I listened to this on audio, and while I was riveted by Elizabeth Smart's story and the horror that she endured, I have to agree with others who admitI listened to this on audio, and while I was riveted by Elizabeth Smart's story and the horror that she endured, I have to agree with others who admit to having problems with the book itself.
The audio is narrated by Elizabeth Smart herself, who very often took a sarcastic tone when reading parts where her disgust and disdain for Mitchell and Barzee were obvious. While I have no doubt that she did have sarcastic thoughts, the tone gave her the feeling of an irritated teenager rather than an abused kidnap victim. It was almost as if, in her overzealous effort to assure readers that she never developed Stockholm syndrome or ever had any positive feelings at all for her captors, she's allowing her grown-up self to interject a higher level of disdain than I can imagine her teen captive self would have felt free to express without fear of retribution.
Too, I became very frustrated by Smart's constant suggestions of abuse and horror only to be followed by a complete lack of detail. Not that I expected a prurient description of the degrading things she was forced to endure, but it does no good to say simply that Mitchell "described a disgusting act" without any context. The spectrum of "disgusting acts" is pretty broad. Or another example - she states that when she tried to escape once, she was severely chastised to such a degree she wasn't willing to risk it again. In my mind, a severe scolding doesn't seem so dis-incentivising. What, exactly, had her punishment been? She talks about how Barzee treated her like a slave, but she doesn't mention what that meant. Did she have to do all of the work in camp, and if so, what was there to do? They lived in filth and Mitchell would never have let her go off on her own to get water or food, so how was she treated like a slave? Details like that would have better fleshed out her story and helped to paint a clearer picture of what she went through. If she truly wanted to express her real experience, she chose to leave far too much in the dark.
And while I know that this is strictly Elizabeth Smart's story and she stated up front that she had no desire to ever understand what drove either Mitchell or Barzee to commit their twisted evil crimes, there were parts of the story that could have benefited from objective, pscyhological input. For example, at one point it appears that Mitchell has abandoned Barzee and Smart, leaving them to starve to death in their camp. While Smart re-iterates ad nauseum why she never felt capable of trying to escape even when Mitchell had left the camp, I kept wondering why the adult Barzee would remain there without food for that long. We get no insight as to her actions at all.
One thing that I found strange - Smart was taken when she was fourteen, turning fifteen while in captivity. Many, many times she describes herself as a "little girl", giving this fact as a key reason for her absolute submission to Mitchell and belief in his ability to kill her entire family should she try to escape, thus her inability to speak up when the chances of rescue were within reach. I am the mother of a fifteen year old girl, and I would never consider her "little". When I hear the phrase "little girl" I see a six or seven year old, or even a ten or eleven year old. I think this means that at the time of her kidnapping, Elizabeth must have been relatively immature or extremely sheltered to view herself as so much younger than a person in their teens would be. NOT that I am saying she didn't truly believe her life was in danger and wasn't in constant fear and thus had good reasons for her actions, just that I needed some more backstory to correlate her reactions with her chronological age since they seem a bit shifted to me.
For those who know nothing or very little about the Elizabeth Smart case - I vaguely remembered the news stories but never paid attention to the story once she'd been rescued and didn't know anything about the trials - this is an informative way to learn the story. However, after listening to the book, I don't exactly feel like I got the behind-the-scenes truth about what she went through....more
As usual, Suzanne Brockmann is so very easy to read. Her writing always goes down so smooth, like a well blended chocolate milkshake.
But also as hasAs usual, Suzanne Brockmann is so very easy to read. Her writing always goes down so smooth, like a well blended chocolate milkshake.
But also as has been the case with her last few installments of the Troubleshooters series, this book provides an uneven read. Some characters are fantastic (Izzy, Ben, to a small degree - Eden) and others are either completely annoying and irredeemable (Danny Gillman is NOT a hero) or basically useless (Jennilyn is TSTL for putting up with Danny the Tool). The story itself is adequate although a good 2/3 of the book is devoted to either vast amounts of introspection or dithering about why one character does or does not trust/love another character. Only the last quarter of the book involved any form of real action. This is unfortunate because the central Big Bad - a ring of child prostitute human traffickers - is a real evil that deserves thorough treatment.
And also unfortunately, Brockmann uses this vehicle as a bully platform for her pro-Gay Rights agenda. While I am firmly in the pro-Gay Rights camp, I find being hit over the head with how truly eeeevil anti-gay people are to be a bit tiresome. I do believe that those conversion camps exist and are probably not only vile to the nth degree but possibly even illegal, Brockmann is preaching to the choir. I'd much rather get a dose of see-gay-people-are-normal-and-great via Jules Cassidy or giving Ben a bit more power over his own life.
While I'll always look on the Troubleshooter series fondly as one of the best written and most entertaining in contemporary romantic fiction, I do think the quality of the stories has declined over the course of its run. I'll go back to "Out of Control" and "Over the Edge" and "Flashpoint" for my rereads. This one will probably get dusty on the proverbial shelf....more
Fantastic. I really enjoyed this book. I began reading it at 9:00 at night and stayed up until 2:00 to finish it.
Travis "Solo" Stephenson is an amaziFantastic. I really enjoyed this book. I began reading it at 9:00 at night and stayed up until 2:00 to finish it.
Travis "Solo" Stephenson is an amazing character. At 19, he's already seen more of the world's troubles than most people do in a lifetime. He's home for a four-week leave from his gig as a Marine deployed to Afghanistan. His best friend has died, and Travis struggles with survivor's guilt and a bad case of PTSD. His ex-girlfriend, who dumped him for his brother while Travis was overseas, keeps showing up in his bed. His father remains a first class asshole, and his mother is clearly unhappy in her marriage. And the girl whose reputation Travis ruined back in middle school punches him in the face.
Writer Doller does an amazing job getting inside the head of a unique Young Adult character. Travis is far from perfect and keeps making mistakes, but he works to build a better relationship with his mother and to earn forgiveness from Harper. I really enjoyed watching Travis stand up to a father who never deserved his respect.
All in all, a great book that I know I'll reread again and again....more
It's books like this that give YA a bad reputation.
When I first started HtRaSV, I thought I would absolutely love it. The voice of the main character,It's books like this that give YA a bad reputation.
When I first started HtRaSV, I thought I would absolutely love it. The voice of the main character, Amy, came across as so realistic, and the premise was unique. 16-year-old Amy must spend the summer in Israel with her father who hopes to improve their relationship. Amy was a typical bratty teen, but I could understand her bad attitude based on the surprise turn her summer had taken.
However, the middle of the book became a giant slog. Amy's bratty behaviour didn't get any better, and she came off as a spoiled flakey idiot. For example, Amy and some other kids are at a dance club and some guy tries to stick his tongue in Amy's ear. Some shenanigans ensue, and Amy asks one of her guy friends "Do you have a Qtip?" Okay, not only would this Israeli guy have no idea of what a "Qtip" is since that's a name brand, but WTF would make her think he would be carrying around freakin' Qtips? So stupid. Or the fact that Amy knows that her father used to be a commando in the Israeli Defense Forces but later she doesn't know what IDF stands for even though the character had just said "In two months I will be leaving for my military service."
Not to mention how unbelievably spoiled and entitled this girl is. Like when the group goes camping, and Amy forgets her sleeping bag. They are going CAMPING and she doesn't bring a sleeping bag? So she just bullies one of the guys into sharing, and when there isn't enough room for two in a tiny sleeping bag, she pretends to snore so loudly that the guy finally gets up and leaves so she can have the whole bag to herself. What a first class jerk!
Or how about how Amy treats her father? She calls him the Sperm Donor because he's never had a relationship with her, seeing her only once a year on her birthday. Even after he explains that he wanted so much more of a relationship - even remaining in the US rather than return to his home in Israel - but Amy's bitch of a mother would never let that happen. Rather than try to understand what he'd been through, Amy just tells him what a disappointment he's been.
I just never could like her.
Some of the scenes are, frankly, ridiculous. Amy's cousin Osnat challenges Amy to a sheep shearing contest when Amy acts all superior. Shearing sheep is insanely difficult and requires a lot of practice and skill to keep from hurting the sheep, not to mention to keep from wasting the very valuable wool. Amy has never so much as touched a sheep, yet they actually go through with this. Come on. Really?
The romance is very forced and happens like a light switching on. Sorry, Avi, you are far too good for this American princess.
It felt almost as if the entire middle half of the book hadn't been edited at all. The dialogue was all over the place and inconsistencies are rampant.
Plus, Simone Elkeles, if you are reading this, those were NOT kayaks - they were CANOES! Huge difference. You can't move around in a kayak, so if you want them to be riding in real kayaks, stop having Amy move around!
The last quarter of the book got marginally better, as Avi is showing Amy some of the more interesting sides of life in Israel. Too, I liked that the book didn't shy away from the perceptions that all sides have of the events and players of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Or the fact that at age 18, Israeli kids must serve time in the Israeli army. I wish the book had taken itself more seriously and focused on that.
What a disappointment. Something that started out fantastic got so, so bad. The single star is for the fact that I finished it and there were parts that did make me laugh. "DooDoo, O'Dead and Moron"....more
This book is a hard one for me to grade. I both loved and hated it in the extreme with very little middle ground. Ultimately, since it kept me turningThis book is a hard one for me to grade. I both loved and hated it in the extreme with very little middle ground. Ultimately, since it kept me turning pages like crazy, I give it a neutral 3 stars.
My main issue with the story was the pacing. The first third of the book absolutely dragged. Blue Sargent, the main female protagonist, didn't even meet the "raven boys" until the book was this far along. Around the mid point, when Blue joined Gansey and Adam and Ronan on their quest for the magical ley lines, things began to pick up. And the ending, which involved a genuine mystery, was very well done. Most upsetting, however, is that the story never did touch upon the premise that is used to sell it - that it is fortold that Blue will kiss and kill her one true love. We got hints of what may happen, but nothing of substance leaving me feeling a bit like a victim of bait and switch.
Another issue I had was the psychic women that make up Blue's family. Much of what happens in the scenes involving Blue's mother, aunts and other family friends seemed flighty and disjointed. These women take the concept of eccentric to a whole new level, and it didn't ring true to to me. It wasn't the magical element that I had problems with, more the tangential style of dialogue and the fact that so often these women spoke to each other via body language that meant nothing to the reader. Too, the entire subplot involving Neeve dragged the story to a screeching halt.
Speaking of Neeve, I had a lot of problem with the names. Stiefvater was very creative with her names, but some of them didn't lend to easy reading. How, exactly, does a reader mentally pronounce "Gansey," "Aglionby", or "Neeve?"
My last quibble is that much of this story was downright confusing. While a few of the meandering threads tied up at the end, the whole search for the Welsh King Glendower felt very McGuffinish. I was never wholly convinced why this would drive the characters as they did. The ending was not so much of a cliffhanger as it was just a break in the story, which is not a nice thing to do to readers. I don't need all the answers, but I do need to feel like the time I've just spent has been somewhat concluded.
All of these things aside, I did enjoy the main characters who were very fleshed out and three-dimensional (except for Noah). Once the story kicked into gear, it read very quickly and kept me interested. I knew going in that this story was the first part of a series, so I wasn't too upset by the very abrupt ending. And the twist involving Noah was a surprise. I do want to know what happens, so I guess that means I'll be reading the next installment....more
Humorous contemporary romance with a very likable heroine and a hunky if a bit clueless hero.
Chastity O'Neill is the only girl in a family full of broHumorous contemporary romance with a very likable heroine and a hunky if a bit clueless hero.
Chastity O'Neill is the only girl in a family full of brothers. An athlete, sports fan and killer pool player, she's always been okay being one of the guys. But after she returns to her tiny home town, she's determined to meet someone, get married and start a family, a goal made very difficult when no one seems to see her as anyone other than a buddy who's fun to hang with it. When she meets Dr. Ryan Darling, things seem to look up. However, her history with family friend Trevor Meade continues to haunt her and threatens any future happiness she might find with her hunky new boyfriend.
Chastity is a great heroine, funny and self-deprecating without having any serious self-esteem issues. She's also very practical, determined to forget about her feelings for Trevor in favor of finding happiness with someone capable of returning her feelings. Since the story is told from Chastity's first person point of view, the reader feels her confusion and frustrations over her continued feelings for Trevor while his thoughts and feelings remain a mystery.
To be honest, I'd give this book a 3.5 stars review if I could. Overall, the story kept me turning the pages which is a great thing. And the effect ofTo be honest, I'd give this book a 3.5 stars review if I could. Overall, the story kept me turning the pages which is a great thing. And the effect of the whole was very much greater than the sum of the parts, which is why I have problems giving it a higher rating.
The main problem I had with this book is the fact that it's a kitchen sink story - everything but the kitchen sink was in it as far as cliches.
Perfect Mysterious Bad Boy? Check Damsel In Distress Heroine? Check Jerk of an ex-boyfriend? Check Perfect Perky Roommate? Check Deep, Angsty Past for one Character? Check Evil Rapist who Goes Unchecked? Check
And it goes on.
Lucas, while the perfect fictional guy, was very much a Gary Stu. He was beyond perfect to the point of eye-rolling. Smart. Hot. Protective. Great fighter. Artist. Engineer major. (BTW, I generally find the idea of an engineer major who is also a fantastic fine artist to be a bit odd - the mindsets are generally opposites for these two vocations.) Has a cute pet that he rescued. Angsty past. Uber-volunteer. Has to work his way through college by tutoring and working at Starbucks. He was not human. And the things the writer gave him to make him a "bad boy" were just surface effects. Tattoos are fine, but the ring in the lip? Served no purpose other than to make him edgy. Nothing about his personality made him a bad boy. He wasn't a man-whore. He didn't get into any trouble. In fact, he was practically a choir boy. Oh, well, he did ride a motorcycle. Of course.
As for the heroine, Jacqueline, while she was likeable enough, again the writer short-cutted her personality by telling the reader that Jackie was all of these things but never showing us. Apparently, Jackie is a Julliard-level upright bass musician. At that level of talent, music would be her entire life. But all we get are mentions of her missing a practice here or there and how she teaches middle schoolers. Never once did Lucas even seem interested in hearing her play. It was as if Jackie needed some character traits and so the writer gave her that one after picking it out of a bag.
As for the story, overall I liked the premise - girl is saved from a rape by a mysterious guy. But then the writer had to throw in the dual-identity plot. And the Lucas-has-a-tragedy-in-his-past plot. And the dealing-with-the-rapist plot. And the ex-boyfriend plot. It was all over the place.
Finally, there were portions of the story that felt like they were written by a real young adult as opposed to a professional writer. For example, when a teacher tells Jackie about Lucas's past, the dialogue reads like a novel. Very unrealistic - nobody (even a college professor) tells stories verbally that way.
Oddly, for all of the issues I had with characters, plot and writing, I still kept turning the pages. So like I said above, the whole overcomes the problems of the parts....more
A book that begins as something fairly light and fluffy but takes a bit of a dramatic turn.
Rosaline has been at least partially in love with Rob her eA book that begins as something fairly light and fluffy but takes a bit of a dramatic turn.
Rosaline has been at least partially in love with Rob her entire life. They've always been best friends, but as they begin their senior year of high school, it seems like Rob is finally ready to take the last step into something more. Rose couldn't be more thrilled. Their first date is a smashing success, and everything is as it should be.
Then Rose's estranged cousin, Juliet, moves back to town. Before she knows what's going on, Rose discovers that Rob has fallen hard for Juliet, and she's not only lost her fated boyfriend but her best friend as well. But then Rob begins to change, and family secrets begin to come out. And Rose isn't sure any more what she really wants or what she's just always thought she wanted.
Rosaline is a bit of a frustrating character because so much happens to her, and many times I wanted her to grow a backbone. Both Rob and Juliet deserved a hearty smack, so to see Rose suffer a major broken heart without any justified anger was beyond frustrating. Even Rose's best friend Charlie comes off as a bit of a bully until she redeems herself in the last third of the book.
Too, the character of Juliet is portrayed as pure villain, however, constantly Juliet implies to Rose that somehow, Juliet has been the wronged party and everything she does is justified as some sort of get-even with Rose. It isn't until near the end of the story that we find our why Juliet feels betrayed, and to be honest, the reveal of the betrayal is a let down. Net net, Juliet is a horrible person, and Rose comes off as a somewhat wimpy victim. Add to this the fact that Rob is a tool who treats Rose terribly and I wanted her to tell them both off.
That said, this book kept the pages turning for me. It becomes rather dark at the midway point, and Serle does a good job capturing Rose's feelings and despair. An interesting premise - Serle got her inspiration from Romeo and Juliet (a few nods via the names in the book) and the fact that after he saw Juliet, Romeo for all intents and purposes dumped his current girlfriend, Rosaline. This is Rosaline's side of the story....more
**spoiler alert** Very good. A few things kept if from being great.
Jordan Woods has football literally in her blood. Her dad is an NFL Quarterback, he**spoiler alert** Very good. A few things kept if from being great.
Jordan Woods has football literally in her blood. Her dad is an NFL Quarterback, her brother is a college football star, and Jordan herself - despite being a girl - has the best record of any quarterback in the state of Tennessee. Jordan is such a great player, she fully expects to move on to play college-level ball on a full-ride scholarship with the prestigious U. of Alabama football program which has been courting her recently. In addition to being her passion in life, playing football has supplied Jordan with a posse of guy buddies who range from protective, adorable meatheads to her best friend for life, Sam Henry. The way Jordan sees it, the world of football is pretty much perfect.
When Tyler Green arrives as the new guy at school, he rocks Jordan's world. First of all, he's hotter than hot, and Jordan finds herself attracted to the guy in a most inconvenient way since it distracts her from football. Ty also causes conflict because he's a stellar quarterback who threatens to take Jordan's position away. But as Ty and Jordan grow closer and Jordan's romantic feelings begin to awaken, she starts to see her best friend Henry in a whole new way. She begins to wonder if the best thing for her has been under her nose all along.
I liked Jordan because she was very driven and competitive and didn't expect any special treatment just because she was a girl. Her hurt over the fact that her father seemed completely disinterested in her football career was well explored. That said, Jordan frustrated me to no end because it became so clear that Alabama had no intention of actually letting her play football and planned only to use her as some kind of poster girl for publicity and recruitment purposes. Yet Jordan clung to her dream of playing for Alabama and simply wouldn't see the truth in front of her.
Too, for such a tough, fierce girl, Jordan cried a lot. A lot. And not just tears in her eyes, but tears dripping into the river levels of crying. If her crying was intended to show that deep inside, Jordan really did have the feelings of a girl, it didn't succeed so much as make her look emotionally fragile, and not in a vulnerable way but in a needs medication way.
My second issue with the book was with Jordan's best friend, Henry. I suppose high school boys often act in completely irrational ways, but Henry's behaviour once Jordan began dating Ty became downright bizarre. I wanted Jordan to smack him upside of the head and tell him to stop being such a major jerk.
All in all, the author did a great job of selling the concept of a girl star quarterback as a reality. I did have some questions, like what was the likelihood that a man old enough to have a son in college would still be able to play NFL football, the way Jordan's dad still does. Also, despite Jordan's success on the Tennessee high school football circuit, I simply could never believe that she'd ever be allowed to play college level football.
This said, the book kept me turning pages wondering what Jordan would do. She's a very likable heroine. I also liked the kind of off-hand behind the scenes look at what it might be like to be the child of a professional sports star. Jordan lives a life of luxury and sits in the owner's box for NFL games, but to her, it's just her dad's job. No big deal. That was kind of cool....more
This book is a hard one to review. I enjoyed it when I know I should have found it horrifying, and I did find much of it horrifying. Too, a big plot pThis book is a hard one to review. I enjoyed it when I know I should have found it horrifying, and I did find much of it horrifying. Too, a big plot point caused enough eye-rolling that I found myself skimming nearly the entire middle of the book.
The biggest problem/best part of this book is hero Travis. Travis is seriously messed up, with anger management issues and a borderline-stalker personality. Once he falls in love with heroine Abby, his behaviour becomes beyond obsessive and controlling. In reality, a guy like this would be someone to avoid at all costs. But in fiction-land, Travis's over-the-top devotion to the woman he loves seems romantic and intense. Travis and Abby have one dysfunctional relationship, but it's compelling and tragically perfect. The title "Beautiful Disaster" truly does apply.
Too, Travis and Abby both come across as Marty Stu/Mary Sue perfections. Travis is a hot stud who happens to be a fight club champion without lifting a weight, spending a second training, and all while consuming copious amounts of booze. Abby is so stunningly beautiful and desirable that every guy she meets hits on her or tries to assault her, mostly so that Travis can react possessively. Add in her ability to hustle poker like a professional gambler and she's beyond unrealistic.
The entire Las Vegas plotline is very unbelievable and unnecessary. Much of the plot serves simply as a series of reasons Abby and Travis can't be together, none of them making any sense at all. And I won't spoil the ending, but any last attempt at realism flies right out the window.
All of this complaining makes it seem like this book is horrible. The problem is that it's not. I did skim the middle and found myself skipping to the end just to get past Round #33 of Abby breaking Travis's heart. But like I said, Travis is a romantic figure in the vein of Heathcliff and this saved the book from being unreadable....more
Overall a good story, but I found it a bit too preachy. While I'm sure that the traumatic experience of coming out of the closet as a teenage boy is vOverall a good story, but I found it a bit too preachy. While I'm sure that the traumatic experience of coming out of the closet as a teenage boy is very real and that this story depicts some of the worst aspects of such an event, the soap-box tone of the story left a bad feeling about it. More than once characters launched into monologues that felt like they'd been lifted straight from an After School Special. This kept the story from being a raw, honest depiction of this life-defining experience and made it into a bull horn for the author's obvious agenda. Perhaps because I agree with the author's assertion that bullying and homophobia are to be condemned that I felt like he was preaching to the choir....more
Cute story about the boy and girl next door, told in alternating points of view. From the moment she first lays eyes on him, Juli is madly in love witCute story about the boy and girl next door, told in alternating points of view. From the moment she first lays eyes on him, Juli is madly in love with Bryce. But at age 7, Bryce is already certain that Juli is the last girl in the world he wants to have hanging around. Over the next few years, Juli's devotion grows stronger while Bryce struggles to avoid her. When the two enter the 8th grade, suddenly everything changes. Juli starts to see sides of Bryce that make her question her unconditional adoration, while Bryce begins to look at Juli in a new way.
Really liked the way Van Draanen shows the same situation from both Juli and Bryce's points of view. A great read for middle grades....more
A light read about the behind-the-scenes world of American Idol. This book gives a brief history of how the show came to be and how things have changeA light read about the behind-the-scenes world of American Idol. This book gives a brief history of how the show came to be and how things have changed throughout the seasons. The focus is heavier on the judges (especially Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul) than on the contestants, so those expecting or wanting insider info or details about individual performers will not find much. Even the details about the nine winners are skimpy with almost nothing on recent champs Kris Allen and Lee DeWyze. Too, if you are an avid watcher of Idol throughout the years, none of the scandals revealed in the book will be any surprise. Entertaining but not uber-revealing....more