Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

Seven Days Of You by Cecilia Vinesse (review)


2.25 stars

Sophia has seven days left in Tokyo before she moves back to the States. Seven days to say good-bye to the electric city, her wild best friend, and the boy she’s harbored a semi-secret crush on for years. Seven perfect days…until Jamie Foster-Collins moves back to Japan and ruins everything.

Jamie and Sophia have a history of heartbreak, and the last thing Sophia wants is for him to steal her leaving thunder with his stupid arriving thunder. Yet as the week counts down, the relationships she thought were stable begin to explode around her. And Jamie is the one who helps her pick up the pieces. Sophia is forced to admit she may have misjudged Jamie, but can their seven short days of Tokyo adventures end in anything but good-bye?

The first thought that came to mind when reading the premise of Seven Days Of You was its similarity to Anna And The French Kiss: both take place in a foreign country, explores the dynamics of a group of friends attending an international school, and of course, the main character falls in love with a shit load of drama ensuing. And while each book has its pros and cons, its similarities and differences, I have to say Anna And The French Kiss was infinitely better while Seven Days Of You was infinitely worse. Care to stick around to find out why?

This story is set in Tokyo, Japan — and the author makes it clear the minute we scan our eyes over the page. The book is brimming with descriptions of neon lights, Japanese cuisine, and the hints of culture Sophia sees every day. I could definitely feel the colorfulness pop off the page immediately, but my interest died down quickly because of how hard it tried. The sprinkling of Japanese words here and there and the repetitive descriptions of Tokyo night life showed me nothing about the vibrancy of the setting, it was prime example of telling, not showing. Unfortunately, the pacing and plot didn’t do wonders for me either. The story takes place in the span of 7 days, and while I liked running motif of the countdown to when Sophia leaves for New Jersey on the top of each chapter, the pacing of the characters’ interactions and dynamics felt altogether rushed and unrealistic. It is difficult to tell a story that takes place over a week, but the romance and character development felt too dramatic and simply did not give me a sense of understanding and feeling for whatever Sophia was going through.

I can say with the utmost certainty that the characters were the worst part of this book, which does not bode well for a character-based reader like me. I can deal with an annoying, flawed cast, but these characters were simply created to start drama, angst, and be immature for the sake of being immature. Sophia was incredibly flawed and had inner conflicts, but her narration was one of a 7 year old. Her childishness, selfishness, and overall naivete made it so difficult to take her seriously. She actually reminded me of Isla from Isla And The Happily Ever After but far more annoying because everyone seemed to pine after her anyway, even when she made the stupidest, more illogical decisions.

Damn, if you thought Sophia was irritating, you’ve got a whole storm coming with the side characters. Mika, David, Jamie, and Caroline only exist to angst and start the most unnecessary shit. Mika and David was such assholes, but it isn’t even them, it’s the way their characters are handled in relation to Sophia. The way this supposedly tight-knit group of friends unraveled so swiftly within a week due to their own irrationality was laughable and so, so forced. The relationships between each of the characters were a colossal mess, complicated and dramatic for the sake of entertainment. Nothing felt real or organic, especially the ‘friendship’ between Sophia and Mika and Sophia’s relationship with her crush David.

I like how Vinesse tried to make the romance slow and just as awkward as falling in love for the first time, and while there were a plethora of awkward moments, it was told in a cute and relatable way. Unfortunately, my heart was not in it because it felt, again, too forced and unnatural. To start off, Sophia and Jamie aren’t the most interesting, fleshed out characters, so it was difficult to stay invested in them throughout. Also, Sophia and Jamie’s ‘damaged’ relationship in the beginning already felt very petty and over dramatic, more so when you find out what actually drove them apart. Their romantic progression from there went far too fast for me, within a week Sophia goes from avoiding Jamie at all costs to wanting to kiss him. The aspect of resolving their relationship and re-starting it fell completely flat for me.

If you’re a contemporary fan looking for a mature romance taking place in a unique setting, look elsewhere than Seven Days Of You. It has its mature moments here and there, but they aren’t worth sticking around the drama for. Anna And The French Kiss is much more entertaining in my opinion.

Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

Black Bird Of The Gallows by Meg Kassel |a rich fantasy unfortunately marred by a trope-y romance


3 stars

A simple but forgotten truth: Where harbingers of death appear, the morgues will soon be full.

Angie Dovage can tell there’s more to Reece Fernandez than just the tall, brooding athlete who has her classmates swooning, but she can’t imagine his presence signals a tragedy that will devastate her small town. When something supernatural tries to attack her, Angie is thrown into a battle between good and evil she never saw coming. Right in the center of it is Reece—and he’s not human.

What’s more, she knows something most don’t. That the secrets her town holds could kill them all. But that’s only half as dangerous as falling in love with a harbinger of death.

The natural response to the premise of Black Bird Of The Gallows would be to roll your eyes and mutter a half-hearted ‘pass’ because you’re too tired of the same paranormal romance plots being reused over and over again. However, looking at the praise this book was garnering so far ignited some hope in me, and while I didn’t hold candlelight vigils praying for this book not to be a Twilight repeat (looking back, I probably should have done that), I did let my expectations get high enough to be excited for this book. Well, fellow readers, I have been conned into a state of cOnFLict (the mix of upper case and lower case letters shows the stress this book has put on me). Once again.

I am conflicted over my feelings for BBOTG, but it’s easy to admit that discerning what I liked and what I did not like was a less painful process with this book. I loved the dark and moody atmosphere of Cadence, Pennsylvania (the setting of this book) and yes, small and somewhat mysterious towns are one of my fantasy weaknesses, and Kassel executed the vibe of them perfectly in this book. The world-building was also very original, I’m not used to harbingers of death the way I am used to vampires, werewolves, or fallen angels, but the mythology and history behind the harbingers and the beekeepers was completely new but well-done. I almost wish there was a sequel (fantasy standalones are quite rare) because the storytelling feels unfinished considering the amount of potential the world-building contains.

But, alas, I would only read that sequel if it was telling the story of a different set of characters. Angie Dovage is actually a very formidable heroine, she’s got a rough history and a complicated character due to it, and she’s also smart and admirably independent. Her best friends, Deno and Lacey, are a tad unnecessary until the very end, when they become considerably more significant and useful. Reece Fernandez is a goddamn bore to me, his chiseled jaw and sculpted abs aren’t as emphasized in this PNR, but regardless of the heavy descriptions and dialogue about his tortured soul, I really couldn’t attach an interesting personality to it.

It was my mistake not reciting a couple of mantras before preparing myself for the romance to hit, because man, was it painful. Practically instalove, and I was really holding out hope for something different because I heard such great things about this book. It’s clear Reece and Angie had an inherent attraction to one another but from the beginning, but the way they acted upon it and how quickly they got together felt wholly unnatural and forced. Their relationship has such a vague foundation, and while there are details later clarifying that foundation, it wasn’t enough to make their current romance believable. It’s upsetting, because the whole book is based on their relationship, and I just can’t put my faith in it.

This is just me, but I’m sure I would have been more content with BBOTG if there was a sequel to be released. With the introduction of certain characters, the intricacy of the world-building, and the amount of questions raised, there’s just too much unfinished work left to end it after one book. What about Rafette’s backstory? Hank’s backstory? What about Angie’s mom? All these questions are answered so quickly and swiftly like??  I think fantasy standalones just make me uncomfortable. They’re so unheard of.

In certain aspects, Black Bird Of The Gallows exceeds many standard PNR novels. The main character is actually competent and the world-building is existent. However, in other aspects, it simply sinks into the elements that make PNR so recognizable yet annoying, such as the ever present high school tropes and the unbelievable romance. I would recommend this to anyone who naturally loved the PNR genre, but don’t expect to find anything particularly special in the romance department.

Books, Original Post, YA Fiction

November 2017 wrap-up

This wrap up is a tad late, but I’m still enthusiastic about the fact that I read 9 books last month! How did that happen?! Either I’ve been slacking off on the constant piles of homework I have to finish or my time management skills have been improving. Let’s hope it’s the latter.

Books I’ve read:

Crown Of Midnight (Throne Of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas – improved writing +  furthered world building + badass Celaena (finally!!!) = solid 4 stars

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green – great mental illness rep, but unfortunately written side characters + a formulaic plot = unsurprising 2.5 stars

City Of Ashes (The Mortal Instruments #2) by Cassandra Clare – the NOSTALGIA + kickass characters + kickass demon fighting + kickass world building = delighted 4 stars

Gem & Dixie by Sara Zarr – interesting themes, flat character writing + overall bland composition = disappointed 2.5 stars

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman – unique mental illness exploration + thought-provoking, but too abstract and unfocused for me = inevitable 2.25 stars

Alex And Eliza (Aliza & Eliza #1) by Melissa de la Cruz – 18th century goodness + witty banter + too-cute-for-its-own-good romance = pleasantly surprised 3.75 stars

This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith – mostly predictable characters + unresolved plot points + forced romance = unhappy 2.5 stars

Just One Day by Gayle Forman – self discovery journey + relatable themes + sophisticated writing = emotionally affected 3.75 stars

Black Bird Of The Gallows by Meg Kassel – strong heroine + dark and atmospheric vibe, but a frustrating instalove-y romance = a very CONFLICTED 3 stars that is prone to change

November posts:

Anticipated releases: November 2017

Frostblood by Elly Blake (review)

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green (review)

This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith (review)

November mini-reviews

Anticipated releases: December 2017

The only other eventful thing (and relevant) that happened in November other than reading, was finishing season 2 of Daredevil. It’s kind of sad when you think about it, but I’m about to start Jessica Jones now and I’m hyped. Plus, speaking of Marvel, did y’all peep that Infinity War trailer???

Thanks for viewing this, peeps. Leave me a comment below with your thoughts 🙂