Unite Me (Shatter Me, #1.5, #2.5)

l164674First Lines: I’ve been shot.  And, as it turns out, a bullet wound is even more uncomfortable than I had imagined.

I saw this at the library and thought it would be a great way to finally finish off the Shatter Me series.  Of course, I’ve read all the actual book, but I wanted to say I was done with all the novellas too.  (The novellas included are Destroy Me and Fracture Me, as well as Juliette’s Journal.)

Just a brief description here, Destroy Me (#1.5) is Warner’s perspective right after Shatter Me.  Even though Juliette’s gone, Warner can’t stop thinking about her.  Fracture Me is an overlap of the end of Unravel Me and a quick lead-in to what happens after, told from Adam’s perspective.

I think it might be easier to review both of these novellas individually.

Destroy Me – At this point in the series, Warner is incredibly hard to like.  Even knowing what happens later in the series, Warner just kind of creeps me out here.  He is fixated on Juliette to the point of near obsession.  But on top of that, it’s also interesting to see what The Reestablishment is like for someone on the inside.  Warner is in an unenviable position and he has to deal with some very harsh realities.  This story tends to be a little more psychological in its action.

Fracture Me – This story tucked into familiar territory, overlapping quite a bit with Unravel Me.  The truly interesting part of this story is seeing Juliette from Adam’s perspective because she has tics that she doesn’t really seem to be aware of in the series.  And with all the action that takes place in the story at this point, there really wasn’t a dull moment at all.  Definitely physical in its action.

What’s truly interesting is that in very short order, we get to see Warner’s, Adam’s, and Juliette’s perspectives.  And Mafi gives each one a very different voice.  This is actually kind of genius.

For example, Juliette’s voice is what we’re most familiar with.  It’s almost musical in its repetition and vivid imagery.  She compares dissimilar things all the time to describe what she’s feeling.  It’s beautiful and lets you see what her mind is like, how her earlier trauma has impacted her.  Adam, similarly, seems very in-tune with his emotions.  He observes details that somehow tie in to either his emotions or the emotions of those around him.  (He sees when people are upset, notices when something makes them edgy, etc.)  But Warner is more clinical.  He observes for the factual information, for the way those observations can be used against someone.  And that’s totally a creation of his upbringing.  But it’s so fascinating that Mafi was able to be so in-tune with these characters that she can do this.  I didn’t even catch on until I was reading Adam’s story and then I noticed the differences.

These stories are a nice way of stepping your feet back into the Shatter Me world without having to reread the whole series.

Red at Night

First Lines: I like cemeteries.  They’re quiet, well-groomed, and overall possibly the safest place in the city.  I can talk all I want, and the company doesn’t talk back.

When I heard about this FREE ebook (that is STILL FREE on Amazon), I jumped on it.  I mean, I like Katie McGarry.  And a novella?  That’s like a quick shot of romance.  I couldn’t turn it down.

Stella and Jonah should be complete opposites.  Stella’s from the wrong part of town and sports purple hair.  Jonah is the popular senior with his life ahead of him.  But they aren’t as opposite as they think they are.  And, as if to prove that point, they bond…at the local cemetery.  Jonah, riddled with guilt, can’t stay away from the one person who seems to understand. And Stella knows better than to get mixed up with Jonah, who is friends with her biggest bullies.  But what if what they want happens to be what they need?

Alright.  So first of all, I want to say that the writing deserves an A, like it always does. McGarry knows how to weave a great story with lots of emotional writing.  I mean, even if you initially didn’t like one of the leads, you’d still probably fall in love with them by the end.  Her writing is just that good.

And I like that she tackles issues in her books.  Stella is from the wrong side of town and she deals with issues that are vastly different from what Jonah is dealing with.  It’s nice to get two different perspectives on teen life.  It’s a bit like Perfect Chemistry in that respect.  Because even though one of the two is leading a “privileged” life, they really aren’t.  You see what I’m saying?  And before I forget (I nearly did), there is mention of a charity in the story (that may be real or not real) that deals with a serious issue in this country.  I loved that this was something near and dear to Stella’s heart.

But at the same time, it’s getting to be too cliche.  I mean, of the 4 McGarry books I’ve read, at least 3 have had one of the leads coming from the wrong side of the tracks while the other lives the high life.  And it just feels a little stale.  I still love the writing and everything, I swear, but just wish the basic bare-boned premises were different.

And in that vein, I thought that Jonah and Stella were pretty stereotypical.  I’ll attribute that to this being a novella, because how do you develop great characters in 84 pages?  You rely on stereotypes.  But it just made it less fun for me to read.

Overall, I thought it was cute and roughly on-par with what I expected out of this book.  But it could have been better.

Letting Go

First Lines: Isabelle had expected the return home from Paris to be a lot like waking up in the middle of a beautiful dream.  But having her luggage stolen mere minutes after landing in Atlanta was worse than a rude awakening.

First of all, I want to say a big thank you to the author for hooking me up with a copy of this novella.

Stranded at the airport, Isabelle’s only hope of getting home is to ride with her boyfriend’s older brother, Harper.  Harper is rude, obnoxious, and crude, and Isabelle can barely stand him.  But Harper may not be the person Isabelle thinks he is.  Because usually bad boys have a reason for acting bad.  What happens when a good girl road trips with a bad boy?

All week, I’ve been trying to catch up on books I’ve been trying to read but haven’t had the time.  This was easily the fastest of the reads, not the least of which reason being because it was the shortest.  I thought it was a cute read, and that definitely helped keep me interested.

I thought Isabelle was completely relatable.  A high school senior, Isabelle has been in a relationship with her boyfriend, Jamie, for 18 months.  She’s happy and comfortable.  But maybe she’s so comfortable she’s getting bored.  And that’s completely relatable, I think.  While I don’t know for sure, I’m just going to assume there comes a point in every long relationship in which one or both parties begins to question whether they still want to be together.  I appreciated that because I think too few books make that a point in their stories.

For the most part, I thought the plot was good and unveiled itself at a good pace.  It really let me into the mind of Isabelle and let me see what has happened in the past too.  I always appreciate that.  However, I thought the plot could have been better if it didn’t feel rushed in the confines of a novella.  The majority of the action takes place over two days, and that just seemed like not long enough.  (Or maybe I just wanted to keep reading it?)  Either way, I thought it would benefit from being longer.

Overall, it was a cute and quick novella that really cuts to some normally unsaid problems about relationships, whether they are romantic or familial.

A Dawn Most Wicked (Something Strange and Deadly, #0.5)

First Lines: I perched on the edge of Eleanor’s hospital bed.  My fingers twisted and twined in my flat cap as I ransacked my brain for something clever to say–anything to break this silence.

Released: June 4, 2013

I know this says that it’s book 0.5 in this series, but it is my sincerest belief that it should be marked as 1.5.  Just for your reference, there are moments in this novella that will spoil the end of Something Strange and Deadly if you have not read it before you read this.

Before Daniel came to Philadelphia, he was a simple engineer’s apprentice on a Mississippi steamboat, the Sadie Queen…a haunted steamboat.  His best friend is Miss Cassidy Cochran, the captain’s daughter…and maybe even the love of his life.  But when Daniel and Cassidy hear that the Sadie Queen may be taken off the river, they’ll do anything to keep her afloat.  Doing that means getting rid of the ghosts.  And if a Mr. Joseph Boyer is to be trusted, they may just be able to do that…

I believe it was last week that I posted my review of another novella that I disliked.  This book is an example of how you do a novella.  It offered new characters, insight into the characters we already know, and gave a past to one of our main characters.

I thought this was a pretty good read.  I like Daniel anyway, and getting to see him before he meets Eleanor was pretty awesome.  It was also really cool to read about steamboats and the Mississippi river around this time.  It’s a different kind of place than Philadelphia is, and I just love reading about American history of this time period.

I felt that this book had more character development than A Darkness Strange and Lovely did.  It’s almost sad that that’s the case.  This little novella made me feel more for these characters than a full length novel in the series did.  It made me rethink my opinion on ADSaL.

This book had a lot of action and shows a side of Daniel, as well as his introduction to Joseph.  That in itself was neat.  I wondered how they’d met.

Die For Her (Revenants, #2.5)

First Lines: The first time I see her, I peg her as a jump risk.

After getting through a few books quickly, I decided to take a break from novels and read a couple novellas before jumping back into novels.  What better than a novella from a series I just finished this summer?

*Potential Series Spoilers Ahead*

Jules is a revenant who kind of enjoys his job dying for others to save their lives.  He’s spent the last century flirting his way through Parisian women.  All that changes at the moment he meets Kate Mercier, who he is sure is the love of his life.  Unfortunately, the love of her life is his best friend.  Now Jules has to choose between being a loyal friend and loving someone so deeply you’d be willing to risk everything for them.

I was incredibly interested in this because Jules was one of my favorite characters (right up there with Ambrose).  So I really wanted to see how his unrequited love would play out.

…Unfortunately, this novella wasn’t very good.  I expected better.  Mostly, all it did was rehash the action in the first two stories, but from Jules’s perspective.  There was very little that was original to this story besides the very beginning.  After that, it’s all from the other stories.  It got a little old fast because it was so rushed.

I think the biggest problem was that it seems Amy Plum wrote this in response to a poll or something.  The acknowledgements thanked fans for voting for Jules and being so passionate about him.  So it didn’t feel like this story was being written because it had a story to tell, but because it was to please fans.  And it just didn’t work.

I was also quite disturbed by Jules’s behavior in this.  His obsession with Kate was borderline unhealthy and sometimes crossed that line.  Some of the things he did…it was creepy.  Like, more creepy than some of the stuff Edward Cullen did.

Yes, it was nice to finally see inside his mind and understand those little comments he made to Kate that always sounded flirty but were more than that.  But it really wasn’t worth it the way this story was written.

Glitter & Doom (Masque of the Red Death, #1.5)

First Lines: “Be pretty,” her mother said, rearranging April’s frilly skirts.  “Keep your eyes wide and innocent.  It’s the only thing that might protect you.”

I really needed something totally different than the indie books I’d been reading, so I jumped to this little dark novella.  (And I’m back on indies again now, in case you were wondering.)  I thought this would be perfect, seeing as I want to get back into the mindset of this story so I can read the next book.

Told from April’s perspective, this is April’s side of Masque of the Red Death.  April appears to be Araby’s frivolous best friend, but she’s more than that.  With a scary uncle dictator, April’s knows how to hide behind a mask…figuratively and literally.  Deep underneath the city, April meets Kent, an inventor who may just be the key to a successful rebellion…

I love novellas, I really do, but they’re always too short for my liking!  I really liked seeing from April this time, as I remember not liking her so much in the first book.  (And I could be remembering wrong, I’m not sure.)  But what was really nice seeing was that she’s more than the frivolous girl I thought she was.  I love stuff like that.

I will say that if you haven’t read Masque of the Red Death, I’d wait on reading this until you had.  There’s a lot of spoilers here, as it’s supposed to be what April was doing during the novel.  And she wasn’t just sitting around looking pretty.  I’ve seen another review where someone said this had lots of spoilers for the 2nd book, but if they’re there, I have no idea what they are or what they spoil.  So I’m not too concerned about that.

Overall, it’s a quick read that introduces (or reintroduces) you to characters while giving them more of a backstory.