The Messenger Reviews

Obviously, this is a book review blog. I mostly read Young Adult books, but I try to branch out every once and a while as well!

The 5th Wave (The Fifth Wave #1)

The 5th Wave - Rick Yancey

I had heard an abundance of praise for this book, and immediately added it to the list of books that I needed to read because of that. These high expectations may have altered what I thought of the book, but I had to say that it didn't completely fall short of expectations, even though it didn't reach the high bar I had set. I couldn't say that I was as astounded as I thought I would be. I found myself underwhelmed. It was a good book, don't get me wrong, but it wasn't as good as I thought it was going to be. 
The plot was amazingly inventive. I have never read anything like it, and don't expect to read much more like it in the future. It took alien invasion to the next level. The plot took unexpected turns, and always managed to astound me with what came next. Really, the only complaint that I had was that it sometimes got confusing flipping between different times and narrators, but other than that, there's really nothing poor I can say about it. 
The characters, though are a different story. While not necessarily poorly written, I felt like I didn't connect with any of them. I was especially not a fan of Cassie's love interest. In one word, I simply found him creepy. She even acknowledges him as so at one point, but then seems to pay it no mind later. I didn't find myself too invested in any of the character's survival or well-being. I felt like I didn't really know enough about them to form any sort of bond. There were all sorts of anecdotes, yes, and maybe their affects were just wasted on me, but I still felt like they didn't reveal much about their character. Additionally, I felt as if this book was more plot-oriented, and didn't focus too much on the emotions of the characters, which is something that I tend to favor. This angle might have worked for some people, it just didn't for me. 
As far as I'm concerned, in this book the goods outweigh the bads. The superb plot is really what sets this book aside as good. However, I felt as if some of the other elements fell a bit short, and brought it down, keeping it from being as fantastic. Still, I would definitely call it worth my time, if only for the fact of it's originality.
Three Point Five out of Five Stars


Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss #1)

Anna and the French Kiss (Anna & the French Kiss 1) by Stephanie Perkins (2014) Paperback - Stephanie Perkins

I was skeptical about this book, given it's title. I'm generally not one for super mushy books, which I assumed this book would be. But, when John Green raved about it on his YouTube channel, I felt like I had to read it, and I'm certainly glad I did. Much to my surprise, I found it one of my favorite contemporary romances.
There are many things that I love about this book. Namely, the characters. I'm a sucker for good characters, and this book didn't let me down. I fell in love with St. Clair at first sight, and my fondness for Anna came almost as quickly. I'll admit that sometimes I found Anna a bit whiny, but her complaints were generally reasonable, so it didn't change my feelings for her too much. I liked that she had a personality, but she didn't overdo it. Additionally, I found Étienne a great character who could always make me laugh, though I appreciated that he had a side that went deeper than pure humor. The characters were relatively complex, and I found them rather real and relateable. It was nearly impossible not to feel sympathetic to the characters, which made me feel far more invested in the plot.
If I had one complaint, it was that Anna and Étienne spent the whole book not being in a relationship. They would get so close, and then something would conveniently (for the plot, not for me) come along and screw it up. I understand that the whole point of the book was that they had feelings for each other but weren't dating, but I would have preferred that they be together for a little longer, or at least acted more like a couple. Other than the fact that, as far as I'm concerned, there could have been more romance, the romance that was there was absolutely superb, which made up for it. 
Even though this book failed to be perfect, I still found that I enjoyed it immensely. Paris was a great setting for an even greater romance, and the characters grabbed me in a way that some characters failed to do in other books. I would have liked a little less beating around the bush as far as their relationship was concerned, the romance that was there made up for it, cancelling out my only complaint.
Five out of Five Stars


These Broken Stars (These Broken Stars #1)

These Broken Stars - Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner

With a cover like that, I had high expectations for this book. Unfortunately, I was left with a sort of "meh" feeling. While I didn't hate it, I didn't love it either. For me, there were some things that worked, some things that didn't, and some things I just wasn't sure about.
First off, let me say that this is more of a survival story than a Science Fiction. There are definitely some Sci-Fi elements to it, but, as far as I see it, the story was far more focused on surviving on one planet, which was mostly earth-like, than trekking through the galaxy. I'm not saying that the book isn't a Science Fiction, the Science Fiction was definitely there, I just found it as more of survival story. 
Often, I find that a story is only as good as it's characters, and I'd say this book reflects that idea pretty well. I found myself liking Tarver quite a lot. I liked his backstory, I liked his attitude, I liked how he was written. I felt as if he reacted to situations much as a normal person in his situation would. As for Lilac, she was another "meh" for me. I didn't hate her, but I definitely didn't like her. It was more of a casual dislike. I didn't despise every decision she ever made, and sometimes I even admired the decisions she made, but generally, I didn't like her that much. I didn't feel any reason to really sympathize for her. It wasn't until the very end of the book that I found some reason that could have made me understand her a bit more. I understand that the authors may not have wanted Lilac to reveal this to Tarver, but I think they should have taken advantage of the split POV to reveal something of it so Lilac could have been better understood. 
One thing that I do have to complement this book is that I was never bored for a second. While the plot may not have been what I expected, it still managed to keep me entertained. I thought the plot was quite inventive, and there aren't many things like it out today, at least as far as I'm aware. It was nice to have a change of pace. 
What I look for in a book, above all things, is for it to make me feel something, whether that be joy, anger, sadness, or anything else. Unfortunately, this book failed to do that. It wasn't necessarily poorly written, or poorly paced, it just didn't make me feel anything towards it. I finished the book feeling merely indifferent. Maybe this book just didn't strike a chord with me. This book could be a masterpiece that deserves nothing but praise or adoration, but I just didn't get it. 
Three out of Five Stars


The Raven Boys (The Raven Boys #1)

The Raven Boys - Maggie Stiefvater

When I picked this book up, I doubted I would like it nearly as much as Shiver. The subject matter didn't seem appealing to me, but I love Maggie's writing style, and trusted that I would like the romance, so I gave it a chance, not suspecting to have any strong feelings for it. Boy, was I wrong. Even though I didn't think I would be too interested in the main plot-line, I found myself easily drawn into it. 
Let's start with the romance, since it's initially what I thought would redeem the book for me. When I picked up this book, I thought I knew exactly where it was going to go. Often times, it's easy to map how a romance will play out with only the most basic information. I was delightfully surprised to find that the romance didn't progress the way I thought it would. Additionally, the romance was refreshingly light, especially for a Young Adult novel. The romance that was there was well written and interesting, but this book really wasn't heavy on the romance. It was there, yes, but it definitely took the backseat for the plot, which was a nice change of pace.
I had expected solid, intricate characters from Mrs. Stiefvater, but found myself blown away by the characters in this book. I found them very complex, and enjoyed their intricate backstories. All the characters had many sides and were very realistic and consistent, though they did change throughout the book. 
The plot was definitely a dark horse for me. I had thought it would be nothing too interesting at first. Not boring, but nothing special. However, as the book progressed, I found myself on the edge of my seat, flipping through pages with only just enough time to actually read the words on the pages. I didn't always understand what was happening because I didn't have enough time to work things out. It was an understatement to say that I was on the edge of my seat. Not only that, but it was incredibly original. It's based off folklore, and I've never read anything like it before. In a genre where you get a lot of the same things rehashed over and over again, this book was like a breath of fresh air. 
In case you couldn't already tell, I have nothing but nice things to say about this book. I could go on and on about everything that I loved, but I won't bore you. Basically, I think this book's the bee's knees, and would suggest that you read it if you even have the slightest interest. 
Five out of Five stars


Panic (Panic #1)

Panic - Lauren Oliver

Some books just don't grab you. There's nothing necessarily wrong with them, but they just don't grab you. For me, this was one of those books. I would blame it on the writing style, but I've read books from this author before and really liked them, so I credit my dislike of this book to other factors. For me, this Hunger Games/Scorpio Races mix lacked a lot of things, which kept it from being the book that it had the potential to be. 
My major problem with this book was the characters. It wasn't that I had a problem with their personalities per say, but more of how they were written. I didn't dislike them, I just felt absolutely nothing towards them. I felt absolutely no connection to them. There was nothing that made me feel sympathetic for them and their plights, or anything that made me rejoice in their victories. One of the main reasons that I think that I didn't connect with them is because we were told almost nothing about them. Characterization was basically nonexistent. I still have no feel for who these characters are. There were no quirks that made me feel like these people were real. There was one factoid given, but even then, it was only to move along the plot at another point in the story line. Not only that, but the characters failed to grow at all throughout the story. 
Another thing that I had a problem with was that I felt like that Panic was way too chill. It didn't seem nearly as dark and ominous as I think it could have been, and I felt that if Panic had been made more imposing, it would have been far more intriguing and influential. But Panic was often shown as lighthearted despite the fear and violence, which made it difficult for me to take it seriously. 
Overall, I just found this book as kind of sloppy. I felt like far too much was put into the plot, abandoning other things that were just as, if not more important. This book had the potential to be great, though admittedly, not at the height of originality, but that potential was practically wasted. To me, this was just a book that was designed to be a moneymaker, what with it's Hunger Games-esque plot and the fact that many things weren't really thought through as much as they should have. 
One Point Five out of Five stars


My Life Next Door (My Life Next Door #1)

My Life Next Door - Huntley Fitzpatrick

I hadn't really thought that I was one for contemporary romance. I thought that they would be too boring and the conflict too shallow, so I sort of stayed away from them. Then this book changed my mind. To this day, it is one of my favorite contemporary romances, and was the book that really got me interested in the genre of teen contemporary romance.
One thing that I loved, and what really made the book, was the characters. I absolutely adored Jase, and loved Samantha as well, though her decisions often irritated me. I felt like all the characters were generally pretty real, with only a few exceptions. Jase's little brother George never failed to make me laugh, always having something humorous to contribute. Each character, even the ones that you only saw a few times added a new layer to the story.
One thing that surprised me was the depth of the plot. As I had said earlier, I had perceived these sorts of books to have a shallow conflict. However I didn't find this book's conflict to be shallow at all. It wasn't really focused on boy drama or any sort of love triangle. While I may have had some issues with how the situation was handled, I still give the author points for making it go beyond the oh-woe-is-me.
The only complaint that I can think to make is that some of Samantha's decisions (namely one) made me so angry. To me, it was obvious what she should do, but she chose to do the opposite. Reasons were given and understandable to a degree, but her choice irritated me none the less. I can sort of see why she made the choice that she made, but it definitely wouldn't have been the decision I would have made. Luckily though, Samantha didn't spend a lot of time pitying herself and trying to make you feel bad for her when it definitely could have been worked in there, which redeems things for me. 
While it may not have been perfect, I would still say that it's pretty dang close. It opened me up to a new genre, and epitomizes the teen romance genre for me. It proved my previous thoughts wrong, and was really a delightful surprise. If you've been thinking about reading books like this but don't know where to start, I would definitely recommend this book as one to consider. 
Four Point Five out of Five Stars


Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices #1)

Clockwork Angel - Cassandra Clare

If you wanted The Mortal Instruments set in the Victorian Age, then this is the book for you! I would call it the new Mortal Instruments, but it's basically the same story repackaged in a different time period with different names and places. Basically, it's the same book set in a different era, so if you always wanted City of Bones to be set in the Victorian Age, well then do I have a book for you.
As you can tell, my major complaint about this book is that it's basically the same as City of Bones. You'd think, seeing as the books are set in different time periods, that you'd get a drastically different story, but really it was the same. You had the same cast of characters- Courageous, confused, not-normal-like-she-thought-she-was Tessa, witty, arrogant, damaged Will, his best friend Jem, and the pissy, misunderstood, but still lethal Jessamine who thinks about guys a lot, though in an admittedly different way. They all form "one big family". I felt like the plot, while different in some aspects, was mostly the same. Will saves Tessa, she learns that she isn't a normal person like she thought she was, has an on-again-off-again relationship with Will, who pushes her away. Each character had their own quirks about them, so they weren't exactly the same, but they were too similar for my liking. I found the ending very similar too, but won't talk about that right now for spoiler's sakes.
Other than that though, I didn't really have any other major problems with this book. It dragged in some places, but it was interesting in others. I liked the role that Jem played in the book, though I found Will more annoying than I did Jace, though I've been assured that I will come to like Will more as certain things that are unbeknownst to me at the moment come to light. I guess I'll just have to keep reading to find out. 
All in all, it was a fair book, but it was just too similar to it's "sister series" of sorts for me to really enjoy. I feel like if I had read it before I had read The Mortal Instrument Series I would have liked the plot itself a little better, but wouldn't have enjoyed the smaller parts of the book in which references were made to the other series, which were really the best part of the book for me. 
Three Point Five out of Five Stars


Paper Towns

Paper Towns - John Green

A lot of things worked for me in this book. The plot line, as always was phenomenal, and there was the perfect mix of humor and seriousness. I found the book as a whole a perfectly blended masterpiece that brought in just the right amount of various different elements. 
I loved, loved, loved the pranks and jokes, as I did with Looking for Alaska. They were fun, and they added a nice, carefree feel to an otherwise pretty heavy book that was full of meaning. John Green never fails to make me laugh, and there's absolutely nothing better than telling people John Green quotes and having them give you that what-the-heck-did-you-just-say look. I mean, it's not everyday that you hear somebody talk about the world's largest collection of black Santas. 
It wasn't all laughs and giggles though. This book was surprisingly, somewhat of a mystery, which I hadn't expected. I liked that it was able to incorporate a mystery, detective-sort of feel without actually being a mystery book. I loved how the characters reacted to the things that happened to them, and found them very real and relateable. 
The thing that I love the most about all John Green books is that I walk away feeling smarter/inspired, without being bored to death in the process. This book made me think, but it wasn't weighing me down with facts, or telling me a sob-story. I found that I agreed with many of the things in this book, and found the points it was trying to make subtle enough to keep from being pretentious, but obvious enough so you don't miss them.
For me, this book worked because of its perfect balance. Mr. Green was able to balance humor with serious feelings and ideas perfectly, as well as making his points just subtle enough to be effective, but clear enough to see. It encouraged me to think about the people around me and try to see them for who they really are instead of who I imagine them to be, and made me realize that however well you may know a person, you don't know everything about them. 
Four Point Five Stars out of Five


The Secret Life of Bees

The Secret Life of Bees - Sue Monk Kidd

I've heard a lot about this book. An opportunity came up for me to read it, and since most people I know have read it, I decided to jump on the opportunity. I wouldn't say I regret reading it, it was a good book, but I don't see what the big deal is.
I always hear people obsess over this book, and frankly, I don't get it. I mean- I liked the book, but i didn't see what was all so great about it. People would always tell me that I have to read it, and it seemed like it was practically a classic, but I've read books that are for more deserving than this one. It was good, but it wasn't that good. 
One thing that really bothered me was Lily. I mean, sometimes I really liked her. She was spunky, and had a great personality. However, more often than not, she drove me freaking crazy. Maybe I didn't really have cause to be mad at her, but I was, and I can't change that. I hated how she lied to the sisters. I understood that she wanted to feel normal, but lying to them was stupid. She kept on making up excuses for why she couldn't tell the truth, but they weren't valid excuses at all. The whole reason she was there was to find out about her mother, and she didn't do that until the very end of the book. Then, when she did, she just complained about it the whole time. Yes, her mother messed up, but didn't Lily realize that not everything is about her? Lily had her moments, but most of the time, she just made me really angry.
I really liked the sisters though. I thought each of them were really well written, and they were all different, which was nice. When I had first heard about them, I had assumed that they would be the same person with little quirks that made them "different", but they were wildly different, and each had a completely separate personality, which was incredibly nice. 
One thing that I absolutely adored about this book was Zach and Lily's relationship. I thought they were one of the cutest couples ever, possibly behind only Noah and Mara, from The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. Each of their scenes made me smile, and I loved the way they worked together. 
I thought this book was really good, and not necessarily undeserving of the hype, though I couldn't quite understand it. Either way, it was a pretty good read, though I wouldn't suggest it right away.
Three out of Five Stars


Matched (Matched #1)

Matched - Ally Condie

Dystopians hit it big in the Young Adult world, and I have to say that this is one of my favorites. It is in no way perfect, but despite all its flaws, I loved it. I found the plot well constructed, entertaining, and unique. Cassia was likable, as was Ky, and her friend Xander. This book also had some psychological elements to it that come in at the end, which I found a nice touch. Just a warning though, it does contain a love triangle, and I know very well that those can get old if you've read a lot of books with them.
My one major complaint is the romance. It wasn't poorly written. I liked Ky. Ordinarily, there wouldn't be anything wrong with it, but the problem surfaces when Xander enters the picture. Ky on his own might be a great guy, but the problem is that I found Xander far better. Ky is nice, but Xander is nicer. Ky is smart, but Xander is even smarter. Ky is sweet, but Xander is sweeter. I could go on for ages. Xander is quite possibly perfect, and while Ky is good enough, he just doesn't measure up in my opinion. For me, Xander completely overshadowed Ky. Now I know that you can't control love, but really, Xander is the far better choice here, and I can't begin to understand why she chose Ky. I know the book was supposed to be about rebellion and not accepting the system, but I felt like Cassia loved the idea of not buying into the system and falling in love with a rebel and an outcast more than she actually loved Ky. At one point she even asks "Is falling in love with someone's story the same thing as falling in love with the person himself?" I could go on about this for hours, but I will spare you from that rant.
Other than that detail (which I wouldn't say ruined the book, or even really hindered it too much), I really liked this book. I loved the world that Mrs. Condie created, and found myself caring about the characters (yes, even Ky) a good deal. Cassia was a pretty good role model, and I liked how she was kind of in between being completely dependent upon guys and not needing them at all.She didn't do everything on her own, guys helped her out sometimes, but she didn't need them to do everything for her either. I found her a bit more realistic than the Dystopian heroines who would just throw themselves into danger without having to think about it. She had to think about things, and try to figure out what she was supposed to do. She didn't jump into the rebellion right away, she had to think about it.
This book wasn't perfect, none of them are, but it was an exceptionally good read none the less. I found it very whimsical, but it was also serious at the same time. It's perfect for reading on the beach, or really anywhere. If you like books like Delirium, I would definitely check this book out as well. 
Four Point Five out of Five Stars


Eleanor & Park

Eleanor & Park - Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor & Park. I really thought I would like this book a lot more than I did. I mean, I didn't hate it, but I certainly didn't like it that much either. For me, there were just too many things I didn't like, and too little things that I did. 
My first complaint was the romance. I just didn't get it. For me, there was nothing between Eleanor and Park. Absolutely no chemistry, and nothing really close either. Things were way to fast, and even if you disregard the timeline, the feelings simply aren't there. Park says he loves Eleanor, but I feel like they barely even like each other. I know that it's supposed to be about teens, but I feel like Mrs. Rowell was basing her characters off the stereotypical teen. They went through all the motions of being in love, but I didn't really feel anything. 
My biggest complaint was the characters, namely Eleanor. Now I know she is coming from a rough background, but that's no excuse to be angsty all the time. She would get mad at Park without him doing anything. Plus, I felt like I never got a good sense of who she was. Sure, I knew some things about her. She read comic books, listened to emo music. However, I couldn't tell if she did these things because she liked them or because Park liked them. Park handed her the comic books, and she read them. Did she do that before she had come? Did she like it for any other reason other than because Park liked them? Was that really the kind of music that she liked, or did she just listen to it because Park did? She mentions liking the Beatles at one point, but they aren't exactly the kind of music that Park listens to. What kind of music does she actually like? Does she like anything on her own, or does she always need other people to tell her what she should like? She wasn't an awful character or anything, and I liked her sometimes, but Eleanor and I just didn't click. 
Secondly, Park. I felt like even though he was supposed to be main character, he even narrates half the story, he was still kind of a background character. Almost everything he did seemed to revolve around Eleanor, and not in the 'I'm so in love she's all I can think about' way, but in a pointless kind of way. To me, he was just around so that Eleanor could 'love' someone. Normally, I would be okay with that (though I would prefer that it wasn't that way), but he split the narrative. If you're going to have somebody narrate the story, give them something to do, something to add. 
This book wasn't the worst book ever though. I actually really liked her writing style. For me, the problems were less with the way she wrote, and more with the content of her writing. I won't cross her off my list just because of this book, but I might be a little more weary when I go to read another one of her books. 
Two Point Five out of Five Stars


City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1)

City of Bones - Cassandra Clare

Much like Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, I went into this book with a closed mind. However, I had quite a different reaction to this book. This book I liked. When I had first tried reading it, but hadn't gotten past about the first two pages, where they are in the club. I got the impression that this book was quite different from what it actually was. I thought the blue hair and crazy fashion was not just a normal in the club, but in the entire world that existed in this book. I got the impression that this was some strange dystopian. I put the book down and didn't come back to it. However, one day I sat in the movie theater and saw a preview for this movie (just in case anybody was wondering, the movie was awful. Don't see it, especially if you haven't read all the books, there are MAJOR spoilers.) and I decided that it was time for me to read this book. 
Just so that nobody makes the same mistake I made, I have a brief, spoiler-free summary. This book is not some dystopian. This book is about Shadowhunters, who seek to rid the world of demons. Jace is a Shadowhunter, Clary is not. As you can probably guess, Clary and Jace meet, and things get crazy. Demons come, people disappear, and action is everywhere. 
There is a little bit of everything in this book. It's full of action, romance, and even a little comedy. This book can appeal to a wide audience. I would suggest this to almost anybody, so long as they don't have an opposition to things like love triangles (most don't really like them, but this one isn't too bad [at least in my mind]), battle scenes, and some infrequent semi-strong language. Plus, Clary is a pretty good role model. While she starts out helpless, and sometimes she needs to be saved, she does a lot on her own, and works on becoming independent. The series as a whole is a bit of a whirlwind, but this book itself is pretty good. It gets a little creepy towards the end (if you've read it, you know exactly what I am talking about), but if you overlook that, things are pretty good. Jace is not in particular my cup of tea, but he wasn't too terrible, and I grew to love him later in the series.
Really, I thought this book was good. It was interesting, and kept me wanting to read more. In my opinion, the characters weren't the best, but they weren't so bad that they ruined things. However, people tend to either love or hate this series, so I think anybody with even a remote interest in this book should give it a swing to see what they think.
Three Point Five out of Five stars


Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy #1)

Vampire Academy - Richelle Mead

This book wasn't exactly what I thought it would be, and I'm pretty sure that's a good thing. Surprisingly, I really liked this book. The characters, especially Rose, sometimes drove me up a wall because of the decisions they made, but I still managed to liked the characters well enough. For me, this book worked extremely well, even though I thought I probably wouldn't like it a lot.
One of the things that I both liked and didn't like about this book was the main character, Rose. Sometimes, I absolutely adored her. Other times, I hated her with a seething passion. Sometimes, she made the worst decisions. Other times, she was incredibly resourceful and intelligent. She was a little promiscuous, but also would do anything for her friends. Sometimes she was manipulative, but she was also brave. While I had mixed feelings for her, if I had to decide between liking her or not liking her, I would say that I liked her without even really having to think about it.
One thing I really liked was the story line. As I have mentioned before, it wasn't what I expected. I was expecting this to be your average vampire story, but I found this story line a lot more intriguing. The concept was really cool- normal vampires and protector vampires. Some of the story was a little unbelievable, but it's a paranormal- what do you expect? 
Even though this was a paranormal book, it wasn't shallow. It discussed all sorts of meaningful things- depression, what a reputation means and what it should mean, how important it is to be in charge of somebody's welfare, trust where taking an eye for eye gets you, and, of course, love. Sure, it may not be the same as a Chicken Soup book, but it does discuss some real issues.
Overall, this book was good, and I would suggest this to anybody who has even a remote interest in paranormal novels. It wasn't necessarily perfect, but what book is? I would still definitely say it is worth a read. I wouldn't say it should shoot right to the top of your list, but you might want to put it on there. 
Four Point Five out of Five Stars


Spud (Spud #1)

Spud - John van de Ruit

Spud! Oh boy do I love this book. Really, what's not to like? It's got a little bit of everything. There's a whole lot of humor accompanied by some life themes, classic literature, and some South African history. Almost anyone could find something they like in this book. At first I wasn't too sure how much I would like the diary-style entries, but I ended up loving them. John "Spud" Milton is a hilarious narrator and he handles the tough format well. 
What really makes the book are the characters, namely "The Crazy Eight", which consists of Spud, Robert "Rambo" Black, Charlie "Mad Dog" Hooper, Henry "Gecko" Barker, Alan "Boggo" Greenstein, Vern "Rain Man" Blackadder, Simon Brown, and Sydney "Fatty" Smitherson-Scott. The group really lives up to its "crazy" name, what with Mad Dog cooking pigeons, Rambo and Boggo making racy comments left and right, Gecko either sick or injured 90% of the time, Fatty eating everything in sight, Simon and his inability to handle the crazy, Spud's humorous reaction to events, the whole group going on numerous illegal night swims, and last but certainly not last, Vern. Oh Vern! There is no end to the humor that Vern supplies. Spud's deranged cubical mate may just be the best part of the book. Hearing his conversations with Rodger and other various inanimate objects always made me laugh.
However, the Crazy Eight does not allow the other characters to slack off. Spud's father's fight with the neighbor's dogs is always good for a laugh. His mother's constant disappointment with the boys will always make you smile. His grandmother Wombat is nearly as hilarious as Vern. The headmaster, aka The Glock has his moments, and various other teachers help humor the book when things get slow. Even the family dog Blacky has his moments that include his fight with the robot that cleans the pool.
However, despite the humor, this book also has lots of serious themes and moments. This book delves into thoughts on relationships, loss, and friendship in a way that isn't corny. It's a great "coming of age" novel, but I'm sure that you don't have to be a teen to like this book.
This book is a laugh riot that you shouldn't pass up. It may be a little hard to get your hands on it, since it is a South African book, but if you have access to it, I would definitely suggest reading it! Trust me when I say you don't want to miss this one!
Five out of Five stars


This is What Happy Looks Like

This is What Happy Looks Like - Jennifer E. Smith

I had mixed feelings before starting this book. Even after finishing it, I still have mixed feelings. On the one hand, I liked the basic plot. On the other hand, I didn't particularly like the writing style. I had previously read The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, and while the inside cover made it look like it was a book I had to buy, so much that I bought it in hardback, and it turned out to be a horrible disappointment. This book didn't necessarily live up to how good the plot sounded, but I didn't think it was quite the disappointment that The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight had been.
Let's start with what I did like, sort of. I liked Graham and Ellie. I liked them individually and together. I felt like they could have been a little more personalized. I knew they had personalities, but I couldn't really see that through the writing. The characters just seemed a little bland, and a little stereotypical. I felt like I didn't really know that much about the characters themselves. There were details about them that were thrown out there, but I felt like they didn't really come alive for me. They were just kind of shells of real people.
While I liked the plot, I felt like it wasn't executed well. I can see how some people might like her writing style, but I don't really think it was for me. I didn't like the long, out of place, mostly pointless flashbacks to other times. I felt like the book focused on the unimportant and uninteresting things. Things you thought were going to be important and significant turned out to be nothing. I felt like the book was kind of pointless, and not thought through. Don't get me wrong, I'm probably making this book sound worse than it was, because I did like it some, I just felt like it didn't really amount to anything. I feel like it was written just because she needed something to write. It didn't really go anywhere, and the characters were just vessels to work through the plot. 
Overall, even though I had a lot of criticism for it, I didn't hate this book. I didn't especially like it, but I didn't hate it either. It found it okay. It was one of those books that was good while you were reading it, and you didn't realize all the problems until you were done. If you liked The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, then I would suggest this book to you. You'll probably like it. However, if you didn't like it, I wouldn't tell you to put this at the top of your list. If you're thinking of reading The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, then I would suggest reading this one first, since I liked it better.
Two Point Five out of Five Stars


Shiver (Shiver #1)

Shiver - Maggie Stiefvater

I am so happy to be reviewing this book. It is one of my all time favorites! I remember the day I got it. It was the first book that I ever finished in a day. It was really the book that brought me into the Young Adult genre. I love Shiver with every bone in my body. This is one of the books I re-read all the time. This book is one that I go back to all the time, and I feel like it is perfect for all occasions.
When this book was handed to me, I was skeptical. I was kind of against the whole Young Adult genre, especially vampire and werewolf books. However this book, while there are werewolves in it, I wouldn't really call it a werewolf story. Yes, a girl falls in love with a werewolf. Still, I don't call this a "werewolf story" because the problem that Sam and Grace face is not the fact that he is a werewolf, it is the fact that he has limited time. The whole werewolf thing just adds a bit of flair and helps move the story forward while making it more entertaining. Sam almost never shifts throughout the book, and to me the whole werewolf thing is just a plot device to set the real conflict rolling.
One part of this book that I love so much is the characters. Grace and Sam are two complex, multi-sided characters who I absolutely adore. Just when you think you figure one of them out, you learn something new about them that makes them so much more interesting. I am so glad that both of them narrate this story. I love them together, and I love how things start with them right from the get-go. There is no beating around the bush with these two, but it's not really insta-love either. The conflict I found uncommon and mature. It wasn't some oh-woe-is-me, I-like-him-but-he-doesn't-like-me deal, it was basically a fight against the clock. 
Maggie Stiefvater is one of my favorite writers, mostly because of this book. Her writing is absolutely beautiful and incredibly thoughtful. I got completely wrapped up in Sam and Grace and the story line as a whole. I even felt myself caring for some of the minor characters more than I normally do. This was really the first of only a few books that I cried during. I won't say anything about what happens, but if you've read it, you probably know exactly when I cried. Even when I re-read it I sometimes cry, because there is some sick foreshadowing in this book. I read somewhere that when Stiefvater wrote this book she wanted to make people cry, and boy, did she accomplish her goal. 
I would suggest this book to any person thirteen and older, even if they don't usual like werewolf stories. This book is one of my absolute favorites, and I honestly think that everyone who enjoys Young Adult Fiction should read this book, or at least one of Maggie Stiefvater's many marvelous books.
Five out of Five Stars