Review: The Memory Jar

Title: The Memory Jar
Author: Elissa Janine Hoole
Publisher: Flux
Publication Date: April 8, 2016

From Goodreads

Since the accident, Taylor’s memory has been fuzzy. But at least she’s awake. Who knows what her boyfriend, Scott, will remember when he comes out of the coma. Will he remember that Taylor was driving the snowmobile when it crashed? Will he remember the engagement ring? Her pregnancy?

Will he remember that she tried to break up with him?

Taylor doesn’t know. And she doesn’t know if she wants him to remember. Plenty of things happened that night and before—secrets wrapped in secrets—that she’d prefer be forgotten.

Facing choices she’d rather ignore, Taylor searches for something more solid than whispers and something bigger than blame to face the future and forgive herself.

The Memory Jar certainly has an interesting premise. Girl gets into an accident that she can’t remember that lands boyfriend in a coma. The summary had me interested enough to read it, but within the first few lines I was turned off. This book is definitely not a book for everyone and unfortunately it was not for me.
It was a strange experience reading this book. I disliked the narrator’s voice a lot and didn’t care for the story because of it, but at the same time I wanted to know what actually happened during the accident. The only reason I kept reading even when I felt so done at times was because I needed to know where this was going.
The story itself switches between “Now” scenes and “Then” scenes. I don’t necessarily dislike that kind of set up in general, but in this particular novel each of the scenes were so short I felt like I kept disconnecting to the story every single time it switched. It’s hard to connect to a character if they feel unreliable and Taylor felt unreliable. This felt like one of those books where the ending was going to be something completely off the wall and I would wonder why I wasted my time with it. That feeling came in large part because of the switching between then and now.
I also felt like there were several things that contradicted other things in the novel. I read the novel in almost one sitting so I didn’t have time to forget the details that I read. Maybe it was because of this that some things seemed off to me. The timeline was a major thing. I don’t feel like there is a clearly defined timeline for this novel.
I know that the character is pregnant, but at one point she talks about needing to have an abortion before the first trimester is over. She says that is eight weeks away. Then she says its ten weeks away. Then she says that she was 6 weeks pregnant at the time she told her boyfriend, Scott, the same one that is in a coma. This was something that was very confusing to me and I feel like should have been more defined. Why are there so many references to time using her pregnancy that don’t add up?
The character of Taylor speaks in a voice I am not familiar with in teenagers. Possibly I just hadn’t read or interacted with a teenager like this in real life (neither when I was one nor now). This girl sounded like a jaded 27 year old woman. She was not someone I connect with now and certainly not someone who I would have connected with as a teenager. The author tried to make her more relatable by referencing Harry Potter and Doctor Who (two things that I LOVE) and I STILL could not form a connection with Taylor. She also goes back and forth so much about her true feelings for Scott. Every time she tried to say she wasn’t in love with him or that she was in love with him or when some other character commented about how they were never really meant for each other I got annoyed. Why are you telling me this and not showing me this. It did not feel authentic and so once again it was hard to believe what was happening. I understand that everyone is able to change their mind, but it felt like she should have been a little clearer over her feelings and not flip as much as she did.
The character of Kendall was an odd addition to the book. I have no idea what purpose she served. She came in causing conflict when there was already enough conflict in the book. It seemed to distract from the main story that the author was trying to weave aka what happened during the accident and what is Taylor going to do about this baby? This did not need to be in the book. It irks me to have a “random” sub plot thrown in that didn’t really need to be included. I don’t feel like it advanced the overall plot at all.
Taylor’s mother also seemed odd to me. It was mentioned in there that Scott definitely felt as though Taylor was being abused by her mother, or at least that there were abusive tendencies. Taylor makes it clear that her mother and she do not get along. She even wonders why her mother didn’t have an abortion because her mother has made comments about how much Taylor altered her life (and not for the better it seems). Her mother’s reply that it was because she loved Taylor’s father (who then left them) doesn’t seem to help the mother/daughter relationship at all. Then at the end of the novel there is a complete turn in the mother and suddenly she is on her daughter’s side no matter what. This was a strange moment for me. Was the author trying to show readers that they shouldn’t always assume that others will react a certain way because they could surprise you? If this was the case however then why go to the other lengths to show that the mother had abusive tendencies and that she and Taylor don’t get along? What? I am missing a point here and I am not even sure what it was.
I also want to know why Understanding Emily wasn’t fleshed out more. She is shown in quite a few scenes, but she has basically no character or personality besides being understanding. Her parents and the guy from the news are the same way. They kind of felt like fillers. Even the nurse who was filled with compassion felt like they had more depth than those other characters. Why did that happen?

Remembrance by Meg Cabot

Title: Remembrance
Author: Meg Cabot
Publication Date: February 2, 2016
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Source: Purchased

From Goodreads:

Fifteen years after the release of the first Mediator novel, #1 New York Times bestselling author Meg Cabot returns with a deliciously sexy new entry to a fan-favorite series. Suze Simon—all grown up and engaged to her once-ghostly soulmate—faces a vengeful spirit and an old enemy bent on ending Suze’s wedded bliss before it begins.

You can take the boy out of the darkness.

But you can’t take the darkness out of the boy.

All Susannah Simon wants is to make a good impression at her first job since graduating from college (and since becoming engaged to Dr. Jesse de Silva).

But when she’s hired as a guidance counselor at her alma mater, she stumbles across a decade-old murder, and soon ancient history isn’t all that’s coming back to haunt her. Old ghosts as well as new ones are coming out of the woodwork, some to test her, some to vex her, and it isn’t only because she’s a mediator, gifted with second sight.

From a sophomore haunted by the murderous specter of a child, to ghosts of a very different kind—including Paul Slater, Suze’s ex, who shows up to make a bargain Suze is certain must have come from the Devil himself—Suze isn’t sure she’ll make it through the semester, let alone to her wedding night.

Suze is used to striking first and asking questions later. But what happens when ghosts from her past—including one she found nearly impossible to resist—strike first?

What happens when old ghosts come back to haunt you?

If you’re a mediator, you might have to kick a little ass.

To say that I was unbelievably excited to read this book is a complete understatement. I love the Mediator series so much and getting another chance to follow Susannah and Jesse around was a dream. Prior to reading this I was nervous that Cabot wouldn’t be able to match the voice and tone of the other books in the series. When Proposal was released I was relieved to find out that Cabot still had that Susannah spunk in her waiting to tell another story.
Remembrance opens up with an adult Susannah working (as as unpaid intern) at her old high school. We visit all the characters that we loved from the first book. Age gives us another glance at the story though. The character who changed the most to me was Paul Slater. I can’t fathom why she would want to change his character so much. He went from a misguided teen to a terrible adult who borders between deserving to be thrown in jail and landing a spot as one of the most eligible bachelors. He becomes one of the two conflicts for Susannah in the novel. Paul and Jesse being around each other will always be a conflict; however, twisting this character in such a way and shifting so far away from how he was in the other books did not work for me. Was he a perfect gentleman in high school? No, he wasn’t, but he was also not like how he was portrayed in this novel. The years were not kind to Paul and if this is how she chose to make him then I wish she could have shown us what it was that pushed him over the edge to make him such a creep.
The issue with the potential Egyptian curse was also not working well for me. Susannah seemed to believe Paul so quickly. It is odd to me how in that moment she seems to trust Paul more than she trusts Jesse.
The other conflict comes in the form of a tiny ghost who follows around a teenager at Susannah’s school. For the most part this conflict was done very well. We travel with Susannah as she tries to uncover what happened to the girl as a child that caused this ghost to become so protective of her. What I did not like was the link to the traumatic events in this girl’s life to the CatholiC Church. It felt like she as trying to use media stories to try and make the conflict in this book relevant. I understand that Susannah went to and now works at a Catholic school, considers a priest as one of her good friends and mentors, and has a fiancé who is deeply religious and that it might have seemed to Cabot as though that was the only thing that made sense, but this was something that almost made me stop reading. I feel like that had no place in this type of novel and should have been left out. The same thing with vaccinations. Both of these points seem out of place and as though Cabot was trying to show us her thoughts on these two subjects.
Another thing that I hated about this novel was Susannah’s obsession with sex. She talks and thinks about it all the time and she thinks it’s so terrible that Jesse choses to wait until they are married. The end of the novel gives you an answer to whether or not they wait, but I really dislike the entire thing. Her constant chatter about wanting to have sex really takes away from Susannah’s character and what bothers me the most is not only does she seem to trust Paul more than she trusts Jesse, but she is also not respectful of all of Jesse’s choice. I understand that Cabot wanted to make this an adult novel and not a young adult, but I really disliked the direction that she chose to go.
All of that being said, I still really enjoyed getting to visit these characters again and if she writes anymore then I will continue to read this series.

Victoria Schwab: A Gathering of Shadows Launch

Yesterday I had the pleasure of traveling to Nashville to attend the launch for Victoria Scbwab’s newest book A Gathering of Shadows. It’s the sequel to A Darker Shade of Magic. I wasn’t sure if I was able to because the weather had been uncooperative all day and right when we started the drive out there it started pouring rain. Luckily it turned into a steady rain about thirty minutes into the drive.
I haven’t been able to attend one of Victoria’s event’s since the launch party for The Archived and I was so excited to make it out there.

Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Rhy was wounded and the Dane twins fell, and the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift, and into Black London.

In many ways, things have almost returned to normal, though Rhy is more sober, and Kell is now plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks like she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games—an extravagant international competition of magic, meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries—a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

But while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life, and those who were thought to be forever gone have returned. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning, and so it seems Black London has risen again—meaning that another London must fall.

I loved getting to hear Victoria talk about her process for writing. As an aspiring author myself it’s always great to get advice from author’s that you admire and this was no different.

Someone in the audience asked what advice Victoria would give to people who want to be writers. One of the things she said was to make it to the end. I loved this advice because it is so true. You can’t do anything unless you get to the end. Once that happens you can go back and work on what you already have, you can spend the time to shape it and make it better. You can’t do any of that unless you already have the words on the page.
Another person asked her about world building and I loved her answer. This is something that I misunderstood until about a year ago and Victoria explained it so well. In the Shades of Magic world, it’s not the location or the physical geometry that makes the worlds so rich, it’s their relationship to the magic within them. That is such a fantastic way to build and create worlds. Too many people focus on other things when building worlds, I know I am guilty of focusing only on what something looks like instead of how something functions. The actual workings of the world are so much more important that what something looks like. Something can look pretty, but it’s not going to mean anything if it actually doesn’t work.
It was so cool getting to go to this event. The first time I got to see Victoria was 4.5 years ago when The Near Witch was released. I love that book so much! As as I was writing this I went back through my blog to get pictures from other times I’ve gotten to see Victoria. There are so many awesome things she has done for me that I totally forgot about! She was one of the very first interview’s I ever did for my website, The Near Witch was the very first giveaway I ever did. She also was the second blog tour that I ever organized! It was for the paperback release of The Near Witch (are you guys noticing the trend here? I love that book!) She took part in my first ever Birthday Bash post. I had to take time off from events during my last two years of college, but now that I’ve graduated I am back! And I am so happy that one of my first events after graduation was for Victoria Schwab’s A Gathering of Shadows

August 2011

November 2011

Yallfest also includes That time I hunted down cake pops for Victoria Schwab

February 2015

First Look! Ashes in the Snow

You guys, it’s here! It’s finally here! I am still amazed that they are FINALLY filming this movie. I have been waiting for this moment since the second I read the book in 2011. I have shown love for this book and this film so many times on this site and it’s not going to stop. If you haven’t read Between Shades of Gray yet then I suggest running out to get it. If you can’t buy it new then buy it used or go to your local library. Libraries are often forgot about now, but they are such great resources.

The link to The Hollywood Reporter for the picture:


I am so excited for this and I hope you will all support such an important story as well.