Unpopular Opinions Book Tag

I’ve seen this tag floating around a lot lately and it seems interesting, so I’ll take a crack at it. Unfortunately I don’t have any cool banner for it and don’t know how to make one (as a side note, if you know how to, please tell me!)… Anyways, here goes!
1. A popular book or series that you didn’t like.

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien, which is surprising to even me because I’ve always loved The Lord of the Rings films (The Hobbit film was a let-down for me). Sorry!
the hobbit

2. A popular book or series that everyone else seems to hate but you love.

Hmm, that’s a tough one. I feel like everyone says this, but I loved Twilight when I read the series. Now I hate it (had to read it for university and I couldn’t believe I’d ever liked it). But I liked it at the time…
twilight

3. A love triangle where the main character ended up with the person you did not want them to end up with.

I won’t give away any spoilers, but I’d have to say Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard.
red queen

4. A popular book genre that you hardly reach for.

This is a recent change for me, but I used to be a HUGE fan of contemporary fiction, specifically YA contemp. But recently I’ve been so bored by it, so I’ve been largely ignoring it. Sorry YA and contemp fans!

5. A popular or beloved character that you do not like.

Clary from Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series. Ugh, I can’t stand her (or the books). :/
mortal instruments

6. A popular author that you can’t seem to get into.

I’ll repeat: Cassandra Clare. I don’t get the hype surrounding her, to be honest…

7. A popular book trope that you’re tired of seeing.

Oh my gosh, I am so sick of teenage girls in any genre in YA being portrayed as “tough” or “witty” through the blatant overuse of sarcasm. I feel like YA is saturated with this ideal right now and it makes for the same character being reused over and over again by many different authors in many different books. Also, I hate when the unlikeliest person discovers secret powers for no apparent reason and therefore they can save the world/rescue the dude/do whatever without any sort of explanation. (*Ahem* Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard.)

8. A popular series that you have no interest in reading.

Tahareh Mafi’s Shatter Me series. I just couldn’t get into it.
shatter me

9. People say “the book is always better than the movie,” but what movie or T.V. show do you like better than the book?

I thought that the Insurgent film was leagues better than the book by Veronica Roth. Again: sorry!
insurgent filminsurgent
I tag you all!
-Ember Book Reviews

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ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins

anna and the french kiss2

4 ½ out of 5

When Anna is sent to the School of America in Paris, she doesn’t expect it to be the time of her life. She’s homesick and she is, quite literally, the only new student to be attending that year. Everyone already has their group of friends, and Anna, who doesn’t even speak French, knows she’ll have a hard time fitting in.

But when Meredith brings Anna into her group of friends, things start to change. Anna meets Josh, Rashmi, and the stunningly handsome Étienne St. Clair—an American boy with a British accent who lives in Paris and has a French first name. This group of friends, and Étienne especially, introduce Anna to Paris and, with the help of a little Canadian flag pin, help her to feel less like a foreigner and more at home. The problem? Étienne is taken.

The first of three novels that take place at the School of America, Anna and the French Kiss is an exciting story of travel and discovery, and a good introduction to Stephanie Perkins’s trilogy.

I’ll be honest—I read Isla and the Happily Ever After (Book 3) first and thought it was better [review here]. In comparison, Anna lacked the same level of steaminess and I longed for more one-on-one time between Étienne and Anna. Even still, I thought this was a really great love story and an excellent way to start off the trilogy. For those who read this book first, I’m sure they will have no complaints and enjoy the build up to the third and final novel.

Two things I loved: I loved how Anna’s dad was essentially Nicholas Sparks. It cracked me up because everything Perkins was saying about him is so true! She actually writes a really interesting commentary deeper into the book about how the character of Anna’s dad is cashing in on stories of tragedy when there are people out there who are actually living it. I guess that that’s true for most fictional stories, but I think there’s a right and wrong way to do it, and it really got me thinking. I also loved how vividly Perkins creates Paris for the reader. This book is such a great travel story. I just wish the characters had left the school more often and experienced lesser-known facets of Parisian and French culture.

As a side note, Étienne reminded me of my own boyfriend a bit, minus some of the less savoury aspects, which I think helped me to like it.

All in all, I really hope you guys liked this review and check out this book for yourselves! It was a really enjoyable read.

-Ember Book Reviews xxoo

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**Reminder** There is a giveaway happening! Check out the post here.

GALGORITHM by Aaron Karo

Galgorithm

3 out of 5

[ARC provided to me in paperback format in exchange for an honest review. Date to be released: May 5, 2015. Imprint: Simon Pulse.]

Shane is a seventeen-year-old love guru. Having already survived through one devastating and failed relationship, guys like the one Shane used to be (nerdy, shy, awkward around girls) seek him out for a little help in the love department. Using a formula Shane cleverly calls the “Galgorithm,” Shane teaches the dweebs of Kingsview High how to snag and keep a lady.

When one of his teachers takes notice and seeks out Shane’s expertise, things begin to go a bit awry and Shane realizes he’s taken on more than he can handle. Galgorithm is a story about quirky guys who just need a little confidence to get the girls of their dreams.

The Galgorithm failed to work on me, I’m sorry to say. When I first started the novel, I thought I would be head-over-heels in love with Karo’s writing. Karo is a comedian, and his humour definitely shone through in the first few pages. My initial impressions were very positive, finding similarities between Galgorithm and the film version of The DUFF (I have not read the book, sadly), if it had been told from Wesley’s point of view. It also seemed like it was going to be a light and refreshing read.

Unfortunately, we quickly fell into a rut. The narrative humour exemplified on the first two pages was quickly thrown out and replaced with hundreds of pages of dialogue with very little narration in between. It read more like a screenplay than a novel (perhaps the screenwriter in Karo shining through), and I would have appreciated a little bit more narrative description rather than so much talking. The dialogue itself was incredibly—almost mind-blowingly—repetitive. It was too perfect, to the point that it was cheesy and mundane. It is rare that the characters, even the ones in a bad mood, don’t have something positive to say, and it’s usually about Shane. Shane is constantly complimented or told that he’s an awesome or good guy, and nobody is that well-liked. Couple that with the fact that Shane’s middle name is supposed to be Aaron, the author’s actual name, and it felt very much like a Mary-Sue was happening here. As I read, I struggled to think of anybody who spoke in real life the way the characters do in the book.

I was also incredibly disappointed to find that one of the jokes used in the book was a joke that I first heard from British comedian Michael McIntyre on one of his comedy tour DVDs. Knowing that Karo is a comedian himself, I would have liked to see some original material in his novel. A few other issues that I had with the book involved the sense that Karo, at times, seemed to over-emphasize the diversity in his book, which made it feel less genuine, and the fact that Karo held the reader’s hand way too much, often stating what was happening in the plot when it was already obvious.

Finally, without giving anything away, the final nail in the coffin for me was this: the cliché happened. I am so disappointed.

-Ember Book Reviews xxoo

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten (Five) Characters I’d Like to Check in With

I heard about this post by The Broke and the Bookish through Erika the Bibliophile. I thought it was super neat because, as an avid reader, writer, and daydreamer, book characters are more than just fictional to me: my imagination transforms them into real people—friends—who I am convinced are still out there doing their thing to this day. So OF COURSE I fell in love with the idea of listing all the characters I wonder about on a casual (constant?) basis. Unfortunately, I couldn’t come up with ten characters that I’m all that worried about. Instead, I picked my top five. I’m also going to tell you all where I hope they’ve taken their lives, or where I think their lives might have gone based on where the book(s) left off. Hopefully you guys will comment and give me your two cents as well! I’d love to hear who your top ten (or five or seven or three-hundred eleventy-one) characters are.

#1. The Harry Potter characters

I know that Erika the Bibliophile also posted this as her number one, but can you blame her? I grew up with this series and was heartbroken when I read the final lines, knowing that I would never read them for the first time again. Like Erika, the epilogue wasn’t enough for me, but rather than wondering about the main gang (Harry, Ron, Hermione, Luna, etc.), I’m more concerned about the next generation and how Hogwarts is carrying on after the final battle.

Here’s what I think: I like to imagine that Harry’s son is a teensy bit evil. I don’t know why. I guess I just think it will thicken the plot a little bit (I felt that the epilogue led into a very boring story and I’d like to spice that up). I imagine him in Slytherin, but I picture him isolating himself from the other children and eventually taking a turn down the dark path. I mean, how crazy would that be? Harry defeats the Dark Lord just to have his son turn around to become Voldermort, the Next Generation.

hp harry's sonvoldemort

#2. Gemma from Libba Bray’s The Gemma Doyle Triology

Kartik was left in a tree. I mean, enough said, right? Not that Gemma can’t go on without Kartik or anything, but she really loved him. I guess I just wonder if that tree still stands, if Gemma eventually moved on but in her old age still thinks about him. I wonder if, like Rose in the Titanic, she spent her life with somebody else but her heart still truly belongs to Kartik. I kind of hope it does, but at the same time I feel sorry for the poor bugger she ended up with. (I mean, the ending of Titanic is great and all—it’s my favourite movie—but when she returns to Jack, IS NOBODY WORRIED ABOUT HOW HER POOR, DEAD HUSBAND IS FEELING LOOKING DOWN ON ALL THAT???)

gemma doyle

#3. Allie from The Vinyl Princess

It’s been a long time since I read this book, and I don’t remember the precise spot that it left off at, but I still wonder about Allie skateboarding through the streets on her way to work at the music store. Basically, Allie was awesome, I wished I could be her, and I think she’d make a freaking cool thirty-year-old, so I’d like to see that.

vinyl princess

#4. Hazel from The Fault in Our Stars

(Yeah, I refuse to call her Hazel Grace. That was Gus’s thing. It wouldn’t feel right for me to get to call her that.) So, if you don’t know how TFiOS ended, you’ve been living under a rock. Basically, I just want to know if Hazel is okay. I want to know if she’s still even ALIVE. But most of all, I want to know that wherever she is or wherever she left off, she still loves Gus with all her heart. What can I say? I’m a romantic. I hope she’s still best friends with Isaac, and I hope that they think of Gus whenever they play video games. I hope that Hazel has a little picture of her and Gus in Amsterdam tucked away somewhere that she pulls out to look at occasionally. I hope she spends lots of time with her parents. I hope that wherever she is, she’s happy.

tfios

#5. Macy and Wes from The Truth About Forever

This one’s a bit trickier for me. The book left off with Macy and Wes jogging down the beach together, and they make a cameo in another of Sarah Dessen’s novel, but it’s not 100% whether or not they stay together. That’s why it’s tricky: I want to know but I don’t. If they’re still together, I want to know. If they’re not, I don’t. I also can’t really picture what their happily ever after would look like. Do they have kids? Do they have a dog? A house or an apartment? Does Bert visit them in his ambulance? Is Macy still best friends with Kristy? So much of the novel was spent with Macy and Wes navigating boundaries and not with them actually together that it leaves me with too many question marks. I’m overwhelmed. I almost don’t even want to start looking for answers.

the_truth_about_forever

-Ember Book Reviews xxoo