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.