My overall feeling with Being Audrey Hepburn is tons and tons of average. It's just one of those books that I expected more out of. Maybe it's because...moreMy overall feeling with Being Audrey Hepburn is tons and tons of average. It's just one of those books that I expected more out of. Maybe it's because I was a huge Clarissa Explains It All fan when I was a kid or maybe it's because the premise of Being Audrey Hepburn was totally fantastic. But I found Being Audrey Hepburn was just one of those books that's a little less than okay. Not spectacular, not horrible...just meh.
My main issue with Being Audrey Hepburn was Lisbeth herself. She was so completely self-centered. What's weird to me, though, was that she didn't start out that way. Usually in a YA novel, you have a main character that's completely selfish, but then is reformed by the end of the novel. In this book, Lisbeth starts out as an okay character who wants to live a life separate from her family, to one that leaves her family in a lurch when things get rough, just so that she can hang out with the A-crowd. Due to this, I ended up finding Lisbeth utterly unlikable.
More than Lisbeth, though, I found Being Audrey Hepburn to be slightly boring. It was engaging in the beginning, but towards the middle, it just wasn't keeping my attention. In fact, I put the book down weeks ago and dreaded picking it back up. Towards the end, I realized that I just didn't care any more...about any of it. I didn't care about Lisbeth or her family, or her selfishness, or her circumstances...I just wanted the book to be over.
So, overall, I found Being Audrey Hepburn to be a slight bust for me. It's completely forgettable, not as witty and hip as it tried to be, and just overall a slightly below average read. I'd skip it.(less)
Whoop!!! What is that? That is the sound of my exaltation at having read an honest to God, good YA novel this month. My year with YA started off with...moreWhoop!!! What is that? That is the sound of my exaltation at having read an honest to God, good YA novel this month. My year with YA started off with a slew of great books and then tapered off to mostly less than average reads. So much that while my reading schedule was mostly 70% YA, it has now fallen to about less than 50% of my yearly reads. Then a book like Rites of Passage comes along and it makes me excited to read YA novels again! Yay!
The Good: A book about females being recruited into an all-male military school? Yes! All types of YES! Seriously, that's just a storyline that was brimming with possibility! And the author didn't skimp on it, not one bit. I just knew that going into it, Rites of Passage was going to be intense. It just had to be. I mean, again females being recruited into a previously all-male military school? That was bound to piss of some of the men. And it did! However, I was worried that the author wouldn't strike too much of a balance with this plot point. Either, the book was going to be too tame or the villainy would end up seeming a bit cartoon-like. But none of this happened. The author struck just the right balance between the hazing that can go on in a situation like this (the author did go to a military school, so she knows of what she speaks) without making it seem implausible. The bad guys, guys? Were so friggin' bad! (Again, yet plausible). Every single time they popped up on the page, I sneered. And not internally, either. I was actually doing that lip curling thing and had to restrain the urge to punch my book. That's how upsetting they were.
More Good: Rites of Passage is one of those everything but the kitchen sink books. This book has intrigue! It has familial angst (and God, am I a sucker for familial angst!), unstable friendships, romance (more on that later on), awesome supporting characters, and one of those storylines that can actually be continued through more than one book (without making you think that the author is only doing it to cash in on the craze). Mostly everything in this book works!
The not-so-amazing aka the reason there are 4 stars instead of five: For the most part, I liked Mac. She was brave, determined, somewhat stubborn, and a whole lot of defiant. Just the way I tend to like my female protagonists. However, the one thing that really, really aggravated me about her was that when it came to help (either wanting it or receiving it), she was a bit inconsistent. Case in point: when she's getting haze, she thinks "Why isn't Drill stopping this?". Yet when he stops it, she thinks "He's stopping it. He must think I'm weak and therefore, can't take it." Seriously, dude, make up your mind. No wonder all the guys around you are kind of confused. Hell, I'm kind of confused.
The romance: Eh. The forbidden love storyline is one that I've never been particularly interested in. If you know you're not supposed to date someone because they outrank you, don't date them. It never leads to anything good. And where have I learned that? In all of these books that praise forbidden love, yet nothing ever turns out well. Practice what you preach.
Anyway, so overall, I really liked Rites of Passage. It's just one of those books where (mostly) everything works. It's also an extreme page-turner (that's always a plus). It did take me a while to read it, but that has more to do with my being busy and thinking "Free time? What is this 'free time' that you speak of and does it come in green?". Either way, Rites of Passage? Highly recommended.(less)
In which I have immense wanderlust part deux. So, lately I've been reading books about different locations than mine, mainly because I'm so friggin' s...moreIn which I have immense wanderlust part deux. So, lately I've been reading books about different locations than mine, mainly because I'm so friggin' sick of my current location and really, really, really want to travel. So, in preparation for my travels (or to curb the feeling of wanting to leave now, and now, and NOW!), I keep wanting to read fiction books taking place in different countries. The book, Abroad brought me to Italy and now The Swiss Affair takes me to Switzerland. And man, was I taken with Switzerland.
The Good: The backdrop of the The Swiss Affair was so magnificent. You can tell that the author traveled to Lausanne, just as you can tell that she fell in love with Lausanne. And that, in turn, made me fall in love with that city (so much that although Switzerland wasn't in my travel itinerary, it has now topped the list). In fact, the author's description of Switzerland were what made me finish this book. It all just seemed so illustrious and beautiful. The author gets many, many points for transporting me to a wonderful place.
More Good: I really liked the friendship between Hadley and Kristina. However, I adored the friendship between Hadley and Hugo. I loved that although Hugo knew nothing of Kristina and little about Hadley, he still encouraged her to find the truth and even helped her out with it.
The meh: The middle half of The Swiss Affair was a slog to get through. The beginning was interesting, and while I was so happy to see the end, I feel like it still wrapped up nicely. But my God, that middle! I felt as though I was reading a different story than what was described in the synopsis. During the meh-like middle, Hadley did next to nothing to find out what happened to Kristina. She just spent it all shacking up with her professor (which is something that I absolutely hate in EVERYTHING!). I get that it's published by Harlequin and therefore there has to be romance, but I just didn't like THIS romance. I guess that's because I didn't like Joel. And I didn't like Joel because he was Hadley's professor and was taking advantage of that.
So overall, I found The Swiss Affair to be just okay. I was vacillating between two and three stars but I'm feeling generous and I really did love the descriptions of Switzerland, so it gets three. And despite the nicely wrapped up ending, I still don't feel as though this book was deserving of the slogging I went through in the middle. It never fully recovered from that for me. However, I'm still intending on reading The Book of Summers because I really want to be transported to Hungary and I'm sure the author's descriptions of Hungary are as beautiful as they are of Switzerland.(less)
My thoughts about The Wishing Thread are a bit jumbled. It's one of those instances for me, where I agreed with the flaws mentioned in the more critic...moreMy thoughts about The Wishing Thread are a bit jumbled. It's one of those instances for me, where I agreed with the flaws mentioned in the more critical reviews of this book, but found that despite those flaws, I still really enjoyed reading this.
I really liked all of the characters in The Wishing Thread. I absolutely loved and was endeared by Aubrey. I really enjoyed Bitty's storyline. I was a bit put off by Meggie and didn't like her as much as the next two, but I wasn't extremely annoyed by her. The supporting characters in this book were also great. I surprisingly liked Vic and thought that his relationship with Aubrey was pretty cute.
The main criticism that most people seem to mention in regards to The Wishing Thread is how similar it is to other magical realism novels, mainly Practical Magic. I can see where they're coming from with the whole sister, spells, and town thing. However, as someone who loves the film (the book, not so much), I really didn't mind these mild similarities mainly because when it came right down to it, the characters in this book were so vastly different from those of Practical Magic.
The one thing that I didn't really like in The Wishing Thread was that some threads (no pun intended) were left sort of hanging. I wanted things to be more resolved than they were. It definitely wasn't as cohesive as it could have been.
Despite the similarities to Practical Magic and its hanging threads, I still really liked The Wishing Thread. I found it to be highly enchanting, with an engrossing storyline and captivating characters. Highly recommended.(less)
Season of the Dragonflies was one book that I had just expected to fall in love with. I love magical realism and I love Sarah Addison Allen's books (w...moreSeason of the Dragonflies was one book that I had just expected to fall in love with. I love magical realism and I love Sarah Addison Allen's books (which this book was compared to), so I thought all of those elements would add up to something truly spectacular for me. But it wasn't. Not really.
My main issue with Season of the Dragonflies was that the characters all fell flat for me. I liked Lucia enough, found Willow to be meh, and didn't like Mya one little bit. More than that though, I realized that I didn't care about any of the characters or what they're going through. I just found them all to be so boring. And once the characters fail for me, the rest of the book can be amazing, but I'll still find it average.
Another thing that was off-putting for me was that where other magical realism books have this sort of cozy feel to them, I felt like Season of the Dragonflies was less cozy and comfortable and more soap-opera like. There was so much drama and angst. Usually I'm a big fan of this because it keeps things interesting. But in Season of the Dragonflies, the angst and drama weren't presented in an intriguing way.
So, overall I found Season of the Dragonflies to be just okay. It wasn't even close to the most horrible book I've ever read, but it doesn't hold a candle to other magical realism novels. I say skip it.
Disclaimer: I read this book while sick so that might have colored my view of it a little bit.(less)
Okay, so to be totally honest, I was kind of scared when I picked up The Moon and More. Now, I'm a huge Sarah Dessen fan, but her two previous novels,...moreOkay, so to be totally honest, I was kind of scared when I picked up The Moon and More. Now, I'm a huge Sarah Dessen fan, but her two previous novels, Along for the Ride and What Happened to Goodbye, led me to believe that she kind of peaked when she wrote Lock and Key. It's not that her previous two novels were bad, they were just utterly forgettable and I felt they didn't have that "IT" factor that makes a Sarah Dessen novel a Sarah Dessen novel. So, while I was in line at B&N and paying the list price for The Moon and More, my brain kept asking me "Are you SURE you don't want to just pick this up at the library? Because you'll be out some cash if you think it's just meh..." However, I'm very excited to say that my decision to pay full price for The Moon and More paid off...because I actually kind of loved it.
I guess what I loved most about The Moon and More was that it was different. It still felt like your standard Sarah Dessen novel, but the surprise of having the summer boyfriends NOT be completely perfect was very refreshing to me. At first, it did give me pause because I wasn't falling in love with Theo or Luke the way I usually do in her novels (I was swooning over Morris, though. Sigh.), but then I started appreciating the change.
Another thing I adored was the relationship between Emaline and Benji. It was definitely my favorite relationship in The Moon and More. It was just too cute and aww-worthy (come to think of it, I kind of fell in love with Benji, too...in that I always want to ruffle his hair kind of way). Then, again, I'm a sucker for sibling relationships done right. They were definitely done right in The Moon and More, not just with Emaline and Benji, but with Emaline and her sisters as well. The sister relationship, though not really expanded upon, did ring true. Emaline, Amber, and Margo pretty much interact the way my sisters and I do.
I could go on and on and on (and so forth) about the things I loved in The Moon and More because truthfully, there was very little I didn't like. Emaline did get on my nerves a couple of times, but it didn't get too bad. Overall, I just loved the whole premise of it. From the romantic relationships, to the friendships, to Emaline's relationships with her parents (loved her distinction between her "father" and her "dad"), it was all very well done. And again, this book was your standard Dessen fare, but added a bit more originality to break up the monotony. Now, I'm still hoping that Dessen writes another novel that isn't all fluff (like Dreamland or Just Listen), but The Moon and More was definitely a step in the right direction. Highly recommended!
Bittersweet is the second Sarah Ockler book that I've read. I figure I should mention that because I was not a big fan of her first novel Fixing Delil...moreBittersweet is the second Sarah Ockler book that I've read. I figure I should mention that because I was not a big fan of her first novel Fixing Delilah (more on why a little bit futher down). However, I noticed right away that the author had a lot of potential despite the fact that I really didn't like that book. Her books are sort of reminiscent of Sarah Dessen's books and I admit that while I adore Sarah Dessen now, I feel she didn't get truly amazing until her third book...that's why I decided to give Ockler another chance to completely wow me despite my feeling of 'meh' with Fixing Delilah. And while Bittersweet didn't completely WOW! me, I did think it was eons better than Fixing Delilah.
The good: I loved the premise of Bittersweet. Figure skating, cupcakes, AND winter? I was totally there. The book was just so sparkly and sweet that it's sort of hard NOT to fall in love with the atmosphere. I also loved the fact that the book took place in the winter since most of the contemporary YA romances take place in the summer. Nice of Ockler to recognize that not all of the sweet romances take place in the summer (Sarah Dessen should take note and write a sweet romance that takes place in the winter cause that would be all sorts of awesome).
The AMAZING: I loved the familial dynamics in Bittersweet. Hudson's relationship with her mother was good, but nothing can compare to the awesomeness that is Hudson's relationship with her little brother, Bug. It was just my absolute favorite thing in the entire novel. Their relationship was just so incredibly cute that I fell completely in love with it and wanted more of it. In fact, I could read a whole book about Hudson and Bug's relationship and be completely satisfied with it. That's how amazing and awesome their relationship was.
The okay: The love triangle between Hudson, Will, and Josh was okay. And that's huge coming from me since I hate love triangles. There was just so much more going on that it wasn't the whole focus of Bittersweet...and I think that's why I didn't hate it. Josh and Hudson had a sweet friendship as did originally Hudson and Will. Nothing to write home about, but considering the fact that I tend to be annoyed by most love triangles and most romances, okay is pretty good.
The so-not okay: Okay, so my biggest issue with Fixing Delilah was Delilah herself. I found her self-absorbed and incredibly annoying...and lo and behold, I found Hudson to be the exact same way. Maybe not as much as Delilah, but still enough to dampen a little bit of my enjoyment of Bittersweet. I'm starting to think that it's a theme with Ockler...to write a character that starts off mildly sympathetic and then turn her into a self-absorbed, annoying little gnat and then try to redeem her a few chapters from the end...except it doesn't work, not for me at least. It's like, God forbid Hudson has to help out a little more around the house or contribute to the family. Or God forbid Hudson's bff decides to get a life after being repeatedly blown off despite the fact that Hudson is doing the same thing. She just gets really, really selfish. And though, we're supposed to get that vibe from her (as one character mentions her selfishness), it's too much to sympathize with. And even though, Ockler does try to redeem her towards the end, at that point it's a little too late for me.
Ahh, the consensus: So, overall, I found Bittersweet to be just okay. I loved the premise and the whole atmosphere of it. I loved Hudson's relationship with Bug and it was more well-written than Ockler's first novel, so that right there is great. But Hudson's behavior just really turned me off and most of the time, I need to have a main character I genuinely like to give a book a higher rating. Despite it's flaws (which are only my opinion), I do still recommend Bittersweet as I feel that it was a cute, sparkly, sweet novel to read, especially in winter (especially for me since New England just got like four feet of snow and I need to feel better about it). So, it gets three stars for being a-okay.(less)
Lessons from a Dead Girl is one very strange book. It’s compelling and horrifying, but still rather strange; mostly because it deals with a subject th...moreLessons from a Dead Girl is one very strange book. It’s compelling and horrifying, but still rather strange; mostly because it deals with a subject that’s not too widely talked/written about…or at least not in fiction. It deals with sexual abuse, but whereas in most books the sexual abuse is coming solely from an adult, Lessons From a Dead Girl features a premise where the abuse is one that a child is inflicting on another. Again, while this isn’t a premise I’ve read about before, I still didn’t expect this book to affect me the way it did… which was having me cringe on pretty much every page.
Lessons from a Dead Girl is disturbing on every level. The things that Lainey went through were just so heartbreaking. I’m referring not only to the sexual abuse, but to the constant emotional abuse and manipulation that she had to face from Leah after the abuse. Those little games that Leah played prevented Lainey from fully processing what happened to her and from trying to move past it and probably made her feel like it was happening all over again. Every time Leah got closer to Lainey and kept bringing up what happened were the parts that were making me cringe because it’s so obvious how hurt both girls are with the events that transpired. Clearly, Lessons from a Dead Girl did a good job in making me feel so deeply for both of these girls.
The one complaint that I have for Lessons from a Dead Girl is that we are constantly being told that Lainey and Leah are “best friends”…but I never saw that. They become friends and then a couple of pages later, the abuse starts. A few chapters after that, the girls are already starting to drift apart. We get very little sense as to how close they were as friends before that. I understand that this is supposed to be a book filled to the brim with angst, but I would’ve liked to see some events that would explain why Lainey felt a connection with Leah. It seems that the only thing linking them was the big secret and that was the only reason why they remained friends for as long as they did. I felt like Lessons from a Dead Girl would have benefited from, at least, 50 pages more to delve into the girls’ friendship and explore both of their feelings more a bit before the abuse and after it, as well.
Overall, I found Lessons from a Dead Girl to be a solid read. It was disturbing, horrifying, and haunting. It was an extreme page-turner (read it in one sitting) and it’s just one of those books that I already know will drift back to the forefront of my mind and have me wondering how it could all go so wrong for Lainey and Leah. (less)
Blessings is the second Anna Quindlen book I've read with the first being Black and Blue. Since I thought Black and Blue was so great, my expectations...moreBlessings is the second Anna Quindlen book I've read with the first being Black and Blue. Since I thought Black and Blue was so great, my expectations of Blessings were fairly high. Unfortunately, those expectations weren't necessarily met.
Don't get me wrong, I liked the premise: a baby is abandoned outside of a caretaker's garage and he then decides to keep it while simultaneously keeping it a secret. The premise is great. However, there were just so many other things mentioned that I really didn't care about. Case in point: Mrs. Blessings early life. I seriously didn't care about how she got to be that way she was. And the character of Jennifer was so unnecessary. I really couldn't get the point of her at all. My main interest were of Skip, Faith, and Mrs. Blessing (her current life, not her past one). So, the parts of the book that had these three characters together were naturally my favorite parts of the book and the ones that went by more quickly.
Another issue that I had with the book was that for a 230 page novel, this moved way to slowly. While I enjoyed the book while I was reading it, the slowness of it really didn't have me anxious to pick it back up once I put it down. However, I was anxious to finish it. So, this book was just okay. Nothing ground-breaking and wholely forgettable.(less)
While reading Amy and Isabelle, I found that my feelings were varied. Sometimes I enjoyed the book, other times I found myself just reading it for the...moreWhile reading Amy and Isabelle, I found that my feelings were varied. Sometimes I enjoyed the book, other times I found myself just reading it for the sake of finishing it. I wasn't content, yet not unhappy enough to put a halt to the reading. So, towards the end of the book, I was happy that I kept reading, but not for the book itself, but mostly because another book off my shelf has been read.
Amy and Isabelle starts off a little slowly and really doesn't pick up until the middle. That's when I started enjoying it a little more because that's when I really couldn't put it down and did end up finishing it the same day it picked up. However, the slow start wasn't the kind of slow start where the author was building the scene, so to speak, it was just the sort of slow that just drags on and on and that had me putting the book down from time to time. If a book allows me to put it down and then be a bit ambivalent at picking it up, then I don't think it's necessarily doing its job.
In Amy and Isabelle, the mother and the daughter are disconnected from each other and from the world. Elizabeth Strout did this a little too well because while reading the book, I felt disconnected from the characters. I was reading with a sense of detachment and I didn't really care about the characters. I cared about the overall problem, yes, but them individually, not so much. And then we have a slew of other characters who are taking up space and I really didn't care about them either. They seemed to have absolutely no purpose in this book.
I gave Amy and Isabelle three stars because sometimes, it was extremely compelling and I really couldn't believe some of the things Isabelle did to Amy. However, the bad sort of dampened my enjoyment of the book. If this review sounds mildly confusing, then that's how I basically feel. I enjoyed the book, but not really...(less)