“The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer” by Michelle Hodkin

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer, #1)(Author: Michelle Hodkin) + (Year: 2011) + (Goodreads)


Review:

I keep YA novels as my refuge for whenever I am feeling down, or whenever I have read a particularly bad/boring/tough book. That’s how this entire series ended up staying on the last page of my Kindle for years.

Well… I could have gone several more years without it, to be honest.

The premise of the book is quite good and at the beginning, I was pretty excited by the mysterious and ominous atmosphere. And that’s where things ended.

I really could make up my mind about what this book was supposed to even be. Romance? Horror? Parody?

I guess I will go with… a dream. It’s the author’s dream of what she’d like to have in life. The main character is a rather dull, very unsociable and awkward teenager. After losing her best friend, Mara moved to a new school where from a total nobody, she turned into a superstar because of her charmbrainswits… Errm so it might be because of…

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Which is the only compliment anyone ever gives her, outside of her boyfriend.

And don’t even get me started on the boyfriend. A.K.A the most perfect human that ever lived, or so says the author. Has a posh English accent, has read hundreds or even thousands of books, quotes entire pages of Lolita like it’s nobody’s business, drives a fancy car, has a multimillionaire/billionaire father, is worshiped by everyone in school, is handsome as hell, has beautiful eyes, has a lovely soft hair, is very possessive and willing to fight for his girl, is a great kisser, doesn’t kiss and tell, has superpowers. Excuse you. It’s not really like he’s a person at all. The author basically made a character who is 70% Ken doll and 30% British Captain America figurine.

And so this highly unlikely pair happens to match perfectly and create a super-duo. In a great lovestory adventure! Oh, wait… no. In a YA horror story? Not really?! So what are these two actually doing, even?

The entire supernatural story was not much more convincing than the love one. The events were rather scattered and random and I wasn’t even sure I cared to find out what’s going on because there was this general notion of:

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“Going Postal, Discworld #33” by Terry Pratchett

Going Postal (Discworld, #33; Moist von Lipwig, #1)(Author: Terry Pratchett) + (Year: 2004) + (Goodreads)


Review:

Going Postal definitely ranks among my top 3 Discworld books. That is to say, Equal Rites will ALWAYS be my favourite, as it was my first, and the one that got me into Terry Pratchett to begin with. After that, the list gets blurrier, but nevertheless, Going Postal is among best.

I saw the Going Postal movie no fewer than 3 years ago and I loved it. Which was my reason to postpone reading this book after I suffered from a severe Terry Pratchett fatigue. Now I’m back, and I’m happy to be here.

Going Postal is essentially a book about hope. Whatever else is happening in this book, it’s actually a wide frame of the story of hope.

“And this was known as the greatest of treasures, which is Hope. It was a good way of getting poorer really very quickly, and staying poor. It could be you. But it wouldn’t be.”

And then later in the book:

“Welcome to fear, said Moist to himself. It’s hope, turned inside out. You know you can’t go wrong. You’re sure it can’t go wrong…

But it might.”

Moist, as a character, is a personification of the efforts to be good. Or to be better. The struggle against the easy way out, which is to just take what you want (and not even need), as opposed to struggling and fighting for what’s worth it. I found Moist mightily gratifying to read about. He was just my type of a main character, crooked and wicked, but motivated to achieve more; aware of his flaws, morally ambiguous, willing to take a wild chance; Attempting to do the impossible, because where is the challenge, otherwise?

I liked the secondary characters a lot too. They were all cleverly constructed and very interesting. I know that many would say that this is always the case with Terry Pratchett, but I have grown to feel a gap between his books. As in, same author, same world, and yet there are ones that I loved, like Going Postal, and ones that I really, truly hated. And usually, I can set the difference with the witches (whom I adore) and everyone else, most of all the guards, who don’t interest me in the slightest. However, in Going Postal the characters are definitely not magical, but are awesome nevertheless.

I also found something else I was afraid I would never experience again: marveling at Pratchett’s cleverness. It’s just that whenever I dislike the story, I fail to pay attention to the details, and while this is a character flaw, I feel that it is more or less justified with the idea that you can’t force yourself to like something, and the more you dislike it, the more you dislike everything about it.

Going Postal has given me a new push into the Discworld, and I’m excited to read to the end of the series sometime in the not-so-distant future.

“Ten Thousand Skies Above You” by Claudia Gray

Ten Thousand Skies Above You (Firebird, #2)

(Author: Claudia Gray) + (Year: 2015) + (Goodreads)


Review:

*** 3.5 stars ***

I read the first book of this series last year: A Thousand Pieces of You. I admit, I was pleasantly surprised. Then coming to this second installment, I did not know how to feel. Yes, sure, the first book offered good grounds for a second one, but series often tend to disappoint. And proof to the fact is that I was disappointed by Ten Thousand Skies Above You.

The simplest explanation is that I just couldn’t get into it. Something felt off the entire time. Blah-blah-blah-splintered-souls-blah-blah-I’m-the-perfect-traveler-blah-blah-Paul-Paul-Paul-Theo? That is honestly the best summary I can give you. The thing is, and I wrote about this last time, too, no matter how they try to sell you the Firebird series, ultimately it is a romance. If you have come searching for sci-fi, you will not get it, most of all, because the main character and narrator, Marguerite, simply has no idea what is happening. She does not understand the scientific part of the Firebird project, she only knows that she is perfect and she will mention it in every chapter, lest you forget.

Also, there is romance and there is sappy-soulmates-forever-you-are-my-destiny romance. This is the latter. It was not as obvious in the first novel because they were still setting the grounds for this. But I cannot tell you how many times in Ten Thousand Skies Above You Marguerite managed to decide that destiny and fate exist, that there is such a thing as soulmates and that Paul is hers… but is he? Every couple of chapters she would have the same inner monologue and present it like it is the first time the reader has to read this boring mutterings of an annoying artsy-fartsy high-schooler who thinks she is the smartest person to ever live. She isn’t. I think that even the author got fed up with her by the end of the book:

“Then I realize how stupid we’ve been not to guess that another dimension was in on it…(I will skip some of the spoilers here). We should have known that from the beginning. Because Triad means three.”

And not long after:

“Romola gives me an odd look. “The name of the company has nothing to do with dimensions. How could it?”

Hahahahaah. Oh, Romola, give her a break, she thought she is brilliant.

Basically it was Marguerite that annoyed me the most in this book. She was very childish, indecisive and over-praised. Actual serious events were dismissed while tiny details were blown out of proportion for the sake of her tantrums. Nah.

What I did like about the book was the setting and Claudia Gray’s creativity when it comes to world building. I enjoyed exploring the dimensions, despite the fact that I had no warm feelings toward the narrator. I found the small differences, the big ones, the giant ones, very interesting to follow, even though they raised some questions for me.

For example, one can see how a world could be just slightly different, instead of tPhone there would be an iPhone and so on. But how do you logically assume that at the same time, let’s say 2016, there would be a dimension where people would still be living in conditions similar to the Roman empire. I am not challenging the book as much as asking a legitimate question. Which or how many events would have had to happen differently in order for the Roman empire to not only survive 100 or 200 years more, but two thousand years more?

“Geek Girl” series by Holly Smale

(Author: Holly Smale)

Geek Girl  {Year: 2013 + Goodreads}
Model Misfit  {Year: 2013 + Goodreads}
Picture Perfect  {Year: 2014 + Goodreads}


Review:

Meet the lovechild of Shopaholic’s Becky Bloom and Josie from Love and Other Foreign Words – Harriet. She is a know-it-all, loves to share unnecessary information with people, loves to study and no matter what she does, accidents happen and everything has to hit absolute rock bottom before it gets better. Since the last part was something characteristic for Becky Bloom as well, I’d say that it’s a trend in British literature, at least I haven’t read any American books in which there is so much dramedy.

I can’t really say I was impressed by this series. I’ve read far worse books so maybe the rating of 3 is a bit less that it should be. Sadly, I’m sticking to the GoodReads rating system, meaning I can’t give half stars, otherwise I would rate this a s a 3.5.The Geek Girl series are short and easy to read, funny and relaxing.

( l o v e d ) There were some fantastic recurring characters too: Robert/Dad, Rin, Wilbur and Annabel, though out of the four, she was my least favourite.

– I would like to say that despite being a bit childish, Robert is such a cute father. I don’t think I’ve read about a more likable father, who is not a main character(can’t actually think of a main character too, but I want to point out that usually dads with secondary roles are either absent, or assholes, or absent assholes). I was positively squeeing each time Harriet and her dad have a father-daughter moment.

Rin was absolutely adorable and I honestly think she was really badly treated by Harriet. In all of her travels she was trying to make friends and the ONLY girl, aside from Nat, who actually treated her good was completely ignored. I see it like: Harriet wants to make a friend and the moment she’s secure that Rin is actually her friend, she feels no need to pay any additional attention to her. Not to mention that Harriet only has eyes for Nick, but more on that later.

– I recently started watching a Turkish soap opera/comedy called Kiraz Mevsimi(The Season of Cherries) and it’s about a girl trying to make it in the fashion business and she meets a super famous designer’s male assistant called Olcay. Bang! Wilbur. If you haven’t seen the show, you are most likely not going to be able to get this, but it’s him, it really is. The way that Olcay acts and speaks, it’s all so Wilbur, except that Olcay is sort of evil.
Also, I find if very endearing that Wilbur is always there for Harriet and is so very accepting of her.

Annabel is annoying most of the time. But there are moments, such as the end of Geek Girl, when she really comes through and I love her for it.

( l o v e d ) Big part of Model Misfit is set in Tokyo and despite the fact that I mostly hate Harriet’s constant blabber, I really loved the information she provides about Tokyo and for the first time in my life I felt this giant desire to go there. My favourite author is Haruki Murakami and one would’ve expected that just based on that I’d have already put Japan on my bucket list, but promoting Tokyo’s beauty has never been a part of Murakami’s books and it too me until now to see the city in such a light that I gained this immense desire to go there.

( m o s t l y  d i s l i k e d ) Harriet. First off, I don’t see what’s there to brag about being the “one and same person” with someone. I’d feel really offended if someone told me that I’m the same like someone else. Harriet is proud of it though – somewhere in the first ten pages of Geek Girl. What I also don’t get is this fixation with absolute losers as main characters. In YA fantasy the female characters are completely perfect little snowflakes and if anyone ever want’s to do them harm, it’s only because they are jealous. In normal YA, though, the girls are always… well, geeks.

I remember a few years ago it was fashionable to fat-shame girls. Now people like Kim Kardashian, Nicki Minaj and whoever-Traynor have turned the tables and girls are being skinny-shamed. Same goes in literature – people who want to be normal and accepted by their peers, are being made out to look like posers, bullies and ultimately either faceless idiots or monsters. I assume this is to make all of the people out there who think they are losers feel a bit better about themselves because in the books they read only geeks can be good and everyone else is bad. How about this: why don’t we try to NOT make anyone feel bad about themselves??? I mean, enough is enough. It’s always black or white. If you’re not a geek, than you are stupid for not being ~special~ and different. What if I want to have friends and want to read books? What if I have a boyfriend and NOT have Asperger’s? It would do wonders if everyone tried to be nice, instead of preaching for everyone who’s not a loser to be chastised. Because, honestly, I’d tell Harriet to shove it too. To everyone who thinks I’m being rude, do please think about this: do you really, really like it when someone is non-stop talking and talking and talking about stuff that you really don’t care about?

The moments when I did not in fact hate Harriet were the ones where she was sad. I felt protective. So maybe my feelings towards her are of an annoyed older sister. I hate her but I love her.

( d i s l i k e d ) How Nick is like a normal scoundrel for 90% of the book, meaning he is acting like a real boy, the ones that are everywhere and are not made up, and in the last 10% he turns into a saint and bless his soul and so on. In real life he’d just stay an ass. Too bad these books are so optimistic, otherwise Harriet would never become his girlfriend. I mean… she is described by multiple characters as having a lazy eye. I’m not saying that I like bad-Nick, I’m just saying I’d tolerate him more if he were a bit more realistic. I’d give Smale brownie points for keeping it real.