Monday, September 18, 2017

Mini Reviews: How to Disappear by Sharon Huss Roat and These Things I've Done by Rebecca Phillips

From Goodreads: Vicky Decker has perfected the art of hiding in plain sight, quietly navigating the halls of her high school undetected except by her best (and only) friend, Jenna. But when Jenna moves away, Vicky’s isolation becomes unbearable. So she decides to invent a social life by Photoshopping herself into other people’s pictures, posting them on Instagram under the screen name Vicurious. Instantly, she begins to get followers, so she adds herself to more photos from all over the world with all types of people. And as Vicurious’s online followers multiply, Vicky realizes she can make a whole life for herself without ever leaving her bedroom. But the more followers she finds online, the clearer it becomes that there are a lot of people out there who feel like her - #alone and #ignored in real life. To help them, and herself, Vicky must find the courage to face her fear of being “seen,” because only then can she stop living vicariously and truly bring the magic of Vicurious to life. 

My Rating: 3 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: If you prefer plot-driven novels, Sharon Huss Roat’s How to Disappear is probably not the book for you since it involves Vicki just spending a lot of time online – either Photoshopping herself into different backgrounds, posting her pictures on Instagram and seeing what kind of feedback she gets, or checking out other people’s Instagram feeds. Yet even though nothing major happens over the course of How to Disappear, I didn’t think it was a bad read because it serves as a reminder of how powerful social media can be in connecting people. 

How to Disappear was released in August 2017 by HarperTeen. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (HarperCollins) for free via Edelweiss.
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From Goodreads: Before: Dara and Aubrey have been inseparable since they became best friends in sixth grade. However, as they begin their sophomore year of high school, cracks in their friendship begin to form, testing the bond they always thought was unbreakable. After: It's been fifteen months since the accident that killed Aubrey, and not a day goes by that Dara isn't racked with guilt over her role in her best friend's death. Dara thought nothing could be worse than confronting the memories of Aubrey that relentlessly haunt her, but she soon realizes it isn't half as difficult as seeing Ethan, Aubrey's brother, every day. Not just because he's a walking reminder of what she did, but because the more her feelings for him change, the more she knows she's betraying her best friend one final time. 

My Rating: 2.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Alternating chapters between Dara’s sophomore and senior years, These Things I’ve Done by Rebecca Phillips shows the difference in Dara’s attitude and personality before and after Aubrey’s death. When reading a novel chronicling someone’s life after the death of a loved one, I need to connect with the characters; and unfortunately, Dara was someone I struggled to connect with because she keeps trying not to move on, despite knowing that Aubrey’s death was accidental. I also thought some of the secondary characters could have been better fleshed out. For example, there was no reason for Travis to think of Dara as a murderer and yet he does, even though Aubrey’s brother, Ethan, quickly befriends Dara again, making it clear he holds no ill will towards her. If you’re looking for a book where grief is a major theme, I’d recommend reading Cynthia Hand’s The Last Time We Say Goodbye or Emery Lord’s The Start of Me and You instead.

These Things I’ve Done was released by HarperTeen in August 2017.

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (HarperCollins) for free via Edelweiss.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Review: Even the Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett (and Giveaway)

From Goodreads: Kamzin has always dreamed of becoming one of the Emperor’s royal explorers, the elite climbers tasked with mapping the wintry, mountainous Empire and spying on its enemies. She knows she could be the best in the world, if only someone would give her a chance. But everything changes when the mysterious and eccentric River Shara, the greatest explorer ever known, arrives in her village and demands to hire Kamzin - not her older sister Lusha, as everyone had expected - for his next expedition. This is Kamzin’s chance to prove herself - even though River’s mission to retrieve a rare talisman for the emperor means climbing Raksha, the tallest and deadliest mountain in the Aryas. Then Lusha sets off on her own mission to Raksha with a rival explorer who is determined to best River, and Kamzin must decide what’s most important to her: protecting her sister from the countless perils of the climb or beating her to the summit. The challenges of climbing Raksha are unlike anything Kamzin expected - or prepared for - with avalanches, ice chasms, ghosts, and even worse at every turn. And as dark secrets are revealed, Kamzin must unravel the truth of their mission and of her companions - while surviving the deadliest climb she has ever faced. 

My Rating: 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Even the Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett was a fun read that started and ended strongly but lagged a little in the middle. By far the best aspect of this novel though was its worldbuilding since the setting seems to be inspired by the Himalayas. While reading Even the Darkest Stars, I really felt how perilous it must be to climb to the summit of a mountain like Mount Raksha, the book’s equivalent of Mount Everest. Add in fantastical elements like witches and ghosts and I fully expected at least one person to die! (Sadly, there were some animal deaths as well in Even the Darkest Stars that were completely unnecessary.)

The cast of characters was decent, if somewhat forgettable; and I liked that the romance remained in the background and that a love triangle didn’t develop, considering Kamzin became infatuated with River Shara quite early on and was joined on her journey to Mount Raksha by her best friend and ex, Tem. With all the plot twists towards the end of the book, I’m looking forward to reading a stronger sequel!

Even the Darkest Stars was released on September 5, 2017 by Balzer + Bray. 

Comments About the Cover: It’s so, so pretty!

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher for free via The Fantastic Flying Book Club. 
 Even the Darkest Stars can be bought from: [Amazon] [Barnes and Noble] [Book Depository]

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If you're interested in getting a necklace and signed book plate for Even the Darkest Stars and live in the US, you can enter to win by filling out the form below.

You can follow the rest of the tour by clicking on this link. Also, visit Heather Fawcett's website to find out more about her and follow her on Twitter at @heathermfawcett

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