first impressions based on the first chapter of a book

First Impressions: Paper Valentine vs Shut Out

first impressions based on the first chapter of a book

Welcome to a new little feature here at Rather Be Reading. I, Magan, have had an extraordinarily hard time deciding what in the heck I want to read lately. I believe this happens to the best of us. Sometimes we just get stuck and despite the tons of books that line our shelves, we have NO IDEA what we’re in the mood for next. I’ve started doing something new. I read the first chapter of a few random books and see what sticks out to me most. (Note: I do not read the back-of-the-book summaries because I feel they’re rather misleading sometimes.) What pulls me in and makes me want to continue reading? For this particular post, I was sitting on the floor in Barnes & Noble, the options limitless, with no idea what I wanted to use my thrifty coupon on.

So here we are: Paper Valentine vs Shut Out

Paper Valentine by Breanna Yovanoff

I went to a signing with Brenna Yovanoff a few months ago at Book People and was really, really intrigued by her writing process. One thing that stood out to me was how she said the way the words sound matters to her. She writes a draft and there are holes in the story, but she’s writing based on the way things flow first and foremost. Amazing, right? Well, that’s why I decided to pick up her book for my first first-chapter read-through. To be honest, I’m not a fan of ghosts, but I thought maybe, just maybe, I’d be pulled in by her lyrical words. Here’s what I thought and learned:

first impressions of Paper Valentine by Breanna Yovanoff

  • Hannah’s (the main character) best friend died of anorexia.
  • Her BFFs ghost is haunting her (or just hanging around).
  • Hannah has a very close-knit family — frequent family dinners together, a strong sisterly bond, and it seems like they have rituals and habits.
  • A younger girl dies in their town.
  • Yovanoff sets the scene — we seem to know that we’re going to get a lot of backstory of what happened with Hannah’s best friend, but we’re also going to move forward with the mystery of who killed the new girl. 

Would I read this book? Absolutely. Yovanoff’s writing was so addictive, I almost didn’t want to stop reading (but I was hogging the YA aisle). I liked that I was getting a sense of the entire story — history (why is the ghost hanging around?!) + new material to progress the story forward. And — BONUS! — any story that features close family relationships wins major points with me.

Goodreads | Amazon


Shut Out by Kody Keplinger

After reading The D.U.F.F. by Keplinger, I have had Shut Out on my TBR list. You can refer back to my review of A Midsummer’s Nightmare to see that I’ve continuously felt like while Keplinger’s books are hot and sexy, they lack depth and substance. How would I feel after reading the first chapter of Shut Out? Would I be intrigued enough to march up to the purchasing counter?

first impression after reading the first chapter of shut out by kody keplinger

  • Lissa is frusttrated because her boyfriend is in the middle of a rivalry with the soccer players who keep interrupting their make-out sessions.
  • Despite their 16 months together, she cannot be honest enough with him to say how she feels.
  • Questioned where the plot was going? A break-up?
  • The first chapter was extremely abrupt with little information about what direction the story would head.

Would I read this book? Eventually, I believe it’ll be exactly what I need — something sexy and lighter. But for now, I feel a little frustrated that it seems so anti-climactic. It starts off with a bang, a make-out scene, but I already felt crazed that Lissa couldn’t stand up for herself. I definitely get the impression that this will be a library book kind of read for me. In case you’re itching to read a review, see what Estelle thought when she reviewed Shut Out.

Goodreads | Amazon


And the winner is: Paper Valentine.

Friends, hands down, the writing was just so lovely. I can’t wait to escape back into Yovanoff’s world. Even if there are ghosts and things that aren’t my usual cup of tea. She’s making me expand my horizons.

10 thoughts on “First Impressions: Paper Valentine vs Shut Out

  1. Bookworm1858 says:

    I guessed Paper Valentine would be the winner for you. Personally I think Shut Out is my least favorite of Keplinger’s books although still quite funny. I have yet to read Paper Valentine but it is on my list!

  2. Sharon @ The Book Barbies says:

    This is such a fun feature! Personally, Shut Out would totally be the winner for me, because I loved that book! Although I’m in the minority, I definitely thought it was better than The D.U.F.F..

    I’m always a fan of lovely writing, though. ♥ I’m glad you’re enjoying Paper Valentine. I really like the cover, too!

  3. Natalie @ books, etc says:

    I am LOVING this new feature! I used to do this in bookstores all the time! It was very clever of you to turn this into a feature for your blog. As for the books you mentioned: I have read The DUFF and I really liked it, but I agree with you about its lack of depth. As for Paper Valentine – it sounds really interesting! I have never read a Brenna Yovanoff book, but I have another book by her (The Replacement) sitting at home on my bookshelf screaming at me to be read!

  4. Ginger @ GReads! says:

    Shut Out is definitely not meant to be just a steamy YA contemp. I found the message in it to hold a lot of substance. It focuses on teenage sex and the labels that teens put on each other and themselves, based on whether they’re sexually active or not. I like Kody’s writing because she isn’t afraid to shake things up a bit. I guess I took a personal connection with this one (& the DUFF) and it’s why I really liked it. There’s girl power and standing up for yourself, and coming to terms with the decisions you make. I enjoyed it.

  5. Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide says:

    Yay!!!! I really, really enjoyed Paper Valentine. I don’t like ghosts (okay, I hate ghosts) but this was just the right amount of creepy and not designed to scare the pants off of me! The writing was so beautiful too! Loved the way this book was done 🙂

  6. Kate Scott says:

    We’ll you’ve convinced me. I’ve already read Shut Out and thought it was good but not great. I’d never even heard of Paper Valentine, but I’m putting it on my TBR list now. Also, I love your idea of reading the first chapter to decide. I primarily read ebooks and tend to get the sample chapters of lots of books and then only keep reading on the really good ones.

  7. Alexa Y. says:

    Both books sound really good for different reasons! Paper Valentine does intrigue me just the slightest bit more, and that’s mostly because of the cover. I love the way it looks honestly, and that would probably convince me to pick it up off the bookshelf if I saw it!

  8. Asheley Tart (@BookwormAsheley) says:

    Ooh, what a fun feature! I’m interested in how-on-earth you narrowed it down to these two! But like you, if my choices were these two and given your information here, I’d probably have chosen Brenna Y’s book. I actually have one or two of hers on my shelf (her covers are so lovely!) but I haven’t read it yet. And because of what you included here, I just went to my library’s website and added it to my “remember me” list. I kind of like ghost-y books sometimes so it sounds pretty fun.

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