Series: Hundred Oaks #2, The Darkest Minds #1
I took a little blogging break over winter break while the kids were out of school and the holiday craziness took over, but I didn’t take a break from reading! Now I’ve got quite a bit of catching up to do with my reviews and what better way to play catch up than with a mini review round-up! These books are in no way related other than I read them over break. Some of them I loved, some were just okay. Luckily, there weren’t any that I hated. I’ll share a brief description and then my thoughts and ratings. I’d love it if you’d share your thoughts on the books in the comments as well.
Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally: Honestly, I was a little disappointed with Stealing Parker, especially after reading Catching Jordan. We’re introduced this time to Parker. Parker was the star of the school’s softball team until her mom came out and ran away with her girlfriend. Living in the small town that they do, the scandal has rocked her world. Now she’s an outcast. To prove she’s not the same as her mother, she quits the softball team and makes out with as many guys as she can. But she’s still not happy. We follow Parker as she learns more about herself, what makes her happy, and how she’ll stop being her own worst enemy. My thoughts: First off, I was not nearly as much a fan of Parker as I was of Jordan. Also, I had a hard time relating to the small town religious aspect as well. I wasn’t expecting such a religious book. I think the issues being discussed in this book were much deeper than the ones in Catching Jordan, and while I appreciate the discussion on church, God, homosexuality, and acceptance in YA literature, I just don’t think everything came together quite as tightly as it could have. And I was annoyed at the constant talk about Parker’s weight and calorie intake and skinny jeans and how she wouldn’t let herself eat. I don’t really know exactly what it was, but I did not warm up to this book nearly as much as I did with Catching Jordan. I’m still a little surprised by this and let down. Definitely not as enjoyable for me as Catching Jordan nor as well written. Still, I’m looking forward to both Things I Can’t Forget and Racing Savannah. I do think Kenneally has a certainly way with characters and story telling that I’m not yet reading to miss out on. I gave it 3 stars.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: How could I not read this one? EVERYONE is talking about it. So I did. And just in case you were wondering, yes, this book was twisted and creepy and dark. I changed my mind about what was going on after just about every chapter. It’s strange imagining people who think like these characters do. It’s frightening to think there might be people out there who actually do. I was drawn into this book by its creepy premise and kept coming back for the characters I was both believing and hating. It was a crazy ride. We get to follow Nick’s POV from the day of Amy’s disappearance forward and Amy’s POV from the moment the two met until her disappearance. It was definitely an interesting take on a double POV and was done very well. The first half had great buildup and lots of creepy moments. But I have to admit after the first half there were more “oh, okay” moments than there were truly shocking moments. In the end, I was somewhat disappointed. I had expected an intense, twisted, psychological thriller but in the end it seemed more like just a psychological study of crazy people. And that’s fine. Because it was twisted. But it just didn’t quite meet up with my expectations. I should maybe mention this is my first Gillian Flynn novel. Maybe this is her style. Lots of buildup and then just a slow release rather than giant shocking climax. Because really, I’m just disappointed in the ending. But the more I think about it, the more it seems like the only possible ending. So I’m torn. And it will get 3 stars from me for right now. Maybe it’ll change later. I’ve heard from some people that they like her other books better, so I may check them out. I’m still glad I read this. I know I’ll be thinking about it for a long time. Also, definitely NOT a young adult book.
The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken: In truth, this one deserves a full review just to itself. But since I’m not sure if I’ll get around to it, I’m going to do a mini review here and a full one later if the time comes. This was one of those books I’d been hearing a lot about and been looking forward to for a long time. I was nervous because I was definitely highly anticipating it and you know how that can go. High expectations equals more disappointment. I’m very happy to report that this one lived up to my expectations! I loved it! We follow Ruby in a future science-fiction/dystopian world where kids are dying from a disease and the kids who survive are taken to special camps that promise to “rehabilitate” them. Because the kids that survive the disease now have special powers they can’t control. But the camps are not protecting and helping the kids. And Ruby is in danger. So she escapes. And joins up with another group of kids on the run looking for a safe place for kids like them known only as East River. Their journey is difficult and dangerous but also exciting. They form a bond that is almost unbreakable. I won’t give anything away. I just want to say that I love this book, I loved these characters, and now my heart is broken. Both from the story and because I have to wait till December to get the next part of this story! If you are a fan of dystopian/paranormal stories, I wouldn’t miss this one. It is long, almost 500 pages, but it reads quickly. I gave The Darkest Minds 5 stars.
Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn: This is a super cute book about teenagers who’ve been left behind at Christmas who find adventure and love together through a notebook full of dares. Lily is a huge fan of Christmas but her parents have left her this year to celebrate their anniversary alone. Dash is not a fan of Christmas and is spending the holiday alone while both his parents think he’s spending it with the other one. With a little help from Lily’s extended family, she starts up a notebook of dares in the hopes of meeting a boy over the holidays. Dash is lucky enough to find it and completes the first dare. Then sets up a dare for Lily. They become increasingly involved and each are having their own feelings about the notebook and their relationship and what it all means. When they finally meet, will their expectations line up with reality? The book was definitely adorable, but it was also nothing extraordinary. The characters are likable enough, especially Lily and her family and Boomer. There are some thoughtful passages about life and love and the meaning of things. It is a very good, very quick, holiday read. Also very funny and slightly unpredictable. I’d recommend it to you if you like books about teenagers who like to think and analyze a lot (because, boy, do Dash and Lily like to think and analyze everything!) or you want a quick, fun holiday read. I gave Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares 3.5 stars.
Okay, those were a few of the books I read over my break. I’d love to hear your thoughts on these books but I’d also love to hear about any books you read over your break. Were there any that stood out as fantastic? Any books you’d recommend? Let me know in the comments!