[Blog Tour] Book Review | Burn by Paula Weston

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Authour:burn
Paula Weston
Format:
Trade paperback, 448 pages
Publication date:
June 7th 2016
Publisher:
Tundra Books
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:

“Where do we fit in the universe? We exist in this world but we’re tied to other, unseen worlds. We are Rephaim, children of the forsaken. What future exists for us if we find the fallen? What future exists for us if we don’t?” – p. 20

When a series you’ve followed faithfully for years, finally concludes it can leave you with a few incredibly mixed feelings. I can’t believe that it’s been three years since the first Rephaim book was released in North America, to be honest it feels much longer. Since Burn is the final book in the Rephaim series, it may be difficult for me to write this review without spoiling elements from the previous book, however I will attempt my best to avoid spoilers that aren’t in the synopsis of the book.

After a quick recap of the series so far, which I appreciated, Burn begins immediately after the events of Shimmer. Gabe’s memories have mysteriously returned to her, and it was a pleasant surprise that she did not revert completely back to her former self. Instead her struggles to reconcile the past year with whom she once came off as both realistic and refreshing.

As a result of her memories returning, Burn initially switches between flashbacks and the present day events. Finally we receive answers to all our burning questions regarding Jude, Gabe and Rafa. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed in the reveal of why Gabriella and Rafa “hate” each other as it all came down to personal drama. That being understood, I did feel that Gabe’s extreme reaction was fitting given her personality and pride and that the embarrassment and fear of humiliation by others that she felt was realistic to her character. On the other hand, I appreciate the complexity of the sibling dynamics between Gabe and Jude, and it was satisfying to learn how they ended up the way they did.

I think one of the reasons why the Rephaim series has appealed to me in spite of the fact that I typically do not enjoy fantasy or supernatural fiction is that the series contains numerous elements that can also be found in contemporary fiction. The complex relationships are all there, both familial and romantic on top of well written friendships. Furthermore, I love books with action which Burn definitely does not lack. There are several thrilling twists and turns and the final battle does not disappoint.

Burn as a conclusion to the Rephaim series was extremely satisfying as it tied the major loose ends up while leaving room for further exploration of the world later on. For instance, given the position that Jude finds himself in I would love a spin off that focused on him. Ever since I started the Rephaim series, it has been one of my go-to recommendations for fantasy fans in addition to reluctant contemporary fiction fans who are not that keen on the fantasy genre. And with this conclusion, Burn has cemented the Rephaim series as one of my go-to recommendations for anyone who is looking for an action packed story with multi-layered characters and relationships

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | The Loose Ends List by Carrie Firestone

looseendsAuthour:
Carrie Firestone
Format:
ARC, 346 pages
Publication date:
June 7th 2016
Publisher:
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
I’ve never been good with dealing with death, the only people I’ve lost (to date) that I knew well enough to miss were my grandmothers and my mother’s brother. And maybe that’s why I found Carrie Firestone’s The Loose Ends List such a soothing and comforting read since its approach to death and dying is such a refreshing change. Having a YA novel tackle it in such a matter of fact manner is both impressive as it’s essential to obtain different perspectives when it comes to a controversial issue like a person choosing to die via physician assisted suicide.

So, what is a loose ends list? As the protagonist, Maddie explains it’s a list of things that you want to accomplish before you move on to either college (similar to Maddie) or even before you are to die (similar to Maddie’s grandmother). In that sense it’s akin to a “bucket list”. This remains a theme throughout the novel that ties up nicely in the novel’s conclusion.

While Maddie is technically the protagonist of The Loose Ends List, it’s her Gram that steals every scene she’s in. I adore the way she just owns who she is and is unapologetic. And without spoiling too much, I must say that she stays true to who she is with no regrets til the very conclusion. To be honest, I wouldn’t have minded it if I had a grandmother similar to her.

Another element of this novel that lead to me picking it up was how travel would be a major factor in the novel as the entire family boards a cruise that takes them around the world. While at times it was riddled with clichéd stereotypes of the various locales as evident in the pages detailing Maddie’s trip to Taiwan, it was at other times enjoyable to witness how being forced to travel together as one gigantic insane family unit impacted each of the individuals.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read for me that had me tearing up enormously by the conclusion. And I appreciated how realistic the novel was at capturing how different ages and personalities come to grips with those who are dying and the (eventual) death of a beloved family member. The Loose Ends List was an unforgettable read concerning endings and new beginnings with extremely flawed characters, however that is what makes them appear more human and as a result, by the conclusion the characters feel as if they are your family too.

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | All the Feels by Danika Stone

feelsAuthour:
Danika Stone
Format:
E-galley
Publication date:
June 7th 2016
Publisher:
Swoon Reads
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
During the Raincoast TeenReads Spring/Summer Preview, I mentioned that All the Feels was one of the two books from the preview. (The other book was Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn which I reviewed earlier on the blog) While I was too late to obtain a physical ARC for review, I was fortunate that they decided to have e-galleys for this title and thus I was given an e-galley for my review purposes.

All the Feels follows college freshman, Liv who is a fan of the fictional show, Starveil. When her favourite character is killed off, she is devastated and decides to initiate a campaign to “resurrect” him using the skills and resources she has at her disposal which includes her best friend Xander who is an actor. It was interesting that while All the Feels is a story cocnerning fandom and all things geeky, it also manages to touch on several serious topics.

For instance, her depression after seeing her favourite Starveil character killed off though not explicitly stated may also have a connection to the fact that the show was something she and her father used to watch when he was still alive. In fact, it seems that both Liv and her mother are not over his death and it causes dysfunction and tension between the two. Speaking of family dysfunction, I found it tragic how her mother tried to control her one minute and left Liv to the mercy of her Gary (her mom’s boyfriend) who was just plain horrible. Oddly enough the conflict involving Liv and her family is later brushed aside as the fandom aspect of the story takes over. In this sense, maybe the entire plot with Liv and her mother was better off being left out of the story since in the finale the family issues are left unresolved and made as if they were not that significant in the first place.

Other than the few loose ends that were left hanging by the conclusion, All the Feels was basically the book I expected it to be which I adored. The romance is swoony and the fandom aspects, especially the convention scenes were definitely on point. Liv’s first convention experience reminded me of mine, except in my case I didn’t have a “helpful” (and charming) guide to it similar to what she had.

If you are a part of a fandom, and can understand what it’s like to become overly invested, emotionally in it or if you’ve ever found your “people” either in person or online through one of your fandoms then you will definitely be able to relate to Danika Stone’s All the Feels. A friend of mine asked me if All the Feels was anything resembling Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl and in a sense, maybe it does since both books focus on fandom culture. However, while I did not particularly adore Fangirl I adored the quirky, and sweet geek fluffiness of All the Feels.

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.