Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Discussion Review: The Haven by Carol Lynch Williams

Posted by 18 Comments

I received this book for free from Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Discussion Review: The Haven by Carol Lynch WilliamsThe Haven by Carol Lynch Williams
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on March 4th 2014
Genres: Dystopia, YA
Source: Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group
Buy on Amazon

For the teens at The Haven, the outside world, just beyond the towering stone wall that surrounds the premises, is a dangerous unknown. It has always been this way, ever since the hospital was established in the year 2020. But The Haven is more than just a hospital; it is their home. It is all they know. Everything is strictly monitored: education, exercise, food, and rest. The rules must be followed to keep the children healthy, to help control the Disease that has cast them as Terminals, the Disease that claims limbs and lungs—and memories.

But Shiloh is different; she remembers everything. Gideon is different, too. He dreams of a cure, of rebellion against the status quo. What if everything they’ve been told is a lie? What if The Haven is not the safe place it claims to be? And what will happen if Shiloh starts asking dangerous questions?

Jenni: Ok, Giselle, The Haven, what did you think?

Giselle: Well I’m going to admit that my 3 star rating surprised me because I almost DNFed this one during the first 30%. It was so full of typos and annoying capitalizations that I found SO ANNOYERZ. Like: “If they bother you, come to the Nurse’s Station for a change in your Tonic.” It kept jarring me out of the story. Did you notice that? Maybe I was nitpicking because nothing was keeping my mind from roaming.

Jenni: I did notice the capitalizations, but I found that it was always a place in the Haven or the name of a product inside the place that was capitalized so I kind of got into the groove of it and was able top get used to it pretty quickly.  I figured that was just how things were handled in this place, everything was branded.  What really bothered me was the missing words and misused punctuation.  Now, I know we are reading uncorrected proofs, but I don’t think I have ever come across one that was so jarring to me I almost couldn’t read it. Happy to report that in the second half that died down a lot or maybe I just got used to it.

I think my rating would boil down to about a 2. The reason for that is that I felt that there was really no plot for much of the novel.  They talked of escape but never even touched upon how they were planning on doing that.  At about 60% it was still just Shiloh finding stuff out about the world inside the Haven and outside, and nothing was actually HAPPENING. Did that bother you?

Giselle: Not as much, but I agree it was sluggish at first. I’m thinking it was meant to keep us on our toes, guessing what the Haven was really about and being cryptic and all. I was still expecting them to escape and the actual plot would start there, though. Although, once we find out the purpose of the Haven hospital, I got quite interested in the story. It was kind of freakishly fascinating.

Jenni: Yes! The purpose behind the place was one thing that I found very cool about the novel, it was unlike anything I have seen touched upon in books before, very horror-movie-ish. I also liked how the way Shiloh viewed the world changed throughout the story, the way she processed seeing things that were completely foreign to her was interesting and garnered a laugh from me here and there.

Giselle: Haha yes, especially when it came to touching and kissing etc. On that note, what did you think of the romance? I found the side characters kept blending into one another, so for a while I couldn’t keep straight who was the love interest. I kept mixing him up with the guy in the wheelchair. More characterization could have been used here, especially with the slow pacing.

Jenni: I didn’t mix them up, but I didn’t get any feeling that the crush was anything but superficial. Maybe it was because we were getting the details through Shiloh’s mind and she was pretty numb to it all, but even once she was opened up to romance it never felt like a real romance to me.  The characterizations were definitely lacking, I didn’t feel like we got a strong feel for any of the characters that ended up being pretty important at the end of the book.

I guess I kind of felt like Shiloh, I felt numb to this book, and like none of it came to matter to me because nothing happened and I didn’t get to really know anyone.

Giselle: Yes – superficial is the perfect description! Maybe that’s the point – that we were meant to feel the same detachment that Shiloh was conditioned to feel? Buuut this caused the whole story, especially the twists, to lack excitement – though I still found much of it interesting, if that makes sense. When we find out the twist, I was more like “Oh ok. Ouch.” instead of “OMG”, you know? I wasn’t emotionally invested in it the way the book/plot/ending was surely hoping to make me.

Jenni: I agree.. ha! Look at us agreeing, funny that in our very first discussion review we feel much the same about the book.  I think the idea behind this book was very cool and unique but it just missed the mark in so many areas that I can’t call it a success.  Makes me sad because I have LOVED the 3 other books I have read by Williams. Don’t let this deter you from her books, Giselle!

Giselle: It sounds like she’s better with contemporaries. I loved the grotesque nature of The Haven as well as its originality. Its weakness is that it tried to be an emotional character driven story, but with their closed-off personalities and lack of distinct voices, it didn’t quite make it.

Also, our next discussion review should be for a book we disagree on, we have to show our friends how vicious we get!

Jenni’s Rating:


Giselle’s Rating:


Review: Timestorm by Julie Cross

Review: Timestorm by Julie Cross

Posted by on 01/20/2014 • 21 Comments

*Spoiler free for the series*

While I enjoyed Tempest and Vortex, this one was explosive to a whole new level!

I can count on two hands the number of times I was entirely surprised by an ending. I usually catch on, at least to some extent, to what direction it’s going to spin (mostly because I think up SO many theories that one of them has to be close to being right), but Timestorm is a freaking masterpiece of an ending that caught me completely off guard. It also left me in a puddle of emotional goo. It’s tragic, beautiful, and perfect for this story, but still, there is a part of me that is so torn! I guess we’ll call it bittersweet. The ending was not the only great…

Review: Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers

Review: Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers

Posted by on 12/06/2013 • 23 Comments

If you would ask me point blank if I enjoyed reading this novel, my answer would be no. Because can you really enjoy something that hurts so much? Can you find delight in something that pisses you off so much? Now, if you asked me if this novel is one that needs to be read? Not only is that answers yes, but I would also add that this is a story that I’m thoroughly thankful for. It shines the most brutal light on bullying, not giving us a choice to look at it first hand. To experience the pain, the remorse, the emptiness that our protagonist feels. And Courtney does this in a way that ambushes you, with a narrator who was once a bully herself; a girl who has…

Review: The In-Between by Barbara Stewart

Review: The In-Between by Barbara Stewart

Posted by on 10/18/2013 • 21 Comments

Wow this book was… something. After a near-death experience, Elanor has a new visitor. Someone who becomes her best friend, almost like a sister. But this person is not actually real, is she? Is Elanor mentally unstable? Or is she being haunted? Also, what is happening during her blackouts? This story was so strange at times; definitely a mind-f*ck. Nothing is ever made clear, leaving you to question every single thing – her sanity especially. It’s what I loved most about it, but unfortunately it’s what will make this book a hit or miss for many.

The In-Between, based on the generally low rating from my friends so far, is obviously not a book everyone will enjoy. Its got a fairly slow pace with ambiguous string of events and a…

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Posted by on 09/03/2013 • 31 Comments

This book was just so… refreshing! Reading it brought me to my happy place and we just all need books like this once in a while!

I think a big reason I adored this book is that I saw a lot of myself in our protagonist, Cath. Cath is an introvert who uses a hobby as a way to escape – hers is writing fan fiction. That was very easy for me to connect with. I could understand her passion and the importance of it to her no matter how others saw it. The book also brings up a very real setting during the first year of college. College can be overwhelming especially for people like Cath who get nervous in new places and social interactions. A lot of the…

Giveaway: What Goes Around by Courtney Summers

Giveaway: What Goes Around by Courtney Summers

Posted by on 08/26/2013 • 6 Comments

Being a big fan of Courtney Summers and her fantastically raw writing style, I’m excited to share her upcoming new book What Goes Around which is a two-in-one featuring both Cracked Up to Be and Some Girls Are. I read Cracked Up to Be just a couple of months ago and it is, for sure, a must-read for any contemporary reader! You can find my review here, if you’re curious! 🙂 And thanks to St. Martin’s Press, I have a pretty copy up for grabs! Also don’t forget to Like Courtney’s page since she’s likeable and all that jazz! 😉

Read an excerpt, here!


St Martin’s Press has generously offered a paperback of What Goes Around by Courtney Summers for giveaway.

Review: Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn

Review: Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn

Posted by on 05/10/2013 • 27 Comments

This book takes mind-fuck to a whole new level–and excuse my french, but there is really no calling this one any different.

Charm and Strange is… well it is very definitely strange. This is probably one of the most baffling books I’ve read. I was unable to stop thinking and questioning and wondering about every single thing that was going on in this book. It felt like it was going to go one route, only to leave me completely bewildered by the direction it did take. While you will likely want to discuss this book the second you turn the last page, once the ending comes, so does clarity. The confusion is not an irritation while reading either, on the contrary, it’s a fascinating and spellbinding confusion that keeps you…

Review: Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers

Review: Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers

Posted by on 03/18/2013 • 31 Comments

Already being a big fan of Courtney Summers since I read This Is Not a Test, I knew before going into this that it was going to be a ride with a lot of feels! So much feels!

Parker is the definition of a snarky bitch. She has an attitude you want to slap her for, but as a protagonist she’s especially amusing and definitely entertaining. The used-to-be cheerleading captain turned angry emo tells us that something has happened to this girl to change her so drastically. This “something” is told to us via strange behavior from Parker which seem insignificant at first, but as the book progresses the feeling gets more urgent, and is mixed with flashbacks that leaves us wondering what the heck exactly happened here. These flashbacks…