ARC Review: The Becoming of Noah Shaw by Michelle Hodkin

Title: The Becoming of Noah Shaw25548744

Author: Michelle Hodkin
Genre: Paranormal

Publication date: November 7, 2017
Purchase links: Hardcover | Kindle Edition

Rating: ★★★★★

Summary:

In the first book of the Shaw Confessions, the companion series to the New York Times bestselling Mara Dyer novels, old skeletons are laid bare and new promises prove deadly. This is what happens after happily ever after.

Everyone thinks seventeen-year-old Noah Shaw has the world on a string.

They’re wrong.

Mara Dyer is the only one he trusts with his secrets and his future.

He shouldn’t.

And both are scared that uncovering the truth about themselves will force them apart.

They’re right.

 

Review:

Thanks to Edelweiss and Simon and Schuster for my review copy of The Becoming of Noah Shaw!

“The scars you can’t see are the ones that hurt the most.”

If I had to describe The Becoming of Noah Shaw in one word, I would say messy. Because that’s quite honestly what is it: a mess.

The Mara Dyer trilogy was once favorite series when I was fifteen years old (up until the third book came out… That was another big mess). I know that wouldn’t be the case now; if I reread them, they would probably not get more than two stars. I knew that before I read The Becoming of Noah Shaw. But still, I wanted to read this book for nostalgia’s sake, and because I was hoping the characters would redeem themselves and I could like them again.

No such thing happened.

The main thing I can say about this book is that it was unnecessary and not a lot happened. Technically this book didn’t need to exist. The Mara Dyer trilogy had a very rushed and incomplete ending, but this book doesn’t add anything that makes up for it. Instead it jumps straight into a new storyline… but the thing is, Noah, Mara and their friends are all hearing about it secondhand until the very end of the book. The first 45 chapters or so could be categorized as fillers. While the “plot” of the book was interesting, it didn’t really take off until right before the book ended. And if Hodkin’s other books are anything to judge by, the next book in the series will not provide any answers and will take until the very end of the story to provide more questions that will go unanswered… until the very end of the third book. (The Shaw Confessions is going to be a trilogy, right? I don’t even remember.)

There’s really nothing appealing about having ~350 pages of nothing, and only a few pages that actually matter when it comes to the plot. The rest of the book consists of Noah being mean to others, sulking, and lying to everyone. That got old really quickly.

Another thing that I disliked about The Becoming of Noah Shaw was that it threw around insensitive comments, many times for the sake of “humor.” Even the trigger warnings made me weary of the book; some of the things are probably not even triggers, and the way the list was written felt… condescending, maybe? (That could be the wrong word.)  Which makes no sense for a book in which the plot revolves around suicide. Anyway, here’s the list:

“Trigger warning for suicide, homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, assault with a deadly mind, harm to others, harm to self, disordered eating, disordered thinking, disordered feeling, disordered being, body shaming, victim shaming, shaming of every kind, dark humor, ill humor, shitty humor, maiming, miming, death of teenagers, death of adults, death of authority figures, death of inconsequential red shirts. Also sex. But if you need a trigger warning for that, you’re reading the wrong book.”

And here are some examples that are part of the actual story:

A glance at the screen reveals the caller. “It’s our favorite bisexual Jewish black friend.”

“Which?” I try handing the phone to her and she waves it away. “Can’t. Exhausted.”

“It’s jet lag, not Ebola.”

 

“Now, did you do something to a goose to earn your moniker?”

Goosey pretends to think about it for a moment. “Not so much ‘to’ as ‘with,’ I’d say.”

“The goose verbally consented,” I say.

 

“How much did you drink?” She holds up three fingers. “Did you eat?”

“Mmmhmm.” Lying.

“We’re going to have to work on her.” Goose says, tipping his chin toward Mara. “Unless you prefer them unconscious now?”

 

“You’re my preferred method of self-harm.”

 

“There’s… family stuff.” Mara’s expression changes, and I need to choose my words more carefully than I have been. “Things of my mother’s I had sent over. I want to be the one who sees it all first, all right?” I’m not above playing the dead mother card.

 

“She looked so rare and exotic and exquisite, her husband could not take his eyes from her, and neither could anyone else.”

(So Hodkin is still calling Indian women exotic.) Image result for thinking emoji

I know these things won’t bother everyone, but they bothered me and made it harder for me to like the story and impossible to like the characters.

One thing this book had going for it, though? It was a super quick read. I read the majority of it in two days.

August, September and October Wrap Up

Hi, everyone! Apparently I’ve made it a habit to share my wrap ups way too late. This time I have a valid reason (for September, at least. Not for August): Hurricane Maria. Because of Maria, I’ve had no electricity or cell signal since September 20, so I had no way to update what I read in September. So, I’m going to do that now.

August

  1. Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare – ★★★★★ (though it’s more like a 4.5)

 

September

  1. Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas – ★★★★★
  2. Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins – ★★★★★
  3. A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab – ★★★★★
  4. Secrets for the Mad: Obsessions, Confessions and Life Lessons by Dodie Clark – ★★★★★
  5. Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore – ★★★★★

 

October

  1. The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan – ★★★★★
  2. A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab – ★★★★★
  3. Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older – ★★★★★
  4. When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore – ★★★★★
  5. The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee – ★★★★★
  6. Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas – ★★★★★ (for now… I’m so confused about my feelings on this book)
  7. Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo – ★★★★
  8. Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas –  ★★★★

 

What was the best book you read between August, September and October?

May, June and July Wrap Up

Hey, everyone! It’s been a while since I let you know what I’ve been reading. That’s what I’m going to do today. Since there are three months’ worth of books, I will only mention the books and my ratings. Enjoy!

Books read in May:

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  1. Girl out of Water by Laura Silverman – ★★★★★
  2. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie – ★★★★★
  3. Unfiltered by Lily Collins – ★★★★★
  4. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon – ★★★★★
  5. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll – ★★★★★
  6. The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee – ★★★★★
  7. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire – ★★★★
  8. On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis – ★★★★★
  9. White Cat by Holly Black – ★★★★★

Books read in June:

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  1. Red Glove by Holly Black – ★★★★★
  2. Black Heart by Holly Black – ★★★★★
  3. Coming Up for Air by Miranda Kenneally – ★★★★★
  4. Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas – ★★★★
  5. Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire – ★★★★★

Books read in July:

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  1. Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher – N/A
  2. Graceling by Kristin Cashore – ★★★★★
  3. Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher – N/A
  4. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (reread) – ★★★★
  5. The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher – N/A
  6. Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson – ★★★★★
  7. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han – ★★★★★
  8. P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han – ★★★★★
  9. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo – ★★★★★
  10. Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han – ★★★★

 

ARC Review: The Traitor’s Tunnel by C.M. Spivey

Title: The Traitor’s Tunnel34031351

Author: C.M. Spivey
Genre: Fantasy

Publication date: June 20, 2017
Purchase links: Kindle Edition

Rating: N/A

Distinctive qualities: asexual main character, a relationship between two men, a relationship between two women, magic, witches.

Summary:

Witch-blooded robber Bridget has made a reputation for herself in the capital city, but she’s not interested in the attention of the Thieves’ Guild–and she’s not bothered by the rumors of urchin kidnappings, either. With winter coming, she’s looking out for herself and no one else.

Until she picks the wrong pocket, and recognizes her estranged brother Teddy.

Young craftsman Theodor arrives in the capital ready to take the final step toward his dream career as Lord Engineer of Arido. His apprenticeship with a renowned city engineer comes with new rules and challenges, but it’s worth it for the exposure to the Imperial Council.

While spying on her brother, Bridget overhears a secret meeting that reveals a cruel plot. After more than a decade apart, Theodor and Bridget must reunite to stop a traitor whose plan threatens not only their city, but the whole empire.

Set seven years before the events of From Under the Mountain, The Traitor’s Tunnel is the story of two young people presented with a choice–to protect themselves, or to protect others–the consequences of which will change their lives forever.

 

Review:

Thanks to C.M. Spivey for my ebook copy of The Traitor’s Tunnel!

If you read my posts for my April TBR and ARCs I haven’t read yet, you know I was extremely excited about reading The Traitor’s Tunnel. Unfortunately, I was let down. I don’t have a lot to say about the story, so this review is going to be short. Here are my thoughts:

I liked that it was the norm to use gender-neutral pronouns for people whose gender was unknown. I also liked that there was a relationship between two men, and a relationship between two women. That was it. I didn’t enjoy anything else.

My problem with the story is probably an effect of it being a novella. We didn’t get to know the characters at all and the world was widely unexplored (I know that there is a full novel set in this world; maybe that is better developed than this). For those reasons, I wasn’t able to become attached to anything or anyone, and I found myself feeling bored whenever I tried to read.

Additionally, there is a paragraph at the very end of the novella that compared an actual eye condition (myopia) to naivety, which struck me as ableist. I really don’t like when people use words such as “blinded” to signify ignorance.

I might read more from this author in the future because I think the world he created has a lot of potential to be amazing. But for now, it’s time for us to part.

ARCs I Haven’t Read Yet

If you’re like me, you probably go on Netgalley just to take a look at all the books that are available… and then end up requesting half of them. There’s something about Netgalley that makes every book seem like it would be a good one. Because of this, I’ve ended up with a few ARCs that I need to read and review. Some of them I’ve had since I started my first book blog in early 2016 (I know, shameful).

Here’s a list of them, from oldest newest:

  1. The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig: I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve had this ARC since January 2016. I don’t what happened to make me put off reading this book while I still had my other blog. This was one of my most anticipated books of 2016; yet the second book is already out and I’ve read neither.
  2. The Neverland Wars by Audrey Greathouse: This is an ARC that I’ve had since June 2016. I requested it because of a BookTube video that I watched in which this book was reviewed. It sounded really good and I wanted to read it right away. Clearly, that didn’t happen.
  3. Done Dirt Cheap by Sarah Nicole Lemon: I acquired this ARC way more recently than the other ones, but my review of it is overdue anyway; it came out on March 7. This book is one that I actually didn’t have any interest in, but an author live-tweeted her experience with the book and I got carried away by her enthusiasm. Not-so-great reviews of this book have surfaced ever since, so I’m sad I got it in the first place.
  4. Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray: I got this one impulsively because it was on Read Now for the first 500 people who wanted it. It does sound pretty cool, though. I thought I’d get to read and review it on time for its release, but then university got in the way of my reading and blogging.
  5. The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke: There’s kind of a funny story behind this one. A lot of people on Twitter were tweeting about getting declined for this book, so I decided to request it to “join the club.” They all have more followers than me, so I never thought my request would be approved. But it was. The good news is that this one comes out on September 1st, so I can still get a review up on time.
  6. Draekora by Lynette Noni: Draekora is the third book in a series by an Australian author. A BookTuber I watch kept talking about this series, which really sparked my interest. The thing is: I don’t have the first two books in the series yet. I got Draekora because it was on Read Now, and I knew I wanted to read the series. (Fortunately, I still do.) Out of every book on this list, this is probably the one that will take me the longest time to get to. (Check out the series, though; it sounds very good!)
  7. Haven by Rebekah Weatherspoon: This is another case of getting carried away by someone else’s praise for the book. A lot of the people I follow on Twitter were talking about it and giving it 5 stars around the same time. I thought, “Maybe I’ll like it too.” It’s erotica, which I don’t like at all. I really need to learn to resist the hype.
  8. The Traitor’s Tunnel by C.M. Spivey: I got this ARC from the author, not from Netgalley. And I’m currently reading it! I’ll probably have finished it by the time this post is published, so keep an eye out for my review. The main character is panro-ace and one of the characters reminds me a lot of Lila Bard. This novella is coming out in June 20th, so check it out, maybe? ☺
  9. Coming Up for Air by Miranda Kenneally: I requested this one recently because the main character is a swimmer, and I’m very interested in books about athletes lately. It’s part of a series, but I think it can be read as a standalone. The release date is July 1st, so I still have time to read and review it.
  10. The Hamilton Affair by Elizabeth Cobbs: This is a book about Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler. Do I really need another reason to want to read it? The answer is no. This one came out almost a year ago, but it was under Read Now on Netgalley. I had to have it.

Phew, that’s it! Those are all of my unread ARCs. *wipes sweat off brow* I created a Goodreads shelf for the books I want to read this summer; all of these ARCs are on it, with the exception of Draekora. I don’t know if I can read them all in two months, but I definitely want to read all of them before the year ends.

Do you have any ARCs waiting to be read? If so, which one are you most excited to read?

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Things on my Reading Wishlist

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic Ten Things on our Reading Wishlist, which is basically ten things that I want to see in books.

  1. Characters who belong in the LGBTQIA+ community. Even in books in which the main character is part of the community, it’s uncommon for anyone else (aside from their love interest) to be a part of the community as well. I want that to change.
  2. Girls who support girls. The popular mean girl trope is so overdone, and for some reason it’s way more present than girls who don’t see other girls as competition. Give me girls being nice to each other, sticking up for each other when people bring up the “you’re not like other girls” cliché (in whatever form), uplifting them instead of putting them down, girls being friends and girls supporting girls they don’t even know. Give me all of it.
  3. Soft boys. I want to read about smart boys, nice boys, shy boys, boys supporting boys, boys who have feelings and don’t think they are less masculine because of it, feminist boys, boys who shut down toxic masculinity, etc.
  4. Music in books. Give me all of the musicians, their life on tour and in the studio or on a theater stage.
  5. Acting in books. I also want more actors in books! I’ve only seen things like, “Our characters are lovers and we’re falling for each other” and “Normal person falls for a famous actor.” But I want books that deal with the process of creating shows, movies and plays. I want acting as a real thing, not as the background for a love story.
  6. Respectful diversity in books. Books need people of color, people who belong in the LGBTQIA+ community, various religious backgrounds, people who are not able-bodied or neurotypical, various cultures, etc. I want to see all of these things being normalized in books, and not just to create a “problem” for the main character or to help characters realize that their lives are good or that other people need saving. Give me books with badass people who are not all white, straight, cis, able-bodied, allosexual, alloromantic, etc.
  7. World-building. It’s very common for the world in a book to be completely brushed over, which is sad because there are some really great fictional worlds out there. I want to know more about them.
  8. Politics. I took a History class at university this semester and realized I really enjoy political topics. So yes, I want more politics in books.
  9. Underwater setting. The ocean is so vast and mysterious, yet there are so few books set in the ocean. Imagine all of the creatures (mermaids!!!), the atmosphere, just… everything. I’m so desperate for a book that takes place in the ocean and is about the ocean that I started planning to write one years ago. Yep.
  10. Puerto Rico. I almost forgot this one, but it’s extremely important to me: I want books set in Puerto Rico, with Puerto Rican characters, preferably by Puerto Rican authors. I’ve only ever read two YA books (or series, in one case) with Puerto Rican characters: More Happy Than Not, which I didn’t love, and Heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan, which I love but doesn’t actually have a lot to do with Puerto Rico. I need a book set in Puerto Rico almost as much as I need air.

I hope you enjoyed this post! What’s at the top of your reading wishlist?

April Wrap Up + May TBR

If you saw my March wrap up, you know I didn’t read a lot. April was that kind of month as well. I barely read anything, even on the occasions when I had free time. These are the two books I read in April:

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  1. Noteworthy by Riley Redgate: This book was a fun story about a girl who pretends to be a boy so she can join an a cappella group. I really liked it! There were a lot of things that, realistically, do not make sense. I tried to put that aside and managed to enjoy the book a lot. I gave it 4 out of 5 stars. You can check out my review of Noteworthy here.
  2. Better At Weddings Than You by Mina V. Esguerra: Unfortunately, my reading month went downhill when I picked up this book. I borrowed it from the Kindle Owner’s Library. It was getting so many good reviews and I love wedding planning. What could go wrong? The answer is a lot. I didn’t like the main character, Daphne, at all, the love interest was so-so, and the side characters weren’t very interesting. The wedding planning aspect was not very prevalent in itself; it was only there to bring Daphne and the love interest together. Additionally, Daphne was supposed to be the best wedding planner around  but… she kind of sucked? She had this obsession with convincing her client to get married, even though she knew her client was not in love with her fiancé and didn’t want to admit it to herself. Every time her love interest tried to talk to Helen (the client), Daphne chastised him and went on about how Helen realizing she didn’t want to get married would ruin the wedding and Daphne’s career. She had zero compassion for her client and never even saw her, which makes no sense because she’d just taken over planning her wedding. They should have to at least talk to each other on a regular basis. *takes a deep breath* Can you tell I really didn’t like this book? I gave it 2 out of 5 stars.

On to my TBR for May! I’m almost done with classes for the semester and I’ve started trying to read at least 25 pages every day, so May is bound to be a better reading month than March and April. I’ve already read one book, which is exciting. Here are the books I want to read in May:

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  • The Traitor’s Tunnel by C.M. Spivey: This is actually a fantasy novella, and it’s #1 on my TBR this month. I just started reading it and here’s what I know so far: it’s about an engineer who has moved to a new town to start an apprenticeship; it has two points of view; the second point of view belongs to Bridget, who reminds me a lot of Lila Bard so far. It’s coming out in June, and you can expect a review of it closer to the release date.
  • Coming Up for Air by Miranda Kenneally: Coming Up for Air is #2 on my TBR. I don’t remember exactly what it’s about, but the main character is a swimmer who dedicates her time to nothing but her sport. I think this is the story of how she realizes there’s more to life than just swimming. It sounds like it’s gonna be really cute.
  • A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab: I’m buddy-reading this book with my twin. We started reading it a while ago, but I got busy with university and put this book on hold. Maybe this month we’ll get to read a bit more?
  • Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas: This is another book that I started months ago, this time by myself. I also put it on hold because I would get annoyed every few pages. All I want to do is read Chaol’s chapters. Is that too much to ask for? (Spoiler: Yes, it is.)
  • Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo: Ah, this book. I’ve owned the entire trilogy since 2015 and been meaning to read it for longer than that. Yet, for some reason, I haven’t. I have a habit of putting off reading books I want to read for fear that I won’t like them. But, if I get to all the other books on my TBR, I’m reading Shadow and Bone this month. I can’t keep putting it off any longer.

I hope you enjoyed this post! What was your favorite book in April? What book do you want to read the most this month?