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review 2016-04-22 22:04
A fan-fucking-tastic re-telling of The Winter's Tale
Exit, Pursued by a Bear - E.K. Johnston

***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

This was not my first book by Johnston. I read A Thousand Nights last year and even though I didn’t love it, I fell in love with the author’s writing style so when I heard about this book, I KNEW I WANTED to read it. Little did I know at that time that it was a re-telling of The Winter’s Tale (which I recently read for the first time in my Shakespeare Lit class.) When I found out that that is what the author was going for, my excitement to read the book soared and I really wanted to see how the author would adapt the play into a YA novel.

My verdict is that this book passed with flying colors and everyone needs to read it NOW. I would say that it is more inspired by the play than an actual re-telling but at the same time, the author does an amazing job of incorporating elements from the play and using them to tell her very own story.

So, this book deals with serious issues like rape and pregnancy and in my opinion, the author does these issues justice. Hermione is one of the best female leads I have ever come across. Her strength and her realness endeared her to me. I realize realness is such a vague term but it’s really the only way I can describe her. This book doesn’t present readers with a romanticized version of rape but rather one that is more realistic. The main character is detached from her experience and hates how she is changed by something she cannot even remember. How everyone around her is treating her as if she is fragile and breakable.

One of my favorite things about this book is the way the author writes the relationships. Hermione’s relationships with the people around her are amazing! There is obviously not anything easy about her experience, especially given the rumours going on about her and the way she is casted as an outcast because she is the ‘raped and pregnant’ girl. She has a great set of friends though and her relationship with her therapist and her parents makes me happy. I LOVE LOVE LOVE it when there are positive relationships in books and not everything is hopeless and depressing. I especially love it when therapy isn’t shown as being the worst thing in the world because therapy is actually important for a lot of people.

The reason why this book did not get all 5 stars though was because some things were disjointed including the ending of the book. I think that if the book were a little longer, it would have given the author even more room to explore Hermione’s character and show her growth over the course of the book.

That said, Exit, Pursued by a Bear is an important book and one I would encourage everyone to add to their to-read shelves. It’s not worth missing out on and if you are a bit of a Shakespeare geek or have read The Winter’s Tale, there will be LOTS of interesting happenings and satisfying moments that you might have wished happened in the play.

Note that I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

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review 2015-06-16 05:37
So much fun!!! (plus footnotes)
The Truth Commission - Susan Juby

***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

Reasons to read The Truth Commission

1. The Writing Style. This book is written in a fun, witty style that will make it impossible to stop reading (unless you just happen to have exams pop up… like I did). What makes this book so much fun to read is the fact that it’s written as a non-fiction novel, where the main character is telling her story to the readers. I always enjoy reading a book structured like that because it helps forge a strong connection between the reader and the main character (IMO). It helps you get to know them better and through "the main character's" writing, their characteristics shine through. That was definitely the case in this book and the footnotes made it all the more charming.

2. THE FOOTNOTES. Holy crap those footnotes were SO MUCH FUN TO READ. That is all I have to say.

3. The Main Character. Normandy is one of the most relateable main characters ever and I LOVED reading her story. I am not even sure what exactly makes her so fun to read about. In part, it’s probably the writing style but I also think it's just her. She is so real. She is in denial about her feelings about a certain someone, she can also be envious of other people without even acknowledging the fact she is envious but she is also a great friend and person. She is someone who internalizes her feelings but given the way she grew up with a speshul snowflake sister, I am not surprised. I loved watching Normandy find her inner strength and watching her shine like the awesome human she is.

4. The Friendships. The relationships in this novel are complex but the bond between Normandy and her friends is great. That isn’t to say they never had any sort of drama but its understandable drama because no friendship is perfect! And none of the individuals within this group are. What is also awesome is the people they meet along their journey to seek the truth and the bonds they forge with other people.

5. The Plot. The way things unfold in the book is brilliant. It adds a layer of mystery to book and if you know me, you know how I love my mystery. I also just love how people and things come together in this book.

Other awesome things include: (some) Diversity, deals with slut-shaming (to a certain degree), lack of ANNOYING drama.

A Few Criticisms

1. Kiera (AKA Norm’s older, famous sister). Kiera was a character with potential and I feel like that potential remained unrealized. Maybe I just kept on wanting something more positive between her and Norm and when things turned out the way they did, I ended up feeling disappointed.

2. Norm's family. Norm’s parents aren’t the worst parents in town but they aren’t winning any awards either. Their passiveness just rubbed me the wrong way and I wish they were able to stand up for themselves but also for Norm. I would like to say that I do like how things ended with Norm and her dad but I still wanted more.

3. I cannot say much else (because spoilers)but the way rape was used in the novel bothered me. It isn’t used in a really horrible or even realllly offensive, but it just doesn’t work for me as a reader and left me with a bad taste in my mouth. It wasn’t enough to ruin the book for me, but I do think the issue could have been handled differently.

Verdict: This is a book I’d definitely recommend. There is only one thing that really bothered me but I was still able to enjoy the book and hopefully you will too since it is so much.

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review 2015-01-31 00:41
Good but could have been better
Messenger Of Fear - Michael Grant

When I finished this book, I had no idea how to rate it. I have no idea whether it was amazing, or meh or just plain old likeable and I think the reason for that is because while it deals with so many interesting things in such interesting ways, it also seems a little flat at times. Not as intense as one would imagine a book like this to be. But let me define what I mean when I say ‘a book like this’.

This is a book that deals with the idea of handing out justice. It deals with things like bullying and the affects it may have on a person. This book isn’t some silly little fluffy book, as it’s size might suggest. It’s actually pretty fricking serious and the problem I think was that even though it’s a serious book, I never took it as seriously as I should have. I was horrified but not in the way I *should* have been given the seriousness of the issues at hand.

Mara is an interesting character and I liked her. I predicted her role in this before hand and wasn’t surprised given the few details we got about her. Once my doubts were confirmed at the end of the novel, they definitely made some aspects of the story incredibly interesting.

Mara could be a little annoying when she refused to see the Messenger’s side of things but it was understandable. On top of that, I liked how even though she spend some time telling herself that this was all a dream, when it became evident that it actually wasn’t, she accepted the truth no matter how much it frightened her.

The Messenger was perhaps my favorite character. I am not sure what role he will play in the future instalments besides being a mentor figure but I liked getting glimpses into his character. We know he’s been doing this for a long time and at the same time, despite all the cruelty he dishes out or has to observe, he retains his humanity. He has a reason to hope. He has a reason to believe in himself and for that reason I cannot help but like him.

Before you all get excited or disappointed, so far, there is not even a hint of a romance and I am not sure I want that to change. I mean, the Messenger, at the moment, seems to be dedicated to someone else and I don’t know how one could possibly change that. Having said that, I definitely think they could be a great couple. So really, it’s all up to the author at this point and we can just stay here and wait for stuff to happen.

I adore the world Grant has built. I absolutely love some of the mythological aspects that were added but at the same time, we’re only teased with certain details of the world. The world building is very basic with us finding out very little aside from what we need to know for the story to make sense. It upsets me that we didn’t find out more but at the same time, I think Grant is saving the best for the next books considering how this book was about Mara adjusting to the world.

The plot wasn’t rah-rah amahzing but at the same time, I liked the moral ambiguity of what they were dealing with. What is justice really? Who should be avenged? Who should have to pay? Is there a way to separate ‘good’ people from the assholes? It explores all these kinds of ideas. One of the main stories dealt with a girl who killed herself as a result of excessive bullying and while the storyline wasn't perfect, I think Grant did a great job of dealing with certain issues.

I guess my main complain would be that in spite of everything that this book has going for it, it’s lacking some sort of ‘oomph’ factor, something that makes this book memorable instead of ‘just another book’ I read this year and I guess that’s why it’s so hard to rate the book.

If you’re wondering if this book was worth the hype or if you’re just curious, I’d say give it a shot even if you have doubts. It’s short and quick and you won’t regret it.

[This review was originally posted on Nick's Book Blog]

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review 2014-10-15 03:04
Heartbreakingly memorable
Lies We Tell Ourselves - Robin Talley

***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

When I first saw the blurb for this book, I, like many, felt the need to get my hands on a copy as soon as possible. I had incredibly high expectations right from the beginning but as other reviews started coming in, those already high expectations soared. When I finally dived into the book (along with Jasprit), I wasn’t sure I was ready but I knew I’d face the heartbreak that was bound to be in this book. All I can say is that it was worth it. This book was worth all the pain I experienced while reading it. This book was worth every second I spent reading it. This book was worth the fact that I didn’t get any homework done and instead had to do a lot more work the next day. This book was WORTH IT.

The story is told in dual narration, Sarah being one narrator and Linda being the other. The number one reason that this style works for this book, aside from the fact that it’s well written, is how the author manages to contrast these two narrative andthus truly showing us different sides.

Sarah is a young black woman who is taking part in an integration program and is part of the first group of African-Americans to attend Jefferson High. I am sure you already have a vague idea of how well that goes but I think what makes Sarah so heartbreakingly relatable is that she didn’t even want to be part of this group integrating the school in the first place. She did it to make her parents proud.  I know if I were in her shoes, I would rather have had someone do the work for me so I wouldn’t have to go through everything they went through.  What makes me love her as a character though is that in spite of the fact she wishes that she could go back to her whole school so she wouldn’t have to endure so much humiliation on such a regular basis, she still holds her head high and makes the best of her situation.

Linda on the other hand is hard to like at first. I was so ridiculously surprised when I realized SHE would be the love interest and that SHE was the other narrator. The first impression we got of her from Sarah’s POV was not the least bit flattering. She seemed like she would be a bully like the rest of the assholes and for a while she was. But that was the point. Linda has been told what is wrong and what is right her whole life. She has been fed lies and she believes them to be the truth so she isn’t just going to wake up one day and realize that everything that has been happening is wrong. She is going to want to cling on to her beliefs, like anyone else would! It doesn’t mean it makes her likeable but she was easy to sympathize with. Before I make you all vary of her, I should say this, she undergoes MAJOR character development and it’s a beautiful process. It’s worth sticking around for just to see her finally rise on her own feet and form her OWN opinions of what is right and what’s not.

“Truth #2

None of them can touch me”

I felt the need to share that bit from the book in my review just because it’s so powerful. It’s not even necessarily a quote but I got the chills the first time I read it and I still do! It also kind of sums up the plot. I am sure it’s not that hard to imagine how heartbreaking this book will be and the kind of courage the characters must possess to endure all that they have and still carry on. It all just comes down to whether they are going to let themselves be affected by the words and the actions of the bullies (although bully is too feeble a word to describe some of those people). They don’t have the power to affect you unless you let them.

The romance was just as brilliantly crafted as the rest of the book. Can you imagine how hard Sarah must have it? Being an African-American during that period of time and on top of that finding out she isn’t attracted to guys? Well let’s just say it’s not easy. With that said, this book didn’t actually focus as much on Sarah’s sexual orientation since there were a lot more important things going on. The romance did, however, play an important role aside from just being there. The romance brought together Linda and Sarah and it gave Linda and opportunity to reassess her beliefs. Linda’s attraction to Sarah helped her grow into a person who was admirable and could stand up for herself and didn’t just parrot other people’s thoughts.

This is, very simply put, a book everyone needs in their lives. I am not saying it’s for everyone, because it isn’t, some people might find that they cannot bear the pain and others, for some unconceivable reason, might just not like it at all, but, this book is important. It has furthered the boundaries of YA and brought things up a notch. It reminds me of why I absolutely love YA and how finding gems in this demographic can be so absolutely worth it. So stop, drop and read this book.

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review 2014-02-21 14:04
Packed with an emotional punch
Faking Normal - Courtney C. Stevens

***This review has also been posted on Tangled in Pages

“I’m fresh out of happy”

Aren’t we all? With my philosophical thought of the day out of the way, I can focus more seriously on this review. Which is going to be hard when all I want to do is NOT write this review. Am I allowed to post my incomprehensible notes and call it a day? I am not whining or lazing off, I just have no idea how to write a review for this book.


I don’t know where to start.


Should I start with the highlight of this book or the main character? Or perhaps the one drawback of this book as a whole.


I went into this book with a very vague idea about what I should expect. I hadn’t read any of the reviews and even when this book tempted to read them, I didn’t give in. I marched on and well I think it was for the best since it gave me the opportunity to read without any sort of bias.


This book opened on a very touching note. It opened not with the main character as the centre of attention but someone else who was dealing with the aftermath of a heart wrenching tragedy. The main character who understands what it’s like to lose something, understands pain is the one who walks up to offer comfort to the said person. She doesn’t push him, she doesn’t say anything, she just comforts him with her presence and that’s scene was just touching.


The main character, as you can guess, was raped and this book’s focus is on her healing process. She hides her pain and her misery so as to save her family and friends the pain it would bring them. She blames herself for what happened and she has no outlet for all this pain so she scratches her neck. She hides in the closet and tires to count vents or anything to take her mind off of what happened, anything that will let her get some sort of sleep. Anything. Alexi is not a completely likeable character. Her actions are understandable, you sympathize with her but it’s hard to admire her all the time because she is so afraid. She cannot bring herself to openly admit what happened (she hates using the ‘r’ word to describe her rapist), she sympathizes with her rapist and she refuses to tell anyone. However, unlike some of the other female protagonists I’ve encountered in similar situations, she doesn’t close herself off from family and friends; she is still social to a certain extent. Her story is just heartbreaking. It closes a fist around your heart and makes it hard to breathe because of the amount of sadness rolling off the pages.


Bodee is the highlight of this book. WITHOUT A DOUBT. He is one of the most unique male leads I’ve encountered and I may or may not have fallen in insta-love with him. I don’t know how to say anything about him. I don’t. He is just the most wonderful person ever. He never pushes Alexi but supports her in his own way. He is heartbroken about what happened with his mother yet he still has the ability to stay strong for Alexi. He is not ultra-hot, nor bulging with muscles. He isn’t the Goth kid. He is just the kid no one really cares about and sticks a label on (his was Kool-aid kid) and as you get to know him better, you cannot help but fall head over heels for him.


Captain Lyric also held an important part in Alexi’s healing journey. He remains anonymous for the most part but his identity wasn’t a secret to me. It was blaringly obvious and I don’t think I’ve ever been happier about being right. I loved his reasons for doing what he did because without him Alexi would be lost. She wouldn’t have survived. She needed something to look forward to and he gave her that and I just love his role in her journey.


The romance, as everyone can imagine was sweet and slow to develop and just all around wonderful. I just wish I could hug these two individuals and take their pain away. I love how they were supportive of each other and always gave the other a shoulder to lean on and their journey from acquaintances to friends to something more was beautiful.


The one thing that really nagged on me was the identity of the rapist. I guessed it at one point but it wasn’t because of some subtle hint. It was because of what I know from other rape cases. It was almost random. I felt like the author chose that individual for the emotional impact it would have on the reader and it bothered me. There weren’t enough hints and the attitude of the individual was not consistent in the two halves of the book. I get what she’s trying to do here, she is trying to tell us that a person isn’t always a monster, things aren’t so black and white but in my world, they kind of are. My heart broke for the family and not the individual. The individual was in the wrong and that is that. I don’t really care about whether they are good or bad, when you do what they did, there are no fucking excuses.


In the end though, this book was so emotionally powerful. It was touching. It was heart wrenching. And it was just beautiful.


This is a story about finding yourself; about putting back the pieces after life strikes at you and about healing and I would definitely recommend this to fans of What Happens Next or people just looking for a story that doesn’t completely mess up with such a touchy issue. 

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