Skip to main content

Weekly Reviews and Recommendations: Week 19

Hello, everyone! This week features one of the books on my top five favorites of all time, Misquitoland by David Arnold. It has an incredible plot that keeps readers engaged and wonderful imagery, but beyond that, Mim's voice shines in a special way that makes the story unique. It is definitely one of my top picks for summer reading (or any reading) books. Looking forward, I can tell you that there are some amazing books coming up soon as well as some interesting articles as we all look towards the school year. I've also been really happy to see that our reach is growing as we get more and more readers each week. Please help us keep this up by telling your friends and family, enjoying our other articles, and following us on social media which is a great place to find out about posts or extras for our followers. You can find us on Instagram (@readingwritingandme), Twitter (@readwriteandme), and Facebook. The comments are also a great place to share your thoughts on the reviews and your thoughts on the books we've reviewed. 


Mosquitoland by David Arnold (342 pages)
Overview: Mary Iris Malone has had enough. Enough with her father and her stepmother and Mississippi and enough of being kept from her mother. She decides that she has to go to Cleveland where her mother moved after her parents divorce. After walking out of school, she gathers a journal, some cloths, and her stepmother's coffee can of money and makes her way to the Greyhound station with her objective clear: Get to her mother before Labour Day. The objective is all Mim has to go on as she embarks on the craziest road trip possibly ever. Along the way, through many detours both good and bad, she learns about herself and develops more ideas about how the world works. It is hard to write a description of this epic journey because I don't want to spoil any of the delicious details, so you'll just have to trust me that you will not be disappointed. Overall: 5

Characters: 5 Mim Malone is a standout character. From the opening page, as with all five star books, her voice grabbed my attention. I loved her perspective on the world and her slightly sarcastic slightly cynical outlook on both the world and her situation.
As for the other characters Mim encounters along the way, Arnold does a fantastic job of building even the most minor of minor characters in a complete and utterly Mim way.

Plot: 5 Mim's journey is certainly an unbelievable adventure with so many twists and turns and zigs and zags that an exception for the story cannot be established and therefore no element of surprise can be used. Each page lead to more remarkable pages making me never want to get off the rollercoaster.

Writing: 5 Of course all five-star books shine because of their writing, but this one especially so. Mim's character has such a unique voice due to the unique style of Arnold's writing. It feels both stripped down and vulnerable as well as filled out with luscious language and descriptions creating an indescribable and completely fulfilling novel.
The other point I wanted to make about this book is that because of the inherent nature of grand runaway stories, many lack believability. Oftentimes this issue arises because the events are too farfetched or seem like they would be impossible for the character to actually overcome it in the way they did. In this story, that is not the case thanks to the construction of Mim's character. Even with some semi outlandish events, there was never a time when I felt Mim was incapable of overcoming the event or that she did it in an out of character fashion. By this token, Mim's strength and determination make her an excellent character that I am still in awe of from both a reader and writer prospective.

We Were Liars by E. Lockheart (225 pages)
Overview: Cadence is a Sinclair. The Sinclairs are a perfect, all American family who live off trust funds and know all about keeping up appearances event to her family. Each year Cadence, her mother, grandfather, and their two aunts along with the cousins go to their private island off the coast of Massachusetts. Until the summer Cadence and her three closest companions on the island, Gat, Mirren, and Johnny, turned fifteen their summers were idilic. Afterwards, though, all Cadence can remember about summer 15 is waking up on the beech in only her underwear and being rushed to the hospital. Since, she has battled crippling migraines that lead her to miss school and become socially isolated. After going to Europe with her father for summer 16, Cadence is back to determine what actually happened to her summer 15 and the events that lead up to her tragic accident. Overall: 3.5

Characters: 4 The Sinclair family is comprised of a slew of challenged characters. Cadence is grappling with the aftermath of an accident she barely understands while also challenging her family's ideals after some of the other Liars, particularly Gat, open her eyes to the errors of her family. In her determination to reinvent herself she dies her signature blonde Sinclair hair black and starts donating all of her things mostly to Goodwill in a protest to her family's materialism.
Gat is another interesting character that brings and outside perspective to Cadence about her families ways. Being Johnny's best friend and nephew to Aunt Carrie's boyfriend, Gat knows he doesn't belong. This is made worse by her Grandfather's insistence, born from underlying bigotry, that he doesn't belong because he is from Indian decent. Gat works to question the other Liar's belief system.
Finally, the character of the grandfather in an interesting one as he has a bit of a sadistic twist. He holds the power to delegate the money, the aunts's lifelines, and he uses this to play them against one another causing conflict and disarray.
The issue with these characters is that they lack a certain level of development beyond their interesting roles.

Plot: 4 The actual plot itself is quite interesting. There is a big mystery; a big question mark in Candence's mind around summer 15, and the plot of the book becomes solving it. This creates an interesting time of trying to discern clues from Candence's surroundings as well as the memory flashbacks that increase the longer she is on the island. My problem with the plot, more than anything, is with the writing that interferes with the clarity of the plot at times.

Writing: 3 For the positive notes on the writing, the concept is a very interesting one which got me to pick up and keep reading the book in the first place. Also, though there are some points that cause confusion, the overall  tone and use of the writing was easy to read making it a good, quick, summer read.
Clarity, though, is a big issue with this book. The issue manifests in many different ways throughout the book. The first that I noticed is how it jumps from memories of summer 15 to the current timeline of summer 17 without much differentiation. This left me wondering which timeline I was reading from sometimes for pages at a time. This was very disorienting and chaotic, and not in a creative way.
It is also clear that the author is experimenting with an unreliable narrator. I have read books where this is done very successfully like The One Memory of Flora Banks. Here, the execution was just not there leaving the reader utterly confused at the big reveal rather than surprised.
Finally, in some parts it bounced from third person to first person point of view with no warning and seemingly for no reason. There were passages in the middle of chapters before promptly handing the story telling back to Cadence. Perhaps if the author had taken better advantage of chapters instead of simply putting numbers counting of chapters in the center of random pages without concluding a scene, some of these devices would have been more successful. Instead it reads as one long narrative or a single chapter despite there being over 65 numbered chapters.

Comments

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Halsey's I Would Leave Me If I Could Poetry Review

  I Would Leave Me If I Could  by Halsey  I've started this review a couple times and scrapped all of them. I've written hundreds of reviews before, and this is the first time I have absolutely no clue how to review a book. It's not just because it's poetry. And it's not because I don't have thoughts on every single poem. I've read the book twice and scrubbed a million notes around her words and highlighted every poem on my second read through. I have so many favorites, and my heart feels like it's going to burst after finishing each poem. Halsey exceeded every expectation I had set to the high bar of her music. I almost feel like this book is too good for my review to remotely do it justice, so I don't even know where to begin.  This book is extremely vulnerable. Halsey has never held back on telling the ugly truth in her lyrics, but the poetry takes it so much farther. She has space to tell the entire story, fewer constraints than what will fit in

Blog Tour Stop: Like Home by Louisa Onomé

  Today, I want to shine the spotlight on Like Home by Louisa Onomé, which came out this week. That means you don't even have to wait to pick up a copy of your very own. Thank you to Turn the Pages Tours and Penguin/Delacorte Press for arranging this. So let's get into what this latest YA is all about! Synopsis: Fans of Netflix’s On My Block, In the Heights, and readers of Elizabeth Acevedo and Ibi Zoboi will love this debut novel about a girl whose life is turned upside down after one local act of vandalism throws her relationships and even her neighborhood into turmoil. Chinelo, or Nelo as her best friend Kate calls her, is all about her neighborhood Ginger East. She loves its chill vibe, ride-or-die sense of community, and her memories of growing up there. Ginger East isn’t what it used to be, though. After a deadly incident at the local arcade, all her closest friends moved away, except for Kate. But as long as they have each other, Nelo’s good. Only, Kate’s parents’ corne

YA You Need To Read: April 2021

It's already April! School has been super super hectic, and I'm starting my old job as a bookseller again, so I haven't had much time for reading lately (ironic, I know), but I did want to talk about some books coming out in April that I can't wait to read (one day) that might inspire you to pick them up. I particularly can't wait for My Epic Spring Break Up! It's been on my list for a while now (I mean, look at that cover), but I also found some new books that hadn't been on my radar while browsing around the internet that I wanted to bring to your attention.  Let me know in the comments what April books you can't wait for!  Zara Hossain Is Here by Sabina Kahn  April 6th Zara has lived in Corpus Christi, Texas for a while. She's always dealt with the Islamophobia that's rampant in her high school, but when the star football player gets suspended, Zara becomes the target of a racist attack by the rest of the team that puts her and her family'

Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi: YA Book Review

  Yolk  by Mary H.K. Choi Overview: Jayne is in fashion school in NYC. Well, she's enrolled. It's debatable how often she actually attends. June has a fancy job in finance, or that's what everyone thinks. But when June gets cancer, the estranged sisters are pulled together because June needs Jayne's identity to get treatment. By pretending to be her sister to get the life-saving procedure, June is forced to come clean and pull Jayne back into her orbit. Though their relationship stays rocky, they're suddenly glued together, forced to admit that their respective glamorous lives are actually filled with roaches and trauma and missteps. Overall: 5+++ This book made me happy cry (that's never happened while reading) and sad cry. Characters: 5 The book is told from Jayne's perspective in an extremely close first person. This book has plot. Things happen in the way that life happens, but it's mostly just characters getting split open and probed for all their w

Swimming Lessons By Lili Reinhart Poetry Review

  Swimming Lessons  by Lili Reinhart  Overall: 5 This is the first poetry book I've ever read in its entirety outside of Shel Silverstein, so I've checked off one of my reading goals for the year with this one. I've now read a graphic novel and a book of poetry. I've been anticipating Swimming Lessons  so long that I can't believe it's actually in my hands. I've been a fan of Lili since Riverdale, and I've continued to be a fan of hers even when the show got a bit too ridiculous for me to keep watching every week. I've been excited for the chance to get to see something completely created a controlled by Lili.  I'm not sure what I expected from Swimming Lessons . I think I had almost no idea what it would be like or the topics it would cover. After the first couple poems, I was completely hooked. In the intro, Lili prefaces the collection by noting that poetry has always given her solace in knowing other people felt the same specific emotions tha

They Both Die At The End

They Both Die At The End  by Adam Silvera (368 pages) Overview: Mateo and Rufus are both going to die at the end, but I'm guessing you got that from the title. The thing is, Mateo and Rufus don't know each other till the day they are going to die. After getting their calls from Death Cast, the new organization that lets everyone know that they are going to die with a call sometime after midnight. While trying to digest the news, they both turn their attention to the Last Friend app in search of finding another "decker" to spend their final day with. As the boys try to think of ways not to waste their final moments, they start to form a bond they never anticipated. Overall: 4 Characters: 4 I have to applaud Silvera for keeping his (mostly) duel prospective narrative voices so separate. Mateo and Rufus not only have different traits but totally different dialects. Mateo is Puerto Rican, quiet, and totally paranoid with a hyperawareness about safe. Both careful an

Writing Morally Gray Characters: A Guest Post by Laurie Devore, Author of A Better Bad Idea

Laurie Devore is stopping by the blog today to talk about her new book from Imprint, A Better Bad Idea , which is out now! This mystery/thriller/romance fusion is Laurie's third book, and it's a new twist on her usual contemporary YA stories. For this guest post, Laurie talks about crafting morally gray characters that your readers will still feel attached to and cheer on. Here's her best writing tips:  I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of what people will do when they’re pushed to their brink. While my new novel, A BETTER BAD IDEA, may seem like a departure in some ways from my previous novels, I actually think their DNA is quite similar. The stakes are higher, but as ever, this book is about girls making unimaginable choices because of their circumstances, whether self-inflicted or not.   I’m constantly thinking about what it means to write morally gray characters, and I think the main takeaway from me is that I’m just much more interested in what people do and w

Fear of Missing Out

Fear of Missing Out  by Kate McGovern  Overview: Astrid has a form of brain cancer called astrocytoma that causes a star shaped tumor to form near her brainstem. Though she was in remission, two years later, the cancer comes back, and Astrid becomes convinced that she won't beat the disease. She starts to pursue options that will allow her to have a life in the future, namely, cryopreservation. After essentially freezing her body, she hopes to wake up when there's a cure for her cancer so she can rejoin the world and see some of the milestones she fears missing. On the road trip to tour the Arizona facility, though, Astrid makes other realizations about her life and eventual death that alters how she sees her original plan. Overall: 4  Characters: 4 Astrid is relatable. She has a touch of dry, witty humor that makes her relatable. She loves her friends and family deeply, but she also has a conviction to follow what feels best for her. I appreciated how she always tried t

The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon: Romance Review

  The Ex Talk  by Rachel Lynn Solomon Overview: Shay Goldstein was born to be on public radio. She used to pretend to host a radio show with her dad when she was a little kid, and she was crushed when he passed away. Now that she's getting ready for her first hosting gig, Shay feels like she's making him proud. Well... mostly proud. He always loved the truth that radio brought out and her new show is built on a little white lie- the idea that she used to date her co-host Dominic Yun. Though they bicker like exes, they never actually dated (though they might be currently?). As the popularity of the show takes off, all of Shay's dreams are coming true, and she might actually have found her dream guy too. And then everything falls apart. But it's a romance, so I think we all know how this ends. Overall: 5 Perfect for: enemies to lovers fans  Characters: 5 I love Shay and Dominic and their show producer, Ruthie. They're all just great. Shay is super relatable. She's

Perfect on Paper: YA Book Review

  Perfect on Paper  by Sophie Gonzales (2021 Release!) Preorder The Book on Bookshop! Before I get into the review, I'm just so excited to be writing a book review! I hadn't finished a book since the end of September :(. Hopefully that's over now. Anyway... Overview: Darcy is like Hannah Montana. Well, kinda. She's not a secret pop star, but she does have a hidden identity. She's the girl behind Locker 89, home of the best relationship advice in California. Or, at least, at her high school. People drop a letter and $10 in the locker, and Darcy collects them after school when her mom, a teacher there, stays late. This goes perfectly until Brougham catches her. While it's a minor disaster, he has a fascinating Australian accent and some traces of charm, and he ropes Darcy into giving him personal relationship coaching to win back his ex-girlfriend. But maybe he doesn't want his ex-girlfriend back after all? And maybe Darcy could get over her painful crush on h