Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Rosie Project | Graeme Simsion


Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.

Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don's Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.

+4 Cover Design

I actually really like this cover. If I saw it on a bookshelf, my eyes would be immediately attracted to it. The covers pops and there's really great contrast between the fonts and the cover. I have to say I really, really like it. 

+4 Writing Style

The writing style was above average, but not spectacular. It didn't hinder me from understanding the storyline but it didn't do anything to enhance my experience either. 

+3 Plot Development

Generally, I'm not much of a rom-com person, and while this book was hilarious, the plot had quite a few holes in it. I'm going to discuss this further in the spoiler-filled discussion but the plot developed almost too conveniently, to the point where it was unbelievable at some points.  

+4 Character Relations

While the relationship between Rosie and Don was fairly predictable, I really enjoyed the relationship between all of the other characters. Gene and his wife had a very interesting relationship that I'm going to explore in the spoiler-filled section. The interactions in this book were what made it a unique storyline. Combining this variety of people with a variety of beliefs, made for an interesting dynamic throughout the novel. 

+2 Character Development

Character development and predictability were the two biggest problems I had throughout this book. The fact that we knew exactly the direction of the character development made the story a lot less exciting. But there was also the fact that the development was a slow incline throughout the majority of the book and a steep increase in the last 20 pages. He literally changed overnight which was completely unbelievable and unrealistic to me. 

+3 Likability of Protagonist

In the case of this particular book, I'm pretty sure the protagonist wasn't supposed to be likable, at least not in the traditional sense. Throughout the entirety of the book I pictured him as Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory and though he didn't have the normal positive characters we typically look for, he wasn't a bad character at all. His lack of social presence gave him a comic edge that most of the other characters didn't have. 

+5 Necessity of Minor Characters

For me, it was the minor characters that made this book. Even those characters that didn't have names were phenomenal. Their interactions and reactions to Don were really entertaining and I feel like I was more invested in those lives and storylines than I was in the main plot. 

+3 Setting Description

I don't have anything exceptional to say about the setting. I could understand and visualize where they were, but it wasn't extraordinary. 

+3 Interesting Storyline

The storyline wasn't uninteresting. I figured going into it that it was a traditional rom-com so I wasn't too surprised at the lack of plot twists. The plot could have been a little more interesting, but it wasn't bad by any means. 

+1  Predictability

This was basically a typical love story: 
Girl meets Boy
Boy and Girl are not compatible 
Girl and Boy hang out a lot together 
Boy and Girl realize they like each other 
Boy and Girl become compatible 

The "science" behind it was interesting but it didn't do too much to detract from the predictability behind the storyline. I will admit I didn't expect the ending at all, but most of that was because I missed a crucial point at the beginning so it was hard to deduce the ending. 

+50 Finished

I actually read this book as the first book in my college's official book club, so it wasn't something I picked up from the Internet. But I have to say I didn't hate it, it's a very cute, relaxing book to read. Definitely something good to read after a hard day at work or school. Going into it I recommend expecting a simple rom-com because other than the comedic scenes, that's really all there is. There are few poignant moments where they briefly touch on the idea of stereotypes, but it's not a central focus of the book. There is a sequel called The Rosie Effect but I honestly probably won't read it simply because I don't feel invested in the characters enough. And this was a good stand-alone novel, I feel like there's nothing more to expand on.

Final Total: 82/100 ; B-

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Tuesday Talks | Book Synopses

Hey guys! Welcome to another Tuesday Talks. Thankfully I've found time this week to sit down and blog so hopefully I'll be posting more reviews and interviews soon, as well as more updates on the college life. Anyways, if you don't already know Tuesday Talks is this really awesome Goodreads group started by Janie and Janelle where we discuss book-related topics every week. Today we're going to be talking about book synopses.

Book synopses are the short summaries usually on the back of the book or on the inside cover that describe what the book is about. I have a theory about book summaries: it's that they never make the book sound interesting. It's usually some cliched and generic summary that's used as a marketing ploy to draw readers in. Don't believe me? Pick up the book nearest to you and read the summary out loud. Odds are that it says something about it being a New York Times Bestseller or that it's a timeless classic or an epic love story. I really believe that rarely, if ever, are synopses a good indication of the actual book.

For example, most of us know and love The Fault in Our Stars as a book past the traditional cancer love story. We love it for its quirky and sarcastic dialogue, as well as the complexities of the characters. Here's its synopsis:

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.

Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning author John Green's most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

I really can't take this summary seriously when it refers to Augustus as "a gorgeous plot twist" in an attempt to market to a demographic of young girls.

Another thing I don't like about synopses are the blatant spoilers, especially in books of a series. There are the more subtle, obvious spoilers; like when a love story says that a couple falls in love in the synopsis. And then there are the spoilers to previous books, summarizing the entire series in a sentence to set the scene for the next book. The whole point of reading is to discover these facts on your own, regardless of how subtle they may be. Summarizing the entire book takes away the fun of going through the journey yourself.

Strangely that doesn't mean I don't read synopses. Unfortunately they're still a good way of deciding whether that book will be of interest to me. I just try not to determine the quality of the book by the quality of the synopsis.

What do you guys think? Do the benefits of a synopsis outweigh the negatives? Leave me some of the dumbest synopses you've found in the comments below! 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children | Ransom Riggs

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs.

A horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

+5 Cover Design

I actually love this cover. It's simple and really gets the idea of the book across. Typically pictures of people don't really work for me, but since the idea of this book heavily involves the use of photographs, I think it definitely works. 

+4 Writing Style

The writing itself didn't really stand out to me but what did stand out was the use of photos incorporated into the novel itself. There was small excerpt that outlined Ransom Riggs's writing process and the way he intertwined the process of creating this story with the process of finding the corresponding photos is just fascinating to me. 

+3 Plot Development

The plot moved at a strange pace and I'm not completely sure how I feel about it. So much of the novel is spent in introducing the characters and the world around Miss Peregrine and her peculiar children and so much of the plot is concentrated in the last two chapters. It wasn't bad plot development, just uneven plot development.

+2 Character Relations

I think my biggest problem with this book was the character relationships, especially that between the protagonist and his parents. There seemed to be a theme throughout the book that Jacob's parents worried about him and loved him, but Jacob's behavior near the end of the book didn't reciprocate that at all. I just didn't feel like the relationships portrayed had any depth to them.  

+1 Character Development

I didn't really see any character development in any of the characters really. The span on the book only stretched three weeks, which isn't that much time, but I hope in the next couple of books we see some growth in Jacob as a character. 

+3 Likability of Protagonist

I didn't love Jacob. He was pretty much like every other male protagonist. Somewhat whiny, kinda dramatic and just generally meh. I didn't outright hate him, but there wasn't anything about him I really loved. 

+4 Necessity of Minor Characters

The importance of the minor characters was what made this book. The pictures and the "powers" were what made this book interesting and different. I really hope Jacob was just a path into this world and in the next few books we focus more on the other characters and their perspective throughout all of this. 

+4 Setting Description

I think the description of the setting was one of the best things done in this book, after the writing format of course. It was easy to follow and descriptive but not descriptive to the point of being overwhelming. 

+3 Interesting Storyline

Again, I didn't hate the storyline but I also didn't love it. It was interesting in some aspects but the pace was uneven like I mentioned before. I hope it picks up soon but as of now I don't have really high expectations. 

+4  Predictability

Thankfully there were plot twists to keep the storyline interesting. 

+50 Finished

Final Total: 83/100 ; B

Overall I've heard a lot of hype behind this book and for some reason it just didn't meet my expectations. It's definitely not as scary as it's made out to be, but there are many people who have thoroughly enjoyed this book and this series, so give this book a try and let me know what you think! 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Sapient | Jerry Kaczmarowski


Abandoned by her husband after the birth of their child, Jane Dixon’s world is defined by her autistic son and the research she does to find a cure for his condition. She knows her work on animal intelligence may hold the key. She also knows that the research will take decades to complete. None of it will ultimately benefit her son.

All that changes when a lab rat named Einstein demonstrates that he can read and write. Just as her research yields results, the U.S. government discovers her program. The army wants to harness her research for its military potential. The CDC wants to shut her down completely. The implications of animal intelligence are too dangerous, particularly when the previously inert virus proves to be highly contagious.

She steals the virus to cure her son, but the government discovers the theft. She must now escape to Canada before the authorities can replace her son’s mental prison with a physical one.

+5 Cover Design

I absolutely love this cover. There's an interesting science-fiction feel to it and it perfectly complements the plot of the book. The colors and font work together perfectly. 

+4 Writing Style

While there was nothing spectacular about the writing, it was definitely good. It was easy to follow and perfectly descriptive. I definitely enjoyed the different perspectives, especially those of the animals. Overall, it was well done. 

+3 Plot Development

Before the last fifty pages I would have given this section a four or a five. But the ending kind of ruined it for me. I was looking forward to this big confrontation when they found Robbie; a conclusion that would have decided the rest of the lives for each of the characters. But the ending had too many surprises, and not the good kind. People and events would see to come out of nowhere, holding no relevance previously in the book. And I did feel like the conclusion simply wrapped up the story in a nice little bow where everything just works out, even though it's not completely realistic. 

+3 Character Relations

Again I would say this section would have been a four or a five before the last fifty pages. We felt a realistic relationship between Robbie and Jane and I think that relationship really did carry a lot of the story. What I don't like is random proclamations of love. I understand that couple was foreshadowed earlier in the book, but there didn't seem to be any development throughout the book which made the declaration of love even more out of place. 

+2 Character Development

So the characters definitely changed, but I'm not so sure they matured. If I compare the characters from the beginning of the book and from the end, personality-wise, they don't seem all that different (besides from the obvious scientific alterations). 

+4 Likability of Protagonist

Again there's a conflict on who the main character really is. We followed both Robbie and Jane throughout most of the book and both were pretty likable, though Robbie more so. Jane frequently became a frustrating character because of all the dumb decisions she would make. 

+4 Necessity of Minor Characters

Minor characters definitely came into play here A LOT. I don't think many of this book's events were possible without other, minor characters. 

+4 Setting Description

The setting was also written very well. I could picture the location fairly vividly in my mind. 

+5 Interesting Storyline

The storyline was definitely the best part of this book. The idea was brilliant. I was immediately drawn into it through the elements of science intertwined into it. While the execution (mainly the ending) could have been done better, the idea behind this book was incredible. 

+3  Predictability

While the book itself wasn't predictable, I would say it was non-predictable in a confusing way. Like I mentioned before people and events would take place that weren't even relevant to the ending so while I didn't see it coming, I don't think anyone could have since they seemed so random. 

+50 Finished

Final Total: 87/100 ; B+

I have to admit, once I finished this book I was disappointed. Not because it was a bad book. But because so much of it was so good and then the ended ruined it. While the ending should have been intense, to me it was mostly just confusing and didn't make an adequate conclusion to such a fantastic book. I don't want to discourage anyone from reading it and it is definitely a good and intense read, but I advise not to increase your expectations for the ending. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The DUFF | Kody Keplinger


Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper may not be the prettiest girl in her high school, but she has a loyal group of friends, a biting wit, and a spot-on BS detector. She's also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. But things aren't so great at home and Bianca, desperate for a distraction, ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn't such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she's falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

+2 Cover Design

For some reason, when a book is made into a movie, publishers have this need to change the cover of the book to the movie poster or something very similar to the movie poster. More times than not it doesn't work, but unfortunately for this book both the original cover and the movie cover were pretty bad. Though I have to say the hot guy on this cover makes it a lot better 

+3 Writing Style

This book was definitely not written badly, but it was very simple writing. It was easy to follow, but very teenager-esque. I understand that was the point of the book, but I didn't necessarily love it. 

+3 Plot Development

I've been reading a lot of fantasy and adventure lately and so there's always been a defined plot. I forgot that in many contemporary coming of age novels, there is no defined plot. It's more of a stream of consciousness that leads to a revelation rather than a series of actions that come to a resolution. Again it was strange to come across a novel with a not-as-defined plot line and after the book I definitely felt as though I missed the purpose of many individual things. A lot of dialogue and events felt unnecessary and didn't help progress the book. There were also a lot of side plots that didn't seem relevant. The book was called the DUFF but I felt like that issue wasn't as focused on. 

+2 Character Relations

I'm a huge fan of hatred to love relationships but I have to say that this book didn't showcase it all that well. I didn't understand Bianca's relationship with anyone. Bianca's family had deep and serious issues that seemed patched up overnight. It all seemed unrealistic and unbelievable. 

+4 Character Development

Out of everything, I would say that this might be the best aspect of this book. Since we were inside Bianca's mind, we really saw her mature and grow. While there were so many subplots between her family and Wesley, I think the whole idea of DUFF was the biggest issue and I think she learned a lot about herself and how people see her. 

+2 Likability of Protagonist

If I'm being completely honest, I kind of hated Bianca. She kept secrets, lied, was impulsive, whiny and all around irritating. I understand that's what the normal teenager is like, but it was a bit too much. My biggest issue is the fact that Bianca (and most teenagers) aren't straightforward. At one point in the book Wesley asked her "Does the term DUFF bother you?" I understand that she was trying to save face, but a simple answer would have been "Yes." And that would have ended it. But of course she denies it and then brings it up later in the book, blaming him for making her feel bad when he called her "duffy." 

+2 Necessity of Minor Characters

The minor characters dropped in every once in a while to stir up some drama but I wouldn't say they were essential to the plot by any means. 

+3 Setting Description

I had no problems with the setting description. It had a good balance between being descriptive and not overly descriptive. 

+4 Interesting Storyline

The general idea of the story was good, though I think the romance overshadowed the real coming of age portion of it though. 

+2  Predictability

There was no part of the book I didn't see coming. Boy and Girl hate each other. Boy is a player with everyone except Girl. Girl refuses to admit it. It's all very generic and cliche. 

+50 Finished

Final Total: 77/100 ; C+ 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Mistborn | Brandon Sanderson


In a world where ash falls from the sky, and mist dominates the night, an evil cloaks the land and stifles all life. The future of the empire rests on the shoulders of a troublemaker and his young apprentice. Together, can they fill the world with color once more?

In Brandon Sanderson's intriguing tale of love, loss, despair and hope, a new kind of magic enters the stage - Allomancy, a magic of the metals.

+1 Cover Design

There were several covers of this book floating around, and I have to admit that this one is my least favorite. The only one I liked were the newest white ones, marketed as YA books. I just feel as though this cover in particular is extremely busy. There's too much detail and too many lines and drawings making it a non-cohesive cover. I don't hate the font though. 

+5 Writing Style

Brandon Sanderson's writing style is absolutely amazing. So many people have called him the king of high-fantasy and he is complete deserving of that title. His writing just flows really well. The transitions between chapters, scenes, and different POVs is just incredible. 

+5 Plot Development

Yet another amazing aspect of the book. We knew the trajectory of the book from the beginning and while the novel stayed on the predetermined path it was, by no means, predictable. The intertwining of all these different subplots made for such a complex and interesting book. 

+5 Character Relations

My favorite part of any book is the relationships between characters, whether it be between friends, more-than-friends, or enemies. I love the interactions and dialogue between them. And this book reminded me exactly why I love relationships so much. We see such real interactions in this story. We see heartfelt conversations, serious conversation, angry conversation; we even get to see a bit of wit thrown in there every once in a while. Everything about the characters felt so natural. 

+4 Character Development

Because this is the first book in a series, we didn't see character development in everyone, but we did begin to see it in many of the main characters. For example, Vin and Kelsier both grew from each other. Vin became trusting and confident, while Kelsier became mature. Like everything else in this book the character development felt natural in the sense that the development wasn't absolute. Characters would frequently revert to their original thinking simply because it was habit to them and it served a sense of realism that most books lack.  

+4 Likability of Protagonist

I'm not sure who would be considered as the protagonist since there are two main characters. But for the sake of argument, let's just say it was Vin. I know some people don't necessarily like Vin because she's a bit whiny and repetitive in her thoughts, but I didn't dislike her at all. Sure at some points it was mildly frustrating but mostly I found it natural. As humans we tend to focus heavily on our insecurities and I think Vin was just portraying that aspect of herself. Other than that though, as a female lead she is fantastic. Her Allomancy gives her so much power and I love seeing that confident Mistborn inside of her. 

+5 Necessity of Minor Characters

There are a lot of characters that are part of Kelsier's crew and most, if not all, of them have some type of crucial role in the plot. Sazed, Breeze, Dockson, Marsh. Though each character may not have gotten a lot of page time, from Kelsier we can tell how much they've really done for the mission.

+5 Setting Description

I feel like this goes hand in hand with writing style. Since the writing style flowed, the setting description followed. There was never a moment where I couldn't understand at least the basics of what was happening or where they were. 

+5 Interesting Storyline

Since the plot development was fantastic, I can say that the original idea was fantastic as well. 
Interesting storyline + great plot development = happy reader. 

+5  Predictability

There wasn't much about this book that was cliché or predictable. We were always kept on the edge of our seat when we were reading and everything caught us by surprise. 

+50 Finished

Final Total: 94/100; A

All in all this was a fantastic read. For so long I've been seeing this book everywhere and finally I decided to read it and it was a fantastic decision. 

In fact Courtney from CourtneyReads and I are doing a Buddy Read of the whole trilogy and at various checkpoints in the book we've been doing discussion posts which I will link to below: 

Discussion #1
Discussion #2
Discussion #3
Discussion #4
Discussion #5

If you haven't read this book I highly recommend it. I'm not usually a huge fantasy person but I am definitely loving this book and this series, so I suggest giving it a try even if the genre doesn't seem to fit. It takes a few chapters to get into it, but once you're in it's hard to get out. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Tuesday Talks | Reading on Holidays/ Seasons

Hey guys, so I know it's been a while since I've done a Tuesday Talks but it's been a hectic couple of weeks with tests and whatnot. But finally midterms are over and I can relax and read, something I haven't done in quite some time. 

Hopefully I can get back on schedule with reviews and Tuesday Talks, and I'm starting today. So if you don't already know, Tuesday Talks is a Goodreads groups started by Janie and Janelle where we discuss book-related topics every week. Today's topic is special reading on holidays. 

Holidays and general breaks from work serve as a really good time to read since it's a large chunk that usually goes uninterrupted. Those days where you wake up, read all day and maybe eat and shower are some of the best lazy days. 

Though I don't know about reading certain types of books near certain holidays or seasons. I think for a large discussion group or any interactive reading it's a fun thing to create a theme for the books you read, but I don't necessarily do that on a personal level when I'm reading. I do agree that certain types of weather put me in the mood for certain types of books or genres, but I'm not rigid in that I'll only read scary books near Halloween or anything like that. It's mostly whatever I can get my hands on. Especially with being in college, it's hard to impose those restrictions on myself. 

What about you guys? Do you guys try to match your books to the weather/ calendar? Let me know in the comments below! 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

The College Diaries | The Time I Turned Eighteen

Hey guys, so it's been quite a while since I've been able to post and let me just say that college has been a bit rough. There's always something to do and somewhere to be so it's really hard to sit down to write a post and review books. I'll talk a bit more about this struggle in another post (hopefully).

So last weekend it was my eighteenth birthday and it was a bit hard on me. First of all, I'm officially an adult now so there's that aspect that my childhood is now officially over. Secondly, this was my first birthday away from home.

As a child it was tradition for my parents to come into my room every morning to wake me up with a surprise: usually a birthday cake and/or a present. But of course that probably wasn't going to happen this time.

The night before my birthday our school hosted a fall concert with some small-town performers which I went to with a couple of friends. Afterwards, some of them wanted to go to a party, and I almost spent my birthday night at a college party. Thankfully one of my other friends came in and distracted me long enough to stop me. Apparently they had set up a scavenger hunt that led me to a small party with some close friends and food. One of my close friends had even made a video from all my old pictures and birthday messages from friends and family back home. Basically there was a lot of crying and happiness. While I did miss my family at home a lot, I'm so glad I have such great friends already at college.

If I have advice about anything in college, it's to find a good group of friends. People you don't have to fake around or be constantly social around. For someone like me, making friends is not easy so having a small, but close group of friends is nice. That's all for today, those were my birthday adventures, hopefully I'll see you guys soon in another post.