Allison Reads

Questions?   I am a college student living in Michigan and a majority of time not spent on school-related tasks is spent on reading. I read a lot of young adult but I do not stick with that alone; I equally enjoy what could be called "adult" fiction and certain works of non-fiction and poetry. Here, in the best ways I can, I will be reviewing and discussing books and authors that I like (or dislike), among other things. You can find my Goodreads account here.

What am I reading now?


goodreads.com


★★★★★

This was an amazing read. It was quick and fairly easy to comprehend but the subject matter was so disruptive and the prose was so beautifully done that the pace didn’t seem at all intrusive. I was also extremely pleased that there wasn’t a glaring romantic element; when all was said and done, I was really quite content with the way that the romance did occur. 
The story of Lina and her family was heartbreaking and I think it is important that Sepetys brought this aspect of the time period to light. Every character had their role and every character was interesting and worthy - from the little girl and her doll to Andreas to Jonas to Nikolai. Every death or every journey had the same amount of emotional attachment so that I didn’t go a page without feeling some sort of agony for these characters.
When I came to the conclusion, I found myself trying to hold back tears (while waiting for a class in the hallway surrounded by people, nonetheless) and I reread the last few pages (an epilogue set in the early 1990s, if I remember correctly) several times because I didn’t want the story to be over.  Sepetys brings everything to a close very nicely and doesn’t sacrifice the beauty in her writing for an ending that seems unnatural. 
I would recommend this book to anyone - even if they aren’t a typical young adult reader. Be prepared to feel an entirety of emotion and still be given an accurately portrayed history lesson.

★★★★★

This was an amazing read. It was quick and fairly easy to comprehend but the subject matter was so disruptive and the prose was so beautifully done that the pace didn’t seem at all intrusive. I was also extremely pleased that there wasn’t a glaring romantic element; when all was said and done, I was really quite content with the way that the romance did occur.

The story of Lina and her family was heartbreaking and I think it is important that Sepetys brought this aspect of the time period to light. Every character had their role and every character was interesting and worthy - from the little girl and her doll to Andreas to Jonas to Nikolai. Every death or every journey had the same amount of emotional attachment so that I didn’t go a page without feeling some sort of agony for these characters.

When I came to the conclusion, I found myself trying to hold back tears (while waiting for a class in the hallway surrounded by people, nonetheless) and I reread the last few pages (an epilogue set in the early 1990s, if I remember correctly) several times because I didn’t want the story to be over.  Sepetys brings everything to a close very nicely and doesn’t sacrifice the beauty in her writing for an ending that seems unnatural.

I would recommend this book to anyone - even if they aren’t a typical young adult reader. Be prepared to feel an entirety of emotion and still be given an accurately portrayed history lesson.

— 1 year ago with 8 notes
#between shades of gray  #ruta sepetys  #book review  #reading  #young adult 




★★★★★




What I enjoy most about Sáenz's writing is his effortless prose. Even when dealing with some of the more heavy ideas in this novel, the horror and absolute shock is conveyed with grace and an invitation that it's completely okay to feel something. This is the third work that I have read by him and his ease and control over the language is still refreshing and beautiful.
Sáenz really knows how to totally devastate a reader and then, within a few pages, piece them back together. I found that, while reading, there were several parts which I had to read, put the book down, and think about for a few minutes before I could continue. I cried, I laughed, I followed the interwoven lives of so many and, when it was over, I hoped for more, despite knowing that the novel had received its perfect ending.
I really found no glaring issues with this book. The most daunting thing for me, I would say, was the occasional Spanish phrase or word and, even with those, I could figure out close to what they meant throughout context. The characters were written with ease and the situations in which they found themselves were riveting. While this is not my favorite Sáenz novel, it still captures everything that I love about his writing.

★★★★★

What I enjoy most about Sáenz's writing is his effortless prose. Even when dealing with some of the more heavy ideas in this novel, the horror and absolute shock is conveyed with grace and an invitation that it's completely okay to feel something. This is the third work that I have read by him and his ease and control over the language is still refreshing and beautiful.

Sáenz really knows how to totally devastate a reader and then, within a few pages, piece them back together. I found that, while reading, there were several parts which I had to read, put the book down, and think about for a few minutes before I could continue. I cried, I laughed, I followed the interwoven lives of so many and, when it was over, I hoped for more, despite knowing that the novel had received its perfect ending.

I really found no glaring issues with this book. The most daunting thing for me, I would say, was the occasional Spanish phrase or word and, even with those, I could figure out close to what they meant throughout context. The characters were written with ease and the situations in which they found themselves were riveting. While this is not my favorite Sáenz novel, it still captures everything that I love about his writing.

— 1 year ago


★★★☆☆


After finishing another young adult novel exploring the LGBT spectrum, I was looking forward to this one. I had heard about it previously and was expecting to enjoy it more than I did. I found that the writing was done well and the actual layout and idea of the book was fine and didn’t discourage me as much as the actual plot or exploration of the idea did.
Character arrives at a camp for ‘gifted’ students (a camp that, in my opinion, needed more explanation). Character falls for another girl. Character asks a few too many questions and said other girl gets upset. They never officially get together or break up or really say anything about anything. I think that the specific plot points were done well; the specific scenes were nice to read and allowed for some growth. The path to those scenes was kind of messy and, to me, rushed. 
Maybe it is my own personal taste that got in the way but I needed some answers. I needed more conversations between the two main characters to allow me to recognize why they broke apart and why they all of a sudden fell back into whatever sort of relationship they had. I needed more to the ending. In general - I needed more.
This book isn’t for everyone, I can say that. If you are looking for a quick read that has some cute moments between some teenagers then you could give it a try but, all in all, it wasn’t what I was hoping.

★★★☆☆

After finishing another young adult novel exploring the LGBT spectrum, I was looking forward to this one. I had heard about it previously and was expecting to enjoy it more than I did. I found that the writing was done well and the actual layout and idea of the book was fine and didn’t discourage me as much as the actual plot or exploration of the idea did.

Character arrives at a camp for ‘gifted’ students (a camp that, in my opinion, needed more explanation). Character falls for another girl. Character asks a few too many questions and said other girl gets upset. They never officially get together or break up or really say anything about anything. I think that the specific plot points were done well; the specific scenes were nice to read and allowed for some growth. The path to those scenes was kind of messy and, to me, rushed. 

Maybe it is my own personal taste that got in the way but I needed some answers. I needed more conversations between the two main characters to allow me to recognize why they broke apart and why they all of a sudden fell back into whatever sort of relationship they had. I needed more to the ending. In general - I needed more.

This book isn’t for everyone, I can say that. If you are looking for a quick read that has some cute moments between some teenagers then you could give it a try but, all in all, it wasn’t what I was hoping.

— 1 year ago with 1 note
#empress of the world  #sara ryan  #reading  #book 


★★★★☆


I had heard a lot of good things about this book and was very excited to read it. I ended up reading it in its entirety on a Saturday and just couldn’t put it down. At first, I was skeptical of the perspective alternating between brothers but, once I was well into the book, I found that it didn’t take away from my reading experience at all. I, maybe predictably, did enjoy Alex’s parts of the story more, however.
The actual romance aspect of the book was very well done. In fact, I wish there was more of it! I found Nathen to be a very likable and fulfilling character (despite any qualms I might have with his perhaps over-usage of the term ‘buddy’). As with any story, there had to be some sort of drama, so the situation with Tyler and his hate wasn’t any big surprise. Once the book ended on a chapter in James’ point of view, I had closed it and reopened, wishing for an extra chapter to appear to detail just a little bit more about Alex and Nathen’s relationship - that is how much I enjoyed it.
As for everything else, the relationships between Alex and James and their neighbor, Henry, and their parents and the kids at school and, well, any other character, were all beautifully drawn. There was never any unnecessary conflict or extra writing or stock characters that could be thrown away. Some of the students’ attitudes towards homosexuality were quite the norm but they were not over exaggerated or blatantly stereotypical.
This wasn’t the perfect book written in the most perfect form of prose and outlining a perfect and happy same-sex relationship. It was, however, a well-developed examination at the bond between two brothers and the subsequent friendships that can arise out of a bad situation. Wilson’s novel isn’t one to be missed.

★★★★☆

I had heard a lot of good things about this book and was very excited to read it. I ended up reading it in its entirety on a Saturday and just couldn’t put it down. At first, I was skeptical of the perspective alternating between brothers but, once I was well into the book, I found that it didn’t take away from my reading experience at all. I, maybe predictably, did enjoy Alex’s parts of the story more, however.

The actual romance aspect of the book was very well done. In fact, I wish there was more of it! I found Nathen to be a very likable and fulfilling character (despite any qualms I might have with his perhaps over-usage of the term ‘buddy’). As with any story, there had to be some sort of drama, so the situation with Tyler and his hate wasn’t any big surprise. Once the book ended on a chapter in James’ point of view, I had closed it and reopened, wishing for an extra chapter to appear to detail just a little bit more about Alex and Nathen’s relationship - that is how much I enjoyed it.

As for everything else, the relationships between Alex and James and their neighbor, Henry, and their parents and the kids at school and, well, any other character, were all beautifully drawn. There was never any unnecessary conflict or extra writing or stock characters that could be thrown away. Some of the students’ attitudes towards homosexuality were quite the norm but they were not over exaggerated or blatantly stereotypical.

This wasn’t the perfect book written in the most perfect form of prose and outlining a perfect and happy same-sex relationship. It was, however, a well-developed examination at the bond between two brothers and the subsequent friendships that can arise out of a bad situation. Wilson’s novel isn’t one to be missed.

— 1 year ago with 2 notes
#what they always tell us  #martin wilson  #reading  #book 

★★★☆☆

I’ve recently (during last summer) taken to enjoying re-told or re-imagined fairy tales. I have several of the books in this Once Upon a Time series but this is the first out of that series that I have read. I wasn’t blown away but it was a satisfying, cute read. I thought that this novel, in general, was very well written. It was easy to follow and engaging. I found Dokey’s use of description to be pleasing and not too overdrawn or superfluous. I enjoyed the recurring theme of beauty versus Beauty and I also liked the way that Belle’s family was drawn; however, I felt like maybe the tensions between the three sisters (and between Belle and her mother) were resolved too quickly with not much explanation as to why.
I think that one of the things I disliked the most about this book is that there was too much of a build-up and too quick of a resolution. As it is, the beast doesn’t get introduced as a physical character (more than just a legend) until over halfway through, and I found that, as I read before this point, I was anxious for him to arrive. Once he did, the 70 or so pages in which he appeared went by far too quickly.
When it comes to the actually retelling of Beauty and the Beast, I was a little skeptical at first. The thought of Belle being into woodcarving was an idea that it took me almost the entire novel to come to terms with. In the end, though, I thought that it was a unique aspect of her character. I also enjoyed how the curse was broken and how there was no rose involved like in the story that everyone is most familiar with. Something so simply as looking into someone else’s eyes proved to be a big challenge and, when I think about it, it is like that in reality, as well.
★★★☆☆

I’ve recently (during last summer) taken to enjoying re-told or re-imagined fairy tales. I have several of the books in this Once Upon a Time series but this is the first out of that series that I have read. I wasn’t blown away but it was a satisfying, cute read. I thought that this novel, in general, was very well written. It was easy to follow and engaging. I found Dokey’s use of description to be pleasing and not too overdrawn or superfluous. I enjoyed the recurring theme of beauty versus Beauty and I also liked the way that Belle’s family was drawn; however, I felt like maybe the tensions between the three sisters (and between Belle and her mother) were resolved too quickly with not much explanation as to why.

I think that one of the things I disliked the most about this book is that there was too much of a build-up and too quick of a resolution. As it is, the beast doesn’t get introduced as a physical character (more than just a legend) until over halfway through, and I found that, as I read before this point, I was anxious for him to arrive. Once he did, the 70 or so pages in which he appeared went by far too quickly.

When it comes to the actually retelling of Beauty and the Beast, I was a little skeptical at first. The thought of Belle being into woodcarving was an idea that it took me almost the entire novel to come to terms with. In the end, though, I thought that it was a unique aspect of her character. I also enjoyed how the curse was broken and how there was no rose involved like in the story that everyone is most familiar with. Something so simply as looking into someone else’s eyes proved to be a big challenge and, when I think about it, it is like that in reality, as well.

— 1 year ago
#book  #reading  #review  #belle  #cameron dokey  #once upon a time  #beauty and the beast 



Book Haul - 5th January



Titanic Lives: Migrants and Millionaires, Conmen and Crew - Richard Davenport-Hines
The FitzOsbornes in Exile - Michelle Cooper
Into the Tunnel: the Brief Life of Marion Samuel, 1941-1943 - Götz Aly
Babylon Rolling - Amanda Boyden
What They Always Tell Us - Martin Wilson
Vixen - Jillian Larkin
Defiance - Carole Maso
Crazy - Han Nolan
Let the Right One In - John Ajvide Lindqvist
The Crazy School - Cornelia Read
Amaryllis in Blueberry - Christina Meldrum
The Marriage Plot - Jeffrey Eugenides

Book Haul - 5th January

Titanic Lives: Migrants and Millionaires, Conmen and Crew - Richard Davenport-Hines

The FitzOsbornes in Exile - Michelle Cooper

Into the Tunnel: the Brief Life of Marion Samuel, 1941-1943 - Götz Aly

Babylon Rolling - Amanda Boyden

What They Always Tell Us - Martin Wilson

Vixen - Jillian Larkin

Defiance - Carole Maso

Crazy - Han Nolan

Let the Right One In - John Ajvide Lindqvist

The Crazy School - Cornelia Read

Amaryllis in Blueberry - Christina Meldrum

The Marriage Plot - Jeffrey Eugenides

— 1 year ago with 1 note
#book haul  #books  #reading 

★★★☆☆

I was initially quite excited and looking forward to reading this book, despite knowing that my sister found it somewhat underwhelming. Before I go into minor specifics, I really did like the overall idea and suggestion behind the book. I loved the idea of children being clones and being raised for a general purpose. I liked the style of the prose overall and admired the risks that Ishiguro took with his dystopian-esque plot. However, I don’t think that the style and ideas lived up to their full potential. I had watched the film a while ago and absolutely enjoyed it and I thought that I would have a similar reaction when I read the novel. As I got into the book, however, I found that that wasn’t quite the case. Part 1 (Kathy reliving her years at Hailsham) was the low point of the novel for me. It seemed almost a chore to turn the pages (virtually, as it was) and I had to re-read several sections.Once the novel transitioned into the trio’s time at the Cottages, things started to pick up. I particularly enjoyed Kathy’s quest throughout the pornography magazines to find her Possible. I found myself enjoying the casual discussion style of the prose more here than in the earlier section, for reasons that I am still trying to uncover. I think that the characters were just starting to become more than children at a boarding school. It was also in this section when I developed a large distaste for Ruth, which made it more of an enjoyment going into the last section, seeing as she is not as prominent here. One of the highlights from the film, for me, was Tommy’s sort of breakdown scene after talking with the Madame and Miss Emily. I was letdown by this portrayal in the novel. I was also hoping for a little more from their prior discussions, be it more explanation or more “shocking” reveals, I’m not sure.When it comes down to it, Never Let Me Go has a promising premise and a fresh conversation style but, in the end, I was left only a little bit whelmed.

★★★☆☆

I was initially quite excited and looking forward to reading this book, despite knowing that my sister found it somewhat underwhelming. Before I go into minor specifics, I really did like the overall idea and suggestion behind the book. I loved the idea of children being clones and being raised for a general purpose. I liked the style of the prose overall and admired the risks that Ishiguro took with his dystopian-esque plot. However, I don’t think that the style and ideas lived up to their full potential. I had watched the film a while ago and absolutely enjoyed it and I thought that I would have a similar reaction when I read the novel. As I got into the book, however, I found that that wasn’t quite the case. Part 1 (Kathy reliving her years at Hailsham) was the low point of the novel for me. It seemed almost a chore to turn the pages (virtually, as it was) and I had to re-read several sections.

Once the novel transitioned into the trio’s time at the Cottages, things started to pick up. I particularly enjoyed Kathy’s quest throughout the pornography magazines to find her Possible. I found myself enjoying the casual discussion style of the prose more here than in the earlier section, for reasons that I am still trying to uncover. I think that the characters were just starting to become more than children at a boarding school. It was also in this section when I developed a large distaste for Ruth, which made it more of an enjoyment going into the last section, seeing as she is not as prominent here. One of the highlights from the film, for me, was Tommy’s sort of breakdown scene after talking with the Madame and Miss Emily. I was letdown by this portrayal in the novel. I was also hoping for a little more from their prior discussions, be it more explanation or more “shocking” reveals, I’m not sure.

When it comes down to it, Never Let Me Go has a promising premise and a fresh conversation style but, in the end, I was left only a little bit whelmed.

— 1 year ago
#never let me go  #kazuo ishiguro  #book  #reading  #review 
Where do I get my books?

To me, there is nothing better than buying physical books. I love picking out a good book haul and having it show up on my doorstep just begging to be opened. That being said, I am definitely not against eReaders or digital reading (I do have a Kindle Fire, so I can’t exactly knock it). In this inaugural post, I would just like to point you to some of the resources that I use to get my books.

  • Book Closeouts - this is a website that sells bargain books that are often excess inventory for very low prices. For example, my most recent book haul included 12 books for only 30 dollars (USD), which included a 7 dollar off coupon when you spent 35 dollars or more. The books often have a black mark on the top or bottom but are always in good condition.
  • Free Book Spot - this is where you can find free downloads for books for your eReader. I will admit that I am not a fan of spending money on books for my Kindle because I think they are generally overpriced. I also find eBooks by searching for it and the format I would like it in on Google or a similar search engine.
  • I also shop on Amazon or half.com if I cannot find what I want on a cheaper site.
  • I can find some things at the library at my college or in my town but, when it comes to more obscure or independent titles, I usually have to search the internet.
— 1 year ago
#book closeouts  #books  #reading