Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed : Book Review

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Plot Synopsis: At the age of twenty-two Cheryl Strayed has lost the things most important to her—her mother is dead, her family scattered, her marriage in shambles. Her life goes on a downward spiral, and four years later, with nothing left to lose, she decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. She has no prior experience in hiking such a trail, especially alone, but she does it anyway. Starting from the Mojave Desert, Strayed hikes through the PCT California and Oregon trails, all the way to Washington State, her destination—The Bridge of The Gods. Along the way she befriends many, begins healing, and accepting her life and the lessons the trail has taught her.  

Overview: There was and still is a lot of hype surrounding this book, critics are giving it so much praise, that I feel a bit let down now that I’ve finished reading it. I thought there would be more introspection, more thoughts on her life and decisions, but throughout the book I felt like it was more about her literal journey on the PCT than her emotional/mental one. Of course, I understand because who has the energy to tackle one’s problems when you’re simply trying to survive. Nevertheless, the book left me wanting more, wanting her to have learned more while on the hike or to have illustrated it more obviously. If it wasn’t for the last few paragraphs of the book I would have felt like the story had no proper ending or final meaning, that is to say that I wanted her to bring in what she learned from the hike a bit more. However, maybe flash forwards to show what she learned from her hike would have removed me too much from the story. But like she writes, she didn’t have to know her future, just “understand [her hike’s] meaning without yet being able to say precisely what it was.”  

I was never truly and utterly bored by Strayed or her writing, though sometimes things took me out of the story because of how different my life is from hers, and how I probably wouldn’t have been as lucky as she was on the trail. She encountered practically nothing but helpful people, and only had one true scare from a man who came on to her in the woods. I felt like my culture and upbringing took me out of the story, sometimes even making me lose interest for a bit.  

Overall, I liked the book, though not much because at the end I wasn’t left feeling untouched or amazed. Usually after I read something I really love, I can’t move on from it quickly or get the characters out of my mind. Sentences from the book plague my mind; details come to life as I close my eyes, but not with Wild.  With this book, I was able to move on immediately, but I don’t think it was a complete waste of time for me to read it.

What I liked: the memoir aspect, the honesty, the lovely similes & metaphors (extended and regular) throughout the book, vivid details

What I didn’t like: felt like she didn’t learn much on the trail/didn’t illustrate it much, didn’t feel taken in or enthralled by the book, her privilege & how it shows clearly through her writing (which I don’t think she realized she had as a white woman on the PCT), felt like I was searching for so whats?/universal truths, makes the same mistakes she tried to avoid before the hike while near the end of her hike, young Strayed is not a character I connected to or felt much for nor was I highly compelled by her

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Notes/Comments/P.S. : Though not amazing to me, I felt this book was well written. I was never truly and utterly bored by it, but sometimes Strayed’s privilege as a white woman on the trail removed me from the story as well as her attitude and thoughts revolving around sex (which she seemed to have a lot). There’s nothing wrong with such things, but it just felt wrong since such things were what led to her downward spiral (i.e. cheating on her husband by sleeping around), along with her mother’s death four years prior. Also, maybe I should warn you that there’s drug use in the book, and the shooting of an animal in detail, and sex. 

Reviewed by: Ellie

Fairy Tale by Cyn Balog: Book Review

Plot Synopsis: A captivating and witty dark fantasy that will have girls lusting after it.

Morgan Sparks has always known that she and her boyfriend, Cam, are made for each other. But when Cam’s cousin Pip comes to stay with the family, Cam seems depressed. Finally Cam confesses to Morgan what’s going on: Cam is a fairy. The night he was born, fairies came down and switched him with a healthy human boy. Nobody expected Cam to live, and nobody expected his biological brother, heir to the fairy throne, to die. But both things happened, and now the fairies want Cam back to take his rightful place as Fairy King.

Even as Cam physically changes, becoming more miserable each day, he and Morgan pledge to fool the fairies and stay together forever. But by the time Cam has to decide once and for all what to do, Morgan’s no longer sure what’s best for everyone, or whether her and Cam’s love can weather an uncertain future. [x]

Overview: Initial thoughts finishing this book, “Well, that was… different.”

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it… I don’t want to say it was horrible, because in reality, I rather enjoyed quite a bit of it. However, it wasn’t “ahh-mazing” either. For what the characters were and what the plot was, it was a very simple read on the whole. Let’s start off with the characters: Morgan, our snappy heroine, got on my nerves several times. To me, she seemed like those “Queen Bee” sort of characters, a bit superficial and selfish. But she wasn’t annoying enough to give up on the book altogether. As for Cam and Pip (and maybe even Dawn), some of these characters are sort off just there. There is no real character development (except maybe for small chances for one). The plot was super simple, no real depth either. The author or much less the main character doesn’t go much into details about this “Otherworld”. Everything is very one-track headed.  And even the “big” conflict gets resolved quite easily at the end.

Despite alllll of that, I didn’t seem to hate it. Probably because I began to adore Pip <spoiler> and  Morgan’s relationship after a while. Even though I was confused about how exactly that would have fit in?? Since Morgan still loved Cam…?</spoiler> The book was a very quick read. If you are looking for an easy, “cute” read, give this a shot. This is certainly not for those that get easily annoyed at every shortcoming on the author’s behalf.  For being a debut novel, I can see past the weaknesses and still somewhat enjoy it. Let’s just put it this way: It’s very lighthearted.

What I liked: That the ending was unique. It was somewhat unconventional and a bit (in a way) unexpected.

What I didn’t like: Just see the review above, I basically listed all “grievances”.

Overall Rating: 2/5

Review Written By: Gladys

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald: Book Review

Plot Synopsis: Everybody who is anybody is seen at Jay Gatsby’s glittering Long Island parties. Yet Gatsby himself is reserved, unknowable. He seems always to be watching and waiting, though no one knows what for. When he finally draws the beautiful Daisy Buchanan back into his orbit, he sets in motion a series of tragedies. 

Overview: When I picked up this book, I knew that people either extremely loved The Great Gatsby or extremely hated it. I am one of the those who extremely loved it. Right off the bat, I was intrigued by the mysterious Mr. Gatsby and wanted to know who he really was. I could not put the book down. Fitzgerald’s writing is poetic and almost symphonic. I felt like I was completely immersed in the 20’s. The characters, although I did not like all of them, kept me enthralled. Although it is not a very long book, it has definitely made its way onto my Top 5 favourite books of all time. 

Overall Rating: 4.8/5

Notes: I CANNOT wait for the movie’s release in May! You can watch the trailer here!

Written by: Alex

The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch: Book Review

Plot Synopsis: During the 17th century, in the small Bavarian town of Schongau something wicked is afoot—children are dying, talk of witchcraft is in the air, and a hangman is trying to put the pieces of this crumbling puzzle together before it is too late. When a young boy turns up murdered with a mysterious symbol tattooed on his shoulder, the town of Schongau cries witchcraft and imprisons Martha Stechlin, the town’s midwife, who the hangman believes to be innocent. Soon more orphans turn up murdered, with the same symbol tattooed on their shoulders, another goes missing and the town’s trading goods warehouse is set on fire, as the stakes are raised the countdown to find the true culprit gets more intense. Throughout the book the hangman, Jakob Kuisl, continues to believe in Martha and with the help of Magdalena, his daughter, and Simon Fronwieser, the physician’s son, he is able to uncover the mystery that threatens to unravel this small town and plunge it back into the chaos of the witch trials that happened 70 years prior to the story.

Overview: By the end of the first page of the prologue, I was hooked. I like historical thrillers, or books that interweave real historical information into the story, so this was right up my alley. I also enjoy murder mysteries so I definitely enjoyed following the characters along and trying to make sense of the clues that they found. Although I wish there was more character development, and perhaps a more climactic ending I was satisfied with the novel. Regardless of these shortcomings, Oliver Pötzsch’s novel is an interesting read. I finished it in 3 days. The book didn’t bore me, and I love the twists and turns the writer creates. The story is told from a third-person point of view and I was given enough information and clues to whet my appetite for a good historical thriller, but was never given so much information that my knowledge far surpassed that of the characters. I definitely recommend this book. It seems like the perfect paperback to snuggle up with on a rainy day while drinking tea.

What I Liked: The accurate information, the historical aspect of it, the hangman character, the inclusion of time and dates which illustrates the fast pace of the novel (the story takes place in a span of 8 days), and the twists and turns that make sure the novel is not predictable, the writing style (though translated).

What I Didn’t Like: Magdalena’s underdeveloped character—the title of this book is The Hangman’s Daughter so I thought she’d play a much larger role than she does. The seemingly carelessly tossed in romance between Simon and Magdalena—it seems more like a last minute addition to tie up loose ends. The anticlimactic ending.

Overall Rating: 4/5

Notes: The author, Oliver Pötzsch, is actually a descendant of the Kuisl family, and used one of his family member’s extensive research of their ancestors to create the novel. This novel was originally published in German, and then translated into English in 2010. It is Pötzsch’s debut novel, and the first of a saga following this mystery-solving trio.

Review written by: Ellie

Are We There Yet? by David Levithan Book Review

Plot Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Elijah is completely mellow and his 23-year-old brother Danny is completely not, so it’s no wonder they can barely tolerate one another. So what better way to repair their broken relationship than to trick them into taking a trip to Italy together? Soon, though, their parents’ perfect solution has become Danny and Elijah’s nightmare as they’re forced to spend countless hours together. But then Elijah meets Julia, and soon the brothers aren’t together nearly as much. And when Julia suddenly decides that maybe it’s Danny she’s really interested in, Danny has a decision to make: does he honor his relationship with the brother he thinks hates him, or does he follow his heart, which sorely needs some repairing of its own? [Source:X]

Overview: David Levithan really has a talent for writing books about real-life situations. There is a way in which he opens up his characters and makes the story feel raw, unique, but real. That off in some part of the world, there are two brothers going through the same strained troubles as Danny and Elijah. 

To be perfectly honest, I’m not really a fan of “real life fiction”. Levithan has probably been one of the only one’s that I really enjoy his style of writing. When I picked this book up, I was hesitant that I was actually going to enjoy it. Seeming as I don’t have a brother and y relationship with my sister is not as strained as the main characters of this book where. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed reading it. It could have been the way the story was broken off, written almost like a free style poetry verse. Each little section jumping between the contrast of thought withing these two brothers and trying to find their balance in a foreign country. The plot, characters, writing was written in a flourish style but kept… simple. Levithan let the characters speak. Let them find their path, solve their troubles, in a most peculiar way. The book was actually, lovely. And may I add, endearing too. I like books written raw. Where the emotion in jumps from the page and you can feel it. “Are We There Yet?” certainly did that. It showed the strained relationship, the troubles or lack off that coursed through their mind, the way they actually grew up within their journey.

What I Liked: I cannot rave about how much the way it was actually written, that made this book better than it sounds. Basically, it’s one of those books that leaves a resounding message at the end. A book that when you closed it, you know you learned something from it.

What I Didn’t Like: There wasn’t really anything enough for me to hate it or dislike it. It was all a good mix.

Overall Rating: 3.4/5 

Written By: Gladys

Bunheads by Sophie Flack: Book Review

Plot Synopsis: As a dancer with the ultra-prestigious Manhattan Ballet Company, nineteen-year-old Hannah Ward juggles intense rehearsals, dazzling performances and complicated backstage relationships. Up until now, Hannah has happily devoted her entire life to ballet. 

But when she meets a handsome musician named Jacob, Hannah’s universe begins to change, and she must decide if she wants to compete against other “bunheads” in the company for a star soloist spot or strike out on her own in the real world. Does she dare give up the gilded confines of the ballet for the freedoms of everyday life?

My Overview: I could go on & on about this novel, but I won’t because I really don’t have to. All I have to say is that this novel is a masterpiece! I’m probably a bit biased because I was a drill team/dance team member in high school & I lived & breathed dance just as much as Hannah does in this novel. I don’t think anyone could ever understand the work it takes to be not only a ballet dancer or any kind of dancer better than well, a dancer. Sophie Flack was a ballet dancer & it definitely shows with the in-depth telling of what it really means to commit your life to dance. What I loved most about this book was the fact that it didn’t try to make ballet seem like a completely magical thing (although from the outside it does seem that way) but instead told the harsh truths of the life of ballerinas & ballet dancers (they’re two different things apparently). I completely connected with the never ending rehearsals & pounds of makeup & the bruises & hurt appendages, but also the freedom, joy & adrenaline Hannah experiences in the novel. Every line that mentioned something unknown to most “pedestrians” (people outside of the ballet company) made me smile to myself & feel a twinge of nostalgia for the hardwood floors, the glitter & rhinestones, that red lipstick & even the bruises! There is a romance in the novel, but it wasn’t at all forced down my throat, & this book wasn’t really about it. I truly appreciated that.

I recommend this novel to dancers, ex-dancers, & non-dancers alike. Dancers will appreciate a novel that understands what it’s like. Ex-dancers will reminisce of their time spent being a dancer. Non-dancers will get a very accurate depiction of what it’s like & hopefully develop a stronger respect for bunheads & what we do or have done.

What I Liked: The realism of the novel & its plot. The ballet scenes; it was like you were right there on stage with Hannah.

What I Didn’t Like: Honestly couldn’t find anything wrong with this novel! But again, I could be a bit biased. 

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 stars!

Comments: This novel does not have any connection to its tv series namesake. Thank goodness for that because I’ve heard the show is absolutely terrible!

Reviewed by: Alex

*SPOILER* filled review of City of Lost Souls. →

(: Like I said, my review of City of Lost Souls. (You see? I have been reading something!) Now onto Delirium! :D

Just a little FYI:

On my behalf, I don’t think I will be posting a review any time soon. Even though I’m suppose to be reading Delirium right now, I have been sidetracked by catching up on the The Mortal Instruments series, or City of Lost Souls. (Which I’m so excited to finally be reading it!) 

I’m not doing a review on it here, since it’s so far into the series and for it to be properly reviewed I have to give away spoilers… But maybe I’ll link my review here from my personal tumblr? I don’t know. We’ll see.

Happy Reading!

-Gladys.

isserley asked: “ Oh, excellent, another book blog ^^ Check out mine if you're interested :) As for recommendations, how about a list of favorites? ”

You can check out all of our favourites on our “About Us” page!(:

If you’ve read all of them already, just let us know & we’ll be more than happy to recommend different titles!

-Alex

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