This review is a combined effort between me and my sister. We read a book and review it by asking each other questions related to the title we are reviewing. The idea is to provide you with two different perspectives: that of an English (Iris) and medicine student (Merel).
This review might contain spoilers, as we may discuss any part of the story (sometimes the questions we ask each other might be general, while other times they might touch upon something specific about the ending, etc). If you have not read the book and do not wish to be spoiled you might want to avoid this post.
I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Other Side of Lost by Jessi Kirby
Published by HarperTeen on August 7th 2018
Source: the Publisher
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Girl Online meets Wild in this emotionally charged story of girl who takes to the wilderness to rediscover herself and escape the superficial persona she created on social media.
Mari Turner’s life is perfect. That is, at least to her thousands of followers who have helped her become an internet starlet. But when she breaks down and posts a video confessing she’s been living a lie—that she isn’t the happy, in-love, inspirational online personality she’s been trying so hard to portray—it goes viral and she receives major backlash. To get away from it all, she makes an impulsive decision: to hike the entire John Muir trail. Mari and her late cousin, Bri, were supposed to do it together, to celebrate their shared eighteenth birthday. But that was before Mari got so wrapped up in her online world that she shut anyone out who questioned its worth—like Bri.
With Bri’s boots and trail diary, a heart full of regret, and a group of strangers that she meets along the way, Mari tries to navigate the difficult terrain of the hike. But the true challenge lies within, as she searches for the way back to the girl she fears may be too lost to find: herself.
Iris asks Merel:
You never hiked a trail like in The Other Side of Lost, does reading about the John Muir trail make you want to do so?
As you know, we have plans to walk the West Highland Way, but because of conflicting schedules we, unfortunately, haven’t gotten to it. The Other Side of Lost did make me want to speed up the plans! I do believe that hiking a trail, like the one Mari did in The Other Side of Lost, allows you to get to know yourself in a different way. The type of society we live in is so active and I feel that I always have to respond to things immediately. I think taking a break from all that could open your eyes to what is truly important in life.
Did you think The Other Side of Lost needed the romance, or would you rather have read about Mari’s journey without the romance?
Well, I am a sucker for a good romance, but I don’t think the book necessarily ‘needed’ the romance. I loved the bits where you could see something growing between Mari and the love interest, but the book was about Mari’s growth and her process of overcoming her fears and loss. Had the romance been present even a little bit more than it was it would have bothered me, but as it was in the story I did not mind it one bit. I loved all the romancy-parts!
Mari sets off on her hike without telling her mother (but she does leave her a message). In the book, it is not touched upon what her mother thought of her daughter’s decision. What did you think about that?
Ha, I am happy you asked! In a way I thought the ending was beautiful. Mari learned a lot about herself and I think the ending symbolises that character development. However, I do not think it is very realistic. Even though she faced herself and her actions during her journey, she never truly faced it back in ‘the real world’ where she struggled so hard to appear as the perfect person. Moreover, she never faced the consequences of her actions. Her leaving like that, not saying anything to her mother. I do not think any mom would be okay with that. Facing her mom and aunt, and maybe even the loss of her cousin would have made the story complete for me.
What did you like most about The Other Side of Lost?
Oh, this is a horrible question to ask! How can I choose… There are multiple things I loved about The Other Side of Lost, so I’m going to split this question up!
Favourite character: I could easily choose Mari. She is easy to relate to and very likable. However, I am going for Josh! To me, he represents everything this book is about. He had his own struggles, but always made time for others. I loved how Josh knew who Mari was from the very beginning, yet never judged her or made her explain herself. He respected her for being there and gave her the space to figure things out on her own. Additionally, Mari and he had great chemistry, so that worked in his favour, haha.
Favourite moment: There are quite some moments that made me laugh out loud. (Yet another reason why I really enjoyed this book.) But I think the moment that made me laugh the hardest was after Mari was nearly swept away by the river and all her stuff was wet. When they went to bed she realised that she didn’t have a tent or sleeping bag to sleep and I laughed very hard at how they tried to make sure that Josh would share his sleeping bag with her. Especially when they yelled at them from inside their tents.
Favourite part: I love how Mari came to realise that she was worth more than the amount of likes and comments on Instagram and that only she could decide her own worth. The fact that she met some truly amazing people who liked her for who she was (and how they helped her get to that point) made me fall in love with this story even more. And I don’t just mean the friends she made along the way (who are all individually amazing by the way), but I’m also talking about Bri’s guidance. Bri’s quotes from her travel journey always seemed to fit what Mari was experiencing, and they too helped Mari overcome her difficulties and insecurities. Mari walking and finishing the hike that she and Bri had planned to do as kids represented more to me than just a beautiful ode to her late cousin. It also represented her overcoming her struggles and finding her way back to herself to who she was as a person.
In the book, there is a stark contrast between the protagonist’s reliance on social media and her sudden venture into nature. What are your thoughts on that?
I do think that switch was a bit sudden. However, I think it was balanced out by the various moments where she has to fight the urge to take a picture and how she described the way she could use the light to her best advantage or what pose to make. So even though the change is sudden, it’s not like she immediately forgot about her online habits. If that had been the case it would not have been very realistic. I did like how in the end she took a photo of her/Bri’s boots at every stop!
What did you think of the side characters?
I liked most side characters in The Other Side of Lost. While some of them were a bit flat, it did not bother me. Looking at the storyline, I think this has to do with the fact that they did not need to have a whole lot of depth because the story was first and foremost about Mari. They were fleshed out enough to get a feel of them and that was enough for me. However, that does not mean that I did not enjoy reading about them! I liked Beau’s humour, how Vanessa looked out for Mari and how Bri sometimes made an appearance.
Merel asks Iris:
You, much like Mari, are very active on social media. Have you ever felt the way like Mari did at the beginning of The Other Side of Lost?
The thing about social media is that is it is really easy to lose focus of that matters and why you share your content. I love taking pictures and talking about books, which is why I talk about it on social media and share lots of pictures. However, it is so easy to think that people do not like what you post because they do not comment or like your picture. It is such a fine line and it can sometimes really get to me. I think we all want people to like what we do, and that is exactly what makes it so hard when they do not. Social media makes it so easy to show and see only the happy moments in life. It is easy to lose sight of the fact that EVERYONE has bad days. I have never truly felt like Mari felt at the beginning of the book, but I did come scarily close to it. The way The Other Side of Lost deals with these themes is what makes it a very powerful story.
Did you ever witness/receive a backlash like Mari did after her confession?
I definitely witnessed a lot of negativity and mean comments on social media. That is the thing I perhaps like least about it. I never experienced anything as bad as Mari did, but I have experienced some downright mean comments. You try not to let it get to you, but the truth is that it is hurtful and the mean comments always stick with me more than the positive ones.
Mari’s hiking the John Muir trail practically untrained. As a hiker yourself, did that bother you? Do you think it is realistic and safe for an untrained person to undertake such a hike?
Hiking a trail like that untrained is something I would never ever do. The risk of injury is big, and inexperience can be incredibly dangerous (can even get you killed). I would never undertake something of the sort untrained, however, that does not mean it does not happen. I know it happens because I have even seen it happen more than once. It does bother me, but there is a slight nuance here because Mari does have the proper gear (not taking in account that she would have had SO MANY blisters because her feet are not used to the hiking shoes or the amount of walking she did). She is taught how to properly use it (after she meets Bri’s friend), which made the story much more believable to me. Is it safe? No. Is it unrealistic? A bit, but it happens more than you would think. I think it did not bother me that much because I knew when I started reading the book that Mari was going in untrained.
What did you think about the ending of the book? To me, some things were resolved, yet quite some things still hung in the air.
One one hand, I liked the way The Other Side of Lost ended, because leaving things open like that is realistic. I liked knowing that Mari had changed as a person and it was up to her to continue the change after her hike. However, on the other hand, I would have liked for Mari’s mother and aunt to have made an appearance at the end. I think that was the only thing I truly felt was missing from the story.
The book showed quite some contrast between ‘online life and friends’ and life as it is experienced offline. What are your thoughts about this? Do you think that this is something that our generation needs to think about?
I do not think having online friends is bad. In fact, I made some great friends online and I love meeting people I know from social media in real like. That being said, there is a certain distance involved and sometimes people can make themselves out to be different than they are. Moreover, people being kind online and ‘liking’ your pictures does not mean necessarily they are your friend. You need to be careful. Careful not to live your entire life online, because that can make you feel incredibly isolated. Fact is, you might have very good friends online, but sometimes you just need to spend time with someone in person, be able to call someone and hang out with them.
And I almost forgot to ask the most important thing of all: What did you think about the book?
The Other Side of Lost was an incredibly enjoyable read. I really like the way it portrayed the negative aspects of social media, as they are themes that certainly need to be addressed more. It was a quick read, once I started reading I finished the book in no time. If you are looking for a meaningful and fun read that won’t take too much time to get through, The Other Side of Lost is definitely the book to choose!
I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Grit by Gillian French
Published by HarperTeen on May 16th 2017
Source: the Publisher
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"His presence beside me is like heat, like weight, something I’ve carried around on my back too long"
Raw and moving, this contemporary realistic debut novel will leave readers of E. Lockhart and Gayle Forman breathless as it unflinchingly unfolds the tragic secrets being kept in a small, deceptively idyllic Maine town.
Seventeen-year-old Darcy Prentiss has long held the title of “town slut.” She knows how to have a good time, sure, but she isn’t doing anything all the guys haven’t done. But when you’re a girl with a reputation, every little thing that happens seems to keep people whispering—especially when your ex-best friend goes missing.
But if anyone were to look closer at Darcy, they’d realize there’s a lot more going on beneath the surface. Staying out late, hooking up, and telling lies is what Darcy does to forget. Forget about the mysterious disappearance of her friend. Forget about the dark secret she and her cousin Nell share. Forget about that hazy Fourth of July night. So when someone in town anonymously nominates Darcy to be in the running for Bay Festival Princess—a cruel act only someone with a score to settle would make—all of the things that Darcy wants to keep hidden threaten to erupt in ways she wasn’t prepared to handle…and isn’t sure if she can.
As the title of this post might give away, Grit wasn’t quite what I expected it to be. When I read the synopsis for the first time I expected a mystery or something thriller-ish, and that wasn’t quite what I got. The story was mostly concerned with Darcy, the main character, and the obstacles she has to overcome in the course of the story. Which is fine, just a slight adjustment of expectations, if it wasn’t for the messy plot the first third of the book.
The first third of Grit I felt like tons of things happen, but it doesn’t go anywhere at all. Despite the great writing, beautiful writing even, the first part just fell completely flat for me. This is such a shame because I think it would have been perfect if the plot had been cleaned up a bit. Between the job, the family, the mystery of the Fourth of July night, the pageant, and the budding romance there’s just too much going on to really enjoy the story. The plot felt too busy. All these different aspects just didn’t seem to click for me. I think the story could’ve done without the pageant bit, and instead delve deeper into some other aspects of the plot.
As for the protagonist, Darcy, I really enjoyed the dynamic she had going on with her sister and cousin. I appreciated how important family was to her, and I think she showed a lot of strength and determination with all that’s going on. But (yes there’s a but, I’m sorry) sometimes I just couldn’t connect with her. I felt bad for her because she didn’t deserve all the shit thrown her way just because of something she did in sophomore year (that circulated), but I found myself liking her less and less near the end of the book.
The writing saved this book for me. Gillian French knows how to use similes to her advantage, that’s for sure, and I liked how she portrayed the people inside the town. The second third of the book was done very well, especially the edge between Shea and Darcy. That edge combined with the sisterly love throughout the story made the story more or less enjoyable for me.
I did not know what to do with that ending. It didn’t work for me. I felt like it wasn’t in line with the rest of the story.
I really hate to say it, since I was really really excited about the premise of the book, but Grit was a bit of a disappointment to me. The plot was divided and just too much. I think a bit of cleaning up could turn this book from ‘okay’ possibly into something really good. The writing, the tension, and the sisterly love saved the story in my opinion, and for now, I’ll settle with saying that Grit was an ‘okay’ read.
By Your Side by Kasie West
Published by HarperTeen on January 31st 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Love & Romance
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In this irresistible story, Kasie West explores the timeless question of what to do when you fall for the person you least expect. Witty and romantic, this paperback original from a fan favorite is perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Morgan Matson.
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 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?
By Your Side is pure sweetness! Kasie West has once again written an outstanding and magical love story! I do have to admit that I was a bit skeptic at first. Going into this story I expected it to be a tad surrealistic, because how on earth would NO ONE realize that someone (beloved daughter, best friend, whatever) was missing. The whole concept just seemed a little surreal to me. BUT: I should have known not to worry because we’re talking about Kasie West here: queen of contemporary writing!
By Your Side starts off incredibly cute (and a bit of a cliché): boy and girl get trapped in a library for three days in the middle of winter. Initially, they don’t really want anything to do with each other, but then, unavoidably, feelings slowly start blooming between them. And that’s where the cliche’s end. Which, obviously, I am not going to tell you anything about because I don’t want to spoil anything for you.
I loved the slowly blooming romance between the two and you can’t help but root for them along the way. Kasie West takes it slow and it gives Autumn and Dax a chance to fall in love with each other beyond the physical attraction. There’s fluff, there’s adorableness, there are moments to swoon at. Totally loved Autumn and Dax together.
Now the big question: does By Your Side go beyond the romance? Does it have depth? I am so glad you asked: YES, It does! Autumn suffers from anxiety attacks and Kasie West has tackled this disorder so well, while still sticking to the light and fluffy feeling that you expect from any contemporary read. I won’t share too much about Dax because I think telling you too much will become spoiler-y. I promise you though that his character has plenty of depth as well.
By Your Side is a fluffy read with a deeper underlying meaning to it. Highly recommend this read to anyone that wants a cute and fluffy read, but wants a little something ‘more’ added to the story.
I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Ruined by Amy Tintera
Series: Ruined #1
on May 3rd 2016
Genres: Fantasy & Magic
Source: the Publisher
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Emelina Flores has nothing. Her home in Ruina has been ravaged by war. She lacks the powers of her fellow Ruined. Worst of all, she witnessed her parents’ brutal murders and watched helplessly as her sister, Olivia, was kidnapped.
But because Em has nothing, she has nothing to lose. Driven by a blind desire for revenge, Em sets off on a dangerous journey to the enemy kingdom of Lera. Somewhere within Lera’s borders, Em hopes to find Olivia. But in order to find her, Em must infiltrate the royal family.
In a brilliant, elaborate plan of deception and murder, Em marries Prince Casimir, next in line to take Lera’s throne. If anyone in Lera discovers Em is not Casimir’s true betrothed, Em will be executed on the spot. But it’s the only way to salvage Em’s kingdom and what is left of her family.
Em is determined to succeed, but the closer she gets to the prince, the more she questions her mission. Em’s rage-filled heart begins to soften. But with her life—and her family—on the line, love could be Em’s deadliest mistake.
It feels like forever since I managed to read a book for myself, but once I got this beauty from Harper Collins I was pretty damn excited to sit down and read away. Even more important, I finally felt like sitting down and writing a review about it after I finished this gem of a fantasy! Ruined is a strong start to a new and what appears to be a VERY promising YA trilogy!
Em is a great main character. She doesn’t have magic, and in her kingdom this is seen as a weakness, as ‘useless’. Opposed to what her kingdom thinks, she’s a very capable and strong person. She doesn’t need magic to make her fierce, her strong will and determination do the trick for her. She puts together an elaborate plan to get revenge, but that doesn’t quite go according to plan.
Em’s plan seems to go quite smoothly, until it doesn’t anymore. This is the only somewhat predictable part of the book. It’s not hard to figure out what makes her doubt her initial plan. I mean, she has to pretend to be the wife of the prince, it doesn’t really take a genius to figure out what could go ‘wrong’ there and how shit could go seriously wrong in a matter of seconds if her secret came out. But I didn’t found myself caring about the predictability at all, simply because the romance was amazingly well-done. A slow-burner, a wonderfully well-written slow -burning romance between Em and the prince. What’s not to like?
I really liked how you get to experience the events in Ruined both from Em’s perspective and Cass’s perspective. I enjoyed being able to see both their sides of everything that happened, it makes it easier to understand their actions and their reactions.
I really hope we’ll get to know more about the backstory in the sequel. For a first book in a series Ruined had the perfect amount of info to intrigue the reader and to make the world stand out, but I do hope there’ll be more worldbuilding in the sequel, as I’d love to know more about the Ruined, both as a people as well as their powers. They are feared by all society and I’m thinking there could be quite an interesting story behind that.
I just love it when a book is action packed, has a budding romance, and a kickass heroine hell-bent on revenge for her parent’s murder. Those are all the right elements to make for a great read. Ruined is a very strong start to a new series and I can’t wait for its sequel! For all you fantasy lovers out there, Ruined is one book to put on the wishlist!
The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
Published by HarperTeen on October 6th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Fantasy & Magic
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What if you aren’t the Chosen One? The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?
What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.
Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.
Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions.
Award-winning writer Patrick Ness’s bold and irreverent novel powerfully reminds us that there are many different types of remarkable.
The Rest of Us Just Live Here, the copy I got from my Secret Santa this year, GLOWS IN THE DARK. I had it on my desk and woke up in the middle of the night and it took me a while to figure out that it actually was my book that was glowing. It’s the first glow-in-the-dark cover of a book I own, never thought I would say that. Also… Confession: This was my first Patrick Ness book.
The Rest of Us Just Live Here is different from any YA book out there
The Rest of Us Just Live Here was different from other Young Adult books. There simply is no other way to describe it. I knew it from the very first page, and as a result I was a bit confused the first few chapters. There’s talk about ‘Chosen Ones’ and ‘Indie kids’ and I literally found myself thinking ‘what am I reading’. Fortunately, that only lasted a little while, once I got used to the writing style I found myself completely absorbed into the story.
Tells the story of the characters that aren’t hero’s: normal people
What I loved most about this book is that is tells the story of the characters that aren’t hero’s, characters that could care less about immortals and zombies and the mysterious stuff that’s going on in their crazy town. They’re just normal people that want to get through senior year and graduate (before anyone blows up the high school, again). I love that Patrick Ness chose to write about normal people, because aren’t we all? Now I can’t say I see zombie deer’s running around every day, or that my school was ever blown up, but Mikey and his friends are as ‘unchosen’ as we are. Fun part was that we got to read about what the indie kids were up to as well at the beginning of every chapter, and it makes for a wonderful contrast between their and Mikey’s (and his friends’) lives.
No diversity to for the sake of diversity
Yes, FILLED with diversity! Mikey, our main character, suffers from anxiety and OCD, and (as far I can be a judge of this) I felt like it was a very realistic portrayal of OCD. The fear he has of being caught in a loop and not being able to get out made The Rest of Us Just Live Here such an emotional read. I felt so much for him, especially the way he felt like the least wanted person in his group of friends. Which left me a blubbering mess. But that’s not where the diversity ends: Mikey’s sister, Mel, recently battled anorexia, he has a best (gay) friend named Jared, and then we have Henna, the (African) girl he has a crush on. It’s not just diversity to for the sake of diversity though. They are ordinary people who have their own problems to overcome.
While Patrick Ness’ writing took a little getting used to, but once I did I fell in love with it. It’s a beautiful book, one that packs a punch. It’s a Fantasy and a Contemporary all in one, and it’s perfectly balanced. I highly recommend this one to anyone who’ll listen!