Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Release Date: November 15, 2011
Publisher: Harper
Series: Shatter Me, Book 1
Rated: YA 14+
Format: Paperback
Source: Gifted
Buy: AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads  Website

I have a curse
I have a gift

I am a monster

I'm more than human

My touch is lethal

My touch is power

I am their weapon

I will fight back

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

Before I begin, can I just say how glad I am they changed the cover? I love a good dress on a cover, don't get me wrong, but the new series covers are BEAUTIFUL. Also, I just think that this one in general didn't fit the entire vibe of the book, so yay for actual good cover changes in a series. Anyway, I read this one a super long time ago because my amazing friend gave it to me for my birthday, and while I didn't write a review on it, I'm kind of guessing that I enjoyed it because of the 5-star rating I gave it on Goodreads. I never actually continued with the series, and in a desperate attempt to avoid spoilers FOR LIFE, I'm actually trying to get through series that I've neglected over time. Well, it's the same case as was my re-read of Fallen–I understand why I loved it so much back then, but now I have some problems with the book. Doesn't mean I didn't hate it! I enjoyed a lot of the story, but there were just a few issues I had with the book here and there.

Okay, so I'm kind of half-and-half on the writing. On one hand, it's beautiful. I love the descriptions, because sometimes they're really something else. However, flowery language shouldn't be confused for good language. I feel like a lot of it was overdone and overly descriptive when it didn't need to be. With emotions, sure. But for every single movement? Not necessary. I didn't really need to know how every action that Adam made affected Juliette. It was also kind of repetitive, which was kind of annoying, so I'm hoping that the rest of the series sorts that out. I did like the style of writing though, with the crossed out parts–it made reading Shatter Me a different experience.

As for the characters, I can't say that I have any complaints. Other than the slightly irritating voice of Juliette through the descriptions, I think they all were pretty solid. I liked Juliette, I liked Adam, I loved to hate Warner (I've heard whispers of spoilers of him later in the series, so I'm curious to see how it all plays out), so it was pretty good all around. I LOVED Kenji though, I gotta say. I love a hilarious character in the midst of a serious situation, and I remember loving him the first time I read this book, too.

What I missed in this book, however, was the world building. Like, what even happened to this world? On one hand, the mystery sort of adds to it, but when the characters are sort of running around here and there, it's like um–what does this scene even look like? How's the state of everything on the outside??? World-building is definitely a must for dystopian books because they distort the reality we live in to present potential problems, so give us a visible setting to visualise it clearly please!

All in all, I'm super excited to continue on with the series. I finally get to see what all the hype was about, and finish one of the big, blockbuster series that EVERYONE used to talk about. Shatter Me, despite my thoughts on the writing and somewhat lack of world building, is a promising start to a series, and I know I'm in for an emotional and thrilling ride.

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Liars, Inc. by Paula Stokes

Liars, Inc. by Paula Stokes

Release Date: March 24, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rated: YA 14+
Format: eGalley
Source: Edelweiss
Buy: AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads Website

Max Cantrell has never been a big fan of the truth, so when the opportunity arises to sell forged permission slips and cover stories to his classmates, it sounds like a good way to make a little money and liven up a boring senior year. With the help of his friends Preston and Parvati, Max starts Liars, Inc. Suddenly everybody needs something and the cash starts pouring in. Who knew lying could be so lucrative?

When Preston wants his own cover story to go visit a girl he met online, Max doesn’t think twice about hooking him up. Until Preston never comes home. Then the evidence starts to pile up—terrifying clues that lead the cops to Preston’s body. Terrifying clues that point to Max as the murderer.

I really enjoyed reading The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes (read my review), and while Liars, Inc. was by no means a cute romantic comedy, I'm a sucker for psychological thrillers, so I was ALL IN. Of course, anything with with words like lying or liars or never comes home is an immediate DING DING DING in my head, so when I finally decided to pick this one up–as part of my scheme to try to read older books for review–thankfully I was not disappointed.

It's difficult to execute a plot that has a plausible twist that still manages to shock people. The downfall of psychological thrillers or ANY kind of thriller is that the ending falls flat. That just ruins the entire story for people, and it's not hard to see why. This mystery had me guessing till the very end. I was absolutely blown away by that climax, because even though I generally have had a good record with predicting the ends of mysteries, I only managed to piece together a small part of what actually turns out to be the truth. Say what you want about the characters–the plot is very well put together.

Speaking of the characters, they're part of the same category that I find most characters in thrillers fall into–I didn't like them. Not a bad thing with thrillers, considering how you don't know how it plays out until the very end and you can't like certain characters in fear that they might be behind it all. I liked Max well enough, but Preston and Parvati were kind of meh. Meh as in they were alright, but they weren't amazing. I enjoyed the interactions with Max's family though–those moments were really cute and humanised Max's characters, which is probably why he was the best character out of the three of them.

Liars, Inc. presents a deadly mystery that becomes more complex as the plot thickens, and concludes in an ending that blew me away. I was delightfully surprised by how gripping this novel was, and by how much I needed to know how it all ended. Paula Stokes's certainly has a knack for writing in a variety of genres, and I'm looking forward to reading more from her.

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Show Stopper by Hayley Barker

Show Stopper by Hayley Barker

Release Date: June 1, 2017
Publisher: Scholastic
Rated: YA 14+
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing
Buy: Available at all good bookstores!

Sabotaged high wires.
Ravenous lions.
A demonic ringmaster.
A circus without a safety net.

Ben, the teenage son of a powerful government minister, attends on opening night and falls under the spell of Hoshiko, the tightrope walker and star attraction.

But as he steps beyond the dazzle and spectacle of the arena, to reveal the horrors that lurk beneath, can he find the courage to resist, to rebel, to help end the cruelty and the carnage?

Before I got around to reading it, I thought Show Stopper sounded quite a bit like The Hunger Games. They both have the same idea of the rich upper-class watching the bloody sport and torment of the lower classes for entertainment. I couldn't wait to get to this one for that reason, as well as the fact that the tagline "the deadliest show on earth" sounds so ominous, so I knew I was in for a high-stakes read. My goodness, this one was PHENOMENAL. The plot was fast-paced, and every moment had me on the edge of my seat.

The story's content, despite the fantasy setting, was so true in depiction with regards to the attitude towards minorities, known as "Dregs" in this book. Barker clearly reflected today's mentality that unfortunately more than a few people have towards minorities, particularly in the western world. While I wish there was slightly more world-building–because I'm still a little clueless as to HOW different the world in Show Stopper is in comparison to our world today–the plot was packed enough to satisfy my appetite for this dystopian-esque world.

The characters were amazing; I enjoyed the dual-perspective narrative. Ben's storyline was pretty interesting, but Hoshiko's point of view is where it's truly at. It was quite harrowing to learn about her past, as well as the torture and torment she and the other performers go through on a daily basis. The only part I didn't really enjoy was the romance. It was slightly too insta-lovey for me. Like, if their romance had time to develop, then sure, it would make sense. However, Hoshiko basically goes from hating him to having conflicting feelings about him to loving him just like that.

When I got to the end of the book, it sounded like there might be a sequel. I guess it could work as a standalone, but how things ended left me wanting more. Nonetheless, Show Stopper was both terrifying and mesmerising–dark, lush and grim, this one had me flipping pages like mad. A sensational and allegorical narrative that mirrors attitudes in our world today, Hayley Barker's debut is one not to miss.

▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Sasha at Pansing for sending me a copy for review! ▪ ▪ ▪

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Waiting on Wednesday – Week 191

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It's to spotlight upcoming releases that I'm DYING to get my hands on!

This week's WoW is:
Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

Love grows such strange things.

For nearly a century, the Nomeolvides women have tended the grounds of La Pradera, the lush estate gardens that enchant guests from around the world. They’ve also hidden a tragic legacy: if they fall in love too deeply, their lovers vanish. But then, after generations of vanishings, a strange boy appears in the gardens.

The boy is a mystery to Estrella, the Nomeolvides girl who finds him, and to her family, but he’s even more a mystery to himself; he knows nothing more about who he is or where he came from than his first name. As Estrella tries to help Fel piece together his unknown past, La Pradera leads them to secrets as dangerous as they are magical in this stunning exploration of love, loss, and family.

October 3, 2017 ● Goodreads

I didn't even KNOW this was an Anna-Marie McLemore book until I got to the goodreads page, because it's super different to her other books' covers, but HOLY MOLY is it gorgeous! And if my thoughts on her other works–The Weight of Feathers (read my review) and When the Moon Was Ours (read my review)–is any indication, I'm bound to love this one too! If you haven't picked up one of her books yet, you're bound for a treat. Her prose is absolutely gorgeous and the way she handles magical realism in her books is beyond wonderful. I can't wait!

What are you waiting on?