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Review : The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak

Posted by on February 18, 2017 11:40 pm in 4 stars reads | 1 comment

the impossible fortressThe Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak
Pages : 304
Genre : Fiction, (YA)
Stand alone
My Rating : 4/5

About the Book  :

The year is 1987 and Playboy has just published scandalous photographs of Vanna White, from the popular TV game show Wheel of Fortune. For three teenage boys—Billy, Alf, and Clark—who are desperately uneducated in the ways of women, the magazine is somewhat of a Holy Grail: priceless beyond measure and impossible to attain. So, they hatch a plan to steal it.

The heist will be fraught with peril: a locked building, intrepid police officers, rusty fire escapes, leaps across rooftops, electronic alarm systems, and a hyperactive Shih Tzu named Arnold Schwarzenegger. Failed attempt after failed attempt leads them to a genius master plan—they’ll swipe the security code to Zelinsky’s convenience store by seducing the owner’s daughter, Mary Zelinsky. It becomes Billy’s mission to befriend her and get the information by any means necessary.

But Mary isn’t your average teenage girl. She’s a computer loving, expert coder, already strides ahead of Billy in ability, with a wry sense of humor and a hidden, big heart. But what starts as a game to win Mary’s affection leaves Billy with a gut-wrenching choice: deceive the girl who may well be his first love or break a promise to his best friends.

My Thoughts :

On Friday I finished reading The Hating Game (review to come), which I liked a LOT, and I felt so taken by it that I didn’t expect to get into another book right away. But as I tried to choose which book would be next, I grabbed The Impossible Fortress and read a few pages… and then a few more… and then I was halfway through the book. I finished it on the same night.

It’s safe to say The Impossible Fortress is extremely readable. It’s light, fun, a bit nostalgic and really likable. Billy’s story reads like an adventure, his and his friends’ plan somewhat mirroring the game he is creating, and it’s a spot on representation of the teenage mind. The book feels quite cinematic, too, both for its story and its characters; it’s a great afternoon read that is incredibly easy to visualize as you flip through the chapters. It doesn’t have one boring moment, and the pace is just quick enough.

There’s a lot I enjoyed about it. Mary, for sure. And one thing I loved was how Billy made assumptions about her, and how he was sometimes wrong about them, too. It was cleverly done, and not in a too obvious manner, I thought.

Similarly, I also really liked the ending. It wasn’t too perfect or too depressing. Somewhere in between, surprisingly honest and refreshing.

It’s interesting to me that this book isn’t marketed as YA, because it might as well be. I’ve read harsher, cruder, more shocking books sold from the YA shelves, more than once. The Impossible Fortress has a tone and a pace that would fit really well there. I’m guessing the publisher is trying to reach the older crowd, people about my age who grew up in the 1980’s and will read this book out of nostalgia, and who would never venture in the YA section of the story. I don’t see it as a negative, but it does remind me how subjective and limiting these labels sometimes are!

All in all, The Impossible Fortress was a lot of fun. I greatly enjoyed Jason Regulak’s smooth writing. Worth mentioning is the fact that you can visit the author’s website and click “Play the Game” at the top to play the game Billy works on in the book. It’s quite fun too! :)

Review : Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Posted by on February 16, 2017 12:23 pm in 4.5 stars reads | 4 comments

simon vs. the homosapiensSimon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Pages : 320
Genre : YA
Stand alone
My Rating : 4.5/5

About the Book  :

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

My Thoughts :

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda received quite a bit of good buzz last year, and my expectations for it were, let’s be honest, really high. So much, that I was prepared to be disappointed.

But I wasn’t!

Simon is a fun, heartwarming and cute novel. So much humor! It put a smile on my face all the way through. Becky Albertalli’s writing is so good, too, I immediately felt I could relate to Simon and all he thought and felt. I loved his group of friends, which was diverse and very likable. Good friends are always a plus in YA fiction!

The book is a bit about coming out, yes, but it’s about a lot more than that too : friendship, love, growing up. It fells good to have a book where coming out isn’t the focus, yet it isn’t ignored or mentioned as a negligible detail. Simon felt real and complex, and it was clear that his identity wasn’t all about his sexual identity, though it was an important of him, as it should be. I believe such characters are important, and consequently Simon felt real and his story, very heartfelt.

I can’t think of anything bad to say about this book. It was extremely fun and filled with humor, without it eclipsing the more serious aspects of Simon’s life. And I know that deep, serious books are important in the YA world (I had two of these on my best of 2016 list, after all!), but I think “happy books” are equally as important. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens is definitely a happy, hopeful book, and I just can’t wait to read Becky Albertalli’s next novel, The Upside of UnrequitedOnly a couple months to wait now!

the upside of unrequited

Filling the Shelf – 240

Posted by on February 13, 2017 2:20 am in Book talk | 7 comments

Welcome to Filling the Shelf, or as many of you know it, Mailbox Monday! If you’re interested in joining the fun or seeing what other bloggers added to their shelves, click away! (but beware, visiting other mailboxes will probably add to your neverending wishlist!)

Good Monday all!

Hope you all had a great week! I posted only one review this week for Behind Her Eyesbut I’m hoping I can do better this coming week. I’d like to do at least 2 a week, which would bring me closer to my objective of reviewing half of my reading. Fingers crossed!

We had a super snowy weekend, which is my favorite thing. I spent most of it inside, working on a puzzle with an audiobook or reading by the window, watching the snow falling. There’s something about this weather that feels perfect for historical romance, a genre I rarely read but sometimes enjoy, so I seized the moment to read The Duke and I. I’d started it weeks ago without getting past page 30, and after this weekend I’m almost done with it. It’s a bit silly, in a good way, and I have been perfectly entertained.

I also added new books to the shelves. Three authors I’ve enjoyed in the past and one (Jason Rekulak) I’m looking forward to discover. I’m a huge Sophie Kinsella fan, especially her non-Shopaholic books, so I’m really looking forward to reading her new novel!

fillingshelf240a

My (Not So) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella – The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak

fillingshelf240b

Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson – The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

What books did you recently add to your shelves?

 

Review : Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

Posted by on February 11, 2017 3:11 am in 3 stars reads | 2 comments

behind her eyesBehind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough
Pages : 320
Genre : Psychological Thriller
Stand alone
My Rating : 3/5

About the Book  :

Louise is a single mom, a secretary, stuck in a modern-day rut. On a rare night out, she meets a man in a bar and sparks fly. Though he leaves after they kiss, she’s thrilled she finally connected with someone. When Louise arrives at work on Monday, she meets her new boss, David. The man from the bar. The very married man from the bar…

And then Louise bumps into Adele, who’s new to town and in need of a friend, but she also just happens to be married to David. David and Adele look like the picture-perfect husband and wife, but then why is David so controlling, and why is Adele so scared of him?

As Louise is drawn into David and Adele’s orbit, she uncovers more puzzling questions than answers. The only thing that is crystal clear is that something in this marriage is very, very wrong, but Louise can’t guess how wrong―and how far a person might go to protect their marriage’s secrets.

My Thoughts :

This was one strange reading experience for me, extremely readable yet somewhat unsatisfactory.

For the most part, Behind Her Eyes reads like any other psychological thriller. There’s a bunch of flawed characters, a story told through two point of views (Adele, the wife, and mostly Louise, the mistress), and an uneasy atmosphere slowly seeping through the pages. Through both points of view we get to piece together the truths and the lies, but we also get a glance at Adele’s past.

Overall, I would say the novel is hard to put down and a gripping read. The writing is fine, the plot is very intriguing and while Louise is a bit too naive/idiotic in her decisions, it didn’t bother me too much. I’ve known people who seem to always take the wrong decisions and create drama around themselves, and I feel that Louise was a bit like that, so rather than being bothered by it, I let it entertain me.

Much of the marketing for Behind Her Eyes mentioned the “shocking ending”, and I can see why. It’s surprising, unpredictable, and requires you to suspend your disbelief. It’s a conclusion that readers expecting a more, hum, regular reading experience might not like. I personally didn’t like it. I’m usually quite open minded about weird twists and surprising endings, but here, I felt that the book hadn’t prepared me, as a reader, for this type of ending. It’s not something you can foresee coming, except maybe if, like me, you let your imagination run really wild after having heard about said “shocking ending” (and I still didn’t figure it out).

While I had a lot of fun with this book, I would recommend it with caution. With its divisive ending, Behind Her Eyes will amaze some readers but it will also frustrate some.

If you’ve read it, let me know what your thoughts were about the ending!