Book Review: Final Draft by Riley Redgate

Title: Final Draft
Author: Riley Redgate
Publisher: Amulet Books, ABRAMS
Date: June 12th, 2018
Pages: 272
Format: Physical ARC
Source: from Publisher for a review

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads): The only sort of risk 18-year-old Laila Piedra enjoys is the peril she writes for the characters in her stories: epic sci-fi worlds full of quests, forbidden love, and robots. Her creative writing teacher has always told her she has a special talent. But three months before her graduation, he’s suddenly replaced—by Nadiya Nazarenko, a Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist who is sadistically critical and perpetually unimpressed.

At first, Nazarenko’s eccentric assignments seem absurd. But before long, Laila grows obsessed with gaining the woman’s approval. Soon Laila is pushing herself far from her comfort zone, discovering the psychedelic highs and perilous lows of nightlife, temporary flings, and instability. Dr. Nazarenko has led Laila to believe that she must choose between perfection and sanity—but rejecting her all-powerful mentor may be the only way for Laila to thrive.

Review:

Of all the books Amulet scheduled to release this Spring/Summer season, Final Draft was the one I was looking forward the most.
The premise sounds just right up my alley, as I also like to write and rewrite, so having a main character who’s so into writing was (in my case) a recipe for commonality.
Diverse representation is always a plus, and this novel represents pensexuality, homosexuality, Ecuadorian, Korean and anxiety (if I missed something, I do apologize!).

Reading Final Draft, when it comes to enjoyment, was like being on a roller coster. One chapter it was everything I wanted from a ya novel, when the other was dull, and I had to push myself to concentrate on the story.

The thing is, it was a similar experience to the one I had when I was reading Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Parts with the main character’s writing I didn’t find interesting, when other parts of the story were really good with some boring/not interesting enough moments.

Laila was an interesting, likeable character and it was easy to emphasize with her.
Her best friend, Hannah was awesome and it was a pleasure to read every page that included her.

However Laila’s teacher Nazarenko, who’s appearance is one of the most important (or remarkable) part of the book, was so unlikeable, that even today I find it hard to explain just how badly she got on my nerves.

Final Draft is not only a great choice for a reading pleasure, but it is also somewhat useful, as it contains some writing advices.

Even though I had a good time reading this novel, I have to admit that unfortunately it is (at least in my case) not a memorable piece. I don’t think that I’ll remember much about it even 6 months from now.

Nevertheless, I would still recommend it to young readers (and aspiring authors), especially to those who enjoyed Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.

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Book Review: The Girl with More Than One Heart by Laura Geringer Bass

Title: The Girl with More Than One Heart
Author: Laura Geringer Bass
Publisher: Amulet Books, ABRAMS
Date: April 17th, 2018
Pages: 288
Format: Physical ARC
Source: from Publisher for a review

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads): There are times we all feel we need more than one heart to get through. When Briana’s father dies, she imagines she has a new heart growing inside her. It speaks to her in her Dad’s voice. Some of its commands are mysterious.

Find Her!  it says. Be Your Own!  

How can Briana “be her own” when her grieving mother needs her to take care of her demanding little brother all the time? When all her grandpa can do is tell stories instead of being the “rock” she needs? When her not-so-normal home life leaves no time to pursue her dream of writing for the school literary magazine? When the first blush of a new romance threatens to be nipped in the bud? Forced by the loss of her favorite parent to see all that was once familiar with new eyes, Briana draws on her own imagination, originality, and tender loving heart to discover a surprising path through the storm.

Review:

Once I read the premise for The Girl with More Than One Heart I had a feeling it would be emotionally difficult, but I knew I want to read it.

My feeling was right. There was so many things that our main character Brianna had to go through: losing her beloved father, having a mom that suffers from depression, taking care of her brother who has autism and also losing her best friends in the process. My heart was wrenching for her because no 13 year old should go through what she went trough, but that was the reality of the story: life is sometimes unfair.

After Brianna’s father died, she felt another heart growing in her belly. It whispered her with her dad’s voice and sang to her songs her dad used to sing.
I love how the reader can experience that aspect of the story in two different ways: One, like magical realism, and other, like a metaphor Brianna created in her head to help her dealing with everything she went through.

This book made me sad most of the time, but it also made me angry at Brianna’s mom, because I couldn’t help, I was blaming her for Brianna’s misfortune.
If only she made more effort and thought about her children more, Brianna’s life would be so much easier.

As I understood, this book came to existence after the writer wrote her memoir after her own’s father death, who helped her a lot with her own son who is on the spectrum.
So in a way, writing this book was also some sort of therapy for Laura Geringer Bass.

The Girl with More then One Heart is a middle grade novel, but I think it could be read and loved by older readers too.
In all honesty, I even thought it was a bit too hard for younger readers, but I guess it was just my unintentional ignorance. It sometimes happens to me, I think something would be too much for children, when in reality, they are much stronger and can understand so many things so well.

The book is written in first person with simple writing style that reads pretty fast.

Even though I enjoyed reading this novel very much, I have to admit that I wasn’t invested the whole time and some parts I found a bit boring. That’s why I couldn’t give it higher rating.

But still, I would recommend this book to all generations, because it is a wonderful story that is hard to forget.

Reading Diary + Book Review: The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik (Blog Tour) @prhinternational #partner

I am so happy to be today’s host in The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik blog Tour.
I want to say thank you to Amanda Holman for giving me this opportunity, and to Penguin Random House, Viking Books for Young Readers for sending me a free copy of the book (ISBN (9780451480477) ).

Blurb:

This is Noah Oakman → sixteen, Bowie believer, concise historian, disillusioned swimmer, son, brother, friend.

Then Noah → gets hypnotized.

Now Noah → sees changes: his mother has a scar on her face that wasn’t there before; his old dog, who once walked with a limp, is suddenly lithe; his best friend, a lifelong DC Comics disciple, now rotates in the Marvel universe. Subtle behaviors, bits of history, plans for the future—everything in Noah’s world has been rewritten. Everything except his Strange Fascinations . . .

 

Reading Diary:

So… This time around I decided to do something different. Watching reading vlogs is something I enjoy doing in my free time, especially when I need that little push when it comes to my reading. As you probably already know, camera is not friend of mine, so I decided to track my reading in a different, but still similar way.
I decided to write a short reading diary, and take you with me (via pictures) to all the places in Zagreb that I thought would be great reading spots (yeah, I made it sound like I’ve been to soooooo many places, when in reality, I visited only few of them).

I enjoyed taking pictures and reading in public so much, that I decided to do this again some time in the future.

Without further ado, this is my reading diary…

 

May 23rd 

Wednesday morning and I am on a mission to take the most comfortable chair in McCaffe, so I could eat and read a bit before I have to go to work.
Of course, that specific chair was taken (because it always is) and I took the second best: just a regular spot.

This is my breakfast:

Some would say it’s unhealthy, but I call it breakfast of a champion. Reading champion that is!

In other news, I read 42 pages and the story is so far so good. The writting style is a bit messed up, but I like it. I like Noah’s friends, but since I read synopsis, I am affraid to get attached to them, because I am afraid I will miss them. There are so many pop culture references and I’ve learned so many facts about pop culture, like the one that Elvis Presley had a twin brother who died on birth.

 

May 24th

I started my day with a cup of coffee and a book. My kitten GiGi is my new reading buddy.

After our lazy morning, I decided to visit Botanical Garden in Zagreb, to do some reading before work.

I read cca 50 pages in Botanical Garden. It was so nice reading there, so peaceful quiet. There are so many places where you can just sit and enjoy your surrounding. Suddenly, I have an urge to watch Gilmore Girls, and I blame Noah Hypnotic.

 

May 25th

I decided to have some me time before work, so a book and a sheet face mask did their work. This is me, looking like panda:

I read around 80 pages (I’m on page 177 right now) and it’s getting really interesting. I wonder if a Fading Girl is a real thing? I should check it out on Youtube and let you know (fun fact: I checked it and no, it’s not a real thing. Too bad!).
I like Noah’s sister and yes, the story is actually going in the direction I thought it would, only it’s not as drastic as I thought it would be. At least it’s not for now, but who knows where the pages will take us!

 

May 26th

I woke up with an urge to read Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. Since I don’t have a copy here in Zagreb, I thought it would be nice to visit my favorite book store and while I’m there, see it the new book by my favorite author Paige Toon, Five Years from Now, is also available to purchase there.
Since it’s Sunday, I just kissed the door (in my defense, they used to work on Sundays) so I went to Zrinjevac park to read there.

 

 

 

 

 

After some time, I decided to it was a coffee time, so I was on a mission to get that chair in McCafe, but I was out of luck again, so I had to sit in  a regular spot.

This is my coffee and a cookie (because you have to eat something sweet while reading, right?):

After my big Sunday evening, I had only few pages left to finish a book, so I read it in my bed, with GiGi sleeping next to me.

 

Brief review:

 

Reading The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik was so enjoyable. I understand why someone would be turned off after reading the blurb, but you don’t have to worry.
It all makes sense in the end and is actually pretty realistic. I mean, it all has it’s why and how.

This is a wonderful coming of age story with the most interesting characters. My favorite was Noah’ sister Penny.

The story is full of pop culture references and you could actually learn a lot from those, at least I have.

I liked how Noah and his friends liked all the things my generation used to like (like Gilmore Girls and David Bowie) even though the story is set in this time.
I can’t help but think that it was the author’s nostalgia that lead the characters to listen certain music and watch certain shows, and also awoke my own nostalgia for those same things.
But in all honesty, I wish today’s popular people or shows were also mentioned (okay, Kardasians were mentioned, but I wished for more).

The writing style is somewhat unusual but I liked it. It reads pretty fast.

This story made me laugh so many times, but was also really touching and I would highly recommend it to everyone who like coming of age stories.

 

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Book Review: Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira

Title: Bookishly Ever After
Series: Ever After (#1)
Author: Isabel Bandeira
Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary
Date: January 19th, 2016
Pages: 378
Format: eARC
Source: from Publisher for a review

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads): In a perfect world, sixteen-year-old Phoebe Martins’ life would be a book. Preferably a YA novel with magic and a hot paranormal love interest. Unfortunately, her life probably wouldn’t even qualify for a quiet contemporary.

But when Phoebe finds out that Dev, the hottest guy in the clarinet section, might actually have a crush on her, she turns to her favorite books for advice. Phoebe overhauls her personality to become as awesome as her favorite heroines and win Dev’s heart. But if her plan fails, can she go back to her happy world of fictional boys after falling for the real thing?

Review:

First of all, let me praise this cover! It’s one of the most beautiful book covers I have seen lately, and what’s even better, it’s sequel’s cover is even more beautiful.

And now when we got all that beauty out of the way (sorry, I just woke up and I can’t think of any better phrase to express myself), let’s focus on what’s really important: the story itself.

If you already read the book, you might ask me: “What story?”. Yes, I know what you mean, because that’s what I asked myself more then few times while reading.
And the answer is: this one, at first fun, one dimensional story that dragged and dragged even though nothing important really happened, and made me lose my interest after the fist half of the book.
Honestly, it felt like I was reading a 700 pages long book, not a 378 pages one.

As I already said, the story is one dimensional. We follow Phoebe and her friends, read about their conversations which lack of significance, and there is no subplots.
It was like waiting for Godot in a shape of plot.
Guess what? Godot never came, or maybe he came after I fell asleep.

To be fair, I liked Phoebe. I enjoyed reading her comparing her life with life of her favorite characters, and how she asked herself what would her favorite characters do in certain situations.
I only wish that her favorite characters and books weren’t non-existent. I have never heard of those books or characters, and I feel like if familiar books and characters were part of the story, readers would enjoy this book more.

This book started really good, it got me in and I was having fun reading about Phoebe and her high-school drama, but somewhere on the way, I lost my interest and to be honest, I just skimmed the second half of the novel.
I found myself realizing that I didn’t care anymore, and if I wasn’t given this book for a review, I would probably DNF it.

However, I want to stress out that some of my goodreads friends really enjoyed this story, so if you were thinking about giving this book a chance, please do.
Maybe you will end up really enjoying it.

I usually love ya contemporary, but I guess this book just wasn’t for me.

Book Review: By Your Side by Kasie West

Title: By Your Side
Author: Kasie West
Publisher: HarperTeen
Date: January 31st, 2017
Pages: 352
Format: ebook
Source: Purchased

 

Synopsis (from Amazon):

An irresistible story from Kasie West that explores the timeless question What do you do when you fall for the person you least expect?

When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.

Only he doesn’t come. No one does.

Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn at first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?

Review:

If you know me, you know Kasie West is my contemporary queen.
I simply adore her books, and I always feature them in my WoW posts, because I am always eagerly anticipating her new releases.

Since I loved every single book she wrote, I don’t think I have to underline that my expectations for By Your Side were high as Empire State Building (and yes, I am copying that group/band Fun here).

I could blame my level of expectations for the fact that this was my least favorite book written by Kasie West I read so far (I still have to read her paranormal series).
I could, but I won’t, because, truth be told, By Your Side is just a solid contemporary story that explores mental illness.
When I say solid, I mean good solid.
You see, this book is good, but it isn’t special in any way, nor will it stay with me long (I mean, it will because I know it was written by West, but if it was written by some author I read for the first time, it’d probably end up in my “to-be-donated pile).

The story talks about Autumn who finds herself locked in a library for the whole weekend.
What would be a terrible experience turns out to be a bit easier event because she was not alone. Dax, a mysterious guy who goes to school with her, is there with her.
As they spend time together, they get to know each other better and become closer.

First of all, we bookworms would be happy as hell if we got to spend weekend locked in library (okay, maybe we wouldn’t be THAT happy, but still we wouldn’t mind because we love books).
Here, there is a totally different story, because Autumn is not a reader, so in my opinion, those two could have ended up being locked in the wood storage or steal depository, the story would be the same.

Second, what kind of library doesn’t have a landline??

Third, I don’t mind love triangles, but please, if you decide to put one of guys into coma and make him a part of love triangle, please give me a chance to meet him and potentially fall in love with him before you doom his destiny.
Therefore, I would prefer if this book had two more chapters in which we’d get to know Autumn, Jeff and their friends before the whole library thing.

The best part of this novel is West’s writing style. She is always amazing when telling the story, and this one was no exception.

I also liked was how anxiety was presented in this novel. From my own experience, it was believable.
Then again, I saw some reviewers saying it wasn’t presented properly, so I guess it depends on one’s experience and own observing.
I guess everyone handles anxiety in his own way, so interpretations can be different.

What turned me off from the story was how most of the characters were selfish and self-centered.
From Autumn’s friends who didn’t even notice her missing, to Autumn herself.
I get that she was anxious, but she was also selfish.
Jeff’s best friend (whose name I forgot) was also jealous for no reason other but because he was self centred.

All in all, By Your Side is a good book to pick up when you need a light read that will entertain you, but don’t expect too much from it.

The Secret Life of Lucy Lovecake Book Review (Blog Tour)

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I am so happy to be today’s host in The Secret Life of Lucy Lovecake Blog Tour.
I really enjoyed reading this book and I am excited to share my review.
I’d like to thank Janne Moller from Black & White Publishing, for giving me this opportunity.

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About the book:

Daisy Delaney’s life is pancake-flat. A talented baker and passionate lingerie specialist, she has wound up with no one to bake for and a career that hasn’t proved successful. But when she starts a delicious relationship with famous French author-chef, Michel Amiel, everything begins to look a bit more exciting.

That is until Michel’s bestselling cookbook is knocked off the top spot by newcomer ‘Lucy Lovecake’. His outdated recipes slide down the charts, while the popularity of Lucy Lovecake’s new dating cookbook is rising like the perfect sponge.

As Daisy teeters on the brink of love, how can she ever tell Michel that she is the mysterious Lucy Lovecake? Could he ever forgive her for finishing off his career? And more importantly, does Daisy even want to be with a difficult, egotistical, down-on-his-luck Frenchman just as her career is beginning to take off? Especially when she has some other very interesting offers…

the-secret-life-packing

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My Review

They say “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover”, but when it comes to The Secret of Lucy Lovecake, you should.
Why?
Because the story of this novel is exactly like the cover – girly and cute.

However, when it comes to synopsis, in this particular case, the story does not follow it in a way one would expect. Everything that’s being said is true, but there’s also a big part of the story that hasn’t been mentioned.
This is a story that talks about love interest and Daisy keeping secret from her lover, but it also talks about aspiring author on her way to become a published one, and her life after having a best-seller.

I really appreciated that aspect of the story, because it showed what publishing a book looks like, and in a way it made me learn something I didn’t know before.
I think mentioning it in synopsis wouldn’t hurt.

The story is written in first person, following Daisy’s POV.
Daisy’s voice is quirky and is really easy to read.
With really short chapters (84 in total) the book reads pretty quickly, and it is very likely that faster readers will finish it in one sitting.

On a quick note, I think the story would have been better without first four chapters (in those chapters we got to see Daisy’s life now when her book is bestseller, and then we go back into the past and follow the story from the beginning).

I liked characters in this story.
The one that stands out the most was Michel Amiel, who is also Daisy’s love interest.
I know it is stated that he is her boyfriend, but I wouldn’t use that word to define him.
He’s very complex and there is so much more then meets the eye when it comes to him. He suffers from depression, self medicates it with alcohol, he is very self centred, grumpy and overall one bitter man.
On the other hand, he can be fun and sweet.

Since this story is told from Daisy perspective, I wish the author (or should I say Daisy) gave us a chance to fall in love with him, or just like him better.
I mean, Daisy likes him, but we don’t see what she likes about him. Almost everytime she talked about him or described scenes with him, there was something problematic about him.
I wish we got to see why she fell for him.
Honestly, I feel like there was more connection between Daisy and Michel’s mother then between the two of them.

The end was very sweet and cute.
I can’t say I was 100% satisfied with the way the story was wrapped up, because it felt like the author decided to turn a blind eye on Michel’s depression (or maybe that is something that will get more attention in the next book).

Overall The Secret Life of Lucy Lovecake is a fun novel that I would highly recommend to chick-lit lovers.

3,75

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About Pippa James:

Pippa James is a full-time writer with a love for food, fashion and all things French. She is best known as Janey Louise Jones, author of the fantastically successful Princess Poppy series, with sales of over 4 million copies to date. Before Princess Poppy took over her life, Pippa James had always intended to write contemporary fiction and this debut novel is the start of a brand new series, perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes and Sophie Kinsella.

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Follow the tour:

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Early Book Review: A List of Cages by Robin Roe (Buddy Read)

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Title: AList of Cages
Author: Robin Roe
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Date: January 10th, 2017
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: from Publisher for a review

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads): When Adam Blake lands the best elective ever in his senior year, serving as an aide to the school psychologist, he thinks he’s got it made. Sure, it means a lot of sitting around, which isn’t easy for a guy with ADHD, but he can’t complain, since he gets to spend the period texting all his friends. Then the doctor asks him to track down the troubled freshman who keeps dodging her, and Adam discovers that the boy is Julian–the foster brother he hasn’t seen in five years.

Adam is ecstatic to be reunited. At first, Julian seems like the boy he once knew. He’s still kind hearted. He still writes stories and loves picture books meant for little kids. But as they spend more time together, Adam realizes that Julian is keeping secrets, like where he hides during the middle of the day, and what’s really going on inside his house. Adam is determined to help him, but his involvement could cost both boys their lives.

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About our buddy read

I read A List of Cages with Jasmine from How Useful It Is. She is an amazing blogger who’s reviews are always a pleasure to read.

Her review is already posted on her blog, so make sure to visit it and read her toughts.

We both composed three questions (Jasmine’s idea) for each other, and you can read her questions here on my blog (with our answers) and mine on her blog.

 

This book is the author’s first ever novel. Do you feel reluctant to read it?

Jasmine: No. I don’t judge by the author’s number of novels published. I saw the cover looks cute and by the glimpse of the synopsis, it sounds interesting. I always hope the book is good before I start reading and I am so glad my wish come true!

Irena: No! Since I started reviewing books I learned how important it is to give debut authors a chance, because they don’t have a fanbase that supports them (yet). I always like to give new authors a try so when a novel comes from a debut author, it kind of makes me want to read it even more.

 

What do you love most about this book?

Jasmine: I love that justice is served. I love it when a book teaches us things. This book is full of things to remember, especially, how your smiles can affect others.

Irena: I loved how this book carries an important message, but at the same time it shows teenage life in realistic way, describing not only dark moments that come along with the story it brings, but also fun momends in which friends bond. I loved how the author found the balance between the two.

 

Do you want the author to write more books?

Jasmine: Absolutely! Please write more!

Irena: I would be honoured to read more of Robin Roe’s work.

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My Review:

A List of Cages is not a book that grabs your attention immediately.
At least, it was not in my case.
I saw it’s cover on Netgalley, but didn’t pay much attention to it until I got an invitation to review it.
That invitation made me read what this story is actually about, and, since it sounded interesting and like something that could possibly make me learn something new, I decided to give it a try.
I am so glad I did! This book ended up as one of the best books I read in 2016, because of the powerful message it brings.

The story centres around two boys: Adam and Julian. It is told in first person, from both boys’ POV.

I loved how author managed for both voices to sound differently, which is very important for me when it comes to alternating perspectives.
I enjoyed reading both point of views, but I have to admit that Adam’s was more enjoyable for me, because Julien’s was sometimes too hard to read (emotinally).

That’s why I question whether the word “enjoyed” is the right one to use. This book was great, even perfect at some point, but it was also very, very hard at times.
Some situations in this story were emotinally draining.
Robin Roe is not afraid to tell the story in realistic way. There’s no sugarcoating.
The violence is described in a way that it is not too descriptive, but shows you enough to make your eyes tear up.

This is a work of fiction, but I honestly believe that similar cases to Julien’s are happening right now in the world we live in (I still remember one episode of Oprah Show that I watched when I was a kid, with three brothers with similar fate as Julien’s).
Therefore, A List of Cages is so important! I think people of all ages should read it, and after they do, they should talk about it, talk about what happened in this story and make others read it too.

This book tells us how important it is to find our voice and talk. And for those who can’t, we have to help them find their voices, encourage them in a way we can, and never stop talking.
There are so many awful things going on in the world right now, and raising our voices is one way we can at least try to make things better.

Although A List of Cages is a novel that talks about serious topic, it also shows life of teenagers in a realistic way.
There are funny scenes and everyday life moments.
Parties, chrushes and bonding also found their places on pages.
Because of that aspect, this novel reminded me of The Perks of Being a Wallflower (the movie, I still haven’t read the book. Oh, and in case you didn’t know, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is my all-time favorite movie. Ever!).

Robin Roe did an amazing job when it comes to characterization.
Her focus was not only on Adam and Julien who are “stars” of the story, but she also created side characters who weren’t only interesting, but also went through development as well.
My favorite character was Charlie. I loved his story and enjoyed reading about him.

The writing style is really good.
Once you start reading, it’s hard to stop, and it reads quickly.
If my Nook didn’t chrash in the middle of reading, I would probably finish it even faster then I did.

Overall, A List of Cages is a book that should find itself on everyone’s tbr lists.
I know that there’s still no book that everyone likes, but in this case, I really think that many people should at least give it a try.

5