Book Talk: The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

Book Talk: The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren SumaThe Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
Published by Algonquin Young Readers on March 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA, YA Mystery
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1

Told in alternating points of view we meet two girls whose only connection is a girl named Orianna and mysteries that surround them. Violet is a talented dancer from a good family who is well on her way to pursuing her dreams. Amber is a girl who has been locked away in an all girl’s correctional facility for many years despite the innocence she maintains. Amber hopes for justice and Violet hopes for nothing to get in the way of what she’s earned but is something else already set in motion?

a2WAIT I DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!?

WhatJustHappened

a4

OKAY. So this was an interesting experience, guys! I’m LOVING LOVING LOVING the book. I’m TENSELY reading…just turning the pages as fast as my brain can keep up with because things are getting CRAAAAZY UP IN THIS BOOK. And then the ending happened. I didn’t get it. I literally did not understand what happened. So I reread the THING that happens that confused me. STILL DIDN’T UNDERSTAND. So I reread again because maybe the sun from the beach I was reading on affected me. NOPE. NO COMPRENDO. MY BRAIN STILL HURTS. So I googled “PLEASE SOMEBODY EXPLAIN THE ENDING OF THE WALLS AROUND US.” Google was actually real helpful. Sort of. I found two different explanations of the ending. I think the last one made more sense and I THINK is actually what happened. If what I read is what actually happened then it was an awesome ending and such a wonderfully strange & unique book!

I think the only downfall to this book is truly is that I didn’t understand what happened at the end — I don’t know if it was my brain or if the ending was legit kind of confusing. I was so amped about it from page one and then I really struggled with the ending. But before that there was a whole lot of things that were keeping me turning those pages.

I loved the writing — it was so fantastic and had this haunting and atmospheric quality to it that could cause the hair to stand on your arms. Half of the setting is in this correctional facility for girls and she just completely transported me into this place and this look into an all girls juvenile detention center and the effects of being there on the girls. It’s not a setting I think I’ve ever read so I was glued to the book in that way. I loved seeing how the inmates interacted and what life is like day to day but also this exploration of justice and freedom and how unfair sometimes the justice system is if you aren’t as privileged as someone else.

There was this underlying mystery and these undertones that constantly made you feel like something wasn’t QUITE right. It made it such a page-turner in addition to the way she completely immersed you into the setting. Twisty in all the right places, tension that feels palpable. I think a lot of this is due to the two narrators — Amber and Violet — because you aren’t quite sure if you can trust them. Are they guilty? Are they innocent? As you try to wade through the lies and the truths you get so tangled into both of their stories. But then we have this other character, Ori, who we don’t hear from but we know her as Violet’s best friend and Amber’s new roommate and slowly we get pieces as to why she ends up there.

 

a6RATING-reallyliked

factors+ writing, plot, page-turning abilities, uniqueness, setting
–  the fact I didn’t understand quite what happened at the ending at all

Re-readability: I’m tempted because I kind of like reading twisty books again after I know things
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Because it’s not a favorite, probably not but I sure hope my library has a copy of it because it is FANTASTIC.

a5lots of people! Readers who are looking for something truly unique, readers who love a little mystery

a8This book truly was on a LOVE level until the ending. I’m fine with having to really think about an ending but I get really frustrated when I can’t understand what happened so it honestly left a bad taste in my mouth even after how fabulous this book had been before that. When I read someone’s explanation I was back to OH MY GOSH WOWWW but ultimately having to google to understand the ending affected my overall feelings. Still very much liked it but I have to be honest about how the ending left me.

review-on-post-itThe Walls ARound Us review

 

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
If you did read it (and let’s mark spoilers in the comments), PLEASE CAN WE DISCUSS!! PLEASE!!

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

Halloween Reading Round-Up (Mini-Reviews)

I only read 3 of the 6 Halloween-ish books I set out to read in October. That makes me 50 % successful (see — glass half full thing). Part of it is being a mood reader and also this weird thing I’m going through. I really enjoyed the books I picked so I decided to round them up in one post and, at the end, talk about if I think they were good Halloween reads.

 

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children

 

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs:

What It’s About In A Sentence: Jacob’s grandfather has always told these tales about his life growing up that were filled with strange and unusual things but, when his grandfather dies, he realizes maybe they were not tall tales and embarks on a journey to find the orphanage where his grandfather grew up.

What I Thought: This book was delightfully strange & wonderful. The cover made me think it was going to be kind of scary but in fact, honestly, the bottom of my purse right now is probably scarier — this is more of a fantasy/supernatural-y kind of story. I really enjoyed this one and really marveled at the brilliant writing and storytelling and it’s a book I would hand to people who think that YA isn’t well written. Despite the fact this book wasn’t scary like I thought it would be, it still had a perfect Halloween vibe. The photographs that are scattered about the book really added to the story,  the depth of the characters and the general feel of this extraordinary adventure. There’s magic, strange happenings and this mystery that is just woven so carefully and so smoothly that you can’t help but find yourself mesmerized. I didn’t know what to expect at first and was curious about these tall tales that Jacob’s grandfather seemed to tell and then when Jacob starts questioning if they are made up stories I was just absolutely enchanted by this life he lived. I cannot wait to see what the sequel holds in this incredibly unique series.

 

RATING:

RATING-loved-it

 

 

The Fall by Bethany Griffin

The Fall by Bethany Griffin

What It’s About In A Sentence: Madeline’s family, The Ushers, are cursed — they are plagued with strange illnesses, are not able to leave the house that seems to haunt them and watch their every move and nobody knows how to free them from it.

What I Thought: This one was creepy but not scary! It’s inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of The House of Usher and I was a little familiar with it but not enough to really know what was going to happen. The writing was fantastic and I was drawn in immediately to this sinister house and its history though there were points that were kind of slow for me..like really slow. If I’m honest I’m still a little confused as to what happened at the end for sure and also I THINK I get what was behind everything but also maybe not? As far as atmosphere goes, this book had it. PERFECT book to curl up with on a cool Fall day and just get lost in the life of a girl who lives in this house where strange things happen and whose family has this mysterious illness that eventually kills them. The house became its own character really. I will say that sometimes, while interesting, the storytelling — the chapters alternate from Madeline at different ages — was hard to keep track of and I’d have to flip back to double check what age we were at. This book would definitely be a great movie and when I kept reading I was visualizing so many scenes and the setting of everyone room and of the exterior of the house and outside of the house. Very creepy and I’m glad I read it around this time!

 

RATING

RATING-LIKED

 

 

Rooms by  Lauren Oliver

Rooms by Lauren Oliver:

What It’s About In A Sentence: A family comes together to clean out the house of estranged patriarch and secrets and the past hurts come unearthed as the ghosts of the house, wrought with their own secrets, watch on.

I really liked this one! Lauren Oliver is such a great writer and I think her adult debut was very solid. It’s definitely different than her YA and I think those looking for exactly THAT could be disappointed as this is definitely more character driven and more of a slow paced story but it really worked for me. It was NOT scary at all if that matters to you. There are ghosts but it didn’t feel like a typical ghost story and definitely explored some emotional things. The family dynamics were fascinating — a family comes together to clean out the house of house of their ex-husband/estranged father. All 3 of them are carrying their own burden and secrets and then the other two perspectives we get are the two ghosts that inhabit the house who have their own secrets they can’t let go of.  The multi-POV’s can seem daunting at first but I really enjoyed the perspectives from the family members and also the ghosts because ALL of their threads in the story were SO fascinating to me and I got swept up in them and the ever so slightly unraveling mystery. Lauren’s writing is just so haunting and beautiful and so full of depth.

RATING

RATING-reallyliked

Overall Scare Factor Of My Halloween TBR reading:

So none of the books I read were super scary. The Fall definitely was creepy and atmospheric but not scary — definitely takes the cake for “scariest” out of these . Rooms wasn’t at all creepy or scary and the ghost element wasn’t of the scare variety. Miss Peregrine’s was delightfully strange and all the magic and supernatural elements made it a great Halloween read. They all, though The Fall & Miss Peregrine’s more strongly than Rooms, had that FEEL of a good Halloween read.

I will say next year I’m hoping to add an actual SCARY book into my reading experience (hit me with recs in the comments!!) but I’m really pleased with the books I chose for my Halloween reads! So if you want solid, non-scary books but still have that FEEL for your Halloween reading I’d check all of these out!

 

What books have you read so far in your Halloween/October reading? Any REALLY scary books to recommend to me for next year (or just good recs in general)?

Ashes to Ashes by Melissa C. Walker | Book Review

Ashes to Ashes by Melissa C. Walker | Book ReviewAshes to Ashes by Melissa C. Walker
Series: Ashes #1
Published by Katherine Tegan on December 2013
Genres: Paranormal YA, Supernatural YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

three-stars

 

 

 

book synopsis Callie dies in a tragic accident and finds herself in the afterlife which is not at all what she pictured. She’s stuck in a realm called the Prism which is where one goes after they die and before they go to heaven. The point of being at the Prism is that you learn to move on and let go of your former life and help the loved ones you left behind to heal and be at peace. Her guide Thatcher helps her to deal with her feelings and tries to help her learn about the Prism and the whole haunting process on earth. She struggles to see her dad, best friend and boyfriend in so much pain and she has a hard time letting go. Soon she meets some ghosts who are angry and have not yet moved yet and they will do whatever they can to stay on Earth. The things they tell Callie conflict with what Thatcher has told her and she struggles with letting go and moving on or trying to cling to her old life.

good books to read I’m familiar with the author’s contemporary novels, though I haven’t read them, and my interest was certainly piqued to learn she was writing something a bit more supernatural. The premise seemed interesting to me because I’m fascinated by “after life” kind of stories so I picked it up when I was in a pretty bad reading slump. My feeling overall was that it was an “okay” to “good” book but it was perfect to get me out of my reading slump because it’s so out of what I normally read. I read it all in one day and just COULD NOT STOP. It’s hard to explain because I know that it sucked me in but it wasn’t necessarily because it completely blew me away. I’ll break it down:

Things I enjoyed

 + the world building: I was very fascinated by Melissa’s version of the afterlife. After you die, you kind of hang in this balance and you are supposed to “haunt” your loved ones to help them move on and then you move on yourself. The way Melissa wrote the afterlife just completely set the mood and I enjoyed learning how the “moving on” process went and how things work in the Prism. We learn everything through Callie’s guide, Thatcher, and it really started to get interesting when some characters emerged who DIDN’T move on and started telling Callie conflicting things from what Thatcher was telling her. I kept wanting to figure out the truth and see if Thatcher was keeping things from her about the whole process.

+ Callie’s own moving on story: Callie’s death actually became more devastating to me as she went and haunted her old life. The scene with her dad really choked me up. Even though Callie was a bit much to handle for me personally, I did cut her some slack because of the fact she’s dead and has to watch her old life  — especially when she starts to find out something about someone close to her. I enjoyed watching her try to grapple with the fact that she’s in this afterlife and decide what to do with the information she’s presented with. Her emotions were very strong and I couldn’t even imagine having to watch your loved ones mourn you and feel so connected to your life. It got even more complicated when she starts hanging out with some of rebel type ghosts because we watch her struggle with the idea of moving on or staying like that forever so she can be “a part” of her old life still in a way and not let go of it. ALSO, part of the story was that Callie seems to have more energy and be a bit “special” comparatively to the others. THAT was pretty interesting and I was dying to find out why.

+ how the ending sets up for book 2: MAN. Game changer kind of ending and I think the story has the ability to be super interesting because THINGS.

Things that were MEH

+ the pacing: While I was interested in the worldbuilding personally, it was just very uneven. It was pretty slow moving in the beginning, which I don’t even mind, but it seemed like the end just because VERY break neck. All of this info came at us and all of these things happened and there was just so much. Wish it had been a little more even. I was intrigued from the beginning so I was committed but it definitely had pacing issues.

+ Callie: I couldn’t figure that girl out. It was hard to get a sense of who she was before and all I knew of her was what we got to know in her time of grief when she was dead. I didn’t feel like she was all that developed for my taste and I really didn’t like connect with her. I think her confusion and grief over dying stood out to me and leapt off the page but that’s about it. Something was off with her voice but I couldn’t even begin to try and explain that. I also found her very naive in ways to an almost unbelievable point. I mean, CLEARLY there was something different with her and she just shrugged it off.

+ The ending: As much as I said I LIKED it up there because of the potential it brought with it, I totally had an inkling about it and thought it was maybe a bit predictable.

book reviewsAshes to Ashes was the sort of book I needed to get me out of my rut because it was a different kind of read for me being paranormal. I read it all in one day because I was fascinated by this version of the afterlife and thought the mood of the afterlife and Callie’s grieving was written really well. However, there were things that definitely detracted from the story like pacing and Callie herself in ways. I wouldn’t say this is a MUST READ but I found it to be an entertaining read. I’ll be reading the conclusion to this duet for sure though!

short book review

Ashes to Ashes Melissa C Walker

for-fans-of-book
afterlife stories, books like Touching The Surface & The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg, paranormal/supernatural books

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it? If you read it, what did you think? Did you find the setup of the afterlife interesting? Did you guess the ending? Any predictions for book 2? Have any of you read any of Melissa Walker’s contemporary novels and do you think I’d like them?


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

three-stars
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