention to this and get me thinking and remember that there are two sides to this.Anyone who has learnt about WWII is no stranger to how the Jews were treated. I always understood the gist of what happened but following the story of someone who had been in that time period was an incredible eye-opener as well. They’re all desperately trying to survive and would do anything to save the ones they love but sometimes doing everything you can is not enough because people don’t keep promises and you can trust on nothing. Living as a Jew during that time was a complete life of uncertainty, no move you made didn’t make you a target for the Germans, you were never safe. Any second a bullet could go through your brain or your family member or friend would be gone.You couldn’t rely on promises.I might not have agreed with how Sage came to her decision but the ending was surprising and it makes a lot of sense once you read the book. I was so glad Picoult went that direction too, it’s what makes this her book. I gave this book 4 stars not because it wasn’t a good book as compared to my 5 star ratings but because to me, as a Jodi Picoult book, it was a 4 star among her books. It definitely could have been a lot better but it’s still a very powerful and impactful novel that speaks so much about human nature. I do recommend this book if you like the sound of it from the synopsis.Verdict: You want to read this book.--------------------A different formula to her usual books. It is truly a great book and lives up to her reputation but compared to her other books I think Picoult could have done better. It seemed underwhelming and a little too ridden with details. -- Full review to come
The Whatnot (The Peculiar, #2) - Stefan Bachmann So many surprises and just WOW, it got even more darker and murkier and I loved it! I couldn't connect with Pikey and he wasn't as endearing as Bartholomew was but he was a good protagonist, he got along well with Bartholomew. It was a different dynamic than with Mr. Jelliby, who I wish had more of a bigger role here. I loved Hettie's growth, she was fabulous. -- Full review to come.

Catching Jordan

Catching Jordan - Miranda Kenneally Originally posted at Gypsy ReviewsCatching Jordan caught me by surprise, I was expecting a very cliched contemporary romance with a predictable storyline and although I did manage to predict the storyline easily, it made me happy that Jordan made the right decisions in the end. Catching Jordan was a quick and sweet contemporary that was fun and enjoyable to read.Jordan has always loved football and she breaks the status quo by being the captain and quarterback of her high school football team despite being surrounded by boys. But Jordan earns their respect and they all care about her very much. Jordan was likable throughout the story, there were times when I didn’t agree with her decisions such as when Ty came along and when she was still oblivious about the college situation even though it was clear as day. I liked that she refused to be delegated to the sidelines when Ty came along, it was still her role as captain and she wasn’t going to let anyone take it from her, no matter how cute he was.Henry was so sweet, I loved his and Jordan’s friendship and all the things they did together. I loved his reactions when he and Jordan were doing a school project together, he’s probably my favourite character from the book. I did find the plot line involving him and Jordan pretty obvious, pretty much everyone knew except Jordan. Was she that oblivious? I couldn’t really agree with Henry’s actions though, I mean he was constantly hooking up with other girls. Not the way you want to get over Jordan, okay?Ty was trouble the moment he was mentioned, of course I was not fond of how Jordan was so enamoured by him and at first he just seemed like your average new guy to school and his situation made him very sympathetic. But then he started to become controlling in his relationship with Jordan and insisting on knowing wherever she was and causing a strain between Jordan’s relationship with her father over his support for Ty and lack of support for Jordan on college football.I was pleased with how the events of the story turned out because it was all I had hoped for. The story doesn’t exactly go the way you expect from what the blurb says but once you get into the story, you find yourself pleased that it didn’t. Catching Jordan is a good example of a fun contemporary read and that’s why I gave it 5 stars because it exemplifies this genre. However, if you compare Catching Jordan to my other 5 star ratings, it does poorly with its predictability. I did have trouble giving a rating to this book and I had to go with my gut in the end.However before I typed up this review, I stumbled across negative reviews of this book and what they said made me feel guilty because the things they pointed out are those that I feel very strongly about and would not condone myself. But I never saw any of it while I was reading Catching Jordan. It did compel me to change my rating but in the end I decided against it because all my ratings go according to how I felt right after reading the book.In the end, I suggest this book to you if you’re just looking for something light and fun but if you’re very particular about contemporaries and the issues typically seen in them, then you might not enjoy this as much.Verdict: Love contemporary? This is for you!
Drowning Instinct - Ilsa J. Bick 4.5/5Originally published at Gypsy ReviewsDrowning Instinct touches on teacher-student relationships, abuse, mental illness and dealing with loss. It features a whole array of themes and draws you in very slowly as the issue at hand builds on but yet you become so conflicted about it because it’s not something commonly accepted by society. Yet the effects of the relationship actually benefit the characters. Can we still say that it’s wrong? So is the world truly black or white? Or is it filled with grey areas in between? Drowning Instinct makes you question what is right or wrong and you’ll love every bit of the ride.Jenna has lived under the roof of her controlling father and alcoholic mother for years and her older brother used to be a source of comfort to her, until he enlisted and got shipped off to Afghanistan. She has just come out of psychiatric treatment for cutting herself and is slowly adjusting to her new school where she meets Mr. Anderson. Gradually the two grow close and Mr. Anderson helps Jenna and she doesn’t have these thoughts anymore of wanting to cut herself and self-destruction. His presence is becoming a positive influence on Jenna and Jenna finally feels safe and feels like she has a place. But the thing is, Mr. Anderson is her teacher and he’s married.Usually in a story such as this one, you would be adamant towards a teacher-student relationship because it is inappropriate, it’s not right and so on. Sure, I am one of those people who think this way. But the fantastic aspect of Drowning Instinct is that despite the feelings that this issue evokes out of you, you feel so conflicted about how you feel because somehow in the middle of the book, I was hoping for Mr. Anderson and Jenna to get together because the change and influence he had on Jenna was helping her come out of that hole and making her accept reality and to stop running away from her issues. But then I remembered who they were and these two sides of me were constantly at odds and I had to question myself and wonder, is this issue black or white? Can you point-blank say that this relationship is wrong if them being together actually did something good? I loved how Drowning Instinct made me think and ponder and few books can actually achieve this.It did occur to me that if my belief in this issue could be undermined by a book that maybe my beliefs weren’t very strong but when it comes to something like this, sometimes you have to take another perspective because it helps you gain more understanding. You are not in their shoes, there is a reason they are engaged in this kind of relationship. Instead of just straight away saying I cannot accept this kind of behaviour and their relationship is wrong, I’m willing to take it from their point of view and understand why they willingly got into a relationship even though they both knew it was incorrect. Rather the book was an eye-opener and served as a reminder to always take the perspective of both sides.The writing was very good, usually in contemporary books you get a juvenile kind of style of writing and the writing is very teenagerish and immature but Drowning Instinct was down-to-earth, blunt, honest and it went beyond the surface. Jenna might seem like a typical teenager but she thinks and can see the true meaning because a person’s intention like how we would – we’re constantly reading behind people’s faces, words and wondering how they really fee;. This is something that books hardly ever write about because the character’s feelings and thoughts are all very one-sided, just things you see on the surface. This is why I enjoyed Jenna very much as a character too because her voice was something I could identify with and it was so real, this is how a real teenager thinks and talks.The pacing panned out well, it was slow but I didn’t find it slow. The events unfolded one by one and it did go day by day but I never got the sense that I was actually bored of reading because it was done so well that you don’t even feel like it’s slow. Nothing is rushed and everything is set on a realistic timeline. Honestly I was very surprised by some of the event reveals because I did not expect them at all. You would have never seen them coming because they’re so unpredictable and Drowning Instinct is not afraid to go the unconventional route.I really wanted to give this a full 5 stars but I couldn’t because the feeling just wasn’t there, one or two things did bother me, for example how Jenna kept convincing herself that Mr. Anderson didn’t care about her and ran away or avoided him. If she did it once, I could understand and rationalise that she was afraid and insecure; unready to let someone actually care about her. But she did it once again and I just couldn’t relate to her doing it a second time.But I definitely enjoyed this book very much, I highly recommend it! It is probably one of my top contemporary reads of the year.Verdict: You just have to read it, go to a bookstore and buy it now. --------------------Absolutely amazing book, it's conflicting and thought-provoking and I just devoured this book. The writing is beautiful and so honest, it delves deeper into how we think and goes beyond what we see on the surface. It's slow-paced but it works so well because you are not flooded with detail. -- Full review to come
The Assassin’s Curse (The Assassin's Curse, #1) - Cassandra Rose Clarke The Assassin’s Curse seemed promising when I first read the blurb, it gave off a kind of Arabian feel to it and the magic seemed interesting enough. However, the slow pacing of the book and the one-sided romance and attraction Annana felt for Naji was distracting and unbearable to read about. Annana’s whiny and irritating personality did not help in this area either despite her abilities and skills.Annana is a girl of many talents, having been born to two pirates she knows how to steal without getting caught, she knows how to fight a little and has a plan for her future. However despite her talents, Annana was a bit of a spoilt brat. She was nagging at Naji constantly and was very annoying and irritating. Then all these feelings would suddenly appear and she would want Naji to notice her, it was like “Suddenly a wild feeling appears!” Yes, Annana falls in love with Naji and she does so almost the second she meets him. The whole thing could not compute in my mind because Naji was meant to kill her. She hardly even knows him at all, I just couldn’t with this at all.Naji is an assasin hired by her betrothed’s family and well, I never actually got the sense that Naji was actually an assassin and I was even meant to fear him because he acted like such a wimp. I was intrigued by Naji’s history and how the whole mechanics of being an assassin worked but Naji was very boring. He seemed so weak and the romance isn’t even a romance because I never got the sense that Naji reciprocated Annana’s feelings at all although he might have led her on with the things he said but I never saw an indication that he was just in love with her as she was with him. Besides, they both hardly knew each other. So the romance, from my perspective, was very one-sided and pretty much very weird.I liked the magic and the world, the world building was decent although I got confused with the names and such since we were never given much background information and pretty much thrown or thrust into the world of The Assassin’s Curse. The concept of magic was very interesting indeed, the magic definitely held most of the interest I had in this book because without it, I don’t think I would have continued reading it. I also was not a fan of how easy everything came to Annana, she stole very frequently to keep herself alive and I know she is quite adept at it but every time it is thrown in casually and Annana steals something with ease, it irritated me. I don’t like the easy way out in books, it is hard to believe and just seems all too convenient. There just didn’t seem to be any challenges in the book, everything seemed so easy and almost boring.The pacing was very slow, I felt like The Assassin’s Curse was just a transitional book to the real plot – the quest to break the curse. It is only at the ending do we even find out how to break the curse and from the synopsis, it gave me the impression that we were going to find out how to break the curse within that book. So I did feel the book was a waste of time, I don’t feel like we needed many of those scenes with Annana and Naji basically doing nothing but just travelling.I am hesitant to read the sequel, The Pirate’s Wish, because I won a copy from the publisher and I’m not exactly a big fan of the book because of the characters. I did hear that this series is a duology so The Pirate’s Wish is the last book so I guess I might try it out and see if it’s any better than The Assassin’s Curse. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend this book unless you like painful one-sided romances.Verdict: Skip it, not worth your time. ---------------------Panned out very slowly and well, the quest only really got going when the book ended so the whole book was mainly a transition which is never my favourite way to write a book because I always think no matter if it's in a series or standalone, it has to be self-contained. The romance just came out of nowhere and I never got the sense that Naji was actually an assassin because he was very mopey. The world was quite fascinating and the magic. I didn't like Annana very much, she's awfully irritating. I'm hesitant whether to continue with this series.-- Full review to come


Orleans - Originally posted at Gypsy ReviewsOrleans is gritty and honest and shows what a dystopian should look like. Nothing is easy in Orleans and there are risks to everything and you cannot trust anyone because they’re all in it for themselves. It is all about one’s survival in Orleans and nothing else matters. Orleans has set the bar pretty high for all other dystopians and I enjoyed reading it very much.Fen de la Guerre is fearless and back when she lost her parents, Fen has had to learn the hard way and join a tribe where all that matters is the tribe. Fen is quite emotionless, she is the perfect example of someone who has adapted to the harsh ways of her world and all that matters is survival, anything trivial is dismissed and not even acknowledged. I appreciated how real this was because in all honesty, if you were in Fen’s situation, nothing else would really matter except trying to survive every day. You don’t have time for romance, wishy-washy emotions and so on. However, that made it very difficult for me to connect with her because of how distant she was. I wouldn’t say Fen was gullible because she isn’t but she trusts too easily for people she knows and vary of strangers. This becomes her downfall actually, you trust no one in Orleans, they’re all in it for themselves.Daniel comes from the Outer States so he is naive and unprepared for what Orleans is. He is trying to save Orleans and find a cure for Delta Fever but his hopes and wishes don’t exactly turn out the way he had hoped. Being in Orleans, Daniel is definitely out of his element because the world is so different in Orleans. Fen is wary of Daniel when she first meets him and then decides that she can use him to help her bring the baby to the Outer States and live out a better life. I wouldn’t exactly say that the relationship gets stronger but rather Fen needs Daniel because without him, the plan cannot go on. I was relieved that there wasn’t any romance inside because it would have been highly unnecessary and unrealistic.The world building was done very well, you got a very good idea of how New Orleans came to be Orleans and the destruction the hurricanes caused. Then the aftermath of Orleans becoming an entirely separate state from the USA because of the Delta Fever and being completely abandoned. You see how the people of Orleans survive and divided into blood type, blood is gold there and few would hesitate to kill for blood. It was very easy to believe and to get a good sense of the structure they had in Orleans.The writing was definitely very hard to get into because Fen was speaking tribe and since I am a huge stickler for grammar, it is a little unnerving but I slowly got used to it. But then I was more confused by how Fen started speaking tribe less and was slowly going back to using proper English but it didn’t really make sense to me as to why she would revert back when she was alone and just with the baby. Unless her speaking tribe is merely a verbal habit but since her chapters were in the 1st person, it does seem like she has completely reverted to tribe so I really didn’t understand.The book was a little slow at some parts, I really hated how there was a very stereotypical gimmick at the beginning. I am just not fond of this stereotype in YA because what use is there introducing a character if you’re just going to cross them out. Some parts really blew me away and surprised me. I can definitely see why some people wouldn’t like Orleans because it focuses more on the whole survival part and a lot of YA dystopians now have romance and the such to make it all more interesting. But that part is actually why I really liked Orleans. If you’re looking for a great dystopian book that has no romance and great worldbuilding, you should definitely read it.Verdict: Read it!----------------------Fantastic world building but it was difficult to connect to the main character. The language was hard to get used to as well but this is a great story and believable story. Not having a romance certainly helps in that area. ---- Full review to come


Ink - Amanda Sun 2.5/5I received an eARC from Harlequin UK via NetGalley. Thank you!Originally published at Gypsy ReviewsInk was one of my most anticipated reads of the year but sadly it turned out to be a heavily romance-centric novel with an underwhelming plot and MCs that I found extremely hard to connect with. Despite the Japanese setting and getting to know much more about Japanese culture, Ink fails to deliver and becomes a prime example in ‘Do not judge a book by its cover’ because it is definitely not what you think it is.Katie was nothing I expected her to be, from the very start I was questioning her actions. It baffled me over how dogged her obsession with Tomohiro was, she was so adamant on trying to figure out what was going on with Tomo and for what reason? There was absolutely no reason behind it and you could say she was actually stalking him. Soon enough, it just comes down to Katie and Tomo and her friends are totally disregarded. Katie seems to settle into Japan very well and extremely fast, the transition wasn’t believable enough. I also didn’t find her getting over her mother’s death very convincing either, everything seemed all too fast to be believable and they were disregarded very quickly. It made Katie seem rather insensitive.Tomohiro is the typical bad boy who tries not to care too much and pushes Katie away, convinced that he’s bad for her but yet isn’t able to actually force her away because she keeps coming back to him. This brings me to questioning why Katie wants to be with him so much because she herself knows how much of a douchebag Tomo is but she keeps going back. Tomo didn’t annoy me as much as Katie did thankfully but their relationship did, especially over how instalovey it was.I was expecting a lot more fantasy from the plot but instead we got a very simple plot that was very much driven by the romance. I didn’t enjoy the story and was disappointed by the ending because it was predictable. I didn’t like the plot either and the antagonists, there was a lot of material that could have been used into the novel. I really detested the stereotypes in the novel, particularly how nearly every guy Katie met was cute and how she constantly ran into people she knew. I’m pretty sure that Shizuoka is quite big, it’s not THAT small of a world for Katie to keep bumping into the same people she knows.It was fascinating to read up more on Japanese culture and all the yummy foods, Ink definitely succeeded in the setting department because you can truly see that Sun has a good knowledge of Japan and puts that into good use by making everything as authentic as it can be. Reading Ink made me want to visit Japan and experience it all for myself. The reason why I gave Ink a 2.5 is because even after I finished reading the novel and wasn’t all that impressed by it, I still found myself thinking about Katie and Tomo days after I finished it. So it’s that impact that sort of wants me to check out the sequel at the library.Verdict: Borrow it if you must but you’re not exactly missing out on anything. The romance is very stereotypical. -----------------------2.5/5I really wanted to love this book, I really did but I couldn't connect to the two main characters' relationship because from the very beginning, I was uncomfortable and perplexed by Katie's 'dogged' obsession with finding out about what Tomo was up. I wanted to know why she was so curious. I am also not a big fan of 'coincidental bump-ins' where the MC bumps into people she knows everywhere she goes. I was also expecting a much different approach to the plot, I was pretty disappointed when we reached the climax. This is it? Was what I thought when I finished the book. -- Full review to come.

The Peculiar

The Peculiar - 4.5/5Originally published at Gypsy ReviewsThe Peculiar was such a pleasant surprise, proving once again how fantastic and how great a palette cleanser Middle Grade is. The mystery in The Peculiar draws you in slowly and refuses to let you divulge in the big secret, keeping you on your toes as you discover the vibrant world that Bachmann has intertwined steampunk and magic into Victorian England. You would never expect The Peculiar to be as dark as it is and to take you on an adventure with an unlikely pair.The two main characters, Bartholomew and Mr. Jelliby come from two entirely different worlds and lifestyles. Bartholomew is a changeling – half fairy and half human who lives with his mother and sister, Hettie. No one wants anything to do with changelings so Bartholomew has to keep himself hidden well and to keep his sister out of danger as well. But trouble bubbles when one day, a mysterious lady in plum goes to his neighbour’s house and takes his neighbour’s son away. Bartholomew finds himself intertwined in the middle of a scheme he was never meant to be inside. Mr. Jelliby on the other hand is a politician and carelessness brings him to find out more than he ever anticipated about the Lord Chancellor, Mr. Lickerish who is a fairy. Soon the two characters’ lives collide and they set off together to undo the damage that could be done.Bartholomew is a curious boy, he wants more than he can actually have and that does actually get him in trouble. He loves his sister very much because of how more vulnerable she is than he is as he could be mistaken for a normal boy but for Hettie and her tree branch air, she stands out more. Living as he does is hard for Bartholomew because he cannot do what he want. Mr. Jelliby on the other hand usually just wants to remain in the shadows and go through the daily routine of his life which albeit sounds boring is what he wants. He doesn’t want trouble and is content with his life.They are two very different people and I loved getting to know them individually at first and then when their worlds collided, seeing them work together. We get to see the two sides of England in The Peculiar, the fairy and human side and see how each of them adapt to the different worlds that they are unfamiliar with. I am so excited for more of them in The Whatnot!The plot was very well executed and written, Bachmann’s storytelling is done so well without too many details and yet managing to keep you on your toes because for some of them, you will never even see them coming. Some events are just shrouded in mystery and reveals a more sinister side to the big plot. You might expect the plot to be quite simple because it’s Middle Grade but it wasn’t too predictable. I still managed to be very surprised. I loved his writing!It was called The Smiling War because it left so many skulls, white and grinning, in the fields. (p. 5 Kindle edition)When they heard the sounds again, they were eerie and far away, as if other things were sliding through the trestles, whispering. (p. 319 Kindle edition)The world building was one of the highlights of the book, Bachmann takes time in the beginning to actually explain how England became like this and how he actually weaves the fairies into his story. His world is rich and vibrant and something entirely new. Fairies are not the happy little sparkling fairies you know in your childhood, the truth is much uglier than that. It does get hard to visualise how the characters look like because it was difficult to get the image of the fairies I had grown to associate with. I couldn’t give the book a full 5 stars because as much as I loved it, the feeling just wasn’t there you know? I have to adore it to bits to give it 5 stars.Verdict: Buy the book.------------------------Fabulous book, it didn't feel like Middle Grade at all and it was written beautifully. The world building is incredibly rich and full of possibilities, the room for growth makes me very excited to read the sequel. I really adored the two MCs, a very unlikely pair the two of them were. -- Full review to come

Finnikin of the Rock

Finnikin of the Rock - 4.5/5Originally posted at Gypsy ReviewsBeing a lover of high fantasy novels, I had to check this out when my book twin, Paola @ A Novel Idea recommended this book to me. Although I didn’t love it as much as she did, I still thoroughly enjoyed it very much. Marchetta crafts her characters and her world with an ease that makes me envious and I was captivated by her characters and the journey each of them took to get to the person they were at the end of the novel. The romance was executed well and managed to draw me in, craving for more as soon as one scene ended.Finnikin wasn’t quite a likable character in the beginning, he was arrogant, cocky and stubborn. He was at heads with Evanjalin at first when he first met her, adamant that she was going to trick him at any second and that she wouldn’t fulfil her promise to bring him to Balthazar. Evanjalin on the other hand is pretty kick-ass, she’s calculating and her methods definitely make the others doubt her and lose trust in her but she delivers. What Evanjalin does will surprise you and throw you off your feet, literally shit will get real when Evanjalin is there.Very slowly, the two of them start to grow fond of each other and you know where I’m getting to eh? The relationship creeps up on you and I love it when it does and you hardly even notice it and when you do, the relationship is already starting to form. Their moments were sweet and endearing and yet the relationship didn’t come easily. You will melt of adorableness towards the end because UGH THESE TWO

Another Little Piece

Another Little Piece - Kate Karyus Quinn Originally posted at Gypsy ReviewsI received an eARC from HarperTeen via Edelweiss. Thank you!Another Little Piece stands true to what it promises and it was bone-chilling, creepy and hair-raising. It got me cringing and on the verge of squealing at some of the scenes and yet kept drawing me back in despite that. It’s more than just a horror novel because the characters are developed so well and despite the paranormal element, these characters are still so human and relatable. If you’re looking for a good horror novel, this is one you should definitely pick up and prepare to get seriously spooked.Annaliese is not really Annaliese, she may be inside Annaliese Rose Gordon’s body but she knows that she is not the real Annaliese. She soon discovers a dark history behind how she got here in the first place and the things she’s done to get to this point. Annaliese’s history is shrouded in mystery and is uncovered by her recurring memories that piece up her past. I found it quite hard to gauge Annaliese’s personality because she was in constant shift but she was tolerable and I liked her. There was nothing that stood out about her and that was actually a good thing because she could have potentially been much worse character-wise.The story-telling was fabulous, I loved Quinn’s way of telling the story by setting the beginning of each chapter with a poem and then each chapter was segmented into different parts with a title in front, the structuring made it easy to understand what was going on. Quinn’s writing is thought-provoking and I couldn’t stop highlighting some of the passages in the book. Quinn just knows how to invoke your emotions in those nail-biting scenes and I was in a state of shock when I read some of those scenes because they were just so frightening and creepy. Not good for people who sat on the same bus as me and saw my stricken expression haha but it definitely fulfilled my horror quota. I am not one for horror movies and books so I was uncomfortable with some of the scenes and skimmed through them but I was so glad that they were able to make me feel that way! This is real horror everyone!Everything was pieced together and connected very well, all the characters served a purpose and played a part in Annaliese’s past. Some characters really annoyed me such as Eric, Logan and Gwen but they were bearable at least because they were crucial to the plot. We do have some paranormal elements going on around here and this could potentially be spoilerish but I have to say I loved how rooted and human some of the characters were. Despite the paranormal factor, they had very human desires and were definitely not heroes and such. Their portrayal was realistic and relatable, they were not made out to be someone they were not just because of their abilities.I would have given this a full 5 star rating if not for the gore part, I know there was going to be horror elements but I didn’t expect it was going to be that kind of horror so I was unprepared and I am squeamish about this kind of stuff so I was pretty uncomfortable. But I really do recommend this if you want to read something horrifying that makes your stomach churn and raise the hair on your arm. Perfect for Halloween!Verdict: Buy it but only if you can stomach horror. -------------------------Soooo creepy, nail-biting scenes and the characters were dark and yet interesting. A really good horror novel. Full review to come!
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer - Michelle Hodkin Originally posted at Gypsy ReviewsBefore I even started this book, people were telling me how creepy and mysterious this book was but well, I think next time I’m gonna take it with a grain of salt because my level of creepiness appears to be quite high. I did not expect to go into this book with a paranormal plot that was touched on briefly and mystery and creepy moments that made me feel about as creeped out as looking at a cute kitten and a Edward Cullen wannabe though he’s not a vampire and actually British. (I thank my Book Twin, Paola, for this reference in her review) But he has the money, knows nearly every language, can compose and oh Mara wouldn’t let me forget that he was BEAUTIFUL. I am so in love with Noah. Oh yes I am.Mara is well, she had potential and was quick-witted and isn’t exactly a typical heroine once you meet her. She can be foul-mouthed and isn’t afraid to be herself. I did find her a little frightening when she was obsessed with saving a dog she had seen earlier. However throughout the book, Mara left a bad taste in my mouth. There was just something off about her that I couldn’t like. I couldn’t stand it whenever she mentioned Noah, it was always he was ‘beautiful’ or ‘gorgeous’. I mean seriously girl, we get it. He’s handsome, cute and you really like him. She was trying to hate him and yet falling in love with him, make up your mind woman. Mara just seemed so incapable of being herself when she was around him, her thoughts were a whole jumble and assortment of things.It used to be that you wanted the perfect guy who had everything but well, imperfect has become the new perfect. Perfect is overrated, it’s not real life. The Cinderella Story doesn’t exist in reality. Noah Shaw is the perfect guy, he has money, looks, is British, has brains, talent and a multilinguist too. Though on this front, I would absolutely love him to speak fluent Mandarin to me, note that I expect a perfect accent since he’s so absolutely perfect and can do everything. Noah Shaw is insufferable, he followed Mara around like a dog and tried to get her go out with him and he just pushed himself to Mara. I am not a fan of these types of characters at all. I rather despise them because they’re trying to masquerade as a gentleman and trying to be the ‘desired’ perfect man for a woman but it is just all types of wrong. What’s wrong with having an imperfect guy? Do you know how creepy it is to be perfect?What I did enjoy out of Mara and Noah’s relationship was their banter which was full of wit, sarcasm and all around enjoyable to read about. Everything else? Nope. Can we please also talk about the whole yin & yang situation going on here? I am also not a fan of these kind of conveniences and dynamics. The whole I am the Yin to your Yang and vice versa. If it is executed well enough, I am fine with it but in this case, it was so cheesy and cringe-worthy like they wanted this to happen so badly and it seemed pretty forced.I am ashamed to even put the paranormal tag to this book because it didn’t fit the bill at all. I kept waiting and waiting for the creepy moments and they never came. The actual creepy and mysterious moments weren’t even scary at all, not a chill in my body and not a hair raised. It was so underwhelming and I think this book deserves the romance tag more than the paranormal because the romance overwhelms and overpowers the paranormal scenes. Do not read this novel expecting to be creeped out, you will be severely disappointed.The book wasn’t unbearable to read but it got really boring fast. Luckily there was something about Hodkin’s writing that helped me flip through the book quickly but I did find it highly unnecessary to be that long because it is around 400+ pages long. Unfortunately, I just didn’t like this book enough to continue on with the sequel even though I had it in my possession because that was 500+ pages long and I don’t think I could have gone through with more Mara/Noah. The ending was not near good enough to get me to read the sequel and find out more, I was quite content to stop there and leave it all up to my imagination.Verdict: If you can stand 400+ pages of mostly romance and don’t feel like rolling your eyes at everything Mara and Noah do, borrow it.---------------------------I feel so cheated since so many people told me it was creepy & mysterious but it was very underwhelming. I didn't get chills at all. This was one of the most unscary books ever. The romance was untolerable too. I will not be reading the next book, simply not worth my time to go through 500 pages of more Noah and Mara. Full review to come.

MILA 2.0

MILA 2.0 - Originally posted at Gypsy ReviewsMila 2.0 no doubt is a thrilling sci-fi novel about a girl who discovers she is actually an android and I enjoyed reading about Mila’s android side and her abilities. However, the instalove and romance, for one, was unwelcome in this case as it was detracting focus from the main plot and just seemed so unnecessary. The personification of Mila’s android side was not well executed as she constantly referred to it as her ‘ugliness’ and the hidden meanings behind that sent a very distorted message that not being human was ‘ugly’.I found Mila to be quite annoying, she’s at constant war with her own feelings and feels that Hunter, the boy who she just meet a couple of days ago, is the only person who can make her feel ‘human’. She refuses to embrace her android side and fights to remain human and lashes out at her ‘mum’, whose every action was to protect Mila. Her thoughts were quite childish when she constantly latched onto the idea that Hunter was the only one who she could depend on because of the way he made her feel. When she was in danger, she would suddenly think of Hunter and I don’t really find that relevant at all to the story. I mean Mila, you’re in a life-threatening situation with other people’s lives in danger, do you really think you should be thinking about Hunter right now? It was rather annoying seeing mentions of Hunter pop up out of nowhere and obviously the instalove didn’t please me.I think it’s perfectly fine for Mila to be uncomfortable with her android side and have all these various insecurities but the way she referred to her android side didn’t sit well with me. She would call it the ‘ugliness’ inside of her and to me, it sent a message across that not being human was an ugly thing simply unacceptable. It is quite true that in our society, being not normal is not all socially accepted and no matter what. people are going to judge. But I feel the author should have also took the opportunity to convey the message that even though you may not be normal, it is okay because there are people that are going to love you no matter what. That once you embrace it, you can unleash your true potential. This was quite absent as by the end of the story, Mila hadn’t embraced the android side fully and still looked at it as the foreign side of her. It sent a very distorted message that did not sit well with me at all.It frustrates me very much when a character is never sure of what she is because I then become unsure of what the character is and who they are because they are so inconsistent. Mila was fighting between being human and being android, she was so unsure as to what she was and at times she would stand by being human and others, she would use her android abilities and say maybe it’s better to be an android and then would switch back completely. I was never completely sure which side Mila was on and there was no sign of her knowing who she was herself. If she has no idea who she is, how would I know? I would have at least liked to see some character development throughout and see Mila grow to become more comfortable with who she is. I feel it is lazy writing to just simply leave that to the sequel just because the book is the first in a series. If you’re going to open an issue like that in the first book, I would have at least liked to see that somehow resolved. I am okay with cliffhangers but it is very common for authors to keep it hanging like this and simply forget about it in the next book, opening up more issues and instead focusing on that while ignoring previous issues.The action was there and it was thrilling indeed but there was also too much going on so I had no idea how the place looked like because I was too involved in what was happening than the visuals. In this case, the visuals were essential to the scene so I became quite baffled as to how Mila got from this place to another because I had no idea what was actually there. I feel it’s very important to know how to execute a scene like this where you want it to be exhilarating and yet maintain the visuals because more than likely a reader is going to storm through the pages trying to find out what is going to happen next than take note of how the scene looks like. But the scene highly relied on visuals because Mila was using them and so that really confused me. So the action and thrill was there but no idea what was going on.I liked Mila 2.0 enough but wasn’t a huge fan of it because first, you have the instalove which I will never be a fan of. I didn’t like the personification of Mila’s android side and the inconsistencies in her character. Since the book was highly concentrated on Mila, I didn’t like it very much because I didn’t even like Mila. I wasn’t a big fan of the ending either, Mila had the potential to be a kick-ass heroine but she failed to live up to that.Verdict: Borrow it from the library.

Rush: Book One of The Game

Rush - Eve Silver Originally posted at Gypsy ReviewsI received an eARC from HarperTeen via Edelweiss. Thank you!I had high expectations for Rush however those were dashed once I started reading it. Another case of instalove, a boring romance, confusing scenes and frustrating characters. Sure, there were exhilarating scenes but very few of them and not near action-packed enough to make me forget about the romance.Miki Jones has to deal with the recent loss of her mother to cancer and in attempting to save a girl’s life, Miki is pulled into the Game. Now I thought Miki was going to be pretty badass and awesome because she seemed sure of herself, knew kendo, seemed independent and self-sacrificing since come on, she threw herself in front of a car to save a little girl! As the story progressed, Miki didn’t bother me as much as her interactions with other characters. Let’s start with her best friend, Carly, who I think is the most annoying character of the book because she is so childish and halfway she gets into a fight with Miki and stops talking to her because of a guy. Miki doesn’t do much to defend herself and lets Carly walk all over her and I just couldn’t see why they were friends at all because Carly was selfish and highly overreactive. She didn’t give Miki the courtesy that Miki gave her and Miki was clearly a much better friend than Carly was. It seemed irrelevant as well since Miki had much bigger problems to worry about. I could have done without the Carly and Miki drama.Now Miki wasn’t the only one who found interacting with Jackson infuriating because their scenes were infuriating and frustrating. Heads up to guys, answering questions with questions is unbearable. Do not try this tactic. I understand that Jackson wasn’t allowed to reveal too many details but we hardly got any answers from him and it was question after question after question. There, honestly, is only so much one can take. Plus this was another case of instalove and creepy stalking happens too. Stalking isn’t romantic, it’s wrong and shouldn’t even be condoned, it’s a total invasion of privacy. Please authors, stop advocating stalking.One thing that really bothered me about Miki was her thoughts on this incident. I’m not gonna reveal much because it’s a spoiler but I just didn’t find it appropriate and she was overthinking it pretty much. I don’t believe they would have become friends because Miki only got to know her for about an hour or so? It was over exaggerated and it didn’t even fit with the other character’s personality. This part of the story didn’t make sense, it was quite out of character.Some characters were redundant such as Lucas, I didn’t see the point of introducing him if he was going to be hardly doing anything and not contributing to the plot. Carly’s friends were blending into the background, the fact that I can’t remember a single one of their names says something so we could have done without all of them. Maybe one or two. There were just too many characters that weren’t necessary to the plot. I was also miffed that we never got a conclusion to what happened towards the end when we saw Miki and her father as her father has a drinking problem so they got into a bit of a fight. Would have liked some closure on that front.The plot was done quite poorly, the main structure of the entire crisis wasn’t addressed very much although the story is mainly concentrated on that. I felt it was only barely touched at the surface and the main focus was still very much on Miki and Jackson and the relationships they had with the other characters. The ‘Committee’ who oversee the Game were underwhelming to say the least, I didn’t really feel fascinated or intrigued about the world in Rush and about the Drau either. The action scenes were definitely quite heart-pumping because of the Drau’s abilities and Silver wrote those scenes well but everything else was boring.Rush had an interesting premise and seemed to have potential to become an action-packed novel but it concentrated too much on Miki and Jackson. Some of the characters were really annoying and I wasn’t sold on the romance. Despite the bone-chilling action scenes, Rush disappointed me and I didn’t enjoy it very much. Needless to say I will not be continuing on with the series.Verdict: Skip it.

True: An Elixir Novel

True - Hilary Duff Originally published at Gypsy ReviewsDear True,You know why I picked you up? You know the only reason why I would have opened you up? The name – Hilary Duff. Yes, my childhood idol. I can shamelessly say I adored her Metamorphosis album and Lizzie McGuire was made of so much awesome your favourites couldn’t even. Back when I was a naive reader, I picked up Elixir and Devoted and found them decent enough but once I pick you up, YIKES. It was an explosion of nopes, what, rolling eyes and are you serious?Clea Clea Clea, oh Clea Clea Clea. No matter how much you love Sage, you had to admit to yourself that it was getting out of hand. Plus the convenience of unlimited money, resources and oh look! The absence of your mother and we never even found out what really happened to your father. I saw you taking care of Sage a lot and uh, not much after that. Yup. Very flat, one-dimensional and I’m sorry girl but you got boring really fast. I don’t really know what to say about you either Sage. No telling us what was going on with you even with your blank-outs and fits of violence, we knew you were having issues with the whole being in Nico’s body but come on, we didn’t get much.Uhm Rayna, okay. Well I can’t really wrap my head about how you wanted to get married so soon and figured out Nico was going to be your one true love. Storming off, acting all childish. Wait, how old did you say you were again? I must admit though you redeemed yourself at the end so I like you a bit better than Clea who didn’t really do anything. Well I don’t think anyone really did anything apart from Ben who did the usual research and contributed to making the plot move and progress.The plot was boring, what can I say? We get Clea monologuing a lot and trying to restrain Sage from going mad for a good half of the book then we get some development going and la dee la da we find out more about how to save Sage. Someone old pops up and gives a hint, then some pulling of strings and to a ritual and BAM! PLOT TWIST and then The End. I admit, if it weren’t for the large fonts, I might not have read you so fast.Can I just talk about the PLOT TWIST. Right at the last ten pages and you would never see it coming. But True, seriously? You just spring that on us without any explanation at all? What was going on? I could have done without that and been okay with the inevitable Happily Ever After that was going to come. I feel so cheated okay, we had an agreement True, Happily Ever Afters only! How could you break it, how could you!I don’t really know how to feel about the writing, there were quite a few words I had never seen before and my eyes bug out at new words because I am such a nerd. I love new and complicated words. But the writing was so simple and then these big words get thrown in. It’s so confusing and ruined the entire flow. Don’t try to change, True, okay? You were okay with the way you are, you don’t have to try and be a cool kid by adding in big words. Leave that to the big boys.I didn’t expect much from you True but meh, you were a pretty cliche stereotyped story with the whole ~true love~ aspect. I had hoped for maybe you know a little surprise but I would have been fine with everything ending at Devoted. But True, you exemplify the powerful marketing scheme of a very famous celebrity who I adore so well, you did well on that part *thumbs up*Verdict: Meh, skip this. You could do without reading this series.
Out of The Easy - Ruta Sepetys 4.5/5Originally posted at Gypsy ReviewsDear Out of the Easy,There is a reason why I love historical fiction and that is because of the rich culture I get to experience through these books. You exemplify why I love historical fiction and I am so glad I picked you up. With such endearing characters there burst out of the pages, I fell in love with each one of them and no matter their backgrounds, there was a kind heart behind them, proving that not everything is what it seems.Josie, you stole my heart with your ambitions, personality, your bad-ass-ness and having no fear when brandishing a gun. You stuck by your values and refused to be ridden down by your mother, to live the life that you wanted and to dare to dream even when everyone around you told you to stay grounded. Your passion for books is one that I can relate to and I always love a character who can appreciate books for what they are and what they can do. You are a heroine I can easily look up to with your strong heart and your refusal to become someone who your mother was.Oh the characters, you were fantastic. Too many to name and even though the context was one that few would look in this light, there was a bright light in them that showed the best in them and their love and affection for Josie. Your colourful personalities just exploded out of the pages and there was so much in every single one of you I wish I had the proper words to explain how much I enjoyed reading about all of you.I couldn’t stop myself when I was reading you, every single time I wanted to stop at the next chapter, something else happened and you kept your hold on me, resisting me from closing you. The words were woven so well and the story-telling was executed good enough to make you keep going and refuse to stop. The culture and the scenes were fresh and new and I loved reading more about the history of the 50s in New Orleans. I liked how the rich were not glorified and put in a very realistic light and even though we know about the vices of prostitution, we begin to understand that sometimes it is a way of life to those who have no choice. If you want to live, sometimes you have to do things that no one else wishes – it is merely to survive. We could see both sides of the coin and not necessarily was one deemed the best but it all comes down to what you are willing to live with.The mystery however was not much of a mystery, it lacked the adrenaline and thrill that normal mysteries had and I felt little curiosity as to how the death was caused, it was more of Josie’s fascination with the gentleman that drew me in and her wish for a normal life with a father as well as a mother who cared for her. You disappointed me in the mystery factor but Out of The Easy, you speak much of the hard choices a person has to make and the harsh reality of life. You remind all of us to dare to dream big and that anything is possible, no matter what setbacks bring you down, you will make it through because you believe and you’re willing to work towards your dream.I will be reading Between Shades of Gray when I can and I highly recommend this book to all!


Poison - Bridget Zinn Originally posted at Gypsy ReviewsBridget Zinn’s debut is cute, exciting and oh so enjoyable. It is not everyday that the art of potion-making is explored with such a compelling synopsis. Poison had such an array of surprises and I loved the world Zinn created, it wasn’t the most extensive world-building but it was simple and easy to get used to. Zinn also mixed up some adventure and a dash of romance to stir things up. Poison is a great debut novel and a great legacy for Zinn whose time had come to an end too soon.Kyra’s story is very different from others, in this case she’s a heroine that no one knows about because everyone thinks she’s the villain for trying to assassinate her best friend. It’s a different direction from what we’re usually used to and I loved it! Kyra has a lot of secrets and quite determined to carve out her own destiny and become who she wants to be, not someone who she was born to be. She’s quick-witted, snarky and blunt around the edges. She’s not looking to be saved because she wants to save others.The secondary characters are so colourful and not typical medieval-ish characters – they’re far from it. Ariana, the princess, isn’t a damsel-in-distress, oh she can be foul-mouthed and very un-princess at times. She just wants to be free and make her own choices and explore the world outside. Fred is slick, dashing and takes Kyra by surprise. He is the perfect match for Kyra and I loved them two together.The world-building was actually considered simple, particularly for a fantasy novel but it was just right dose. It wasn’t overwhelming with details nor was it lacking in detail. I did wish we get a bit more of the various lands and areas in the book because the book was mainly plot-oriented but it was pretty good we got to explore as much as we did. I loved the story, very well-paced and the story-telling was really good because it set up surprises we never anticipated at all and you know I love surprises in books haha. They kind of crept up on you and we got to find out so much more about Kyra’s history and it all linked up to the present. As the story went on, we began peeling back the various layers to how Kyra got to her present situation and I liked how it was presented this way because I didn’t have constant questions and wondered oh what did Kyra do and stuff like that. Everything we knew about so far made sense and we would slowly find out more that brought in more complexity and layers to that situation so there was definitely more that meets the eye.This was a promising debut and like many who read this and enjoyed this, I am heartbroken that Bridget Zinn will never get to follow up on this book because there is so much more than she could have built on and I would have loved to read more about Kyra, Fred and Ariana. Poison is a worthy legacy she left behind, one she should be very proud of. A great read that I highly recommend this to fantasy lovers, this is light and funny and I loved it.