{Rachel’s Reading Update} A Mixed Bag – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Posted April 8, 2016 by Rachel Lightwood in Reviews / 15 Comments

Reading Update:

Rules for 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern // ★★★½

FI hate when a book starts out strongly, but peters out as the story continues. It’s disappointing and kind of draining and exactly what happened with this book. For a second there, the witty banter, complex characters and wonderful writing style had me thinking I’d found the contemporary story to rival my favourite, Night Owls. But in the end I had too many small problems with the story that added up and effected my overall enjoyment: I wasn’t a fan of the MC, the love interest (Caleb) was such a great character, but wasn’t given the attention and development he needed to really shine, and the plot didn’t focus nearly enough on Rose’s ballet career for my liking. Ultimately, this story was raw, emotional, hard-hitting and thoughtful – which is why it is going to one of those stories that sticks with me. I loved the portrayal of family, and the exploration of free will and whether knowing how you were going to die would change the way you lived your life. I thought Rose’s obsession with trains was sweet and different. The romance had me smiling, but I needed to know Caleb better before I could by on board with it completely (yes, train pun 100% intended). I did like the general storyline and the writing style stole my breath at times, but I just needed more from Rose and the characters.  I’d definitely recommend this for fans of Things We Know By Heart though.

Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose // ★★★ ½

I find that I truly don’t have much to say about this particular read. It was for school, obviously. Now that I think about it, I don’t think I’ve ever picked up a play for simple pleasure reading…. but that’s not the point. This story should’ve been right up my alley since it’s largely a thriller, but it was pretty monotonous and a little slow. I did think it was engaging and realistic. It cast a pretty accurate (from what I believe) picture of life in 1957 America, but it was anticlimactic – and that ultimately made the book/play pretty forgettable to me. I was expecting some sort of Agatha Christie twist at the end, but it was all so straight forward. Hopefully studying it in school will give me a better insight into the story. I did enjoy it, but I think it could have been a lot better too.

Cloudwish by Fiona Wood // ★

I’m both crying and screaming in frustration right now. I don’t want to have to write a negative review for this, and the fact that I do have to it infuriating me. Fiona Wood’s Six Impossible Things was funny, relatable and slightly odd. I was hoping for something similar with Cloudwish, and I just didn’t get it. I found the writing style uncomfortable from the very beginning. I literally cringed after reading the first page. It was tried so hard to be “literary”, but it just didn’t work. On top of that I wasn’t a fan of the protagonist, the love interest or the failed attempt at romance (man was it underdeveloped and felt fake because of the magical realism element). Also they way that this book made itself seem so diverse pissed me off.  Yes, we had a POC protagonist. And that’s fantastic. It truly is. I loved that this book looked at the “boat people” stereotypes in Australia, they way it does justices to the Vietnamese-Australian community (IMO). But this one element of diversity doesn’t excuse the fact that all of the other characters were stereotype: one-dimensional, typical air-headed “mean girls” that bullied our MC for no good reason; a romantic interest. rich, jock guy that wants to live the life he wants, not his parents’ dream; a gay best friend; and a smart, bespectacled Asian kid. I’m all for diversity (you know I am), but this isn’t the sort of “diversity” I support.

The Ex by Alafair Burke // 

This is the first Alafair Burke novel I’d read. Unfortunately it wasn’t quite as good as I would have hoped. It actually felt like a raw draft so with some changes in structure, I really think there is potential in this book for it to become a powerful thriller. I enjoyed reading from a career-driven female lead (Olivia), but I thought her voice needed to be split into parts – present Olivia and past Olivia. The long, seemingly random tangents that the author is forced to go into to explain the history between Jack (the client/suspect) and Olivia – an important sub-plot of the central storyline – broke the story up and made it harder to follow. If those parts could have been incorporated as flashback chapters every now and again instead, it would have worked so much better. The fact that I also guessed how the story would end within the first 30 pages didn’t help my enjoyment of the story. The wait to see if I was right got a little tedious, and then the epilogue was just awful. It kind of implied this idea/theory/thing rather than told it out right, and I know that readers that didn’t guess it early on will be confused. But overall, I did enjoy this book. I don’t normally read mysteries from the defense’s POV so it was interesting to see how that worked and I feel like I learnt something about the American justice system. I’ll definitely be read more of this author’s works, especially her standalone thrillers, but this one wasn’t for me.

Ex Machina, Vol 3 by Brian K Vaughan, Tony Harris & John Paul Leon // ★★★ ½

*flails* For those that don’t know, this is my favourite graphic novel series. I have no idea what it is about these books that I love, but love them I do. The art is realistic and just stunningly coloured. It isn’t as gorgeous as the Amulet series, but something about its simplicity and believable characterization makes me happy. The story follows Mitchell Hundred – an ex-superhero vigilante with the ability to communicate with machines who is the current mayor of New York City. Even though it mostly just follows his political career with flashbacks to his vigilante days, I cannot help but be engaged. It’s somehow incredibly personable and realistic. I love Hundred as a character, and find it so easy to slip into this world. I think there’s only one more bind-up in this series, and I’m going to be sad to see it over with.

Currently Reading: 

I’m only 50 pages into Bruiser and somehow, despite the simplicity of the plotline, it’s all kinds of engaging. I’m not just enjoying it, I’m loving it! I really hope that keeps up. I’ve heard a lot of good things about this book so I don’t want to set my standards too high, but at the same time, I’m kind of expecting good things from this book. A Stolen Kiss has a great writing style. I actually love the way it feels so fairytale-like. The characters are adorable, and I’m really invested in their journey – they better work out this curse, or I’m going to be heartbroken!

Have you read any of these books before? If not, what have you been reading lately/at the moment? And have you read any Neal Shusterman books? I’m definitely interested in reading more of his books, but I’m not sure where to start.
Rachel Lightwood


Like what you see? Enter your email here to get Quite the Novel Idea directly in your mail box. Great, huh?

Enter your e-mail address below to receive new posts directly in your inbox!

15 responses to “{Rachel’s Reading Update} A Mixed Bag – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

    • The movie was a lot of fun! And because the ‘book’ is actually a play, the movie is almost exactly word for word the book anyway. If you’ve seen the movie, you’ve practically read the book too.

  1. I haven’t read any of these but The Ex has been on my TBR for awhile — I don’t think I’ll be in a hurry to read it any time soon. I have been disappointed in “thrillers” lately

    Sorry about Cloudwish — it’s so disappointing when a book by an author you’ve liked totally misses the mark!

    ♥ your mini reviews, as always!!

    Eva @ All Books Considered recently posted: Mini Reviews: Change of Scene and Beach Town by Mary Kay Andrews
    • You’re are way too sweet, Eva! *blushes*

      The Ex was okay. I’m not going to lie and say it was my fave because it wasn’t, but it wasn’t super awful. Just predictable. If you’re ever in a thriller mood again, I wouldn’t steer you away from it. It wasn’t that bad, but I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to find it either. I hope that you do find some good ones soon though. I adore thrillers myself so if I stumble across any excellent ones, I’ll let you know.

      I’m sorry about Cloudwish too. It just wasn’t what I was hoping for, at all. I’m hoping Wood’s next book will back to her usual standards. *fingers crossed*

  2. So Twelve Angry Men is one of my favorite movies ever, though I admit I haven’t read the book. We watched the movie in school too, it was for a class where we ONLY watched the movies of books, which was cool and weird. It’s definitely dated. But I think it actually shows a portrayal of how the justice system was maybe MEANT to be? Like the whole “beyond a reasonable doubt stuff”? (I am about to go off on a tangent so be prepared haha) My brother was on a jury for a pretty high profile case, and he wasn’t allowed to talk about it during, of course. But my parents and I like, obsessively watched the trial footage, and transcripts and crap and like… there was reasonable doubt. LOTS of it, if you ask me. Like did the guy do it?? Yeah, probably. But was it proven? Hell no. Which is what made me kind of furious when the jury came back with a guilty verdict, because what even!? I asked my brother about it, and he said he believed the guy did it (which, like I said, I am assuming he did too) but that the other jurors were going to convict no matter what, so what did it matter? And THAT is everything that is wrong with our legal system, right there. There wasn’t a shred of physical evidence, and a lot of circumstantial evidence. And in Twelve Angry Men, I feel like they actually LOOKED at the evidence and made the legally sound choices instead of just whatever their own minds thought. Obviously, today it should be called Twelve Angry PEOPLE, or JURORS, or anything but MEN 😉

    And aside from that rant, I hope you enjoy Bruiser! I love me some Neal Shusterman, and I own Bruiser, but haven’t read it yet so I am anxious to hear your thoughts!!

    Oh, and Cloudwish sounds like a hot mess. I have to check to see if it was on my TBR so it can not be if it was 😉 Great reviews!

    • I enjoyed the movie, but I think it wasn’t as good as the book for me – but probably because I read/studied the book first? You know how it is. You”re usually loyal to whatever medium you read/saw first. But the movie is actually pretty much word for word anyway (since the “book” is actually just the written script of a play). But yes, I think the old-fashioned-ness (yep, that’s a word I’m just now making up) of the actual movie really added to the feeling the movie/book/play was trying to achieve. I did enjoy the movie! And I don’t think I could’ve said it any better. 12 Angry Men (or people/jurors!) shows exactly what’s wrong with the jury/justice system – even today, like 60 years later. It’s pretty powerful, and I’m glad you loved it so much too!

      Oh, and while I never, ever say this – if you enjoyed the movie so much, I’d recommended just skipping the book. It’s almost literally word for word so there wouldn’t really be a point. And the 8th juror’s actor does so well in the movie – it’s worth just watching it again.

      I’ve finished Brusier since this AND IT WAS SO, SO GOOD! Definitely, definitely recommend you getting it off your shelf and giving it a go. My thoughts are coming in my next ‘reading update’. Stay tuned! #shamelessselfpromotionthere

      Yeah, I really, really wasn’t a fan of Cloudwish! Lots of people gave it 5 star reviews, and I just… I don’t understand that at all. Not something I’d recommend.

  3. Nathan

    I haven’t read the books you read. I am reading “Primate behavior 2nd ed. An exorcise workbook” for school and House of Night Betrayed. P.C. and Kristin Cast create a freshly different world.
    I am also reading some alien holiday romances I won from Paranormally Yours book blog. I rarely ever win anything and these are, while not something I ever would have chosen myself, are surprisingly enjoyable.

    • I haven’t read any of the Cast’s series yet. I’ve heard a lot of negative things about them so I’m a little put off to be honest. I’ll give them a go at some point though.

      Winning giveaways/comps is the best feeling, isn’t it!? I hope you enjoy your prizes.

      • Nathan

        Wining a giveaway is a great feeling. I have heard that the Cast’s first three or four books of House of Night series are good but later it might get a little to much slang-to much like teenagers of around 2010. Some people complain P.C.’s later works are a little to much about women being able to do anything men can. I haven’t read enough to say for myself. In the end it probably depends on what you want to read.

    • Samantha, you’ve found a new soul mate because NIGHT OWLS IS ONE OF MY ALL-TIME FAVES TOO! I love it so, so damn much, and am so glad to hear you do too. And thanks.

      • Oh my goodness, don’t get me started on how much I love Jack. Like… just JACK! He completely stole my heart and he hasn’t given it back yet, and it’s been months. Plus, the story itself was amazing and so was Beatrix. The whole thing was perfection.

        Thanks for playing comment tag with me, this is fun! XD

    • I have finished A Stolen Kiss since posting this, Micheline, and I actually quite enjoyed it. It wasn’t mind-blowingly good but it’s sweet and super well-written and the characters are amazing. Thanks, and you too! <33

Leave a Reply

(Enter your URL then click here to include a link to one of your blog posts.)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.