Publisher: Dutton Juvenile

Friday, September 19, 2014

Review: Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

Posted by 15 Comments

I received this book for free from Penguin Canada in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Belzhar by Meg WolitzerBelzhar by Meg Wolitzer
Published by Dutton Juvenile on September 30th
Genres: Magical Realism, YA
Source: Penguin Canada
Buy on Amazon

If life were fair, Jam Gallahue would still be  at home in New Jersey with her sweet British  boyfriend, Reeve Maxfield. She’d be watching  old comedy sketches with him. She’d be kissing  him in the library stacks.

She certainly wouldn’t be at The Wooden Barn, a therapeutic boarding school in rural Vermont, living with a weird roommate, and signed up for an exclusive, mysterious class called Special Topics in English.

But life isn’t fair, and Reeve Maxfield is dead.

Until a journal-writing assignment leads Jam to Belzhar, where the untainted past is restored, and Jam can feel Reeve’s arms around her once again. But there are hidden truths on Jam’s path to reclaim her loss.

From New York Times bestselling author Meg Wolitzer comes a breathtaking and surprising story about first love, deep sorrow, and the power of acceptance.

It took me months to get through this one, I kept forgetting I was even reading it, so let’s just say it wasn’t a memorable read for me. It is unique, don’t get me wrong, but I just didn’t really care about any of these characters. Then when the magical element got introduced, it made the book even less interesting, not more as I had hoped.

Ok so let’s start with this premise. After her boyfriend dies, Jam gets sent to boarding school for troubled teens, and in one of her classes she’s given a journal that, to her surprise, sends her to a magical place whenever she writes in it. This place is free of pain and heartache: it’s a world where the tragedy that brought them to this school has not happened. Although this might sound cheesy, I thought it was a really creative premise with tons of potential. I expected a lot of depth and soul searching, but instead I found myself getting bored while we did nothing but skim the surface, emotionally. The characters themselves were not bad, but they weren’t especially interesting either. This “deep bond” that apparently connected them was brought up so much it only made it feel forced. So in turn, I quickly grew frustrated with it all.

This might just be my being used to extreme emotional situations in the books I read, but I couldn’t stop from rolling my eyes at a few aspect in this story. Look at this class of people, for instance: a handful of teens selected from a pool of damaged kids because the teacher thought they needed special help to get through this difficult time. One is there because she was in an accident and got paralyzed, another is there because she’s blaming herself for her brother’s disappearance, and then we have this guy who’s there because he found out his father cheated. Oh and also, because he’s now getting Cs instead of As. Umm ok. That sucks and everything, but that hardly makes you a tragedy. Another instance that made me roll my eyes until they hurt, I unfortunately can’t talk about. It’s the “big reveal” of what really happened during the last day of Jam’s boyfriend’s life. And oh my freaking word you are not freaking kidding me! Kudos for being unpredictable, at least.

Then there were added details and sub plots in the book that were not really necessary and only distracted from the main storyline. The a cappella thing, the whole deal with her brother’s snarky/changed behaviour, a freaking doe giving birth?? Why? I get that it can help to develop characters and give them a realistic life with family dynamics and such, but it just felt like pointless plot additions in this case.

All in all, Belzhar is an intriguing read, one that uses anticipation and curiosity in a way that makes you want to keep reading to find out the truth. With that said, despite my problems with it I do think it deserves 3 stars. It simply falls short emotionally and failed to live up to my expectations at the end.


3 Hot Espressos

Review: Inland by Kat Rosenfield

Review: Inland by Kat Rosenfield

Posted by on 05/27/2014 • 10 Comments

Inland was a mixed bag for me. On one hand I love the cryptic nature of books like these where part of the fun is how it plays with our imagination, but for this to work I have to turn the last page with some kind of stunned wonderment, and that did not happen here. While the writing is great and the magical realism feel with its eerie mystique is initially intriguing, I ended up being quite bored for the most part, and eventually underwhelmed in the end. I was left disappointed with no more than what I felt after I read the synopsis. Also, that epilogue/ending kinda confused me – if anyone can shed a light on what the heck it meant that’d be great O_O

This is the…

Review: Everything Leads To You by Nina LaCour

Review: Everything Leads To You by Nina LaCour

Posted by on 05/14/2014 • 30 Comments

I feel like anything I want to say about this book has to be prefaced by me fangirling over the cover. Let’s all take a moment to stare at it and just take in it’s beauty *stares at cover* man, even the font treatment is so captivating! OK, now that that is out of the way, let’s talk about what’s inside. Nina LaCour’s Everything Leads To You is so much more than just a pretty cover. It’s a beautiful love story, it’s a magical tale that truly captures the essence of living in LA and it’s a story about strong relationships; ones you have had around forever and ones that you are just beginning to forge.

I literally just have a long list of things I loved about this book…

Review: The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

Posted by on 04/09/2014 • 33 Comments

I bought The Fault In Our Stars nearly a year ago and had been holding off on reading it because it just hit too close to home for a while.  Upon seeing all of the excitement for the movie trailer I knew it was time to pick it up and make my way through it. In the end, I’m not even sure what to say other than “WOW!” There isn’t much that I can say about this amazing book that hasn’t already been said so this is probably going to be short but this is a must read for everyone. EVERYONE.

The writing in this book is stunning. I loved the voice that Green gave to Hazel Grace Lancaster; it was honest, it was intelligent and it was beautiful.  The…

Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Posted by on 04/16/2013 • 31 Comments

A powerfully emotional novel, If I Stay is a journey through life and death, in the eyes of a young girl who has lost just about everything.

After a disastrous car accident, Mia finds herself looking down at her own battered body, barely alive. This is one case where, immediately, you get a feel of who these people are, their realness, the love they have for each other. With only a few minutes of getting to know them before the accident, I already felt a connection with Mia and her whole family, turning an already emotional novel into a gutting one. Mia’s loss and grief is tangible through Gayle’s effortless writing style. It’s a tragic tale of unimaginable life changing loss that will make you thankful for everything and everyone…