These Books Have Nothing in Common (Except This Post)

Reviews

These books have nothing in common. I guess most of them had some kind of difficult subject matter, though really, witches aren’t an actual think so fine, they have nothing that holds them together other than “general release date is somewhat close”. Just… yeah. Look, I didn’t hate any of these. It’s just a bit slumpish. 

The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith
This is Where the World Ends by Amy Zhang
Flawed by Cecelia Ahern
Half Lost by Sally Green


These Books Have Nothing in Common (Except This Post) The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on March 22nd 2016
Pages: 384
Format:eARC
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Edelweiss

In the tradition of Speak, this extraordinary debut novel shares the unforgettable story of a young woman as she struggles to find strength in the aftermath of an assault.

Eden was always good at being good. Starting high school didn’t change who she was. But the night her brother’s best friend rapes her, Eden’s world capsizes.

What was once simple, is now complex. What Eden once loved—who she once loved—she now hates. What she thought she knew to be true, is now lies. Nothing makes sense anymore, and she knows she’s supposed to tell someone what happened but she can’t. So she buries it instead. And she buries the way she used to be.

Told in four parts—freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior year—this provocative debut reveals the deep cuts of trauma. But it also demonstrates one young woman’s strength as she navigates the disappointment and unbearable pains of adolescence, of first love and first heartbreak, of friendships broken and rebuilt, and while learning to embrace a power of survival she never knew she had hidden within her heart.

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This is a very gripping and powerful book. It involves rape- a trigger warning, just so you are aware. And Eden’s story will absolutely break your heart, because of how you can feel the honesty dripping off of it. Rape- especially unreported rape- is all too common. Just thinking about a young person bearing the weight of what Eden went through makes me want to scream. And while Eden is fictional, there are countless others who live this hell daily.

Eden loses herself during the story, and it centers around her finding the strength to somehow find herself again. She doesn’t feel like the “good girl” that she was before the rape, so she literally makes herself into the opposite of what she was before. But she becomes more unhappy, of course, the more she bottles up these secrets and horrible, horrible truths. She shoulders so much of the blame, which is also all too common.

This is clearly a character driven story, and you need to read about Eden for yourself if you want the full picture. The topics in the book aren’t just the rape and the aftermath, but the thought processes that go on for years after. I don’t think it’s something that anyone “gets over”, and this book shows that incredibly well.

My only issue lies in that I didn’t connect to Eden as much as I’d have liked. I was angry on her behalf, and so, so mad at the thought of this happening to anyone. But as an actual character, there were times when I didn’t feel that “spark”.  Aside from that one qualm though, this book is a must, especially for anyone looking for a young adult book that gracefully handles some really difficult situations. 4s


These Books Have Nothing in Common (Except This Post) This Is Where the World Ends by Amy Zhang
Published by Greenwillow Books on March 22nd 2016
Pages: 304
Format:eARC
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Edelweiss

Janie and Micah, Micah and Janie. That’s how it’s been ever since elementary school, when Janie Vivien moved next door. Janie says Micah is everything she is not. Where Micah is shy, Janie is outgoing. Where Micah loves music, Janie loves art. It’s the perfect friendship—as long as no one finds out about it. But then Janie goes missing and everything Micah thought he knew about his best friend is colored with doubt.

Using a nonlinear writing style and dual narrators, Amy Zhang reveals the circumstances surrounding Janie’s disappearance in a second novel.
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I was sure that it was just a fluke that I didn’t love Falling Into Place. Everyone and their mom loved it. Who knows, maybe my mom loved it. I loved the writing. I did not love the book. So I firmly believed that this foray into Amy Zhang’s work would go better. And it did, for a time. It gave me feels. And I excuse just about anything with the right amount of feels. And this book was heavy, emotionally. Oh, there is also a trigger warning for this one too, but I will place under spoiler tags, just in case View Spoiler »

My problem with it lies in that I knew the general plot immediately. There was no real sense of urgency, since I knew, for the most part, exactly what happened from close to the start. So I knew we were looking at a really unhappy situation- it says so in the synopsis, really- and that made it hard to read. But I was definitely moved by Micah and Janie’s emotions, so I forged on. Janie and Micah’s friendship is painful- she is embarrassed to know him, and he worships the ground she walks on. But he’s at her beck and call, and she knows she has him on the hook. Then reading along as things get worse and worse for them both… it’s hard, but in an unsatisfying way. It’s difficult to connect to either of them, because Janie isn’t the nicest person, and we’re reading her POV from the past; and Micah because even Micah himself doesn’t know what is going on half the time.

I think I could have even been okay with the whole thing, but the ending was incredibly lacking for me. Since I kind of knew most of what was happening in the story already, I was hoping for some “oomph” at the end. Instead, I got a whimper, and a ton of unanswered questions and loose ends. 

Bottom Line: I hate that I didn’t love this one. I still don’t think I will give up on Amy’s writing though, since it really is fabulous. Third time’s the charm?2s


These Books Have Nothing in Common (Except This Post) Flawed by Cecelia Ahern
Series: Flawed #1
Published by Feiwel and Friends on April 5th 2016
Pages: 368
Format:eARC
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Netgalley

Celestine North lives a perfect life. She's a model daughter and sister, she's well-liked by her classmates and teachers, and she's dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan.

But then Celestine encounters a situation where she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule. And now faces life-changing repercussions.

She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found FLAWED.

In her breathtaking young adult debut, bestselling author Cecelia Ahern depicts a society where obedience is paramount and rebellion is punished. And where one young woman decides to take a stand that could cost her-everything.

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True story about this book: I almost DNFed. Several times. It was, pun absolutely intended, Flawed. I liked the idea a lot from the description, but it doesn’t really go into much detail about the whole “Flawed” business. The thing is, being Flawed in this society (which I assume to be some kind of dystopian England?) is basically this: You do something… kind of dumb maybe. Like, not something illegal, or harmful. Just something that this random court doesn’t like. I have no freaking clue why they get to decide these things, but they get carried away. Apparently it stems from some kind of bad economic decisions? But what on earth that has to do with some random person lying and- get ready- having their tongue branded forever, I will never know. Sorry, but those things don’t equate. It was all weird, mundane stuff- lying, making a bad decision (what even is that? What if you pick like, the McMuffin instead of the Biscuit at McDonald’s? That’s a bad decision, but is it Flawed? Your guess is as good as mine), or cheating, or…. helping an elderly Flawed man who was basically dying on a bus?

Yes, that is how Celestine gets her Flawed status- she helps an old man sit in a bus seat. It’s so damn contradictory that I wanted to stop reading right there. And branding people? The thing is, there wasn’t enough backstory/worldbuilding to make this the least bit plausible. Celestine and her sister and boyfriend were riding on the bus to school, everyone’s normal and happy… so this doesn’t equate in my head to a society that treats people who make these ridiculously arbitrary “offenses” like cattle. 

So you see why I almost DNFed, right? But here’s the thing- it actually started to get really good. Like, Celestine was a great character- she started off very unlikable, but then really started to develop as a character. Her boyfriend was annoying, but he faded away. Her family was hugely involved so that was even more awesome. Mom, Dad, siblings, even her grandfather (who was the most awesome of the bunch) had a big role in this story. Oh and diversity? Yes there was!

And then, things got interesting! It turned into this whole shady business political thing, with Celestine’s case being one of the ones the media was highly focused on. The side characters got interesting, and I really wanted to know what the outcome would be. So somehow, some way, I ended up really liking this book– after about 30%. So keep that in mind. I can’t in good conscience rate it higher than 2.5-3 stars (I ended up giving it 3, because I guess I am in a nice and giving mood), simply because I was seriously about to DNF it, and I still find the lack of worldbuilding (or perhaps, world explaining?) to be troublesome. But you’d better believe I will be reading the sequel!

Bottom Line (as told by my Goodreads updates):gr gr1

3s


These Books Have Nothing in Common (Except This Post) Half Lost by Sally Green
Series: Half Bad #3
Published by Viking Books for Young Readers on March 29th 2016
Pages: 352
Format:ARC
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review

A stunning, magical world. An international sensation.

Nathan Byrn is running again. The Alliance of Free Witches has been all but destroyed. Scattered and demoralized, constantly pursued by the Council’s Hunters, only a bold new strategy can save the rebels from total defeat. They need the missing half of Gabriel’s amulet—an ancient artifact with the power to render its bearer invincible in battle.

But the amulet’s guardian—the reclusive and awesomely powerful witch Ledger - has her own agenda. To win her trust, Nathan must travel to America and persuade her to give him the amulet. Combined with the Gifts he has inherited from Marcus, the amulet might just be enough to turn the tide for the Alliance and end the bloody civil war between Black and White witches once and for all…

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I am putting so much of this under a spoiler tag, you see. I have read some reviews myself, and I feel like saying anything almost spoils it? But I am extra sensitive about spoilers, so there’s that.

Here’s my review for Half Bad, and my review for Half Wild, in case you’re curious. I liked, but didn’t love Half Bad, but absolutely adored Half Wild! And if any of you HAVE read Half Lost, please please please hit me up so we can chat, okay?

The hands down best part of the book is watching Nathan grow. If you read Half Bad, you know what a lost little kid he is, and how he is alone in a world that tries again and again to keep him broken and beaten down. And through the series, he changes, he evolves. Oh, it isn’t always for the better- sometimes he makes huge strides, sometimes he has setbacks, sometimes he just plain has no idea what he’s doing. But the changes are phenomenal, and believable.

A lot of the supporting characters are back, and as always, I love Gabriel best of all. There are a lot of scenes with action, and I know some people really liked them, but they did become a bit repetitive for me at some point. Like, okay, another witch battle, got it. It felt like it was a lot of preparing for witch battle, actual witch battle, recovering from witch battle, repeat. But I think that might be a personal thing for me? But yeah, I was a bit underwhelmed for parts of it for sure.

View Spoiler »

Let’s talk! A lot of these dealt with some heavy subject matter. Some were hits, some were misses. What is the last book that dealt with hard issues that you really loved?

Posted March 24, 2016 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in In a Minute, Review / 31 Comments


31 responses to “These Books Have Nothing in Common (Except This Post)

  1. Sooo I couldn’t read your Half Lies review because I’m too excited for it and heheh, I JUST GOTTA READ IT MYSELF FIRST. Ahem. But I’m so pleased that we had identical ratings for This is Where The World Ends! That book was like a trainwreck of confusion. I still want to know why Janie decided she couldn’t talk to Micah unless they were alone?? Like was he exceptionally dorky? IDEK. I DON’T GET IT. JANIE MADE ME MAD. *growls*

    • Noo, that was a good call! Do not read spoilery spoilers! But definitely let me know the minute you finish it okay? Because I have things I want to talk to you about!

      Seriously what even WAS TIHTWE!? At first I was kind of into it, but then I realized that wait, why am I even reading this, I already know what happens!? And seriously, Micah seemed fine, what the hell? Also- I have to ask this- is it me, or does Amy Zhang LOVE to write about really shitty humans? Just saying.

  2. Ok so I completely ignored your Half Lost review because I still need to read Half Wild. I am super excited to see you really liked The Way I Used to Be. That is a highly anticipated read for me. Yay for Flawed being something you ended up enjoying. It is always good when a book you aren’t sure about turns out to be good by the end! Great reviews!

    • Good job, good job 😀 I didn’t even put my rating down- because I have found that recently, people’s RATINGS have spoiled books for me. Reviewing last books in a series is HARD- I basically close my eyes at the sheer mention of The Winner’s Kiss!

      And thanks so much! I hope you really love The Way I Used to Be!

  3. I have to say that I loved Flawed. I do agree that it seems the punishments for such little things did seem severe, but to me it really got the story going. And the branding scene was like Whoa!!! I need to read The Way I Used to Be, as I have a similar experience myself from college, and for some reason I always feel like I need to read those types of books and see that it wasn’t just me. Great little reviews again!

    • I agree- that scene, and really ALL the courtroom nonsense, got me hooked! I just- like I GET that the whole problem is that this is out of control, I just didn’t like the reason- or lack thereof!

      Oh wow, I am SO sorry about that experience. I think it is absolutely worth a read. It’s the kind of thing that shows that people have to heal in their own ways, and that grief and trauma is not a one-size-fits-all sort of thing. I hope that you are able to get something out of it!

  4. hummmm Flawed was a DNF for me as well! but again ANYTHING is a DNF for me lately. UGH when did I become this picky??? 🙂 I’ll give it another try. Because I’m not into trusting my judgment lately since I became a professional DNFer 🙂

    • I feel like I am extra picky too lately! But the problems in the beginning of this book were HUGE so I totally get why you DNFed. Did you make it to the court stuff? I’d say give it that far- it was about 37% when I decided that wait, I liked this after all haha. If you still don’t care by then, abandon! 😀 Good luck!

  5. SO. The first one sounds really good so I’ll be checking that one out for sure. BUT the rest kind of doesn’t sound like it’s for me? I started Half Bad once upon a time but it wasn’t my thing, so I DNF’ed it but the others just sound very mehhhh to me.

  6. The Way I Used To Be sounds very interesting. I actually love tough issues in books!! I guess it feels more real and makes the story give more “feels”. Great reviews here!!

  7. I loved The Way I Used To Be, too! It’s so gritty & tough and just a knockout read. It reminds me so much of Speak. Eden annoyed me a little, too, though. I couldn’t get with her calling her parents by their names.

    Ooooohhh, so glad you stuck with Flawed! I’ve been dying to read it myself! I loved Cecelia’s Love, Rosie (Sam Claflin as Doctor Alex oooohhhh now) Sweet mini reviews as always!

    • I have to read Speak for sure. I agree, Eden was hard to take sometimes. but it was hard to fault her for it- I just wish she hadn’t pushed her parents away SO much, you know?

      And Flawed ended up being GOOD- but the worldbuilding is wholly unbelievable. So if you can get past that, the story is addicting! And I NEED to read/watch Love, Rosie because of Sam Claflin! I LOVE HIM. I thought Finnick was a perfect baby name, but no one agreed. My kid’s name is Sam 😉 Only partially coincidental bwhahah

  8. I’ve read so many reviews for The Way I Used To Be and it definitely sounds like it’s an emotional read. A Shame the next Amy Zhang book was kind of lacking, especially since I enjoyed her first book as well. Flawed sounds flawed 😀 but wow, it sounds like it ended up really pulling you in afterwards! I’m looking forward to seeing how it all ends in Half Lost! Great reviews Shannon!

  9. ♥ mini reviews, as always!

    I haven’t read any of these but definitely a mix! Sorry that This is Where the World Ends didn’t work out for you but I am so with you re: lacking endings — can totally ruin a book! The Way I Used to Be sounds great and I’m going to look into that. Kudos for not DNF — I am not always as strong on that as I should be!!

  10. I might have to pick up The Way I Used To Be. I hadn’t heard much about up till now and I like what you had to say about it. I don’t often reach for “issue books” (and I hate referring to it as such because it belittles the subject matter but hopefully you know what I mean) but I feel like I want to make an exception for this one. I like the fact that it spans several years. The reviews I’m seeing for Flawed are all over the place. I’m not sure about it so it might be one that I’ll pick up if I happen to see it at the library.

  11. I absolutely loved The way I used to be. It was so crazy powerful and super heavy. I needed a breather after that one. I was looking forward to Amy Zhang’s new books. Falling into Place wasn’t an amazing book (in my opinion), but it wasn’t awful either. I think I enjoyed it just a little bit more than you did. I thought it was okay and I was looking forward to this one. Sounds like this one may just not be that great. And unanswered questions at the end would just irritate me.

  12. I definitely want to read The Way I Used To Be! That’ll be on my TBR sometime soon. Your progress through Flawed is interesting! I’ve seen that book floating around but I’ve been pretty hesitant….I don’t know :/

  13. I love how these books are all so unique from each other! The Way I Used to Be is one I have it definitely sounds like it is the most emotional of them all and handles a very tough subject really well. I am curious about it but it sounds like it also carries an emotional punch. The other ones don’t particularly capture my interest as much, which is a shame. I’m not sure if I will be trying those.

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