Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

19288043Blurb from Goodreads

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer? 

Paperback, 422 pages
Published April 22nd 2014 by Broadway Books (first published June 2012)
edition language: English
genre: Mystery, Thriller, Adult
My Thoughts
What are you thinking, Amy? How are you feeling? Who are you? What have we done to each other? What will we do?

Nick and Amy Dunne are one fucked up couple

I know that this book has lots of twists with wicked characters, both main female and main male character. So I kinda prepared myself to not fall into one of them or believe what they or one of them say. And I really did try to guess and see everything they told me so that I won’t be that surprised when I face those twists.

But the thing is the way Gillian Flynn wrote was so damn believable I cannot help not to fall to the characters. So in some part I felt sorry for Amy and really, truly, honestly hate Nick. And in another part I felt the opposite. It was just so weird I can’t decide which one I most love or hate. And at the same time the twists were still surprising, even after my friend told spoiler to me. So yeah…this is just that good!

I also really liked the characters. The two different POV made me see them as very different characters. And they play their role well, I have love to hate and hate to love relationship with them along the story. I hate Nick for what he did in their marriage while at the same time I can see (and understand, though am disagree) why he did it. And so does with Amy, I understand the reason she did what she did, and at the same time I think she’s crazy-manipulative woman. I know this might sound crazy and weird but I admired her, especially in part two. She’s smart, manipulative and cunning. I liked her POV much more than Nick’s because her POV can deceive me and kept my mind thinking and guessing of the story.

At the same time, I didn’t quite like her in last few chapters of part two. I felt like it wasn’t Amy’s POV that I admire in first chapters of part two. It was like she turned into indifferent character. She isn’t that cunning anymore and rather silly and unprepared than a smart and thinking ahead woman. She’s just another case of rich girl who doesn’t know what to do outside her comfort zone. And the result was I felt like the story drag on, before it backs on track in part three.

All in all, as my first experience of Gillian Flynn book, I won’t forget Amy and Nick story easily. And they won’t be the only characters I read from Ms. Flynn. Now I’m gonna buy and read her previous books, for sure.

Result: 4 out of 5 stars

Review: The Giver Quartet #1, The Giver by Lois Lowry

8309278Blurb from Goodreads

The Giver, the 1994 Newbery Medal winner, has become one of the most influential novels of our time. The haunting story centers on twelve-year-old Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community.

Kindle Edition, 240 pages
Published April 26th 1993 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published 1993)
edition language: English
series: The Giver Quartet
genre: Dystopia, Children/Middle grade
My Thoughts
The community was so meticulously ordered, the choices so carefully made.To be honest, I read this book because I want to watch the movie version. Based on its trailer, I thought the book is a young adult book. So you can imagine how surprised I was when I know that it’s a children/middle-grade book. And Goodreads put it under dystopia list. Most of children books I read were fantasy. So this is the first one for me and let me tell you that it’s more frightening than any YA dystopian books I’ve ever read. Yes, it’s even scarier than The Hunger Games trilogy. I think what scared me the most in Jonas world is the rules. I’m not a rule-breaker kind of person, though I’m not an abiding rule person either, but the idea that my life is controlled by rules is really frightening. I don’t get a choice of who will be my husband, my children, my jobs, not even my bicycle. The rules in Jonas world, or community as he knows it, take to a new level.

Jonas lives in a community where everything is monitored and controlled by the rules. He got his own family by the age of one, had his “independence” and responsibilities when he was eight. By the time he was nine, he got his bicycle. His first hair cut was when he was ten. And he will assign for his job when he’s twelve. If he wants to have a spouse, he has to apply to the committee whom will choose his spouse, when he reaches his adult age. When they marry, they have to apply to get a child. And then their child will start the same circle.

I really liked the way it’s written. It’s slow-paced but that way I can see the difference between Jonas before the Assignment and after he receive his assignment. And he is so easy to connect. First part where he doesn’t know the truth feels like an ideal community. Everything and everyone live peacefully and in order. There are no differences, everything and everyone is the same. But I also feel like they aren’t real human. While in second part, where Jonas knows the truth feel like more real and colorful. It made me questioning the ideal community Jonas lives. Is it really an ideal community when the citizen doesn’t have a choice? And knowing that human can make mistakes with their choices, should they have it in the first place? I really liked the contradictory in it. Everything that Jonas chooses has consequences, even if he chooses nothing.

As I reach the final page, I can see that the movie trailer doesn’t look anything like the book. It is way different, not only in Jonas age but I also don’t recognize most of the scenes in the trailer. In the end, I don’t care whether it is children or YA book as I really enjoy reading it (with my adult eyes and mind). So I think I can see the movie and the book as different thing too.

Result: 4 out of 5 stars

Review: How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr

11511594Blurb from Goodreads

Jill MacSweeny just wishes everything could go back to normal. But ever since her dad died, she’s been isolating herself from her boyfriend, her best friends — everyone who wants to support her. When her mom decides to adopt a baby, it feels like she’s somehow trying to replace a lost family member with a new one.
Mandy Kalinowski understands what it’s like to grow up unwanted — to be raised by a mother who never intended to have a child. So when Mandy becomes pregnant, one thing she’s sure of is that she wants a better life for her baby. It’s harder to be sure of herself. Will she ever find someone to care for her, too?
As their worlds change around them, Jill and Mandy must learn to both let go and hold on, and that nothing is as easy — or as difficult — as it seems.

ebook, 341 pages
Published October 18th 2011 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2011)
edition language: English
genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
My Thoughts
I have to admit that I was kinda hesitated to read this book in the first place. It has high rating while I often being in the minority. And the story sounds so serious and a bit “heavy” for a YA book, at least YA books I usually read while I feel like I need “light” reading every time I want to read it. That’s why I kept put it down to read other books. Now I’m glad I give it a try.

The characters
It was quite hard to love both Jill and Mandy, the main characters in this story, at the beginning. They both wear a mask and good at telling lies. They have flaws and sometime are annoying and frustrating characters. I couldn’t decide whose side I am, Jill or Mandy.

“My mother says I have no social sense. She says I make people uncomfortable.”

Mandy, an 18 years old girl who wants to give her baby up, is naive, can be so annoying, yet is so brave. Some many times I want to yell at her to stop being ridiculous and doing unbelievable things. But then I’ve never been in her shoes before, the more I read her story, the more I understand her and she isn’t that hard to love, eventually.

“For someone who’s never been to Pancake Universe, Mandy makes her decision pretty fast, barely looking at the menu before closing it and setting it down. Everything sounds gross to me, and the table is sticky. PU doesn’t have the kind of hash browns I like. I like chunks of real potatoes, and these are the shredded crap that comes out of the freezer. […]“Don’t you want some protein, honey?” Mom asks. Already Mandy is “honey”? Traditionally, I am “honey.”

On the other hand, I do understand Jill’s feeling toward her new life. She just lost her dad, changed into someone else, someone who is completely different before the death of her dad. I think she has the right to be confused and is feel been ignore by her mom and jealous with Mandy and her baby, but sometime I also want to ask her to try to put herself in Mandy’s shoes and look from different side.

Although they make it hard for me to love them, I can’t help not to fall in love with them slowly. They surely develop throughout the story and they feel real for me.

The story
I think it isn’t a new story in a history of YA books, but it feels different from other YA books I’ve read. It isn’t a cliche and predictable story. Many times I kept waiting particular things will happen since I thought it will be as cliche and predictable as it can be. But most of the time I was wrong and am so glad that it turn out differently, though I’m sure readers can guess easily the ending for Jill and Mandy when they start reading it. And it’s beautifully written too.

“Life is always moving forward, forward, forward. Relentless. If someone offered me a time machine right now and I could go back to before my dad died, I would, of course, if only to see if I could save him. But then I’d want to come right back here, to face the next unknown moment and the next and the next.”

The way it is written and the way Jill and Mandy tell their stories, makes it easier for me to understand them better and be with them.

Actually this book has one thing I usually didn’t quite like, an insta-love. Mandy often do unbelievable things that make me questioning her. One of those things that made me roll my eyes is the way she first and only meet with the love of her life or I think it is an insta-lust/love.

“It was a summer one-night stand. Mandy says it was love. She says love is love whether it happens in five minutes or five years. Usually I just try not to laugh. But once in a while, I decide that I don’t always have to be right.”

But I can make an exception if it handles well. As much as I think Mandy do an unbelievable thing, I can buy her insta-love and just like Jill, I decide that it is one of my exceptions of an insta-love story.

All in all, I loved everything in this book, including the cover which I think suits the story perfectly.

Result: 4 out of 5 stars

Review: Penryn & The End of Days #2, World After by Susan Ee

12983100Blurb from Goodreads

In this sequel to the bestselling fantasy thriller, Angelfall, the survivors of the angel apocalypse begin to scrape back together what’s left of the modern world.

When a group of people capture Penryn’s sister Paige, thinking she’s a monster, the situation ends in a massacre. Paige disappears. Humans are terrified. Mom is heartbroken.

Penryn drives through the streets of San Francisco looking for Paige. Why are the streets so empty? Where is everybody? Her search leads her into the heart of the angels’ secret plans where she catches a glimpse of their motivations, and learns the horrifying extent to which the angels are willing to go.

Meanwhile, Raffe hunts for his wings. Without them, he can’t rejoin the angels, can’t take his rightful place as one of their leaders. When faced with recapturing his wings or helping Penryn survive, which will he choose?

Kindle Edition, 438 pages
Published November 19th 2013 by Skyscape
edition language: English
series: Penryn & The End of Days
genre: Post-apocalyptic, Suspense, Young Adult
My Thoughts
So this is what the world looks like when one of the archangels wants to play god and the angels play human, from Susan Ee version, anyway. It’s frightening, disgusting and in some part ridiculous but I loved it nonetheless.

I think there are at least two things that I thought won’t work for me. First, as the blurb said in this sequel, Penryn is looking for Paige (again). Somehow I was afraid that there will be similarity, a repetition from Angelfall  as she’s doing the same thing here. And second is Raffe only really appears in the story in the last quarter part of the book which my friend told me about it before I read it. I love Penryn as much as I love him, if not more since she’s so stubborn and a kickass character. But I also love their relationship and want to read more about them together. To be honest, it’s one of my favorite parts in the story. So knowing that I won’t get to read their banter in most of the book was quite worried me. Thank goodness it was just my thought as I didn’t have problem and still enjoyed the story.

I have many memorable moments from this book that I think I won’t forget easily. All those moments are really emotional, from gruesome scene that made me want to stop reading because it was just ewww… to the heartbreaking part about Paige and her relationship with Penryn. It was so sad, shocking and yet I was so damn proud of what Paige do. She has bigger role here and I wish she still has bigger part in the next sequels. And when Raffe finally meets Penryn, made me giddy and so happy I felt like I want to jump up and down. It made me thinking that my waiting paid well. But it wasn’t my favorite Raffe-Penryn moment. It’s one simple scene not long after they meet. Susan Ee didn’t use glorious word to describe Raffe feeling when he thought she died, yet with the way she wrote it successfully touched my heart. I keep reading it over and over and bookmarked it so that I can read it again every time I feel like I want to just skim the book.

Long story short, this is definitely one of my favorite YA series!

Result: 4 out of 5 stars

Review: Penryn & the End of Days #1, Angelfall by Susan Ee

11500217Blurb from Goodreads

It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels’ stronghold in San Francisco where she’ll risk everything to rescue her sister and he’ll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.

Kindle Edition, 283 pages
Published May 21st 2011 by Feral Dream
edition language: English
series: Penryn & The End of Days
genre: Post-apocalyptic, Suspense, Young Adult
My Thoughts
Although I really want to read this book, I didn’t pick it up as soon as I can. I thought I’ll read it when the series is completed but then I knew that it’ll likely be one long series that will end in years. And I was kinda afraid that it will be like any other typical YA dystopian books I read. It seems I read many dystopian these days. But I didn’t have enough patience to wait it for years to read it, so I read it now.

First thing I realized that it is more a post-apocalyptic than a dystopian story. Many lists on Goodread said that it’s a dystopian book and the blurb implies it too. So I was kinda surprise when I read the setting and worldbuilding. But I was also happy it isn’t really dystopian. I rarely read post-apocalyptic story and reading it was like a refreshing for me. I really like the way the author wrote it. It’s so clear I never doubt it even one single moment. It’s haunting and frightening me most of the time. It reminds me of another post-apocalyptic story that I love so much, The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I think there are similarities to both of them, despite the angel thing.

As for the story, it’s unpredictable and engaging. It can glue me to keep reading it. Although at some point I want to stop reading it because it was just too terrible for me to read it, I couldn’t help not to continue it since I couldn’t wait to know what happen next. But since it’s told from Penryn POV, I have to wait a little bit longer to know what really happens and the reason behind it. And when it finally gets the answers, it was just not much. It feels like her limited knowledge avoided me to know more. It didn’t mean it’s slow-paced, though. There are things that keep my heart beats fast with Penryn and Raffe along the story.

I’ve read many angel stories, but it isn’t like any other I’ve read before. A story about angels isn’t something new. A post-apocalyptic setting isn’t unusual either. But somehow it has its own originality. And now I can’t wait to read its sequels.

Result: 4 out of 5 stars

Review: The Nature of Cruelty by L.H. Cosway

17860318Blurb from Goodreads

Her name is Lana. She wasn’t dealt the easiest cards in life. She wasn’t dealt the hardest. She has an illness, but she doesn’t let it rule her. The first time she laid eyes on her best friend’s twin brother she fell in love at first sight. It didn’t last very long. He was a hateful boy who made her miserable. The happiest day of her life was when he moved away to London six years ago.

His name is Robert. He breaks the ones who love him. He’s always liked to play games with Lana, see how far he could push her. He once thrived on her pain, but no more. Now she’s coming to London to live with his sister for the summer and this time he plans on being her friend instead of her tormentor. But Lana is scarred by his past bullying. She doesn’t trust him, nor does she have any reason to.

When the two find themselves living under the same roof, they call a truce. This summer will change both of their lives, as they put their history aside and learn one another from scratch.

When fear takes over, we use cruelty as a mask. Robert and Lana’s story will see their masks slip away as the love they felt on the inside shows its true face.

**Not suitable for younger readers. Contains strong language and scenes of a sexual nature.**

Published June 25th 2013 by Smashwords Edition
edition language: English
genre: Contemporary, Romance, New Adult
My Thoughts
This is my second L.H. Cosway book after Stand Life with Strings. I think there is similarity in it. And there is nothing new in the story and is also predictable, but somehow she can manage to make it into an enjoyable book. One thing that I really liked from her books is the place setting. Most of NA books I read take place in the US, but in her books I got Dublin, Ireland and London, UK. Yeah I know it’s because she lives in Ireland but her books were like fresh air regarding in place setting. Well…London isn’t a new place in the story, actually but through Lana, the main character, eyes I got something new and different.

I really liked Lana. Although she has illness which needs to pay attention all the time, she’s a strong, brave and independent girl. And I loved that she wants to try something new even when she’s kinda afraid to do it. It was easy to connect with her. The way she tells her story is so clear I liked being with her in the story. On the other hand, I have a problem to understand and be with Robert, her love interest. He was a bully, cruel and full of hate. I understand why he feel that way but I think it’s so cruel when he knows that he’s cruel but keeps doing it. It’s like his cruelty hundred times worse, if it’s possible.

Aside Lana, I also liked Sasha, Robert’s twin sister. Although she doesn’t have much story, I can see that she’s a unique character. There is one tiny thing that at first I thought it isn’t an important thing to the story but Lana keeps mentioning it and thinking about it. In fact, at some point, I feel like annoyed whenever she brings it to the story. But then, I got bigger picture why she keep thinking about it in her mind. Hence, I loved when she tells me that bigger picture. And I just love her speech about the Nature of Cruelty, at some point I can’t help not to agree with her. Her speech makes me round up my rating into 4 stars.

Result: 4 out of 5 stars

Review: Legend #2, Prodigy by Marie Lu

13414446Blurb from Goodreads

June and Day arrive in Vegas just as the unthinkable happens: the Elector Primo dies, and his son Anden takes his place. With the Republic edging closer to chaos, the two join a group of Patriot rebels eager to help Day rescue his brother and offer passage to the Colonies. They have only one request—June and Day must assassinate the new Elector.
It’s their chance to change the nation, to give voice to a people silenced for too long.

But as June realizes this Elector is nothing like his father, she’s haunted by the choice ahead. What if Anden is a new beginning? What if revolution must be more than loss and vengeance, anger and blood—what if the Patriots are wrong?

In this highly-anticipated sequel to the New York Times bestseller Legend, Lu delivers a breathtaking thriller with high stakes and cinematic action.

ebook, 292 pages
Published January 29th 2013 by Putnam Juvenile
edition language: English
series: Legend
genre: Dystopia, Romance, Young Adult
My Thoughts
I think it’s because most of things that bother me in Legend turn out to be good things here.

1) Although I still feel a little bit similarity between Day and June POV, it didn’t bother me much anymore. It might be because of their different situation they have to face, hence they don’t have the same things to explain anymore; or it might be because Day is rarely pay much attention in detail anymore, he gives the jobs to June, mostly; or maybe they just grow up along the story and finally find their own voice. Either way, I can tell the difference and see that they are two different characters.

2) My questions about the life before the Republic and the Colonies established are answered here. It was so good and believable I finally bought it.

3) This sequel still has a lot of actions scenes that makes my heart beat fast and I felt like I want to run with them. It wasn’t the only thing that glued me to the story, though. Unlike Legend, Prodigy is unpredictable. Yes, I can still guess minor things but sometimes I couldn’t do it from the beginning, I have to see it for pages to catch the gist. And I just love the way the story makes me thinking, wandering, questioning and picturing different scenarios of what will happen next to the story and characters. My friend, Billie must be sick of hearing my scenarios, because I did give her many scenarios and most of them were wrong! For me, my wandering mind is a good sign that I’m into the story. It means that I care enough and curious enough to be part of the story. And boy….Marie Lu did great jobs throwing surprises and twists along the story. And the fact that both June and Day cannot trust even a single character is like a mind game to me because I felt that there is no one I can trust either.

4) June and Day are still 15 years old. The sequel doesn’t make them older. To be honest, there is part of me that couldn’t buy it. But most of the time, I think I finally believe that beyond their young age, they are indeed capable of what they have to do.

5) And finally I can say that I love June and Day relationship. It doesn’t work easily since there are so many stories from their past, but it’s what I love. I want characters who are struggling. And they do struggling to work it well. However I didn’t quite like the ending. It feels cliche to me. Sorry, Billie I have to disagree with you. The ending that I was so waiting for because you told me that it’s to die for sort of anticlimactic for me.

All in all, I really liked it but not enough for me to give it perfect rating. So 4 stars from me and I’m heading to Champion now!

Result: 4 out of 5 stars