2.5 stars How disappointing. The first Ivy Chronicles book was terrific, the second one was a stereotypical NA without any surprises, and the third? T2.5 stars How disappointing. The first Ivy Chronicles book was terrific, the second one was a stereotypical NA without any surprises, and the third? The third one is all over the place.
As always, the author writes great chemistry between her couple, but I never really bought the kink clubs Georgia kept going to, and she got SO annoyingly spineless in flip flopping in the way she treated Logan. Although she eventually stands up for herself against her cliche of a domineering, wealthy mom and also declares her relationship with Logan publicly, there was so much hurtful public rejection before that that the decision seemed sudden and not altogether entirely convincing. As for Logan, I like alpha males, but he seemed way too pushy in a lot of scenarios for my taste, and conversely, also gave up way too easily in others. Other loose threads that go nowhere: Rachel, the unfriendly BFF. Amber, the sister. The random love of guitar. Research internship. Drunken dad. Pretzel bread sandwich. Blah.
Also, it stretches credulity that a high school senior boy would be sexually confident to this degree, especially in knowing how to talk to women and being so absolutely aggressive while still supposedly sensitive. Even if he got started early and has been through a bunch of girls, it's not the same level of maturity and finesse that comes with time and experience. This might've been more believable if they'd been aged up a few years, I guess. There's still not a lot of substance to their relationship other than sexually, though. Very little flirting and only a passing nod at truly meaningful connection.
Overall, this one didn't seem very cohesive to me. A shame, because FOREPLAY was so sexy and fun! Hoping the author writes another NA romance that comes close to that one sometime in the future....more
I think a large part of whether this book works for you may rely on whether you find Sawyer LeGrande charming. And I do not.
And while I'm prone to beI think a large part of whether this book works for you may rely on whether you find Sawyer LeGrande charming. And I do not.
And while I'm prone to be pretty forgiving with girls who don't always make smart choices, I was constantly frustrated with Reena, too. Make him work for it, honey. And it is NOT OKAY to (repeatedly) act in a way that is hurtful to other people, particularly if you know what it's like to be hurt yourself.
I'm surprised at how negatively I feel about this one, given the sea of 5 star reviews. There were also a few moments conveniently timed for maximum drama, which felt somewhat soapy. Appreciated the way her relationship with her daughter was portrayed, though, as well as with Shelby and Soledad and her father. Is the book well-crafted? Mostly. Realistic? Yes. Personally enjoyable for me? Not really. But many others have loved it, so take my reaction with a grain of salt. ...more
Reaction before reading this book: I know I may be a sucker for falling for this cover, but look at it! I totally want to go to that party.
Reaction afReaction before reading this book: I know I may be a sucker for falling for this cover, but look at it! I totally want to go to that party.
Reaction after reading this book: I no longer want to go to this party.
Full disclosure: I did not read this entire book. I took notes for the first 88 pages, read to page 168, and then skimmed the rest. I think reading more than half the book qualifies as giving it a fair shot.
The Selection arrives with a gorgeous cover and interesting premise. What if a lottery allowed 35 teenage girls to compete for the hand of a handsome prince? I thought this might be a fun and fluffy read, so I pushed aside my initial misgivings about the names and pounced on the chance to read the ARC. Turns out, sometimes your gut is just trying to do its job, as I kept struggling with the book until I finally admitted that I didn't find a single aspect of this story that I enjoyed. Somehow I missed the early blurb that described this novel as a mash-up between the The Bachelor and The Hunger Games, which is unfortunate because the comparison to the television show is pretty spot-on. Mentioning it in the same breath as The Hunger Games is a travesty, however, since this book barely qualifies as a dystopian novel--and certainly the quality of the story, characters, themes, and writing don't come even close to comparing.
Here are some facts which may help you decide whether you want to read this book:
Character Names: Our main character's name is America Singer. Guess what she does. Her boyfriend's name is Aspen. Prince Charming's name is Prince Maxon Schreave, who must marry a "True Daughter of Iléa." Other names include Queen Amberly, King Clarkson, Tiny, Kriss, Marlee, Bariel, Gavril, Kamber, and Sosie.
Attempts to Make This Novel Dystopian: Sketchy caste system. Talk of provinces. Girls are required to wait until marriage to have sex. Infrastructure Committees. Occasional mentions of hunger and lack of makeup.
Writing: Very obvious protestations that are easily seen through. Juvenile dialogue. A lot of whispering to convey dramatic statements. A plethora of exclamation points. (view spoiler)[And or the love of Pete, could we stop ending sentences in unnecessary prepositions, please? Eff you, cell phone commercial. You've ruined whole generations. (hide spoiler)]
Bachelor-like Elements: Contestants vying for a "perfect" guy. Appearance fees. Contracts. Gossiping. Sabotage. Tears. Eliminations. Television specials. Icky elements. (view spoiler)[I was afraid early on that the book was headed into really tasteless territory since the girls are asked point-blank whether they're virgins (and have to sign contracts saying the Prince can demand anything he wants of them and they cannot refuse), but fortunately it doesn't get much more gross than that. (hide spoiler)] But no limos and no rose ceremonies! Booo.
Most Annoying Element of All: The story ends on a cliffhanger, as if there was so much going on in this one book, it could not be contained in a single volume.
So. Whether you'll enjoy this book depends on whether you find any of the above details appealing. If, like me, they make you want to pull out your hair, it may be best to either try this one out at the library first or just admire the pretty cover design from a safe distance.
Putting aside the fact that this probably would have worked better as a straightforward fairy tale without the pseudo-dystopian details, as well as the annoying focus on boys boys boys being the be-all and end-all of this book, the whole thing wasn't really a very enjoyable reading experience to me, not even as mindless entertainment. Every scene, every character, and every plot development was predictable and worse yet, a cliché, and the dialogue and machinations felt painfully juvenile throughout the entire story. I almost wish this were a middle grade novel, except that there are a few too many make out scenes for that. Plus I don't think I would have enjoyed this even at the age of 8.
As always, these kinds of books are just a matter of taste. All in all, I really don't have violent feelings about The Selection the way I do with such books as The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer or Elizabeth Miles' Fury, but I'm afraid I can't say that I found very much about it that was redeeming, either.
Those interested in how this one review still continues to affect me 2 years after posting it should check out the links in message #239 as well. This review has not been altered at all since its publication, with the exception of the addendum, and to delete a quote that was misread.
Let me save you some time: this book is a paranormal romance. There is precisely one chapter--the very last one--devoted to any sort of magic lastingLet me save you some time: this book is a paranormal romance. There is precisely one chapter--the very last one--devoted to any sort of magic lasting more than a few paragraphs. ALL of the magic, however, involves the tragic separation of these star-crossed lovers in some way. There is nothing else going on here except for a romance between two characters who are harmless but so blandly unremarkable that they are actually perfectly suited for each other. Every conversation, every secondary character, and every plot line revolves around Tristan and Savannah.
A paranormal romance that focuses more on the relationship than anything else could be okay if the romance were actually interesting, but after reading countless passages devoted to their interactions as managers of the school drill team--yes, both of them, he even gets thrown off the football team so that we get more scenes with them together--my eyes started to cross. Seriously, it even got the point where I was idly hoping for a prom scene, just so something would happen--and I normally hate prom scenes.
That this "forbidden romance" story is actually a series is mind-boggling. I finished this one because it was my bathtub reading, but I was hard-pressed not to drown my impatience--and more besides--before the story mercifully ended.
3.5 stars Recommended, although with some strong reservations. The story gets pretty convoluted as it progresses, and the book would have been much st3.5 stars Recommended, although with some strong reservations. The story gets pretty convoluted as it progresses, and the book would have been much stronger if many elements and just about all the characters were further developed. I'm also a bit turned off by the numerous occasions when a young teenager was witness to some pretty squicky adult situations, although they were admittedly non-graphic in nature.
An entertaining gothic tale in the tradition of Phyllis Whitney and Victoria Holt (for mature YA readers only), but I dearly wish the story had been more cleanly plotted and was more emotionally satisfying....more
Better than Bloodlines, and yet still only as good as the last Vampire Academy book, in my opinion.
Sydney: much less annoying than in the previous boBetter than Bloodlines, and yet still only as good as the last Vampire Academy book, in my opinion.
Sydney: much less annoying than in the previous book, but her issues are so predictably and rather clumsily written that it's hard to get attached to her. Still, she has a couple of decent, non-mousy scenes towards the end.
Jill: seriously, just let a hunter have her.
Adrian: some redeeming scenes here and there, but not nearly as attractive or as intriguing as he was in VA. It's disappointing that one of my favorite (formerly) crush-worthy boys has become so sullen and uninteresting.
Onto book three next year! Hopefully it's the last one in this series, though. This trilogy already seems to be stretched pretty thinly, even though the books are decently sized....more
2.5 stars My feelings on Under the Never Sky are fair to middling. Overall, it had a lot of potential, but unfortunately, I had a hard time staying in2.5 stars My feelings on Under the Never Sky are fair to middling. Overall, it had a lot of potential, but unfortunately, I had a hard time staying interested in the story and invested in the characters. The book is one of many recent dystopian-lite novels that have been cropping up in the YA market recently, and while I don't always mind books that are less focused on the world-building as long as something else is done well, neither the characters nor the plot were so outstanding here that they could keep me fully engaged. My partner also bailed about halfway through our readalong, if that counts for anything.
Here's what I liked about the book:
--The overall concept --Occasional humor in the writing --Interesting shorthand for words, which makes sense in a futuristic society: "champ," "rancy," "wrathy" are all great examples of the way language might evolve or devolve, depending on how you look at it --cool "Smarteye" technology --a couple of interesting action sequences (view spoiler)[including a decapitation! (hide spoiler)]
Here's what I didn't care for:
--The girl is much too trusting and had to be rescued over and over, to the point that you want to scream at her. She also isn't all that compelling of a protagonist, and is also occasionally very rude and rather ungrateful. --The names. Aria (GUESS WHAT SHE DOES), Paisley, Lumina, Aria, Echo, Peregrine (view spoiler)[I'm rather ashamed to say that I was glad when Paisley bit it, because I was so happy I didn't have to read her name anymore. (hide spoiler)] --Interchangeable secondary characters --Weird things that are mentioned in passing but never really explained. Soren's underwater birthday party, no stains, not getting hurt in the Realms' virtual reality type situation, blood lords, the Tides' superhuman senses, etc. --Rather uninspired "she did this, he did that" type of writing. Everything is explained as an afterthought and random snippets suddenly dropped, there’s no gradual lead in for it in the narrative. --Some writing choices that didn't quite work as well as the examples in the "like" section, such as "“sweaty seaweed" or “his nephew’s temper had grown dark and damp.” Those just don't make sense to me. There were also some awkward sentences, such as "Perry woke sweated to his clothes." --What is with all the birdish names? Peregrine, Talon, Lumina (which is a type of falcon), etc?
I came away from Under the Never Sky feeling rather aggressively indifferent to it. There were moments when the book was fairly entertaining and there were moments when I was extremely bored, so it worked out to be a pretty uneven reading experience. My partner and I really spent most of the time during the two weeks of our readalong asking questions, however. "What the HELL is aether? How is he doing this? I don't get it!" and so on and so forth, because so many things were introduced and then dropped and never explained. And even if we got answers, they didn't really provide lightbulb moments so much as a grudging concession that an attempt was made to explain something.
Overall, this book felt similar to me to Blood Red Road, Divergent, and Legend, in that they are all very much action-oriented stories. But the difference is, those books had much stronger and more memorable characters, who took initiative and made things happen. Those novels were also, for all their admitted flaws, just plain fun. For me, that element was sorely lacking in this story and I was disappointed to find that I wasn't nearly as excited about this book as many of my friends have been--and that's saying something for a book where there are cannibals.
But look! I snapped this Under the Never Sky moment at the beach in January. I do like the title quite a bit, even if I still have no idea what it means.
Random Side Notes:
There is NO WAY that what Perry thinks smells like violets actually smells like violets, no matter how advanced our society becomes. Also, I wish my skin were as velvety as a mushroom.
An advance copy was provided by the publisher for this review.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I’ve summarized the first 25 chapters of Ripple in case you’d like an idea of what this book is about.
(view spoiler)[ Girl meets Boy 1. Girl goes swiI’ve summarized the first 25 chapters of Ripple in case you’d like an idea of what this book is about.
(view spoiler)[ Girl meets Boy 1. Girl goes swimming, boy wanders into the ocean, and drowns.
Two years later, girl watches as Boy 2 prevents her from swimming in a lake with “frustration boiling in (her) veins.” He skips rocks like a seasoned pro, moving with confident ease, like a guy comfortable in his own skin.
Girl feels both “stabbed in the stomach” and “stabbed in the chest” in Chapter Two. Apparently a curse on her family means that she, a siren, is doomed to swim in the ocean every night instead of sleeping, and she lures men to their deaths with her singing.
Girl cooks dinner for grandma, smiles at the straight As on her homework, is paired up with Boy 2 for a random school project, plays Scrabble, goes to study at Boy 2’s house. “The entryway is soaring, probably thirty feet tall.” A chandelier drips with crystals. There is car trouble, he is understanding and fixes the car, Girl is now attracted to Boy 2. A few paragraphs later, she literally crashes into Boy 3 and he steals her breath away. His eyes are a shade of blue she’d “only ever seen in the mirror,” because they look just like hers.
Girl goes to the movies with Boy 2. She wears her best-fitting jeans and has even left her hair down. His black Range Rover is all sparkle and shine. They have “a real, beautiful, perfect kiss.”
THIS IS WHERE IT GETS EXCITING:
Girl goes grocery shopping, receives a “meticulous” and “perfect” bracelet from her friend, vacuums the shag carpets, washes the wood-paneled walls with “sweet-smelling Murphy Oil Soap,” wipes down the marbled Formica counters, and scrubs the pink-ceramic toilet in preparation for movie night with the same friend. The friend is “light, airy, chuckling.”
Another trip to the movies and more kissing with Boy 2. Immediately afterwards, she has a conversation with Boy 3, who explains more about the curse. He’s been hiding secrets, but he’s also made for her—and if they fall in love, they can both be free.
People play pool, Girl has “hungry” kissy time with Boy 2, has an immediate encounter with Boy 3 afterwards, breaks up with Boy 2 the next morning. She goes to the beach with Boy 3, who brings a “beautiful, worn-out handmade quilt” to watch the sun set. Nevertheless, she still wants Boy 2. The next day, Boy 3 takes her to the boardwalk where they play putt-putt golf and drive Go Karts. They have an “amazing” kiss and he shows her his “quaint little beach shack” with “adorable clapboard accents” and “round, aggregate steps.”
They go to a Harvest Festival. Girl is worried about looking slutty in her short denim skirt. Boy 3 is obviously thrilled and they kiss on the Ferris Wheel. But oh noes, Boy 2 shows up with a date! But they go swing-dancing and everything is okay. “It’s a warm night for Autumn.” (hide spoiler)]
Oh wait, did you think this was a book about mermaids? Foolish reader. Don’t feel too bad, however, I thought so, too.
By this point, we’ve gotten to page 182 out of a 272 page book. Will she choose Boy 2, the guy she really wants, and be doomed to swim (and okay, lure men to their deaths) forever? Or will she choose Boy 3, who’s also really cute and she’s also attracted to, and live happily ever after?
But the better question is: do we care?
Sure, Lexi (whose name I kept forgetting as I was reading this, btw) goes swimming a few times and her skin sometimes turns into iridescent fish scales in the water at night. (Weirdly, she has no tail, however.) But until the last two pages of the novel, there’s very little mermaidy activity going on. This book is mostly about being attracted to different boys and the mind-numbingly dull dates she goes on to figure out which one she wants. There are some random flashbacks, graveside visits, shunning by peers, and some friend drama thrown in, along with the annoying plot device of the gift of an old journal, but really, let's not kid ourselves. The focus is on those boys.
If you’d like to read a book about teen dating (view spoiler)[ apparently in another decade, by the way, considering the clean-scrubbed wholesomeness of those dates (hide spoiler)] with cookie cutter characters, you may enjoy this one. If you’d like to read about mermaids…well, let’s just say this is probably not the book for you. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Let's see if I can sum up this book in two short paragraphs:
The concept behind Still Waters reminded me a lot of The Shining*, in that it's about a noLet's see if I can sum up this book in two short paragraphs:
The concept behind Still Waters reminded me a lot of The Shining*, in that it's about a not-very-bright girl named Hannah who goes to an isolated lake house for a romantic getaway, and once they're there, her boyfriend Colin starts acting really weird. Except that, unlike that other masterpiece of horror, there isn't any snow. Or tension. Or creepiness.
Unfortunately, while I liked the basic idea behind the book, this very short novel could have used much more intricate plotting and better character development than simply the drama of Hannah bringing herself to tell her boyfriend she loves him. Smoothing out some of the rather lackluster writing and awkward dialogue would have helped, too. It's pretty disappointing when the most I can say for a psycyhological "thriller" is that it isn't actually a terrible book...just a terribly uninspired one.
An advance copy was provided by the publisher for this review.
*Or perhaps I should say (view spoiler)[The Shinning! D'ye want to get sued?
It's really weird to not know how to rate a book. I don't normally use images in my reviews, but in this particular case, there's no better way to cleIt's really weird to not know how to rate a book. I don't normally use images in my reviews, but in this particular case, there's no better way to clearly explain the yo-yo-ing of my opinions as I was reading this novel.
See what the problem was?
The beginning of the story thrusts us into the unlikely scenario of Ava suddenly switching schools because she wants to go to a place where it's okay to wear pink. "Pink" is the code word for not only the freedom to wear girly clothes and sport your natural hair color, but also the freedom to date boys and to be a decent student. (!) Ava has a too-cool-for-school girlfriend named Chloe, but Ava thinks she wants to do some more exploring in other pastures. And apparently being cool and a liberal means that you're not supposed to care about anything and you're shunned for wanting to do well at academics.
Anyway, I've accepted many a more far-reaching scenario than this, so I just went along with it, primarily because the writing is admittedly very good and Ava's voice was extremely readable. But after awhile, I realized much to my dismay that Ava didn't really have much of a personality. It's true that the main theme of the book is about exploring options and deciding who you want to be, and there's a certain amount of confusion that goes along with that. But Ava subverted so much of her personality, made so many mistakes, and lied to so many people, that it became more and more difficult to feel any sympathy for her. Particularly when I had no idea who Ava really was.
The huge low point of this book, however, came about two-thirds of the way through when Ava does something really terrible to one of her friends--for no reason whatsoever except that she wants to fit in and to look cool. I really hate it when people are mean, especially in the guise of superiority, and I absolutely despise the fact that this was done in conjunction with a subject of great sensitivity. (view spoiler)[Ava's friend Jen has just come out to her, so she drags her to the cafe where the popular lesbian girls hang out. She joins in with her friend Chloe in making fun of Jen at one point, and Jen overhears and is devastated. :( (hide spoiler)] Ava had already exhibited lots of character traits I didn't like, including being a reactionary show-off, but after this I got really annoyed with her. If that weren't enough, she continues to make more and more stupid mistakes with not admitting what she did, hard-partying, and (view spoiler)[cheating on her girlfriend. For the second time. (hide spoiler)]. She did redeem herself in the end in a way that surprisingly, did not feel emotionally manipulative, although it relied a great deal on one-note characters, a Hollywood-style grand gesture, and one character behaving in the complete opposite way than she'd been presented throughout the rest of the story.
I think overall, I just found it very hard to like a character who doesn't exhibit a very strong personality and who lies so much. She seemed very young for her age, and many of her actions seemed more like those of a juvenile or middle grade character than one in high school. I did like that the author did such a great job of showing how good Ava is in math, however, and I also liked the snappy dialogue, Sam (who has a great scene of putting Ava in her place by explaining the difference between Greek homo and Latin homo), and the many Battlestar Galactica and other nerdy references. It's a shame, because I liked the writing quite a bit and there were a number of quotes that tickled my fancy, including:
He just spread his arms, and gathered me into a warm embrace. It's what I imagined being hugged by a bear might feel like, giant and soft and utterly comforting, and smelling strangely of marshmallows.
In the end, though I tipped up the rating for the writing and for saving Ava somewhat, these two quotes sum up perfectly how I feel about Ava, and therefore about the book:
She became someone different when she was around those other girls--someone mean and aloof, her cool hardened into cold.
"No," said Sam. "I don't care if you're a lesbian or not. I don't want to know you anymore because you're a bitch."["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more