I so wanted to love The Education of Margot Sanchez. Growing up, there were so few YA novels with a Puerto Rican protagonist that now as an adult, I'vI so wanted to love The Education of Margot Sanchez. Growing up, there were so few YA novels with a Puerto Rican protagonist that now as an adult, I've decided to slowly, but surely gorge myself on all the ones that exist. Unfortunately, I did not love The Education of Margot Sanchez because I did not love Margot Sanchez.
Holy mother of privilege and self-centeredness, Batman! Margot only cared about herself and how her family's problems affected her. And as someone who grew up in a Puerto Rican household that did have to live paycheck by paycheck, I didn't sympathize with most of Margot's "problems". "Oh, I stole $600 from my parents and now I not only have to pay them back by working in my family's grocery store all summer, I actually don't get any money from them? AND I have to buy my own expensive clothing?" Yeah, boo freaking hoo!
And I'm trying to figure out what "education" Margot actually got. She never really changes her self-centered ways. She still thinks that she's the center of the universe and looks at things only in the glance of "how do they affect me?" She's no better than those two shallow friends she has. Margot experiences very little growth in this book. She starts off as unlikable and she remains unlikable.
Is there someone else to root for in The Education of Margot Sanchez? Nope. And that's mainly because none of the supporting characters are developed. I would have loved to know more about Elizabeth, Moises, and all of the other supermarket employees, but unfortunately we don't get anything from them. They're just there and don't really do much. I also would have loved it if we got to experience Margot actually working in the supermarket. I worked at a supermarket throughout high school and would have loved to see things in that context.
In the end, I was highly disappointed in The Education of Margot Sanchez. It gets two stars only because it was a quick read, the Spanish was spot on and not italicized, and because the cover is absolutely gorgeous. The rest of the flaws, however, make this a bust for me....more
I wanted to like this one. For the most part, I was engaged with The Serpent King (still thought it had some flaws, though), so I expected to feel theI wanted to like this one. For the most part, I was engaged with The Serpent King (still thought it had some flaws, though), so I expected to feel the same way about Goodbye Days. Unfortunately, the flaws in this were to immense for me to give this a high rating.
The Good: I liked the friendship between Carver, Blake, Mars, and Eli. I was concerned that their friendship would be somewhat brushed off seeing as how Goodbye Days starts with Carver's best friends already dead. I was worried that it would focus so much on how Carver deals with it that I wouldn't get any inkling as to why these characters were friends. Fortunately, Zentner includes flashbacks that detail how Carver met each of his best friends and how they functioned as a group. I also really liked the relationship with Carver and Georgia. I thought it was sweet.
The Eh: One problem that I had with The Serpent King was that I had to suspend belief multiple times. This happened to me with Goodbye Days. I just don't see the whole "Is Carver culpable for the death of his friends" arc going as far as it did in real life than it did in the book. And I get that Zentner was trying to say, "Wait, this can happen because look at that girl in Massachusetts who's being charged for the suicide of her friend", but those are two entirely different circumstances. Carver wasn't actively goading his friends to answer his text message in hopes that they would all die in a car crash. That girl in Mass was continuously telling her friend to commit suicide and kept telling him to get back in the car when he expressed doubts. So, one is culpable, one is not. And again, I don't the circumstances in the book playing out that way in real life.
More Eh: I never really warmed to Carver. Sure, he wasn't responsible for his friends' deaths, but he still seemed like kind of a tool. He was sexist. And sure he acknowledged his sexism from time to time, but that doesn't automatically erase the fact that it exists within him. One thing that left a bad taste in my mouth has to do with how the parents of the deceased are portrayed. I was so disheartened to realize that the black character was the one parent who decided to inflict some violence, but the other parents are shown as more "respectable". Maybe I'm being too sensitive, but that upset me and is a big reason why this book went from three stars to two.
In the end, I wasn't a fan of Goodbye Days. The main character wasn't likable and the whole court aspect of this book seemed like a stretch. I think The Serpent King is a way better read and that one actually made me cry, while this one just made me go "Eh."...more
I so, so wanted You're Welcome, Universe to live up to its awesome, swoon-worthy, beautiful cover and it did! Seriously, You're Welcome, Universe wasI so, so wanted You're Welcome, Universe to live up to its awesome, swoon-worthy, beautiful cover and it did! Seriously, You're Welcome, Universe was pretty damn great.
I really liked Julia. She was tough as nails, snarky, funny, and she made not-so-great decisions. All of these things served to make Julia a flawed human being. All good points in my book. I also adored her relationship with YP. I'm a sucker for a good female friendship, particularly because it tends to be rare in YA books where the heroines are more focused on romance than anything else. You know what's also rare in YA? A book that has very little romance. And BAM! You're Welcome, Universe has virtually no romance. The whole focus of the book is Julia and her art, as well as her navigation of a "mainstream" school.
More Good: I expected a book with a Deaf MC to be told the way books with a non-Deaf MC are told, but it wasn't and I loved that about it. I particularly liked how when Julia was lip-reading, there were some words missing in the book because she wasn't catching every word the person was saying. You can just tell that this book was meticulously researched and that sensitivity readers were used (which is a must if you're writing about a culture you don't personally belong to).
The teeny tiny Eh: The reason that You're Welcome, Universe isn't getting five stars (other than the fact that I'm insanely stingy with them) is that some of the adult supporting characters weren't fleshed out as much. I say some because Mr. Katz (whom I loved and adored) and Casey were plenty fleshed out, but Julia's parents were non-entities for the most part. We get to know some of Mee, but I would have loved it if the author explored Julia and Ma's relationship a little bit more.
Overall, I really enjoyed You're Welcome, Universe. Julia was a great main character, the supporting characters were awesome, the book seems to be meticulously researched. The art was also stunning and I'm hoping the finished copy of this book has these amazing drawings in color (cause that would be insanely pretty). Highly recommended!...more
Lately, I have been singing the praises of YA contemporary fiction. My last two contemporary YA books were damn impressive, so I thought "Maybe I don'Lately, I have been singing the praises of YA contemporary fiction. My last two contemporary YA books were damn impressive, so I thought "Maybe I don't need to love YA fantasy, cause I have these!" Well, after reading The Loose Ends List, I decided that my next read needs to be a fantasy so that I could wipe the stench that this book left within me. Cause frankly, this book sucked.
Getting right to it: Maddie sucked. She was a horrible main character. I get that the author wanted her to be this popular girl who's amazing, yet insecure, who's funny and deep. Yeah, well, that failed. Maddie was shallow, judgmental, and her supposed moments of empathy rang entirely insincere. She starts off the book by stating what a shame it is that a hot guy got the diseased gene, while his ugly brother got the healthy gene. What even? This chick judges everyone. Her grandmother's lawyer is bald, so naturally that makes Maddie and Janie (her equally shallow cousin) think "Eww, gross!" She goes on to wonder who's the terminally ill one in a couple: either the really skinny one or the overweight one.
More: She's surprised that a hot girl with a surfboard and big breasts is a botanist because y'know hot and chesty = dumb. Then she says this little nugget, "I don't think I can eat next to someone in a wheelchair." Really? WTF! Last time I checked, people in wheelchairs were still...y'know PEOPLE! And she was never redeemed. There was never that lightbulb moment where she thought "Huh. I'm shallow and judgmental. Maybe I should change." Nope. She just stays horrible. Of course, why would she change when everyone around her is telling her how magnificent she is?
She's not the only shallow character in this book. Again, Janie is just as shallow. You think she might be a little bit better than Maddie because she shows some moments of empathy. But all that goes to hell when she's in Brazil and states, "That's a lot of blonde people for Brazil." Because, of course, Brazil means dark skin, dark eyes, and dark hair, right? I'm trying so hard to not say that that's kinda racist, but what it is is really fucking stereotypical. Maybe the author thought that she was being funny by making fun of people with different nationalities, different looks, different religions (because a German guy in Brazil means Nazi and Nazi's and the Holocaust are funny, right? HA HA). It doesn't come across as funny. It comes across as offensive.
The Loose Ends List was not funny in the slightest, even when you take away the offensive "jokes." This book comes across as trying desperately hard to be funny, but failing at every turn. The grandmother? A caricature. Also, what was with her honking her granddaughter's breast? What was with Janie looking at Maddie (her COUSIN!) and saying "I'd do you"? I have never, not once, looked at a family member who was dressed nicely and said, "Nice. I'd do you" because that would be really fucking weird.
Overall, I intensely disliked The Loose Ends List. It wasn't funny, the "jokes" were offensive, it was boring, and it had insta-love. This book caused numerous eye-rolls and was just a bad book. I say skip it....more
I thought for sure that I would love The Orphan's Tale. Circuses AND WWII? Those are two of my favorite things to read about! However, The Orphan's TaI thought for sure that I would love The Orphan's Tale. Circuses AND WWII? Those are two of my favorite things to read about! However, The Orphan's Tale never fully took advantage of its amazing premise and ended up being somewhat of a disappointment.
The Good: As mentioned above, the premise of The Orphan's Tale was really great. The circus part was intriguing and adding the backdrop of WWII added even more tension. I also really liked Astrid. I thought she was a solid main character and I would have loved it if the book was mostly about her. The friendship between Astrid and Noa also started off as solid and was one of my favorite parts of the beginning.
The Eh: The characters aren't all that developed in The Orphan's Tale and this includes Astrid and Noa, our main characters. Sure, you get to know some things about them, but they're never fully explored. We just get to know them on a surface level, which is disappointing. The supporting characters are given one maybe two lines worth of dialogue and are never really mentioned much, yet we're supposed to care about them. Well, I didn't because we don't know anything about them. So, what's the point?
I might have overlooked that and given The Orphan's Tale 3 stars had it not started to get YA trope-y. Noa, unfortunately, was the weak spot in this whole book for me. Again, I liked her friendship with Astrid at the beginning, but the minute her love interest is introduced, everything goes to hell. The whole Noa and Luc thing was insta-love at its purest (and by that I mean, if you look up insta-love in the dictionary, you'll see a picture of Noa and Luc). These two have known each other for a week and are already in love. And because of that, Noa starts doing increasingly stupid things and gets pathetic. She mentions that she doesn't care who Luc's family is because she has nothing to lose...because she's not Jewish.
So, she has no problem taking the chance that her little whirlwind romance will put everyone in danger. And I'm supposed to believe that she loves Astrid so much and will do anything for her after that? Nope. Sorry. The minute that happened, Noa lost me. I started finding her friendship with Astrid insincere and so I no longer was invested in the story because their friendship was the main thing that intrigued me. Also, this book was crazy melodramatic. I can take drama, I expect some in fiction. But WWII was dramatic enough, why add soap-opera like plots and conflicts? It just made this book ring insincere as a whole.
Overall, I found The Orphan's Tale to be a bust. The book might've been better had it focused solely on Astrid and her storyline. Adding Noa just cheapened the whole experience. The characters were weak, the plot was melodramatic, and the book as a whole was a disappointment. I say skip it....more
Sigh. If I was the type of person who put gifs into reviews (or knew even remotely how), this review would be filled with numerous eye-rolling gifs. TSigh. If I was the type of person who put gifs into reviews (or knew even remotely how), this review would be filled with numerous eye-rolling gifs. This book was a disappointment in SO many ways! While I kept reading, all I could think was "Boy, does this kind of blow!" GAH!
Usually I start off my reviews with the good, but since there was very little of it, I'm going to start off with the bad: Right from the start The Edge of Everything tries to play with your emotions. And not in the good way. In the first few pages, we're treated to a "will they or won't they die?" action involving dogs. I don't do that shit. I have dogs, I don't even want to think about any harm befalling on them. Sure, they didn't die, but I don't like my emotions being played with like that, especially when it comes to animals. This book also tries to tug your heartstrings right at the beginning by describing a brutal murder of two senior citizens. Something else I don't abide by: harm being done to old people. And both the dogs and the old people events were done in a way that seem to want to manipulate the reader.
More bad: The insta-love in The Edge of Everything is immense. I don't like insta-love and I hate to see it in a book. But Zoe and X fall in love after knowing each other less than a week. That's enough to get me to root for their romance, right? Wrong. This also has to do with the fact that Zoe and X aren't developed at all and so they're boring; especially Zoe. I mean, at least X has the whole Lowlands thing going for him, but Zoe? She's a big, blank dull. She's also prone to doing especially stupid things. For example, she lies to a cop, which whatever flows your boat, right? But while lying to this cop, she seemed to have forgotten that she posted a picture on Instagram of the very thing she's lying about. You're dumb. She also does things like purposely dropping walkie-talkies into the bottom of caves when she's in said cave.
More, More Bad: Honestly, it seemed like The Edge of Everything didn't quite know what it wanted to be. Did it want to be a contemporary fiction book about a girl's grief over the death of her father? Or did it want to be a fantasy novel about bounty hunters in hell? And then thought, "Why not put them together?" Only it didn't work because it seems like this book is suffering through a major identity crisis every time it switches between the two.
The good: Ripper. That was the only good thing about The Edge of Everything. I loved that not-so-crazed bounty hunter to bits and pieces. I wanted so much more of her. The only time I was enjoying The Edge of Everything was when Ripper was on the page (and I totally pictured her as Eva Green, which helped immensely cause c'mon.) I would love to read an entire book about Ripper's life before the Lowlands, her descent into the Lowlands, and her awesome bounty hunter ways. In fact, even though I immensely disliked this book, I'm still considering picking up the next installment because I love Ripper so much. And it's rare that I pick up sequels of books I actually enjoy, let alone ones I didn't.
Overall, I thought that The Edge of Everything was not great (I hesitate to say "horrible" because it makes me feel bad). It had under-developed characters, insta-love that only happens because the guy is hot, and a bratty and stupid main character. But Ripper was awesome. Should you pick up this book solely for Ripper? Well, that's your decision (but seriously, man, she was so badass. I only wish everything else in this book was as great as she was). I say skip it....more
I expected to love The Valiant. Female gladiators? All types of YES! I just knew this book would include some awesome female badassery. And it did. AnI expected to love The Valiant. Female gladiators? All types of YES! I just knew this book would include some awesome female badassery. And it did. And while I liked it overall, there were still some things that kept me from rating this higher than 3 stars.
The Good: For the most part, I liked Fallon. She was badass throughout most of the book and she didn't annoy me too much (she annoyed me some, though). Even better than Fallon was Elka. Oh, how I LOVED Elka. She was more badass than Fallon, seemed way more sincere, and was just an all-around great character. I really enjoyed her friendship with Fallon (though I was kind of bummed that the friendship was in the background throughout the middle of the novel). However, my absolute favorite part of The Valiant (besides the badass female gladiators, I mean) was the relationship between Fallon and Lady Achillea. I won't spoil it, but it was such a great angsty, emotional relationship and I wanted so much more of it.
The Meh: The identity of Lady Achillea was incredibly predictable. In fact, I kept wondering if this was supposed to be a plot twist because I started suspecting it even before Lady Achillea appeared. So much for build up. Speaking of build up, the romance between Fallon and Cai was all sorts of insta-love. They've seen each other all of 3 times and already they're professing their love for each other, which is weird considering Fallon starts off the book completely in love with Mael. So, yeah, that was annoying and made Fallon less awesome (i.e. one of the big reasons she annoyed me).
Another thing that was off-putting was how abrupt the ending was. It wasn't an unexpected ending or anything, but it was tied up a little too neatly in the last few pages. It felt as though the author was on some sort of deadline and so needed to resolve all conflicts quickly. Once it was over, I kept thinking, "That's it?" I, then, expected to come on Goodreads and see that The Valiant was part of a series, but it doesn't seem to be. And I'm one of those people who always bemoans that everything is a series, so that should tell you right there how abrupt it was. I wanted a better resolution. The Valiant needed about 20-30 more pages in order to flesh out a proper ending.
In the end, though, I did like The Valiant. Fallon was somewhat of a badass, the supporting characters were solid, Lady Achillea was amazing (and I so want a book with her upbringing and how she got to where she is), and the book was a page-turner. So, I still recommend it....more
Caraval has to be one of the most hyped 2017 books on social media. In fact, I only heard of this book due to the Twitter buzz and when I read the titCaraval has to be one of the most hyped 2017 books on social media. In fact, I only heard of this book due to the Twitter buzz and when I read the title, I got crazy excited because I thought that it had something to do with Narnia. I was like, "What?! The Lewis Estate is loosening its grip and letting someone retell it?! Give it to me now!" (For those wondering why I thought it had anything to do with Narnia, it's cause I confused Caraval with Pair Caravel. Le sigh). Anyway, once I actually read the synopsis and realized that this was about a circus (kinda), I got so freaking excited! And I've read it and it's gorgeous and wonderful and so deserving of all the hype it's receiving!
I'm extremely hard on YA fantasy. For me, a lot of it just seems to use the same tired tropes and that makes very few of them memorable. Well, Caraval didn't have that problem in the slightest! Love triangles? No siree! Insta-love? Not necessarily! Strong main character that becomes weak once she meets hot boy? Thank the heavens, NO! Honestly, I've never read a book quite like Caraval. The world-building was spectacular! I could so easily picture everything that was happening and kept picturing how the movie would look (while simultaneously squeeing because this is going to be an AWESOME movie!). It was all so delicious, with the colors and the magic and the gorgeousness!
The twists! Oh, the twists! I'm hard to please when it comes to twists because they're either incredibly predictable or they make no kind of sense to anything that had been happening in the novel beforehand. Every single time I thought that a twist in Caraval was predictable, it would actually turn out to be completely different from what I was expecting. Every time I thought I had everything figured out, I was thrown for yet another loop. Nothing truly is as it seems in Caraval!
Okay, enough gushing from me. Seriously, if you can only read one book in 2017, make it Caraval! The world is so luscious and wonderful, the main character is so great (I liked her indecisiveness), the romance was good, and the relationship between Scarlett and Tella was so sweet (and definitely one of my favorite parts of this book). Also, don't read too many reviews because you'll get the most out of Caraval if you go into it as blind as possible.
Eeep, can't wait for the sequel! I haven't been this excited about a series since Harry Potter. Read this, read this, read this....more
In my last review, I mentioned how it's hard for me to be fully enamored with YA fantasy and that contemporary YA is where it's at (at least for me).In my last review, I mentioned how it's hard for me to be fully enamored with YA fantasy and that contemporary YA is where it's at (at least for me). Well, 10 Things I Can See From Here just solidified this statement for me because it was such a great read!
The Good: I absolutely LOVED Maeve! From the first page of this book and on I found her absolutely hilarious. I lost count of how many times she made me chuckle. And I connected with her so much. In fact, of all the morbid things she mentioned in this book, I was only unfamiliar with one. So, yeah Maeve and me, a lot alike. I also loved the family dynamics in this book. I'm a sucker for well-done familial angst and you get a lot of that here. And it never once veers into melodrama.
More Good: I loved the relationship between Maeve and Claire. Finally, we have a stepmother in YA who isn't a complete and total nightmare! Claire was such a solid and amazing character and I loved that the angst that was in this book had absolutely NOTHING to do with a resentful relationship between Maeve and her stepmother. They got along splendidly and they both had love and appreciation for each other. Major kudos to that.
While I did really like the relationship between Maeve and Salix, I wasn't in love with it. I think that has more to do with the fact that the relationship is in the background for most of this book. 10 Things I Can See From Here is more about Maeve, her anxiety, and her family and less about her relationship. Seeing as how the familial aspect of this book was so well-done, I found myself more intrigued by it than I did the relationship. I think had the book been a bit longer and developed the character of Salix a bit more, then I'm sure I would have fell in love with it.
Overall, I really enjoyed 10 Things I Can See From Here. Maeve was an amazing, funny, deep character. The supporting characters were all amusing and necessary. And the book as a whole was just such a great read. Highly recommended and I can't wait to see what the author comes out with next!
ETA: Also, I so wish that 10 Things I Can See From Here had a better cover. I like the tagline, but my God, those this cover need something else to draw more people in....more
Okay, so Nina LaCour and I have a complicated relationship. And by that I mean that I once read one of her books (The Disenchantments), really didn'tOkay, so Nina LaCour and I have a complicated relationship. And by that I mean that I once read one of her books (The Disenchantments), really didn't like it, and have held it against her ever since. And this is totally unfair because prior to not liking The Disenchantments, I really loved Hold Still. But The Disenchantments soured me away from LaCour's books. Of course, that was until I found out that Everything Leads to You featured GLBT characters. So, I read that one. Really liked it. Read Summer Days and Summer Nights. LOVED LaCour's short story in it. Yet, despite all this, every single time I pick up a LaCour book, I hesitate. Well, after reading We Are Okay, I will hesitate no longer.
I frigging LOVED this book. There's just something about the way LaCour writes about grief that hits you in the gut and makes you feel active pain for what her characters are going through. I felt in Hold Still. I felt it doubly in We Are Okay. Marin's emotions (particularly her loneliness) just leapt off the page. So much that towards the end of it, I was just a massive puddle of tears.
So, we have tons (TONS!) of gorgeous writing and an immense amount of grief in We Are Okay. What else? Well, the relationship between Marin and Mable is so, so understated. At first, I was a bit put off (because HELLO! I came here for the GLBT relationship), but this book is primarily a book about a character attempting to deal with grief. Everything else is in the background. But that background relationship was so beautiful in its simplicity. And everything between Marin and her grandfather, extra double punch in the gut due to pain.
All of this rambling is just to say pick up this book! Seriously, everything about We Are Okay is awe-inspiring: from the cover (because OH MY GOD! is this cover the most stunning thing you've ever seen?), to the characters, to the overall writing of it. It has made its way to my favorites shelf and has just single handedly made sure that I never again hesitate to pick up a Nina LaCour book. We Are Okay is highly, highly recommended!...more
Oy vey, where do I start? Oh, I know: STOP COMPARING BOOKS TO GONE GIRL & GIRL ON THE TRAIN!!! Especially if they're lackluster (though I do admitOy vey, where do I start? Oh, I know: STOP COMPARING BOOKS TO GONE GIRL & GIRL ON THE TRAIN!!! Especially if they're lackluster (though I do admit that I wasn't all that impressed with Gone Girl and it's my least favorite Flynn novel). This is my fault, really. I hate that mystery books are all compared to GG and GOTT, but I still pick them up, even though I've been burned time and time again. Unfortunately for me, The Girl Before was yet another burn.
The Girl Before tries to be this edgy, steamy thriller that has shades of GG and 50 Shades of Grey. The thing is that it fails in every conceivable way. Mind you, I haven't read 50 Shades of Grey (and will never, ever read it due to how it seems to fetishize controlling behavior), but The Girl Before seems to have tried to captivate the same kind of steaminess (or rather try to captivate the people who considered FSOG steamy and not just icky w/ it's control factor). But it's not steamy, it's icky. And it's not edgy, it's just the same predictable mess that's come from all of the other GG wannabes.
My main issue with The Girl Before is that the women are stupid. The main characters fall under the "stupid characters do stupid, stupid things" category. The Emma chapters were just a mess. Pretty much the author trying to throw everything, but the kitchen sink in there. They were so implausible (and that whole "Daddy" thing? Icky as fuck). And what was with writing the Emma chapters without quotation marks? Was it to differentiate the Emma chapters from the Jane chapters? Well, it worked. Cause I differentiated them by thinking, "Oh, here are the Jane chapters and here are the pretentious, special snowflake without quotation marks chapters." It was so annoying and so unnecessary.
Jane was no better. If Emma was pathetic, Jane was ten times worse. She gets all this evidence that Edward might not be a good dude and she constantly ignores it. She doesn't want to take anything those people tell her at face value, but has no problem taking what Edward tells her at face value. In fact, she's so pathetic that she wonders why all these guys are obsessed with Emma, while simultaneously lamenting that no one is obsessed with her. Really? You're upset because no one seems to be stalking you? Go home, Jane. You're drunk.
So what does The Girl Before have going for it? It's a page-turner. That's it. Besides that, it's a mess. It's predictable, the least unique book you'll ever read, and full of unlikable characters who deserve to get hit by trains. I say skip it....more