I decided to read The Other Side of Us by Sarah Mayberry because it seems like her name has been popping up everywhere lately. Some of my favorite blo...moreI decided to read The Other Side of Us by Sarah Mayberry because it seems like her name has been popping up everywhere lately. Some of my favorite blogs have read, reviewed and enjoyed her books. I decided to jump on the bandwagon and see what all the fuss was about. Unfortunately, this didn't work for me so much...
You guys. This is going to be a tough review to write, because to be honest? I didn't enjoy much of anything about The Other Side of Us. The characterization, plot and writing all had glaring flaws that I couldn't get past.
Let's start with characterization. Oliver and Mackenzie meet while both of them are trying to overcome unfortunate pasts. They both have divorce issues - Oliver more recently. Also, Mackenzie was in a horrible car accident that she is still trying to come back from physically. As I got to know them, I never felt like they were real people.
When things about them were revealed - used to be a musician, loves dogs, TV producer, etc...it all just felt like a "Personality Trait Checklist" that was being listed, not like actual facets of someone's personality coming out. I mean, my lack of feeling for these characters got to the point that I couldn't even read the sexytime scenes. I skipped them because I felt almost voyeuristic or something, watching something happening between two people I cared absolutely nothing about.
A couple of other things about the writing in The Other Side of Us bugged me as well. For one thing, EVERY SINGLE TIME THEY INTERACTED, one or both - usually both - of them waxed poetic about the other character's ass. I'm not kidding. Like every few pages: there it was. "That tight packed butt" or "well formed rear end" or something like it.
Next was the way the scenes were written. Oliver and Mackenzie would interact, then once they went their separate ways we'd see each of them dissect the minutia of what just happened. Usually in the form of self-torture. "Could I be more of an ass-hat?" and "God, he must think I'm a harpy!" and so on and so forth. Not attractive at all. Also EXTREMELY repetitive to see basically the exact same things happening three times over.
As for the plot...um, what plot? The Other Side of Us basically involves us getting to know the crap cards both Oliver and Mackenzie have been dealt in the past and then watch their fumbling attempts at socially interacting with each other. Then they fall into bed and bing bang boom. Things wrap up with minor "I don't know if I can do this!" drama that left me feeling distinctly unsatisfied.
Basically, The Other Side of Us didn't work for me at all. I'm left wondering if maybe Sarah Mayberry's shorter novels are more successful? If I'm not mistaken, this is one of the first (if not the first) full-length story she has written. (Am I wrong? Feel free to let me know.) I'm not ruling out trying some of her shorter stories in the future, but I think I'll be letting the disappointment of this one fade for awhile first.
To Sum it Up:
-Cardboard characterization, the odd and repetitive writing style and the lack of central plot all left me extremely disappointed with this read.
-I've heard so many positive things about Sarah Mayberry in the past, so I AM curious to see if this is a one-off or a real representation of her other writings.
-I don't think I've ever actually felt so uncomfortable and weird about characters to the point that I had to skip the sexytime scenes - until now.(less)
You guys, I’m not gonna lie. I have been excited about reading Banished : Surviving My Years in the Westboro Baptist Church by Lauren Drain for months...moreYou guys, I’m not gonna lie. I have been excited about reading Banished : Surviving My Years in the Westboro Baptist Church by Lauren Drain for months! I pretty much freaked out when I first saw that there was going to be a memoir from a former member of the Westboro Baptist Church. Unfortunately, I think I put a little too much emphasis on the word “former.” Because, after all, being banished means that Lauren Drain left the church unwillingly. I ended up having so many issues with this book that I’m not sure where to begin…and I’m also pretty sure I won’t be very nice about a lot of it.
(For the record, I’m pretty sure this is the meanest review I’ve ever written – but my censor button doesn’t stand a chance against the crap ton of loathsome behavior.)
Some of the problems I have with the book are my fault, I had pretty specific expectations. I wanted a former member of the church to be like “LOOK AT ALL THIS CRAZY SHIT THEY MADE ME DO!” and get a behind-the-scenes look into the minds of stupid, crazy people. What I got was a completely bizarre account of a girl, surrounded by the certifiably insane, and desperately wanting to be one of them. After reading the book, I got the clear impression that she would have never left the church on her own, and then there was a random epilogue tacked on to the end in which she bemoans the errors of her ways. Sense and sanity have left the building.
First of all – I read Banished by listening to the audiobook. Lauren Drain did the narration and I thought her voice was pleasant and easy to understand. But, HOLY CRAP, was the writing terrible. I’m not kidding. The timeline was all over the place. Things were choppy and extremely hard to follow. It was almost like she was telling someone the story and just said things as they came to mind, regardless of when they occurred. I think a lot more thought should have been put into ordering things more clearly (or hey, how about any thought at all?). I’m not sure if reading the actual book would have been more helpful or not as far as keeping things straight – but I kinda doubt it. (What I do know is that I want that 8 hours back.)
Another issue I had with the writing was the lack of emotion. I mean, Lauren Drain… this poor woman. Not only was she brainwashed by some of the most reprehensible lunatics on the planet, but even her own family pre-Westboro was awful. But, as her story progressed, it all felt like a dry recitation of facts by someone who’d researched the story – not lived it. It was actually a little weird. I was half afraid I’d have nightmares about the scary emotionless cult monsters coming to get me after reading about all the crap they’ve pulled.
Another big problem I had with the mechanics of the story kinda blends together with problems I have with the people themselves…all the contradictions! I was getting so frustrated by the time I was midway through the book that I’m not even sure how I managed to finish (it was a CHORE, believe me). One minute, Lauren Drain would be praising one of the members of the church to the Heavens, then a few paragraphs later she’d be talking about all their faults. An example of this is Shirley, one of the most important church members. One second she’d be a shining example of everything that is right in the world, the next minute she’d be a condescending harpy that refused to acknowledge faults within her own family (mainly her kids).
These ridiculous contradictions (which were often silly and passive aggressive) were only one of the ways Lauren Drain’s entire book felt like it was being written by an immature little kid. I fought between rolling my eyes at some of her moronic behavior and just feeling incredibly sorry for her. I mean, she lived her life for years wanting nothing more than to fit in with the rest of the WBC, but she insulted them in the same sentences as she expressed her fervent desire to be just like them. I know her emotional growth was incredibly stunted because of the people she surrounded herself with, but still. It was all just too much…
…especially once you get to the epilogue. All of a sudden she understands that being raised to hate and condemn was wrong and her views have changed and she is working on getting her life together. It sounded like it was being written by a completely different person. Throughout the entire book, it felt like she was disillusioned with the WBC but not able to give up on wanting to be one of them…and the short epilogue was too little too late.
Ultimately, I couldn’t find much of anything positive about this book. The hateful, ridiculous and ignorant behavior of the WBC is front and center, but I never got the impression that Lauren Drain found it objectionable until the bizarre epilogue at the end written by her well-adjusted clone.
To Sum it Up: -This book was not at all what I expected, and I was incredibly disappointed by the writing style, the attitude of the narrator and the story itself.
-Everything was contradictory and felt extremely bizarre and disjointed. Kinda like a fake WBC expose written by a devotee on a crack pipe.
-(To try and end on a positive note…) An insider’s look is what I was hoping for – and even though I didn’t like the POV of the events – many of the WBC beliefs were interesting to read about.
…okay okay, I’m not done yet.
I mostly tried to avoid talking about the WBC itself, because obviously we all hate them. No need to go there…except that I can’t quite help it. THEY PICKETED THEIR OWN HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION, YOU GUYS. She actually struggled to decide whether to attend the ceremony or just stand with the protesters (don’t worry, I won’t leave you with a cliffhanger. She did both.) If they’re so against the “homosexual-enabling” den of iniquity that was Topeka High School, may I ask why in the holy hell they attended in the first place? I actually laughed during that section, imagining someone yelling in protest of the graduation while walking across the stage to accept their diploma. It was good to find some of their stupidity amusing since mostly it just made me want to throw up…(less)
Damage by Anya Parrish has such a cool premise - two teenagers that had homicidal imaginary friends as children suddenly come together and realize the...moreDamage by Anya Parrish has such a cool premise - two teenagers that had homicidal imaginary friends as children suddenly come together and realize the nightmare isn't over yet. Unfortunately - the awesomeness of the plot far exceeded the characterization, leaving me feeling mostly disappointed.
I will say first that this book was definitely creepy. Did you have an imaginary friend as a kid? What would you do if it suddenly turned up and tried to throw you off a building or breathe fire at you? Top it off with being chased by shady governmental officials and we have definite Halloween-worthy drama on our hands.
Dani and Jesse are in a horrible bus crash, which reawakens their childhood nightmares, leaving them scared out of their minds and in terrible danger. They try to unlock the secrets as to why both of them have such similar problems - which ends up wrapping them up in medicinal complications and governmental intrigue. Whoa boy, are they in for a wild ride.
So, the plot was pretty much non-stop. They went from one terrible situation to the next, constantly trying to battle their imaginations and collect more information about their pasts. Unfortunately - the danger catches up to them far too quickly. There is a massive twist at the end that will leave you bug-eyed, my friends!
Too bad the characters fail to live up to the plot in basically every single way. Both Dani and Jesse basically function only as plot devices. None of their actions or emotions ring true. Ever. I was so totally disappointed by this. The book should have been longer, giving them more room to develop naturally. Example: Dani goes from having never been kissed and hating having people touch her at all to suddenly being in love with Jesse and hating being unable to touch him every second. (I'll pause here so you can roll your eyes.) Seriously, I don't know how to say it any other way - the characterization was just plain bad.
Still, if you don't care as much about the people as you do about a crazy-intense-thrilling-high-octane plot, than Damage is a book you'll enjoy! Creepy and suspenseful at every turn.(less)
Dark Parties by Sara Grant has a very intriguing synopsis – Neva lives in a city ruled by the Protectosphere. The government keeps everyone isolated a...moreDark Parties by Sara Grant has a very intriguing synopsis – Neva lives in a city ruled by the Protectosphere. The government keeps everyone isolated and under their control. Neva and her friend Sanna are determined to prove that the government is lying to them – but they have no idea what they are getting themselves into.
Okay guys. I am a huge dystopian fan. I love exploring all the futuristic worlds and rebellious characters that authors create. Unfortunately, this book fails to deliver on many levels…both the characters and plot left many things to be desired.
The Protectosphere sets up a very interesting foundation – reading about characters determined not to be controlled by their governments almost always makes for a fast-paced and exciting read. However – Neva did not make a worthy heroine. While I by no means believe that every MC has to be on the Katniss level of awesome…I do expect something. None of these characters had any consistency – one minute Neva was determined to be a rebel, the next she was terrified of being in trouble. She kept making big claims about what she hoped to accomplish – but she really never actually succeeded in being anything but timid. Sure…she played around on a forbidden computer and wandered down some prohibited hallways – but those actions do not an interesting book make. I was never able to find a consistent and believable character in her thoughts and actions.
I think the book’s goal was to be a character-driven story because there wasn’t really a cohesive plot that I could discover. Unfortunately, that basically fell flat. I followed Neva as she waffled between wanting to do something worthwhile and being too afraid to do so…and also as she fought a strong attraction to her best friend’s boyfriend. That part of the plot was awful – Neva kept saying to herself that she couldn’t betray her friend Sanna, but every time she saw Sanna’s boyfriend she was all over him! Thus, the lack of respect I had for her due to her half-hearted rebellion attempts extended to her personal life.
Ultimately, both the lack of believable characters and an organized plot line left me feeling extremely disappointed. So, while I absolutely love the genre – this is not a book I enjoyed or would recommend reading.(less)
The Mephisto Covenant by Trinity Faegen is the first book of a new paranormal series about a group of sons of Hell and their hope for redemption throu...moreThe Mephisto Covenant by Trinity Faegen is the first book of a new paranormal series about a group of sons of Hell and their hope for redemption through the Anabo (daughters of Eve). More specifically, the brother named Jax meets Sasha, who turns out to be his Anabo. Attraction and complications ensue, and the even-more-evil-than-the-sons-of-Hell-bad-guys come out to play.
Even though I'm sure I'll go on for longer than this, my review can basically be summed up into one sentence. My belief is that if Stephenie Meyer was a porn star instead of a Mormon, this is the book she would have written. (Of course, she also would have had to have had her Eureka! dream about Hell boys frolicking through a meadow instead of sparkly vampires, but I digress.)
Sasha meets Jax and learns the truth about herself very early on, and even though she is supposedly "terrified" and "repulsed" by him, she still manages to almost immediately engage in a make-out session. Throughout the book, she continues to "not want to be near him" and "just wants to be normal," but still manages to pounce on him on numerous occasions and even goes so far as to ditch the bra fairly early on (before the big sexy scene at the end which I'll get to in a minute). Jax looks at her and admires her strength of character and considers her tough even as a boy basically tries to molest her in the cafeteria while she sits there and cries about it instead of slapping the crap out of him. Oh - but don't worry. Those are tears of anger. Whew. And here I had been thinking it was just because she was a wuss.
Seriously. The characterization in this novel is little more than a joke. Not one character goes beyond being two-dimensional. Sasha's character makes absolutely no sense whatsoever - we are told she is tough and kick ass, yet she cries all the freakin time. We are told she is very hesitant and unwilling to take on her Anabo destiny, but even when she knows that kissing Jax constantly brings her closer to the edge (his spit, you know), she still jumps him like a prime cut of steak. WTF? Also, Jax is supposedly a son of Hell, and we are told that he engages in a varied array of horrible behavior, yet he spends the majority of the novel either mooning over Sasha like a moron in jr. high or being a complete overbearing jerk (see? Twilight!). So, hopefully you see the trend I'm going for her - we are told many things in the story, but never actually shown them. Same goes for the chemistry between the characters, they are supposedly struck mad by the love bug, are constantly all over each other - but I never felt even the smallest flicker of anything. Not good writing my friends, not good at all.
So yeah, this is very much a plot-driven novel. However, the book is pretty long and there are quite a few slow parts that dragged on a little too much. Probably because there were quite a few Sasha/Jax bonding scenes. Since I didn't feel like their relationship made a lick of sense, I was annoyed. But, I did manage to read the entire book, which does say something. If it had really been 100% horrible, no way could I have read the whole thing without throwing it across the room (theoretically since I read it on my Kindle). But then again, I had to put it down several times and never looked forward to picking it back up - it was more determination to see it through. Plus I wanted to get to the promised sexytimes (which yes, was pretty graphic for YA but also very short - I guess even immortal Hell boy teenagers don't have a lot of staying power).
To top things off, the ending of the book was a complete loss. Totally cuts off to rope you into wanting to read the sequel (which I think I'll be managing to resist thank you very much). Not really any resolution.
Anyway, this was obviously not the book for me. I have already seen some positive reviews out there however, so not everyone will agree with me! If you are a huge forbidden love fangirl and/or love Twilight-like relationships don't let me put you off reading the book - you'll undoubtedly enjoy it a lot more than I did. (If you aren't a fan of either of those things, run like the wind...the YA sexytimes aren't worth it.) (less)
Shattered Dreams by Ellie James is a ghost story that takes place in New Orleans. That was pretty much all I needed to hear to make me want to pick up...moreShattered Dreams by Ellie James is a ghost story that takes place in New Orleans. That was pretty much all I needed to hear to make me want to pick up the book. I love spooky books set in the South! Unfortunately, this book basically failed on every level. I found the plot and characters both utterly ridiculous. I could barely make myself finish – I had to scan through sections of it to make it through.
Before I really get going, I do have to speak positively about the setting. I think post-Katrina New Orleans is showcased very well. There are creepy old mansions and dark corners aplenty, I was very happy with that part of things. Sadly, my good feelings for the book end there.
Trinity moves to New Orleans after growing up with her grandmother in Colorado. When the grandmother dies, she moves to live with her aunt. As she tries to make friends, her life gets pretty complicated when the really scary visions she sometimes had growing up become a lot more frequent. When popular girl Jessica disappears after playing a prank on Trinity, lots of people look at her for the blame. That doesn’t include Jessica’s boyfriend Chase, who pretty much immediately jumps ship and seems to fall for Trinity.
The characters were laughably bad. Emotionally (well, really only relationship-wise), they seemed more like thirty-five year old adults than teenagers. Every time I turned around Trinity and Chase were holding each other and Chase would calmly there-there her as he pulled her into his arms – that immediate intensity came off as very odd. A real class act, that guy. No qualms about becoming involved in a very intense relationship with the girl blamed for making his (very recently ex) girlfriend disappear. Plus, major insta-love alert. Absolutely no character development to make readers understand why they want to be together. No real development otherwise either – I couldn’t tell you anything about Trinity except that she has ghostly visions and likes to whine to Chase about them.
The silliest things kept happening throughout the story. Like for example, Chase offered to help Trinity find out more about her parents, who she knows little to nothing about. He almost immediately has the information about who they are and where they lived – apparently he keeps confidential city records in his back pocket? Then, as they walk up to the creepy abandoned house, he suddenly disappears. Trinity freaks out when she can’t find him and goes running around looking for him. Then, suddenly he is there again and randomly says, “I was adopted as a baby but my parents lied about it and told me I wasn’t.” He then goes on to tell the story about how he discovered this – when they are in a tense situation and Trinity is obviously scared out of her mind. Can you say totally random and out-of-place? I literally laughed out loud in disbelief at the horrible timing.
It has been a long time since I’ve sincerely disliked every single thing about a book. Normally the things I like are plot points I know others will enjoy – but this is one book I recommend everyone pass over. I have already seen positive reviews of it on Goodreads though, so if you were interested in reading it before seeing my review you might look a little further before you completely give up.(less)
When I was asked to be a part of this book's blog tour, I was really excited! I'd seen a lot of reviews - both good and bad, that made me very curious...moreWhen I was asked to be a part of this book's blog tour, I was really excited! I'd seen a lot of reviews - both good and bad, that made me very curious about the story. I started reading the book expecting to immediately be caught up into Noah's story.
Unfortunately, I was not. In fact, I kept putting it down and forcing myself to try getting into it again...but it never worked out for me. I just couldn't find anything appealing about the characters or their story. Nothing about it falls within my realm of experience, and I couldn't really find anything about any of the characters to make me feel invested in them. All the characters were diverse and complex, which would normally be a very good thing - but I just never found connections to them.
I know this isn't the case for everyone, because there are a lot of positive reviews out there! I don't want to go into specific plot details since I don't have anything positive to say. If you pick the book up, I want you to make up your own mind without my ideas about certain particulars floating around in your head.
One thing I can say is that the writing style itself was good. Hannah Moskowitz has a really insightful way of writing...I really wish I could have appreciated it more with characters I wanted to read about!
I started scanning before I was even halfway through this, and that should have been my first clue that I should abandon ship. Then I got a little ove...moreI started scanning before I was even halfway through this, and that should have been my first clue that I should abandon ship. Then I got a little over half through to this passage:
Luce: "It isn't that hard to be good enough for me." Daniel: Yes. Yes it is."
When I found myself wanting to shout "NO...NO IT ISN'T THAT HARD, YOU'RE A MORON!" I decided I was finished.(less)
Man, I am bummed. Several of my friends (AND Patrick Rothfuss for that matter) rated and recommended this book very highly. I was excited to start it....moreMan, I am bummed. Several of my friends (AND Patrick Rothfuss for that matter) rated and recommended this book very highly. I was excited to start it. As I was reading I kept thinking "seriously, this has to get better..." Only I read a little over half and it never did, so I had to give up. I skipped to the end and didn't even care about that either! This book and I just didn't click. Sad.(less)
Yeah I got less than 200 pages into this one and I'm stopping. Its boring and there are too many books in this world (and in my home, for that matter)...moreYeah I got less than 200 pages into this one and I'm stopping. Its boring and there are too many books in this world (and in my home, for that matter) to struggle over this one.(less)
Maybe I would have liked this more when I was a kid, but...I was bored. Very bored. I got to page 80 and couldn't stand it anymore, I read the last co...moreMaybe I would have liked this more when I was a kid, but...I was bored. Very bored. I got to page 80 and couldn't stand it anymore, I read the last couple of chapters and called it quits.(less)
I had high hopes for this, and the first half was interesting enough-and gave the story the ability to be great, but I think it just f...moreI didn't get it.
I had high hopes for this, and the first half was interesting enough-and gave the story the ability to be great, but I think it just fell through, at least for me. It was such an odd story anyway, and instead of making it better...the twists and turns just made it even less interesting for me. I just kept thinking "huh?" and "oh brother, that was dumb."
That being said, if you're into creepy dreams and the Civil War...go for it. Maybe you can explain it to me.(less)
I'm not sure what the deal is...I LOVED Gardner's writing in I, Coriander but I just did NOT connect with this book. I have no desire to finish it, an...moreI'm not sure what the deal is...I LOVED Gardner's writing in I, Coriander but I just did NOT connect with this book. I have no desire to finish it, and there are too many books in the world (and on my shelf) to force myself to read something I don't want to.(less)
Ugh. This was a horrible book, I haven't disliked something this much in a long time. I'm giving it two stars because I was at least compelled enough...moreUgh. This was a horrible book, I haven't disliked something this much in a long time. I'm giving it two stars because I was at least compelled enough to read the whole thing.
First of all...the writing. There were WAY too many awful similes that had me rolling my eyes and snorting with distaste. I don't really care that much about writing styles...so for me to say the writing was bad really is saying something. I felt like she was making the characters do things to fit into the story, and that has always bugged me. I think the story should fit the characters...you shouldn't have to make them do things that seem unnatural.
The plot, somewhat interesting...but not carried out well at all. About halfway through I realized it really wasn't going to get better and thought "oh well, at least things with Jace and Clary are somewhat interesting." Then (major spoiler ahead, so don't read on if you plan on picking this up)...they turn out to be brother/sister?? What the heck, they had kissed and had wonderful chemistry and they are SIBLINGS? Their relationship was about the only thing interesting or captured well in the story...and even that was ruined.
I really had high hopes for this too. Bummer.(less)
**spoiler alert** I don't deal with death well, and Aidan was my favorite character. Obviously I knew SOMETHING was wrong and that he wasn't in the pi...more**spoiler alert** I don't deal with death well, and Aidan was my favorite character. Obviously I knew SOMETHING was wrong and that he wasn't in the picture in the present part of the story...but I didn't want him to be dead :( So I finished Part 1 and have no desire to keep going.(less)