Book Review: Mosquitoland by David Arnold

18718848“I am a collection of oddities, a circus of neurons and electrons: my heart is the ringmaster, my soul is the trapeze artist, and the world is my audience. It sounds strange because it is, and it is, because I am strange.”

After the sudden collapse of her family, Mim Malone is dragged from her home in northern Ohio to the “wastelands” of Mississippi, where she lives in a medicated milieu with her dad and new stepmom. Before the dust has a chance to settle, she learns her mother is sick back in Cleveland.

So she ditches her new life and hops aboard a northbound Greyhound bus to her real home and her real mother, meeting a quirky cast of fellow travelers along the way. But when her thousand-mile journey takes a few turns she could never see coming, Mim must confront her own demons, redefining her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane.

Told in an unforgettable, kaleidoscopic voice, “Mosquitoland” is a modern American odyssey, as hilarious as it is heartbreaking.

 

 

My Thoughts:

Mosquitoland was an odd book for me. I knew right away that if it got into the blogosphere enough, it would be a new trend book like The Fault in Our Stars. It’s full of so much deep thought and quirky opinions that it’s like, what’s not to love? But my feelings on it were pretty so-so. It was an instance that either I was absolutely loving it, or I was just annoyed.

Mim is a pretty stand-up main character. For those that like strong female leads, she’s your girl. She has a no-nonsense attitude that young girls will love, but still has a tender and loving side for those in the book that need help. I enjoyed almost all of the other characters in the book, and I love how- without making this the main plot- it showed two different sides of mental illness: the manageable more common side, and the feared side most people think of when they find out someone’s mentally ill.

However, what I didn’t like was Mim’s interactions with anyone she decided she didn’t like. Either someone was ‘in’ or ‘out’ and if they were out, they were treated like a zombie-sheep idiot. And most of them responded in the way a normal person would to a kid trying to fast-talk them, but she just thought herself so superior, it was rather annoying. During her inner thought sessions, I was thinking “wow, what a strong girl,” but anytime she’d talk to an adult, I was thinking “someone needs to knock this little punk down a peg.”

I’m going to rate it a three because I didn’t like half of Mim’s character, the writing sessions, and a lot of what really wasn’t believable, but don’t be discouraged! I strongly believe there are people out there that would absolutely adore this book, and you may be one of them!

Three Stars

Side Note: Also, Cait! Remember how you wanted Diverse books that weren’t about being diverse? It slipped my mind when I read it, but this is completely your book! I know you’ve already promised you’d read it so I can’t wait to see what you think!

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Buddy Review: The Selection

10507293For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

 

 

 

For this review I buddied up with The Book Dame! Both of us read The Selection and chose our own questions for ourselves and each other. You can check out her review here.

Danni’s Questions:
 
1) First of all, is The Selection what you expected?
 
Danni: Not at all! I was expecting a serious competition between all of these girls, with America a little confused (due to Aspen in the synopsis) but still competing. I was looking forward to seeing the strategies and personalities of 35 girls, but instead the book was mainly about everyone- the Prince, the girls, and America herself- trying to figure out what’s going on with America.
 
Suzi: No.  I expected something more involved…deeper.  There is so much that could have been done with a plot like this.
2) What did you think of America’s name?
 
Danni:  …America… Singer.. It really sounds all sorts of off to me. Maybe if America was a graceful or cute name like Asia or London, but I don’t there’s any way to make America sound flattering. Those closest to her end up calling her Ames, which is just awkward, and Mer, which gets me thinking of dumb redneck impersonators yelling AMERICA! The only thing good about that name was the reason behind it, which I liked. And Singer? Is everyone named for their profession? Are there, like, a million people out there with the last name Teacher or Servant? In that case, it must be hard to marry into your own caste, finding someone with a different last name. And if that’s true, then what the hell is a Lerger? Sounds about as cushy as the owner of the name was. 
 
Suzi:   Danni and I differ on this one.  It rolls off tongue to me.  A bit cliche?  Well, yes, but I love the way that it meant something, a symbol of what the land was.  What can I say?  I’m patriotic like that.
 
3) Did it bother you not knowing why Maxon sent home the first batch of girls?
 
Danni:  Yes! This was a big pet peeve of mine. For two reasons: One, I just like to know these things, and I was thinking I was getting a book that was more about the competition, so to be missing a huge explanation on that part really bothered me, and Two, America totally seems like the type of person to stick up for her friends. Maybe she didn’t know *not going to spoil the name* too well, and maybe it’s the nature of the competition, and maybe there was nothing she could do about it by the time it was done, but you’d think it would bother her and that she’d at least want to know why one of her friends was sent home. Instead the friend was forgotten almost as quickly as she was dismissed.
 
Suzi:  I would have liked to have known, but it didn’t bother me like it did Danni.  To some extent, I think it was assumed that we would get the message that Maxon wasn’t looking for what we thought he was.
 
4) Your favorite scene in the book?
 
Danni:  The girl’s first dinner with Maxon, by far. I really loved what you got to learn about Maxon’s character in that scene, and the girls’ responses to his words. I also loved how that dinner ended up. It was the most in-control America was in the entire book.
Suzi:  Urm…I don’t remember the details of that scene, Danni.  So, I will go with when all of the girls were making the transition into The Selection.  Meeting each other, seeing things for the first time, and all of that.  It was the closest to real scene setting since world building was not a major part of the storytelling.
 
5) What did you think of the chosen six Elite?
 
Danni:   I was disappointed that it was narrowed down so quickly! I suppose in the end, the book really wasn’t about the other girls, but I knew so little about them that I wasn’t able to make predictions or anything, and that’s half of the fun of this sort of competition. When they were chosen, I was just like “who?” I felt like I really missed out on a part of the story. I guess I wouldn’t expect an author to personify 35 different girls, especially in a book so small, but why make the competition have 35 when you’re not even going to personify five of them to the point of recognition? 
 
Suzi:  I was disappointed that the book got to the six so quickly also.  I liked the drama of having so many girls around, all competing, all with such vast personalities.
 
Suzi’s Questions
 
6) Did you feel like this was a great premise that could have been executed to be so much greater than it was?
 
Suzi:  It’s my question, so yeah.  It was a good book, and I will read the others, but there was nothing here that blew me away.  I feel like the majority of the story was the equivalent to a season of The Bachelor.
 
Danni:  It was definitely not what I expected. I feel like there were a few ways to do it; I personally was looking for more of a book form of Survivor, and there ended up being really no contest at all. I don’t feel like the premise could have done better, I think it was just wrong altogether. Like the synopsis of The Girl with All the Gifts. 
 
7) Were you bothered by the love triangle?
 
Suzi:  I am not normally bothered by love triangles as much as others as long as the connection between the love interest is not too serious.  Unfortunately, I was really bothered by America and Aspen in this case.  They both felt more like players trying to get what they wanted than giving loving people.
Danni:  YES. Every time I saw Aspen I wanted him to die. That extends to the sequel, which I’ve already read.
8)  Where there any inconsistencies that were a problem for you?
Suzi:  Too many.  America doesn’t want to participate in the Selection, even though it would mean everything to her families financial future, and she was more than willing to take a cut of her profits from her family as part of a deal to participate.  That all screams a disregard for her families future, yet all of a sudden we are suppose to buy into America’s all consuming need to stay in the Selection all because her family is getting payed while she is there.
Danni:  Only when you mentioned them! When I looked back at it I realized how flip-floppy America’s personality is. But that doesn’t really bother me, as it can be summed up as rashness in her case, and that can be a personality trait all on its own. Even if that’s a stretch, it’s good enough for me.
9)  I have seen reviews that rave about the simplicity of the story and others where it drives the reader mad.  Where do you stand?
Suzi:  I wasn’t bothered by the simplicity.  I kind of enjoyed it, actually.  While I do wish that the world building was better, the ease of the story can be refreshing.  I am a cozy mystery fan, and The Selection is kind of like cozy dystopian.
Danni: Not bothered at all! It was refreshing and fun to read. I bought the second ten minutes after finishing the first. I think the fluffiness of the plot is what makes the book so appealing. 
10)  What were your first thoughts as the story came to an end?  Before you had any time to process.
Suzi:  Awe shiz!  Another series where there is no proper conclusion to the end.  I don’t know what the hell is up with all of these series authors who think they don’t have to give me a completed story.  I get it that there is more to come, but that’s not how it is supposed to be.  I should be left feeling fulfilled, yet with enough of a tease to leave me wanting more.
Danni: “I loved it!” As I mentioned, I went out and got the next one right away. That’s really why my rating’s going to be so high for The Selection: it was just the exact feeling I was looking for, even if it wasn’t the plot I was looking for. If I was rating how good a book it was, all of these expectations and inconsistencies would have definitely knocked down the rating, but I decided to rate it by enjoyment.
Danni’s Overall Star Rating: 4 
Despite its many lackings, I really just enjoyed this book. It was light and fluffy and cute and I loved the prince and enjoyed his interactions with America. My biggest peeve was that I didn’t get to learn anything about most of the other girls, but while I was reading this was easy to accept because I was enjoying the story.
Suzi’s Overall Star Rating: 3
The Selection is an easy quick read with an interesting premise.  I didn’t feel much, but I was entertained.  I would have liked to have felt some danger when it was clear that is what the author intended, and I would have liked to have felt a connection between Maxon and America.  Instead I found myself thinking that he should send her ass home.  Hopefully there will be more of a connection in the next book.

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A Worthwhile Read- Review: The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

16069030As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

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Series Review- The Giver Quartet by Louis Lowry

I just finished Son, the last book in The Giver series by Louis Lowry. I don’t think I need to add a synopsis, because it feels like by now everyone’s already heard of the series, so I’m just going to do a few short lines of mini-review as a nod to Louis Lowry, and for others to consider if they want to continue the series or not. Sure took me long enough, huh?

8309278 I think the most remarkable thing about The Giver Quartet is actually its simplicity. In most cases, during all of the stories, what is discussed- what happens to make up the meat of the novels- is simply everyday life. Lowry spares no details making a world that is so unlike our own and yet so immersible. By the end of the quartet, it’s likely that an observant reader could go into any of the mentioned societies- even the strict-ruled community- and fit right in. But somehow, this attention to rules and everyday life is not boring. In fact, I’d argue that watching how these people live is the most interesting part of the stories. Foreshadowing is greatly used, so while you’re enjoying all of these little activities, you still have a sense of curiosity and unease that will keep you reading. It’s so well done, really, it’s no wonder that this series is so well loved.

 

 

 

 

15816557Gathering Blue follows the life of Kira, a newly orphaned cripple in a cruel society that finds flaws a justifiable reason for murder. This was probably my favorite book in the series; I loved Kira and Matty and the theme of the impending song. Ultimately as a series, one of my biggest disappointments in The Giver Quartet is that the plot in Gathering Blue wasn’t really elaborated on. In fact, this book seemed to have no importance at all in the grand scheme of things. Had you taken Gathering Blue out of the series, the reader would still be able to perfectly understand everything that happens. Sure, you wouldn’t know Kira as well, but Kira wasn’t important at all in any book except for this one, unlike Jonas, Matty, and Gabe. Not to mention that the main conflict here was left completely unresolved? Not a prize-winner. It makes me wonder whether Lowry had a different direction in mind when she wrote Gathering Blue, but chose to scrap all of that by the time The Messenger came out. It’s actually pretty disappointing, since I’d say Gathering Blue was my favorite book in the series.

 

 

 

9834117Loved this one! I was happy to see Matty grow into a good young man. Lowry has a talent in writing about conflict without violence or direct reproach. I was happy when Trademaster was further explained in Son, and what impressed me most about Messenger was the flow. Lowry’s books were easy to read, and I got the idea that the world was so developed in her mind that they were easy to write, too. These novels are easy to lose yourself in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

13324841And lastly, the big finale. We get to once again delve into the black-and-white world of the community in Son, and it was nice to see Jonas’s story from a different side. I think people that loved The Giver will love Son more than the other two books in the quartet. Has anyone else noticed that Lowry has a thing for wise adults taking care of children in her books? The Giver cared for Jonas, Annabella cared for Kira, Seer cared for Matty, and Alys cared for Claire. Somehow, despite the fact that all of these books seem to have the same wise parent-figure and different variations of the confused young’uns, it just doesn’t get old for me.

 

 

 

 

 

What about everyone else? What did you think of the ending? Did you like some books in the series more than the others? Did the writing style resonate for you as well as it did for me? I want to know your thoughts!

 

Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Boys

17675462“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

 

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Top Ten Tuesday! Romances for People that Don’t Read Romance

toptentuesday2

Aaaand I’m back with Top Ten Tuesday! This week’s prompt is a freebee, but I’ve decided to go with The Broke and The Bookish’s prompt for it. It’s a good one! Especially since I’ve heard that Romance is one of the least favorite genres among bloggers. And I’d have to say, I agree, for the most part. But something about romance in ANOTHER genre, like a cherry on top, always appeals to me- especially when it’s well done. Here are my Top Three picks! (Yes, I’m cheating, but to be fair I’m only putting books I absolutely loved in this post. Quality over quantity, people.)

 

For those who love sci-fi:

1) Cress by Marissa Meyer

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Cress is on the top of the list for a reason: it is amazing in so many ways, with so many great moments; I loved this book. But one of my favorite things was the romance between Cress and Captain Thorne, which was less like a romance and more like a fangirl’s obsession and a player’s flirting at the beginning, that really bloomed into something significant. I have so many excerpts in mind that I could insert for this post, but I wouldn’t want to spoil anything! How can I say this book NEEDS to be read in the way that I feel it? But that’s impossible. Just know that it’s amazing. Scarlet, the second in this series also had a good romance side-plot, but Cress takes the cake.

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Review: The Poison Eaters and Other Stories by Holly Black

The Poison Eaters and Other Stories

6422595Pick your poison: Vampires, devils, werewolves, faeries, or . . . ? Find them all here in Holly Black’s amazing first collection.

In her debut collection, New York Times best-selling author Holly Black returns to the world of Tithe in two darkly exquisite new tales. Then Black takes readers on a tour of a faerie market and introduces a girl poisonous to the touch and another who challenges the devil to a competitive eating match. Some of these stories have been published in anthologies such as 21 Proms, The Faery Reel, and The Restless Dead, and many have been reprinted in many “Best of ” anthologies.

The Poison Eaters is Holly Black’s much-anticipated first collection, and her ability to stare into the void—and to find humanity and humor there—will speak to young adult and adult readers alike.

 

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