Review: The Tragedy Paper

The Tragedy Paper

 

I was originally drawn to this book 1) for the cover and 2) for the synopsis. The story of an albino male student going to a prestigious school befriends one of the hottest girls in school. But something happens… a tragedy… and nobody would see it coming.

Most of the story is told from Tim’s POV, the albino. He had left his story burned onto CDs for Duncan to listen to. Duncan is a new senior to the Irving School and Tim was a year ahead of him. Duncan has a few chapters sprinkled throughout the book. He talks about his relationship struggles with Daisy and basic school issues, but the primary focus is on Tim’s story and how his life was changed forever after meeting Vanessa, one of the “it” girls at Irving. Vanessa was eccentric, confident, and knew who she was. However, she was in a bad relationship with Patrick. The entire time I kept wondering what this “event” was that Tim and Duncan kept referencing. I kept thinking it would be something earth shattering and mind blowing but to me it wasn’t. It was an unfortunate event, but not nearly what I expected based on the build up throughout the entire story.

The more I read of this story, the more I kept wondering why I was still listening. It started to fizzle out and make me become disconnected from the characters. Speaking of characters… I had major issues with Tim’s character. I guess I understood why he had instalove (GAH!) with Vanessa but not 100%. Their relationship did not feel organic or natural. It felt like all of the feelings were coming from Tim and he reacted the way he did because he chose to live such a sheltered life. As I mentioned, he was born albino and he let that define who he was as a person. He was always too afraid to talk to anyone so he stayed away from people (I am guessing as there was really not much background given for any character). It seemed Vanessa was the first female to give Tim the time of day so he jumped to instalove with her. He was borderline obsessed with her, actually. He could do nothing but eat, sleep, and breath her even though she did not return the feelings. I did not read that as being sweet or sincere because any male being that obsessed with a female (or anyone, for that matter) is always creepy. Since I felt his overall character was underdeveloped and lacked depth, I never connected with him. I also did not like how he constantly neglected to take care of his health. He chose time and time again to not wear his prescribed glasses outdoors because he wanted to look cool for Vanessa, even though he knew it would lead to a disastrous outcome.  He repeatedly ignore strong signs that there was something wrong medically so I could not really feel sorry for him. It made me so furious because he knew what he needed to do but chose not to for fear it would not make him popular.

Vanessa’s character was not much more developed than Tim’s. She came across as the free spirit that did whatever made her happy but that was not true. She was in a toxic relationship with a guy named Patrick. She knew it was bad and she chose to do nothing about it. What did she do when things got too much for her to handle? She ran to Tim because she knew he would drop everything for her. To me, the girl was using Tim. She had a connection that she chose to overlook because Patrick was “such a nice guy when he wanted to be”. Sweetie, that’s called abuse. That’s a terrible relationship and you know it yet you don’t want to do anything about it. Pulling Tim into that nastiness was a jerk move. But it went on like that throughout the entire story. Patrick was the stereotypical bully that treated women like crap and used violence to get what he wanted. These two characters together were just awful. She let him get away with stuff and he knew it. Did either of them really care about Tim? Probably not.

Besides the characters, the pacing felt off and the plot weak. Since Tim narrated most of the story, it was super slow moving. The boy felt it necessary to describe – in great detail – things that had no overall impact on the story. Do I care that the girl’s dorm at the school had doors painted different colors? (No, it never played a part in the story.) Do I care that every single food item served to the students was from local farmers that were self-sustaining? Not really. Do I care that the burgers were from grass-fed cows? Not one bit. There were so many items that were explained in great detail that were unnecessary. It drug the book out and made it twice as long as it needed to be. The “big tragedy” that was talked about constantly by Tim was not as tragic as he made it out to be. Weaksauce, actually. How Duncan became so engrossed in this flashback retelling is beyond me.

What is a tragedy is that I feel for the cover and blurb of this story. It was a quick read but oh man was it painful. I would not recommend to anyone for the reasons listed above: underdeveloped characters, terrible pacing, and weak plot. Do yourself a favor and read another story.

 

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Waiting on Wednesday: Reign the Fallen

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share a book that we are eagerly anticipating!

This week’s pre-publication “can’t-wait-to-read” selection is:

 

Reign the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh

Reign of the Fallen

 

 

From Goodreads:

Odessa is one of Karthia’s master necromancers, catering to the kingdom’s ruling Dead. Whenever a noble dies, it’s Odessa’s job to raise them by retrieving their souls from a dreamy and dangerous shadow world called the Deadlands. But there is a cost to being raised–the Dead must remain shrouded, or risk transforming into zombie-like monsters known as Shades. If even a hint of flesh is exposed, the grotesque transformation will begin.

A dramatic uptick in Shade attacks raises suspicions and fears among Odessa’s necromancer community. Soon a crushing loss of one of their own reveals a disturbing conspiracy: someone is intentionally creating Shades by tearing shrouds from the Dead–and training them to attack. Odessa is faced with a terrifying question: What if her necromancer’s magic is the weapon that brings Karthia to its knees?

 

That cover. Holy smokes I am the heart eye emoji when it comes to that cover. Have you heard of this one? No doubt it’s already on your TBR, right? 🙂

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’m Looking Forward To In 2018

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every week they have a different theme for bloggers to post their top tens about, and this week I’m listing…

Books I’m Looking Forward To In 2018

 

Obsidio

 

Obsidio (The Illuminae Files, #3)

 

 

My Plain Jane

My Plain Jane (The Lady Janies, #2)

 

 

Legendary

Legendary (Caraval, #2)

 

 

Ace of Shades

Ace of Shades (The Shadow Game #1)

 

 

Puddin’

Puddin' (Dumplin', #2)

 

 

To Kill A Kingdom

To Kill a Kingdom

 

 

Furyborn

Furyborn (The Empirium Trilogy, #1)

 

 

Defy the Worlds

Defy the Worlds (Constellation, #2)

 

 

Blood and Sand

Blood and Sand

 

 

Tyler Johnson Was Here

Tyler Johnson Was Here

 

This topic was tough! I am excited for so many books releasing in 2018! What books are you excited to read next year? Are they on my list? If not, let me know! I’m always excited to add books to my TBR!

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ARC Review: Love, Hate, and Other Filters

Love, Hate & Other Filters

 

**MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED**

 

I have a lot of feels when it comes to this book and not all of them are good. I was so very excited to read this as there is a lot of positive hype around it. This type of story is needed in the YA community, a Muslim MC dealing with racism, stereotypes, and generational issues. Brilliant topics but I just don’t believe those topics were handled well by the MC and that is where I lost my connection to the story.

Short recap: Maya is an Indian-American Muslim teenager living in Chicago with her Indian-born/raised parents. Maya has the strong will and attitude of an American teenager with some of the beliefs and manners of her Indian parents. Maya’s life starts to spin out of control when her parents start to introduce her to “nice Indian boys” in preparation for a potential marriage arrangement (for when she gets older and out of school) but Maya doesn’t want an arranged marriage. She wants to focus on her filmmaking and going to NYU for college. The thing is that her parents do not know that she has been accepted into NYU, let alone that she applied. Plus things become tense and frightful for the Indian-Muslim community after a terrorist bombing at a local company building and the person responsible is believed to be an Indian-Muslim and just so happens to share the same last name as Maya’s family.

I have to start off by saying there was a lot happening in this story. First, the chapters switches from Maya’s POV to interludes from the terrorist’s POV. This was completely odd and most of the time did not make sense. I do not feel this added a deeper meaning or insightfulness to the story. The very short clips from the terrorist’s POV did nothing more than confuse the reader into trying to figure out what was going on. When they started, I struggled to understand the need to include these “chapters”. The only thing the really succeeded in doing was break up Maya’s narrative. I just do not believe they had a place in this contemporary story.

Second, there were a lot of topics/issues touched upon and yet I don’t feel they all needed to be crammed into this book. They were all great topics that deserve a place and face within YA, however, I don’t think they all needed to be forced into this particular story. The story starts of like a wonderful contemporary, coming-of-age story that was rather slow, then BAM! everything speeds out of control with a suicide bombing about half way through. While these events were terrible and heart breaking, I didn’t feel they were completely necessary to move the story along. I don’t know if they were added more for shock value but it pulled the story out of a contemporary feeling and into more of a real-life-fiction story (if that makes sense). The pacing of the entire book was off so maybe it felt magnified in the last half of the book because so many horrible things happen (suicide bombing, racism, bullying, assault, vandalism). The ending felt rushed and I did not jive with the “resolution”. I did not like the ending at all.

Now onto the characters. The only character I liked was Maya’s best friend, Violet. I like how she always stood up for herself and her friends. She knew how to throw back in someone’s face and she was fearless. I liked her a lot. Maya? Not so much. She was one of the most love-sick/love-obsessed, wishy-washy characters I’ve read in awhile. I felt she spent a majority of the book wanting to be in love and wanting to be kissed. That made her come across far more immature than her age. She acted more like a preteen than a girl about to graduate high school and go off to college. She was even involved in a dreaded love triangle (groan). She was head over heels instalust with Phil, the boy she had a crush on for years and she was instalike with Kaleem, the much older Indian boy her family tried to push her towards. (I’ll discuss the boys in a moment.) She prided herself on being a devout Indian-Muslim-American but it was more about what makes a good Indian-Muslim-American daughter – marrying the right Indian boy. The topic of “the right marriage” was the primary thing Maya’s parents discussed and it became tiring. They pushed that one topic hard on Maya and the girl was still way too young to think about marriage. She was still in high school! I know there is so much more to being in an Indian-Muslim-American family than just the right marriage but sadly it was not portrayed in this story.

Now, continuing on with Maya and why I was not her biggest fan… I mentioned that she came across immature due to her instalove/instalust over Phil. The girl really could think of nothing but dancing with Phil in the rain or kissing under the blossom trees just after the rain just like in the movies. Everything she she thought she knew about love came from what she saw in movies. I cannot say that is the most realistic expectation to set but I didn’t write this book. In addition to relating romance scenes to that of fictional movies, Maya came across as a petulant teenager that knew everything about everything about everything. She professed to having a great relationship with her parents – who truly did want nothing but the best for her – but she was not nice to them at all. They gave her everything but she still chose to go behind their backs to apply for her dream college. If she had such a great relationship with them, why wouldn’t she sit them down for a civilized mature talk about what she wanted? Instead she applied, got accepted, and hands down told them she was going. I don’t blame her parents for being mad. I don’t agree with them disowning her but maybe that was part of the Indian-Muslim culture, I am not sure. It was not discussed. That forced the ending to be super rushed and the ending felt completely unresolved and just … there. Talk about a major disappointment.

Still talking about Maya… I absolutely, positively, without a shadow of a doubt did not agree with how she behaved or her decisions after her attack during a school sponsored event. The girl had been the victim of a hate crime and suffered a fractured elbow along with a bruised thigh and she still chose to run away from home. Are you kidding me? She knew there was a possibility of something else awful happening to her and she still ran away without telling a soul while on pain medication. Get out of here with that noise. Her parents’ dental practice had been vandalized (hate crime), she had been attacked (hate crime), and verbally assaulted (hate crime) on several occasions and yet, in her infinite wisdom, thought it was the absolute right idea to run away from home for a couple of days knowing her family would lose their mind with worry and inform the police. Did she care? Not one bit. After she was found and returned home, she had nothing more to say to the police other than, “Sorry, I wigged out”. QUOTE / UNQUOTE. (Nobody uses that phrase anymore.) And what did she say to her parents? “Sorry, I just needed some time away.” Sweetie, you are on heavy duty pain meds and after what you just went through, you should not be running away without telling a soul. That was the dumbest decision ever. I almost stopped reading at that point but I was just pages away from finishing so I kept on. I skimmed, but I kept going.

I know I went on a lot about Maya but she really did break this story for me. I couldn’t agree or understand her actions. I feel let down because she started out so strong and lost that spark after gushing with heart eye emojis the entire story. The boys, Phil and Kaleem, were there to create an unnecessary love triangle. That did not add anything to the story because I already knew who she was going to pick, it was no surprise. Phil read as if he was too perfect and Kaleem was kind of creepy as he was 20+ years old and already in college. He was so chill and laid back that I had to wonder if he had a backbone at all. The kid never stood up for himself. I was not a fan of either.

The one thing this book had going for it was the fact it was a super quick read (less than 250 pages). I still believe too many serious topics were forced into the story and they did not all need to be there. The last half of the book was far more rushed than the first and the ending was a huge disappointment. Nothing was resolved and I walked away confused. As I say with other books I don’t always enjoy: Maybe I am not the right reader for this story. I know it will be a massive smash with other readers and perhaps I am the odd reader out. I’m okay with that. Not every book is for every reader. If you read this and loved it, come back and let me know.

 

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Books Left Unread #106

Wallpaper-Books

Books Left Unread

Welcome to my blog post where I talk about the books I have been meaning to read, but just have not yet. You know what I am talking about – the books that have remained unread for various reasons yet when you see them you think, “You know, I really need to read that.” Instead you get distracted by another book, series, or something in your TBR pile. It happens to the best of us. I want to spotlight those books in the hope that I can persuade myself to move them up on my TBR list.

This week’s post is dedicated to:

Violent Ends edited by Shaun David Hutchinson

Violent Ends

 

Just typing this makes me want to read this one more. This has been on my wish list for a while and I recently came into a copy. I love Shaun’s other novels so maybe I should push this up on my list…

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Review: The Last Namsara

The Last Namsara (Iskari, #1)

 

I’m not one hundred percent sure how to write this review. Why? Because this story had strong potential but I do not feel it delivered on what it promised. It did start off really well with actual dragons (!!!) and badass female characters but then it turned boring.

I’m going to <s>steal</s> borrow the Goodreads synopsis because I’m not sure I could properly relay what this story <i>should</i> be about: “In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be darkness—and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death-bringer.

These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up learning in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari—a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.

Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm. When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend—a slave boy from her betrothed’s household—Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her.”

Yeah, I would not have been able to short recap this one at all, sorry. Now I do want to stress that this story is not bad or awful by any stretch. What made me lose interested was the pacing and the not so shocking reveals about Asha (the protagonist). I’ll start with one topic at a time.

The pacing of this story is really and truly what made me almost fall asleep. The first half of the book was somewhat strong. There were battles and dragon fights, swords and bloodshed. It was action packed… and then it stopped. It turned into a weak slow moving story. Nothing was happening. There was so much potential but it was lost in the delivery of this story. Too much detail was given to events/people/things that just did not matter in the overall story.

The characters were kind of forgettable. I know that sounds harsh but it’s true. I never connected with them as they always felt too guarded. They were not forthcoming with thoughts or emotions that would have let me see them as a person on a journey/mission. They felt flat and standoffish. Asha is the protagonist and such a badass but I never connected with her. I did not feel anything for her. Everything just felt too predictable when it came to revelations of her past so I could only shrug and think, “Saw that coming a mile away”. The relationship between Asha and Torwin was ho-hum at best. I felt no emotion between those characters at all. Torwin was yet another character that had so much potential but just felt like another character plucked from the shadows to be thrust into the spotlight.

Asha battled actual dragons, fire breathing dangerous dragons. That was  refreshing to read. Most of the time if dragons are included in a fantasy story, they talk or have human-like qualities. I don’t prefer those characterizations of dragons. Just call me old fashioned that way. However, not every dragon in this story was out to kill humans. There are some that acted like lost puppy dogs and it felt… weird. And how am I to believe that the oldest and meanest dragon was tamed by a human that told old stories? I think I missed why that happened but I’m pretty sure it was never explained. It never made sense to me.

Guys, I wanted to love this story. I wanted to be swept away in this epic fantasy world but it just did not happen. I felt distanced from the characters and the plot. It story just did not do it for me. The pacing felt off, the plot weak with huge holes, and forgettable characters. Part of me is curious about the next book in this series but a bigger part is worried it might suffer from Book 2 Syndrome. That or it will be a continuation (in all manners) of this book.

 

 

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Review: Factory Girl

Factory Girl

 

This book had been on my radar for a while. I kept seeing it offered by my library (Overdrive) and it really caught my attention. Finally one day I took the plunge and read it. HOLY. SCHNIKES. I was not ready for the seriousness of this story but I am so glad I read it.

Roshen is a teenager girl that is forced to work as a member of the Hubei Work Wear Company in Asia. That is actually code for indentured labor. Roshen and other girls always heard working for this company was a great adventure and a wonderful experience. However, it turned out to be a living nightmare, one most girls never escape from. Nobody knows this before Roshen is forced to go because if she doesn’t, her family will lose everything under the Transferring Surplus Labor Force to Inner China policy. Not wanting to risk the livelihood of her family, Roshen agrees to go, leaving behind the love of her life.

Once Roshen arrives in Asia, she is immediately put to work. She is forced to work very long hours in horrific conditions, fed very little food (most of which was against her religion to eat), lied to about pay, and isolated from everyone & everything. Roshen was obviously not the only girl in the factory, she is just one of dozens forced to work 16+ hours a day on very little food and sleep. Each one of the girls has a different way to cope with the tragedy they have found themselves in. Two of the girls, Mikray and Hawa, have found dangerous ways to deal: Mikray tries to escape a lot and Hawa tried to make nice with the factory owner. Roshen has a different approach – she recites tradition poetry from her childhood.

I really connected with Roshen and her experiences. I wanted to reach into the book and pull her out of that monstrous situation. While she proved to be the voice and strength that the rest of the girls pulled from, a part of me wished Roshen was not as passive as she was. I wanted to see a little more fight from her and not so much rolling over and going belly up. There were a lot of other characters in the story and they all served their part, but none of them were was developed as they could have been. Even if it had been one or two additional strong characters, that would have been amazing. Mikray was the rebel, without a doubt, but she felt like she was filling a particular role. Same with Hawa and the others. The relationship and bond they all had was beautiful to witness but I just wanted a wee bit more strength.

No matter what, this story was not for the faint of heart. The author, who based this story on experiences she had while traveling through China, did not shy away from gruesome details. It felt like it could be too much for certain YA readers. The talk of young girls being sold into slavery or sold for human trafficking, teens being forced to work long hours while being whipped in the leg with a cane, or the a sick girl being forced to sleep in a dirty bed may really be too much. I’m an older YA reader and I had moments where I had to put this down and walk away because it was too much real life. Do not go into this thinking it is a feel good read. It is a long painful journey to get to the end, and even once you get there it seemed rushed. I am glad I read this but it still fills me with a bit of unease. I would not recommend this to everyone but if you are curious, I suggest you give it a try but go slow. The shock factor could be too much.

 

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