Welcome to Designs By miss Mandee! I’m pretty stoked, because I have an extra special post to share with you. As part of my New Year’s resolutions, I’ve been making an effort to read more books. I love reading, but I when I reflected on 2014, I realized that I only read two novels all year (I know, pretty pathetic). So far, this is the one resolution I’ve really been keeping—as of today, I have read 11 books in 2015! So, I thought it might be fun to share a “mini” book review on each of the books I’ve been reading in case you are looking for something new and fun to read as well. And it wouldn’t be Designs By Miss Mandee without a sweet freebie, so I’ve got some lovely watercolor bookmarks for you too.
Alright, before we get started, you’ll probably notice one thing that all of these books have in common: they are all geared for teenagers. While I’m not into a lot of sappy teenage drama and cheesy romance, I must admit that all of my favorite books can be found in the “Teen Reader” section at Hastings. I’m not ashamed of this, but if you’re not really into teen fiction/fantasy adventure novels, you probably won’t like any of these.
Divergent Series | By Veronica Roth
I ended up reading these because I saw the movie. I know that a lot of people didn’t like the movie because it was compared to Hunger Games, but I really did like it. I think it’s silly to decide not to like a movie at all just because it doesn’t quite measure up to another one in it’s genera, but that’s beside the point. I absolutely loved these books! And after reading them, it made me like the movie even more! I thought the author did a really great job addressing problems and questions about the society throughout the series, and once I started one of these books I could NOT put it down. I read each of these in two day (yes, I lost a lot of sleep, but it was worth it). I almost didn’t read Four, the break-off novel, because I didn’t want to just hear the same stories regurgitated from his point of view, but it wasn’t like that at all—pretty much all the stories were new. I was actually really pleased.
The only negative thing I have to say, is that I didn’t like the way that she wrote from Four’s perspective in Allegiant. I feel like he was written exactly the same as Tris, and I kept having to go back to the chapter heading to see who’s perspective I was reading. I don’t mind reading from another character’s perspective, but I feel like there needs to be a really distinct change in voice for it to work, and it just wasn’t there. Other than that, I throughly enjoyed this series, and I thought the balance of love story and action was absolutely perfect!
Gone | By Michael Grant
This book is part of a much larger series, but I will definitely not be reading the rest. I read this book because the description was intriguing, and it had that “dystopian teen” theme going for it, but it could never compare to Hunger Games or Divergent. Even if I didn’t have those books to compare it to, I still wouldn’t have liked it. There were many things I took issue with, but these are my top three:
1. Why didn’t they rescue the babies? I won’t give you a full overview of this book, but basically one day everyone over the age of 14 just disappears in the city this takes place in. I couldn’t even get into the book because I just kept being so angry that they weren’t going around rescuing the babies that were trapped in their houses. Instead, they wait about a week before they decide to look through houses to find kids, and you can guess what has happened by then…unbelievably tragic.
2. WAY too many points of view. The author establishes a main character, but I could never connect with him because he jumps around to several other perspectives of characters—most of which don’t play a huge roll in the plot.
3. Nothing was resolved in the end. It’s a series, I get it, but if absolutely nothing gets resolved in the first book, I’m not going to waste my time reading the other five. It’s good to leave your readers wanting more, it’s not good to leave them feeling like they read over 500 pages of literature only to find out that there’s no resolution. (Maybe I really just wanted to write this post to vent about this book).
The only reason I gave it 1.5 rating instead of a 0, is because, despite all the terrible things I’ve mentioned, it really did keep me turning the pages and wondering what was going to happen next.
Matched Series | By Ally Condie
I had seen these books before, and I’ve always been tempted to read them because I love the cover design (yes, I like to judge books by their cover—I’m a designer, I can’t help it). After reading the description, though, I was always nervous that it was going to be like Twilight and have a really weak female character who’s only concern is which boy to be marry and can’t do anything for herself (my biggest pet peeve in books and movies). I was pleasantly surprised to find that that wasn’t the case. While Cassia is no Katniss or Tris, she’s not at all helpless, and does quite a bit to prove her bravery throughout the series.
The first book started off really really slow, but picked up near the end. The second book had a great pace the whole time! The third book started and ended strong, but got slow again in the middle. But, besides the slowness, these books were really fun to read and were great “escape” novels. Plus, all the characters got unrealistically happy endings, which I personally didn’t mind after reading all the other books I’ve talked about.
Paper Towns | By John Green
First off, I am a HUGE John Green fan! I’ve been watching his YouTube videos for years, and even preordered The Fault In Our Stars because promised to sign every preordered copy (I had never read any of his books at the time, and had no idea what it was about). I am also a big fan of his writing style. I love the quirky way his characters think, and the intelligent/witty way they talk.
Overall, I really liked this book. The characters were well developed, the theme was interesting, and I was left with a new perspective about life and the people around me. I found the ending to be a tad anticlimactic, but I can’t think of it ending any other way that would be realistic.
One caution: the main characters are teenage boys, and the way they talk to each other is extremely crude. I wouldn’t recommend this book to young readers…I probably wouldn’t even want my own kids reading it until they were 18, but that’s just me.
Kinght and Rogue Series | By Hilari Bell
I personally think this is one of the most underrated book series of all time! I absolutely love these books—the two main characters and amazing together, the plots are always really fascinating, and there’s always really cool twists! I read the first three books years ago, and was really sad when Hilari Bell didn’t come out with any more. I only recently found out that two more books have come out in the last year. So, this year I have re-read Player’s Ruse in order to recall where the series left off, and just recently finished Thief’s War.
I could never do it justice trying to explain how great these books really are, but if you are into action, fantasy and adventure, you will not be disappointed! These books are a perfect example of an author that knows how to make use of a story told from two different character’s perspectives. She does it very purposefully—I never have to try to figure out who’s perspective I am reading. I particularly love Fisk (the rogue)! He’s witty, sarcastic, and one of my favorite characters of all time.
I am dying to read the latest book—Scholar’s Plot, but none of the bookstore near me have it, and it’s really expensive on Amazon right now (sigh). Maybe this post will become to popular that Hilari Bell will send me a free copy (wouldn’t that be so awesome)!
Thanks for indulging me with my mini book reviews! Now, here’s your reward—beautiful bookmarks!
If you like the subtle flower designs on these, you can get them for yourself here.
So, have you read any of these books before? What did you think? Was I being too harsh with Gone? Or too lenient with Divergent? And what should I read next? Let me know, because my list is dwindling!
*I am linking up to these parties