I had extremely high expectations with Pointe, mainly because I always have high expectations of books that have kidnappings as a central focus. Plus,I had extremely high expectations with Pointe, mainly because I always have high expectations of books that have kidnappings as a central focus. Plus, Pointe had to do with dancing and while I am the farthest thing from a dancer and have two left feet, I've been slightly obsessed with watching Dance Moms clips on Youtube (don't judge me.) and wanted to see if I picked up any terminology while laughing at the insane and crazy dance moms (I did!). So, I cracked open my Kindle with great anticipation. However, I must say, that I was slightly disappointed with Pointe.
Here's my main issue: Pointe is one of those everything, but the kitchen sink books. This book has everything in it: kidnappings, pedophiles, rape, eating disorders, dance, love triangles, cheating, etc. And I feel like none of these topics was given justice. There's just too many topics to keep track of and none of them are developed fully enough for my liking. The kidnapping was no exception. Despite the fact that it's supposed to be the main point of Pointe, the kidnapping is glossed over in favor of the inner workings of the cafeteria in Theo's school (a.k.a. I really don't care). The book also spends way too much time focusing on Theo's current romance (a.k.a. I REALLY don't care). The synopsis of this book is misleading. It's not about a kidnapping as much as it is about Theo's ENTIRE life. And since the main draw for me was the kidnapping, I spent so much time just not giving a damn about what was going on.
Another big issue: I didn't really like Theo. I mean, given everything that she had been through, I did feel sorry for her, but that doesn't mean I have to like her. She was just so aggravating. The whole "I'm not THAT girl", while simultaneously being that girl was annoying. But nothing bugged me more than how we're constantly told what a dedicated dancer she is, how much she wants it, and then she spends half her time polluting her lungs, which I'm assuming is a big freaking deal considering how much she needs them to dance! Guess she's not that dedicated to dance as she wants to be. Oh, and her parents also sucked for not noticing...anything really.
Slightly smaller issue: We're introduced to too many characters that have absolutely point to the overall arc of the story. Klein, useless. Other dancing kids = equally useless. Friend who complimented Theo's dress = more useless than everything. This just ties back to my main point, why are we wasting all this time talking about useless kids and not focusing on Donovan's kidnapping which is supposed to be the main thing of Pointe?!
So, in the end, I didn't really like Pointe. Mainly because I didn't really like Theo. Two stars for keeping me engaged throughout the whole story, which is impressive considering how little I cared for everything that wasn't the kidnapping....more
I was highly skeptical upon picking up Placebo Junkies. Despite how fascinating the premise was said to be, this book was compared to Going Bovine...AI was highly skeptical upon picking up Placebo Junkies. Despite how fascinating the premise was said to be, this book was compared to Going Bovine...And to this day, I don't think I've read a book that bored me as much as Going Bovine did. Plus, this book seemed bizarre. And I'm at the point in my life where I'm no longer that into bizarre books. But I have to say, Placebo Junkies is the kind of bizarre that works.
The Good: I'm that kind of person who tends to watch videos of research experiments on Youtube, so the premise of Placebo Junkies was right up my alley. It also helped that you could tell that the author did tons of research when it came to guinea pigs, so there was this huge blast of reality throughout this whole book. Another thing that I loved was how...different Placebo Junkies was. Basically, take every YA trope you know (insta-love, love triangles, etc, etc.) and throw it all out the window. This book has none of those "been there, done that" tropes. And if there's something I like more than creeping on research experiments is a unique book.
However, one thing that trumps my love of research experiments and unique books is flawed, yet strong female characters. Audie was all this and more. Now, I didn't LOVE Audie (it's kind of hard to), but I appreciated the hell out of her. For the most part, she seemed true to herself (whatever that self may be) and didn't really take shit from anybody. That's my kind of heroine. Yes, she was flawed as hell, but she was entertaining (a big plus) and a character filled to the brim with depth.
One thing that I was kind of 'eh' about was the supporting characters. I just expected...more from them. I would've liked to know their background a bit more as well as had some more questions answered. The one thing that bothered me the most was how anti-climactic I found Placebo Junkies to be. However, the fault of that does not lie in the book. What I consider to be a mild spoiler below:
It's really hard to be shocked by a twist when everyone and their freaking mother is going on and on about how unreliable the narrator is. That right there tells me that I shouldn't believe a word that narrator is telling me. I consider that to be a huge fucking spoiler. And had that been tagged appropriately under a spoiler alert on both Goodreads and Amazon, I would have enjoyed Placebo Junkies more. I wouldn't have been able to see the twist coming. But again, since every review blatantly referenced the unreliable narrator, I guessed the twist and went into this book expecting it. Not cool.
End of minor spoiler.
Anyway, for the most part, I enjoyed Placebo Junkies. It was different. And after reading tons and tons of YA books with the same kind of plot, filled with the same kind of tropes, this book was extremely refreshing. Highly recommended.
I've never been a big fan of Westerns. I just always thought that I would find everything about them boring: the characterization, the backdrop, everyI've never been a big fan of Westerns. I just always thought that I would find everything about them boring: the characterization, the backdrop, everything. Then I read The Gunslinger...And I thought, "Yep, just like I figured. So freaking boring!" (please don't shoot me for thinking that). However, I still decided to give Vengeance Road a try. I figured that it being YA, it would be easier for me to acclimate to a western. It worked. I have to say, that I kind of loved Vengeance Road.
I LOVED Kate. I have absolutely no problem with a badass, strong, totally flawed chick with dubious morals going on a vengeance and murdering spree (in fiction, obviously), so I loved Kate from the get go. Again, what she was doing wasn't what one would consider "right", but I liked that she was just as ruthless as I assume some of the men in the Westerns I have not read would be. Bowman didn't hold back at all with Kate. She was who she was. That was refreshing.
The supporting characters were fine. I really liked Liliyue and would've loved to have her feature more as I found her background fascinating. The Colton Brothers were okay. I liked Will for the most part, but was somewhat meh on Jesse. The romance was also okay, but I've never been a huge romance fan, so as long as it doesn't annoy me, I call that a win. I especially loved that the romance wasn't the central theme of the book. It was in the background, with Kate's blood thirsty vengeance at the forefront. I can deal with that.
Another thing that I loved: the language. I've read a few books where a novel is set in early history, almost everything about the book screams historical, but the author skimps on the vernacular and makes it seem just a touch modern and then I'm annoyed with life. This didn't happen in Vengeance Road. The language was genuine. It made me feel as though I was IN a western. Bravo!
So, I really loved Vengeance Road. In fact, it's so well done that it has me thinking about picking up other Westerns (just thinking. It probably won't happen goes old habits are hard to break and all). I think I might actually check out True Grit. Anyway, Vengeance Road is highly recommended due to the awesomeness that is Kate and her badass, flawed, vengeance-prone self!...more
I wanted to like The Devil and Winnie Flynn so much. I'm a huge horror buff, so the premise of The Devil and Winnie Flynn was right up my alley. It juI wanted to like The Devil and Winnie Flynn so much. I'm a huge horror buff, so the premise of The Devil and Winnie Flynn was right up my alley. It just seemed so interesting. Unfortunately, this book fell flat in almost every conceivable way. I get where The Devil and Winnie Flynn wanted to go. It wanted to be like Scream. A hip horror movie that follows all the typical tropes while simultaneously making witty jokes about them. This was no Scream. Mainly because the characters in Scream didn't suck the way they did here.
I absolutely LOATHED 95% of the characters in The Devil and Winnie Flynn. I loathed no one more than Winnie. This chick was an utter asshole. There's just no way around it. She starts off the book with "I don't like to judge, but..." and then proceeds to judge the shit out of everyone. And I get that she's a cynic, I do. Hell, I'm a cynic to mostly everything. But I look at things with an open mind. Not only was Winnie close-minded, but she was extremely nasty about it, too. She was constantly putting down anything and everything she didn't believe in. This made it hard to root for her. And since she's such a jerk, why should I care what happens to her? I didn't. And so, the book failed me right then and there.
The supporting characters were no better. Casey was a little less aggravating than Winnie, but not by much. I absolutely hate reading a book where the only thing the female characters do is fight and snipe over the "hot" guy...especially when there's way more important stuff to be focusing on. And again, I get that the author wanted to be all "witty" when it came to overplaying a love triangle (because they're only doing it for reality TV), only it's not witty at all when you're actively engaging in a love triangle and trying to excuse it by saying it's only for TV. Uhh, no. You're doing a love triangle. You are being wholly unoriginal. Own up to it. Seth and Ivan were boring. Amanda and Elaine (or Jane or whomever) were all interchangeable and served no great purpose to The Devil and Winnie Flynn.
The drawings in this book were another thing that served no purpose. They added nothing to the overall story. If you're going to use multimedia in a book, for the love of all that is good and holy, make sure it's relevant and important! I did like the interview sections, though. Just the format, I mean. The information that was given in it was meh...and a little blah. In fact, the book as a whole as blah. Some things regarding the Jersey Devil were interesting, but nothing more than I can get from a Wikipedia article.
The only redeeming quality of The Devil and Winnie Flynn was Maggie. She was the only interesting character in a book full of dull and/or horribly aggravating characters. I would have loved to have her featured more. However, her penchant for calling everyone by sugary names was so annoying. The least she could have done was kept referring to them by the same sugary names throughout the novel. But calling everyone things like juicy fruit and pumpkin nut in the same sentence kept making me want to throw this book against the wall (more than I already did before).
Overall, The Devil and Winnie Flynn was a bust. It could have been interesting, but the author focused too much on characters that were filled to the brim with suckage. Not recommended....more
This...was a weird one. The Dead House seemed to be right up my alley with the whole psychological thriller, but it might be a horror aspect of it. AnThis...was a weird one. The Dead House seemed to be right up my alley with the whole psychological thriller, but it might be a horror aspect of it. And while I liked it, for the most part, some of it left me feeling really confused and due to that, really fucking aggravated.
The Good: The Dead House has an extremely eerie premise and it really was genuinely creepy. And I love horror books/movies. The Dead House made me hesitant to pick it up when the sun went down and that's the stuff really great horror is made of! I also really liked Kaitlyn. She was rough and raw and right on the cusp of a total breakdown. Due to this, she was really intriguing. I also really liked Naida. She seemed like such a great friend...maybe. Another thing that I loved about The Dead House that really surprised me was the format. I can be hot or cold when it comes to weird and bizarro formats, but it really worked in The Dead House. I loved reading the different diary entries that Carly and Kaitlyn wrote and I especially loved the medical reports from Dr. Lansing as well as the reports from the cops about everything that took place. Seeing as how I read an ARC of The Dead House, I didn't get the full experience from the video footage, but what I did get seemed to be well-done.
The Not-So-Great: Nothing bothers me more than a lack of answers in a book. Don't start off with a huge mystery, lead me through this whole tunnel of creepy and twisty circumstances to then crap out at the ending. I hate those "oh, the author wanted you to come up with the conclusion and the right ending to it. You get to imagine how it ended". Uhh, no, author. Don't make me do your job for you. You're the writer, I'm the reader. You start off with a whole crapload of questions, how about you give me some goddamn answers? Nothing pisses me off more than an open-ended ending. That's really what brought down The Dead House for me. I just wanted...more. I didn't need to have all of the answers, but some would have been great. Maybe I wouldn't have been half as annoyed had this book been shorter. But after reading 400+ pages, I felt really let down after having absolutely no answers to my questions.
Also, the romance was meh, the male characters as a whole were meh, some of it was predictable, and I really wanted to know more about Dr. Lansing's change from actual doctor to her career change at the end (talk about a big fucking tease).
So, I thought The Dead House was just okay. It was intriguing, creepy, it had really great female characters, and it was a page-turner. However, I think a more concrete ending might have satisfied me enough to rate this book a high four stars. Instead, it gets three with a promise to read more from this author in the future because despite the flaws, she really does do creepy well....more
I absolutely loved Vera Dietz. I mean, I really, really liked the book. But I loved Vera Dietz, the character. And once I love the character, the entiI absolutely loved Vera Dietz. I mean, I really, really liked the book. But I loved Vera Dietz, the character. And once I love the character, the entire book can be an absolute piece of crap and I'd still rate it slightly higher had I not loved the character. Vera's voice just rang completely true and ultimately her journey was what captivated me and made me like this book to bits and pieces.
Here's the thing about Please Ignore Vera Dietz: it's gritty, it's raw, it's real, and it's pretty damn awesome. It's also told in alternating time lines and I'm usually all "ROAR! HATE" about alternating time lines, but Please Ignore Vera Dietz does it extremely well. I realized this after I noticed that I wasn't preferring any one timeline to another. They were both equally real and both equally heartbreaking. Another thing that Please Ignore Vera Dietz does that usually makes me want to throw myself off a balcony is have alternating points of view. But again, for the most part, it works here. I loved hearing Charlie's points of view as well as Vera's dad. It just added more to the overall story. The pagoda's point of view, I found rather pointless and usually just skimmed them. I didn't find them all that funny.
Anyway, I'm just going to say that Please Ignore Vera Dietz was a really great book. It gets four stars instead of five because I've been really stingy with my five stars as of late that only something I plan on re-reading gets that fifth star. But I'm really excited about reading more of A.S. King seeing as how I really loved Ask the Passengers (that one got that elusive fifth star). Highly recommended....more
Warning: there are massive amounts of ranting and spoilerage ahead...read at thy own risk...
I totally expected to love Never Always Sometimes, mainlyWarning: there are massive amounts of ranting and spoilerage ahead...read at thy own risk...
I totally expected to love Never Always Sometimes, mainly because I've heard/read great things about Alsaid's Let's Get Lost. Plus, I really liked the whole concept of a Nevers List and of then attempting to do those nevers. Unfortunately for me, Never Always Sometimes was an extremely big bust in terms of well...everything.
Let's start with the pacing. This is one of those times that I wish I could allow myself to dnf a review book (although this one didn't come in an ARC form, but rather an actual hardcover) because I was so bored reading Never Always Sometimes. The beginning of the this book was coma-inducing boring. The middle of this book was improved so that it was merely boring. It stayed that way until the ending where I had to deal with not only it's dullness, but with its trying-to-not-be-cliche-but-failing-miserably-in still-being-cliche ending (more on that in a bit).
The main reason that I found Never Always Sometimes boring was because Dave was such a blah character. This guy needed someone to buy him a personality, ASAP. I thought that this book would improve once we switched to Julia's POV, but it didn't; mainly because, while you have Dave being boring in one corner, you have Julia being a complete fucking asshole in the other. Here's the thing: I hate the whole teacher/student thing with a fiery passion and want that trope to die a painful death. What made it even worse here is that it's not consensual. The teacher isn't giving Julia any type of signal, but she still sets out to seduce him to the point of harassment, so that she can fulfill a checkpoint on some arbitrary list and I'm still supposed to root for her?! No! She was a bitch and should've been arrested for sexual harassment.
Then, you have Dave getting some semblance of a personality and branching out (which is the only time I liked him) by dating Gretchen, whom he then proceeds to dump, but not before getting together and sleeping with Julia. And that would've been fine (well, not fine, but I would've been less annoyed), except that then Dave starts thinking he made the wrong choice. I'm supposed to believe that after years of pining for Julia and then finally getting her, he's going to be all torn up and having second thoughts about Gretchen after knowing her for two weeks (and after cheating on her with Julia)? Uh, nope. I call bull. Oh, and the whole thing with Brett, I saw coming from a mile away.
So, no, I did not like Never Always Sometimes. It was predictable, cliched (you can not have a love triangle in a YA novel and NOT be cliche. Sorry, but that's the rule of the land, according to me), and it wasn't that well-written. It was also the farthest thing from compelling. By skipping it, you won't be missing much. ...more
I Was Here made me cry. And I'm one of those readers who tends to rate a book that made me cry higher than I would rate it had I not cried. So, when II Was Here made me cry. And I'm one of those readers who tends to rate a book that made me cry higher than I would rate it had I not cried. So, when I finished I Was Here and realized that I was still bawling my eyes out, I was thinking of rating this book four stars. But upon further reflection, I realized that there were some things in here that bothered me. I decided to stick with the rating I would have given I Was Here had it not made me cry, so it gets three stars.
The Good: Again, this book made me cry. So, that means I felt something for the situation that's going on and that's a good thing. I loved the angsty relationship between Cody and her mom. I also loved Cody's relationship with the Garcia's, particularly Meg's little brother. However, my absolute favorite part of I Was Here were Meg's college roommates. I had the biggest soft spot for sweet, bubbly Alice, really loved Richard, loved Harry, and was endlessly intrigued by Tree. In fact, I wanted to know more about all of them and would have liked to have them featured more.
The Eh: I Was Here sort of exemplified the feeling I have for Forman's books (the ones that I've read which is really just If I Stay and a short story included in My True Love Gave to Me) and that is that they tend to have pacing issues. I felt it while reading If I Stay. I felt it even more while reading I Was Here. I don't know what it is. Maybe it's the overabundance of details that don't really add much to the overall plot. Maybe it's just that it feels as though Forman loses steam in the middle. Either way, there always comes one moment where I contemplate putting the book down because it just starts getting boring. And this happened with I Was Here.
The Bad: The romance in I Was Here killed this book for me. I'm of the opinion that you don't mess with your BFF's boyfriend (ex or otherwise) and you also don't mess with a BFF's crush, especially when that BFF slept with that crush and that guy was a huge dick to her afterwards. There's a code. You don't break that code. But Cody didn't break the code, she freaking demolished it. Plus, Ben reminded me of Jess in Gilmore Girls...I hated that douchebag with every fiber of my being. Ben was an asshole. And that whole good girl reforms bad boy thing is so overdone...and is annoying in every situation it pops up in. I've never seen it done in a way that doesn't infuriate me. I Was Here was no exception.
Overall, I thought that I Was Here was just okay. After a bit of a slog, it did end up being a page-turner and it was a massive tearjerker. However, there were still definite pacing issues, and the romance was just so aggravating and cliche. Despite my issues with this book, I still think I'll check out more of Forman's books, mainly because I still have Where She Went on my shelf and because I really did love that short story she wrote in My True Love Gave To Me....more
I'm a total sucker for a good friendship, summer read. So, I was very excited to read Proof of Forever...especially when you add in that this book isI'm a total sucker for a good friendship, summer read. So, I was very excited to read Proof of Forever...especially when you add in that this book is being sort of compared to The Sisterhood of Traveling Pants (and I LOVE that book/series) just with a time-travel aspect to it. And then I opened the first page, and saw that the author had a Sarah Dessen quote in it and so my expectations kind of sky-rocketed after that because just like I love The Sisterhood of Traveling Pants, I tend to love Dessen's books. However, upon finishing Proof of Forever, I found myself slightly disappointed in it. It was okay, but nothing much more than that.
The Good: I absolutely loved Joy. She definitely seemed like the sweetest of the bunch and I found her to be such an enigmatic character. In fact, I probably would have liked Proof of Forever slightly more if it had focused mostly on her. I also really loved Zoe and I identified with her feeling of being slightly stuck and feeling as though you're not moving forward. The romance aspect with these two characters was also really sweet, for the most part. Proof of Forever was also really engaging and I didn't have any desire to put it down.
The Not-So-Good: I really couldn't stand Luce or Tali at all. They were such insufferable characters and so prone to the dramatics. Tali was completely self-involved and remained that way through 80 percent of this novel. Luce was entirely way too wishy-washy for my liking. She was up, she was down, she was all-around. Towards the end, I felt bad for her boyfriend, Andrew because this chick had no idea which way was up or what the hell she wanted, but had no problem stringing him along for the ride.
However, the biggest problem I had was that despite the fact that Proof of Forever was touted as a "friendship" book, it focused very little on the friendship between Tali, Luce, Zoe, and Joy. And I'm not all that into comparing two novels, but seeing as how this book does the comparison first, I'll get over it. One of the things that I really loved about The Sisterhood of Traveling Pants was that despite those four girls spending the summer apart and spending so much of the book not being together, I was also highly invested in their friendship and I always felt it. There was also a theme of self-discovery in Sisterhood that happened that summer with the girls through different circumstances. My main issue with Proof of Forever was that while it also had a theme of self-discovery, each of these girls discovered who they were by having a romantic encounter. In TSOTP, while two main characters discovered themselves through romance, only one of those was actually about the romance while the second was about a bigger issue. But with Proof of Forever, the author focused more on the romances that these girls were having as opposed to the connections they were supposed to be making towards each other. So much that when they actually did reconnect, it didn't really ring true to me. After 2 years of not speaking, I'm supposed to believe that these four girls are now going to be the best of friends because they went back in time for five days and didn't really spend all that much time together? Nope, sorry, not really buying it.
So, overall, I thought that the Proof of Forever was just okay. I really would have loved it if it had focused more on the friendship with a bit of romance thrown in as opposed to a romance novel with a bit of friendship within it. I still think it deserves a read and I liked it enough to check out the author's future novels....more
Trouble is a Friend of Mine is one highly unrealistic, more than slightly improbable book. Ninety-nine percent of what happens in this book would neveTrouble is a Friend of Mine is one highly unrealistic, more than slightly improbable book. Ninety-nine percent of what happens in this book would never happen in real life. I'm sure that if go into "nitpick" mode, I'll be able to come up with tons of things that don't work and plenty of complains when it comes to the crime aspect of this book. But I'm not going to get into that. Why? Because Trouble is a Friend of Mine was one hell of an entertaining read.
I'm a sucker for a genuinely funny book and Trouble is a Friend of Mine is genuinely funny. Plus, the characters are snarky, cynical, and tend to have tons of snappy dialogue, so yes, I kinda, sort of loved most of this book. I really loved Zoe and while I didn't get why she would go to crazy lengths to help out Digby, I loved her not-taking-shit-from-mostly-anybody attitude. I keep reading reviews that compare Digby to BBC's Sherlock with some saying that it's merely a comparison while others say it's a blatant rip-off. Well, I've never seen Sherlock, so I came into Digby with fresh eyes and due to this I really enjoyed his character and most of the laugh-out-loud moments I had with this book were courtesy of him. The other supporting characters were all equally great. Even Sloane who could come off as a cartoon-type of mean girl and become completely overbearing was still somewhat of a delight and she was extremely hilarious.
The reason Trouble is a Friend of Mine gets four stars instead of five is because it did run on a little long. Some of it was slightly repetitive and it did get a little bogged down towards the end. I also would have liked a more concrete ending as I'm not sure if there's going to be another installment after this. Those teeny, tiny flaws didn't dampen my enjoyment of Trouble is a Friend of Mine too much.
Overall, I really liked and highly recommend Trouble is a Friend of Mine. It was so entertaining and it had a sort of 80s teen movie feel to it that I totally loved. This book was also extremely hilarious, with characters that you just have to love and root for, in circumstances that are entirely realistic, but by no means boring. Again, highly recommended....more