Small Admissions by Amy Poeppel

From its description, this novel sounded really interesting and quirky. And I’m all about quirky! I decided just to give it a go, so here is my review:

When grad student Kate Pearson’s handsome French boyfriend dumps her, she goes down in flames. All her confidence and ambition goes away, and all she wants to do is sit and mope and do nothing. Her sister and her friends do everything they can to get her out of bed but it seems like nothing will get Kate back into the real world. Miraculously, a disastrous interview leads to a position in the admissions department at the prestigious Hudson Day School. Kate is thrust into her job, where she has to interview all types of children for a position at the school. And then she has to deal with the parents who simply refuse to take no for an answer. She soon realizes that there is no room – or time – for self-pity during admissions season. As Kate tries her best to figure out how to make sense of her new job, her sister and friends find themselves going over and beyond in their efforts to keep Kate on her feet. Never mind that Kate seems to be doing perfectly well on her own without any of their interference…

While I’m all about quirkiness, this story was not doing it for me. I don’t think it had to do with the story itself. It was more that I really did not like the main character. Here’s the thing, I don’t mind characters that are a little bit bumbling or caught up in their own world. But Kate is a whole different story. Maybe it’s because I am an older sister and identified more with the character of Angela (Kate’s sister), but I found Kate exasperating. She literally did nothing to help herself, and made everyone else do things for her. I understand that an undergraduate degree does not always lead to the job in the area you want, and doesn’t always give you the skills you need to transition into something else … but you have to have some basic common sense! How do you not know how to dress for an interview or even how TO interview?! I get it, she was despondent and depressed … but it just irked me how she was so confused about everything in life, and literally knows NOTHING about how the world works. Where have you been living for so long, under a rock?! Sorry, I usually don’t get so ramped up but it just got too much, so much so that I couldn’t really enjoy the story, which was actually kind of funny. There are quite a few people who did enjoy this novel so I might be just an anomaly, but this book really did not work for me. I’m going to have to give this one a 1/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

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The Dying Game by Asa Avdic

Thank you to Penguin Random House and First to Read program for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.

The premise for this novel seemed so interesting, and I thought it would be the perfect read when flying off to my vacation destination. It was portrayed as a thriller … and we all know how much I love my thrillers!

In the year 2037, 7 people are chosen to participate in a 48-hr competition on the tiny island of Isola. Their prize: a top-secret intelligence position with the totalitarian Union of Friendship. Anna Francis didn’t really want to be a part of this. But as a workaholic bureaucrat with a 9-year-old daughter to care for, she didn’t really have a choice. Plus the Union President knows her secret … and if that was ever discovered, it would destroy her. However, Anna isn’t really a candidate for the position; in fact, she is the test. Her assignment is to stage her own death and then observe how the other 6 candidates behave from her hiding place. Everything is set in place… but then a storm rolls in, the power goes out, and the real game begins ….

This is one of those times where the premise is better than the actual story. I thought I was getting into something that would be intensely thrilling and packed with action. Instead, this book was slow paced, with tons of little anecdotes on Anna’s life before this competition. The author switched between different points in time and different characters. While this was interesting and appreciated, it made it super easy to guess what happened and what was going to happen in terms of the competition. That was a bit of a let-down because I was hoping it would be something of a mystery or a twist … and there wasn’t one. The novel may be set in 2037 but there really wasn’t too much that made it different than 2017, so that was a bit useless in my opinion. Overall, this novel just let me down. I was expecting a thriller but instead, I got an okay novel about a competition where I had already guessed the main points of the story.

Happy reading ~

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Mass

Colleen Houck, who is a New York Times bestselling author, wrote that this book would be an ideal read for fans of Game of Thrones. I love Game of Thrones. Ergo, I believed that this novel would be worth giving a try. I waited about 2 months to get to this novel and I was happy to hear that it was part of a series; if it ended up being as good as I imagined, then I could add this series to my To-Read list. Anyways, here is my review:

When 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is given the chance to escape her sentence of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier, she jumps at the chance. Never mind that it involves serving a kingdom that she despises, never mind that the King of this kingdom was the one to order her to Endovier in the first place. She is just happy to have a chance at freedom. But there is a catch: Celaena must first compete against a slew of other warriors for the position of Royal Champion. With the Crown Prince as her sponsor, Celaena sets out for the competition, feeling confident in her ability to defeat her opponents. Although all of them are men, she knows that none can match her in speed or skill. But as contestants start turning up dead, Celaena must reconsider what the real danger is. Can she find out who the killer is before she becomes the victim? As the assassin begins to investigate the mysterious death, she is led to a greater destiny than she could ever have imagined.

Let me start by saying that this book has a lot of potential. The story line is great and the female lead is spunky and full of charm; she is definitely likeable and readers will be rooting for her from the start. There is the right blend of transparency with mysteriousness in Celaena and it had me intrigued throughout the novel. That being said, this novel was definitely not comparable to Game of Thrones. It is a young adult fiction and firmly stays in this category. There is a lot of teen romance going on in the novel – which works well for a YA fiction. However, I was expecting a lot more depth, both in character interplays as well as in language, considering that this novel was compared to Game of Thrones. It is a great series, full of action and fantasy and hidden destinies… but it was certainly not what I was expecting. I would recommend this to anyone who loves young adult fantasy, as this is a unique and cool story with a badass main character. But if you are expecting this to be on the level of Game of Thrones…well, you will be disappointed. If any of you have already read this novel and have read other books in this series, then please do let me know if I should continue with it or not!

Happy reading ~

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

First of all, HAPPY NEW YEAR! 2015 has been such a crazy ride for me with a hell of a lot of ups and downs. I don’t know what 2016 has in store but I know that reading more books is definitely one of my top priorities! With that being said, what better way to kick off the new year than by writing a review?

When Celia is sent to her father, Prospero the magician, she could never have imagined that it would be the first step in her journey of becoming an illusionist. Prospero is not a mere magician who dabbles in tricks; he can manipulate and change the very core of an object. And this power has been passed on to Celia. Unbeknownst to her, Celia is entered into a challenge with no defined rules, where she will be pitted against an opponent who will be trained by another magician.
Marco is an orphan that is plucked from his shabby orphanage by a mysterious man identifiable only by his grey suit and cane. For years, he studies and trains to become a master illusionist for a battle he knows nothing about.
As Celia and Marco grow in their talents, they will be drawn closer together through the creation of the Night Circus. It is a circus unlike all others, with its ability to tempt all of the senses and fill every spectator with wonder. No one will be prepared for the final competition. Not even Celia and Marco.

This novel is beautifully crafted with exquisite details. Every aspect of the training process, every single design feature of the circus is highlighted and it all serves to make the setting come alive. I love the way that different characters play into the story and I especially enjoyed reading little snippets from their viewpoints. There were parts that seemed to drag on a bit but it was worth the push. I really enjoyed reading this novel and it is definitely on my list of favorites. Overall, a great way to start off my year!

Happy reading and happy new year ~