We listened to this as part of our annual Midwestern holiday trek, and we were sadly disappointed by the inconsistent depth of the humor. Some jokes aWe listened to this as part of our annual Midwestern holiday trek, and we were sadly disappointed by the inconsistent depth of the humor. Some jokes and commentary were funny and insightful, but the majority were obvious and often unnecessarily simplistic or crass....more
I have read two of Colleen Hoover's other works and was disappointed in each, so I'm not sure why I expected that my experience with this novella woul I have read two of Colleen Hoover's other works and was disappointed in each, so I'm not sure why I expected that my experience with this novella would be any different. Despite the easy, breezy style of her writing, the plot points, character and relationship development (or lack thereof), and the indescribably slap-dash way in which the big issue was handled were all beyond my ability to suspend disbelief. I'm also confused as to whether her novels in the Hopeless world should qualify as young adult or new adult; it seems like the two categories are mixed up in her works. ...more
This collection of poems felt outdated and disjointed in its organization, and I doubt that it would find much purchase with today's feminist teens. IThis collection of poems felt outdated and disjointed in its organization, and I doubt that it would find much purchase with today's feminist teens. It may have, however, found more resonance with readers when it was originally published in the mid-1990s....more
POISONED APPLES has an interesting premise with some gems in the mix (as well as some beautifully evocative photography), but in the end, it was not a POISONED APPLES has an interesting premise with some gems in the mix (as well as some beautifully evocative photography), but in the end, it was not as searing or inspiring as I had hoped. For young feminists, or those girls who are just starting to see the injustices in the world around them, it may resonate more deeply, however. ...more
Unbelieveable plot & weak writing make this a poor read
After being less than satisfied with the two other Nicholas Sparks novels I have read over Unbelieveable plot & weak writing make this a poor read
After being less than satisfied with the two other Nicholas Sparks novels I have read over the years (A Walk to Remember and The Choice), I read THE BEST OF ME in anticipation of the film adaptation that's being released in October 2014. When I read Sparks' other two books, I was one of the many readers who knew she/he was being manipulated emotionally but who still cried anyway. For this one, I was expecting much of the same: schmaltzy scenes with serviceable but unimpressive writing to back it up. I experienced something far less enjoyable than that, however.
Never before have I encountered such a ludicrous and unbelievable plot. In Sparks' attempts to add some mystery and paranormal happenings to his typical storyline, the author created a tale with no feeling and no logic. I have never before flipped to the end just to get through something, but with this novel, I did. And, when I got there, I literally exclaimed about how ridiculous the resolution was and how unrelated it was to the first two-thirds of the novel. The two main characters themselves were supposed to be sympathetic, but they seemed incredibly immature for their ages, and the villains and other townsfolk were simplistic caricatures who were hard to imagine as real people. In addition to the failed plot and hasty characterization, the writing was incredibly pedestrian and flip-flopped between narrators (in third-person limited point of view) too often to maintain any type of narrative flow.
With this experience in mind, I think I've had my fill of future or past Nicholas Sparks novels. I'm glad that many other people enjoy his work, but his style and plotlines are not a good fit for me as a reader....more
I'm finally, finally done with this tome of a novel. Sadly, this was the most disjointed and clearly unplanned novel of the series. Plot lines were br I'm finally, finally done with this tome of a novel. Sadly, this was the most disjointed and clearly unplanned novel of the series. Plot lines were brought up and then dropped; characters were introduced or reintroduced and then ignored; and the entire conflict and resolution felt contrived and anticlimactic. Oh, and our two main characters of Matthew and Diana? Even more perfect and revolutionary and special than anyone before them and anyone to come and all to a nauseating degree of implausibility. ...more
Though there wasn't anything terribly wrong or troubling about this book, it didn't grab me emotionally. The improbable likelihood of Amber and Cade m Though there wasn't anything terribly wrong or troubling about this book, it didn't grab me emotionally. The improbable likelihood of Amber and Cade meeting on "the day before" each of their lives changed and striking an immediate connection felt too contrived, as did the quick resolution in two pages at the end....more
Sci-fi light at its lightest. This title, a tie-in with the CW show of the same name, masquerades as a science-fiction/post-apocalyptic title that isSci-fi light at its lightest. This title, a tie-in with the CW show of the same name, masquerades as a science-fiction/post-apocalyptic title that is simply a teen romance. There were hints of worldbuilding and conflict that could have been built into an engaging plot, but the romance aspect and the characters' ridiculous decisions regarding their relationships took away from that....more
Poor plotting & character development make for lackluster read
Kelley Armstrong is a household name among those who love urban fantasy, both young Poor plotting & character development make for lackluster read
Kelley Armstrong is a household name among those who love urban fantasy, both young adult and adult, and I was excited about the opportunity to read and review the first book in her newest YA series, Age of Legends. While Sea of Shadows provided the same easy writing style that Armstrong's other books have, it had very little of the worldbuilding, character development, and plotting that her best works contain. Because of this, it was a disappointment.
SEA OF SHADOWS is the author's first foray in YA high fantasy, and I think it suffered because of this. Though the story didn't shy away from grisly depictions of violence or high-stakes encounters, I still felt bored and unmoved by the first 40% of the novel. The worldbuilding didn't make sense, and the threats that were present seemed to exist simply for scare or awe factor. As the two protagonists, twin sisters Moira and Ashyn, moved out into their own personal journeys, the pace of the narrative picked up, but the character development did not. Each girl fell into her own clichéd role of being either the strong and brusque one or the emotional, sensitive one. When the romances enter, the chosen love interest for each girl was too obvious and too quickly developed for me to feel any real connection or swoon between the characters. The story's arc also followed Armstrong's typical plot of characters attempting to outrun a threat, being captured or nearly so, escaping, and then repeating the process. Based on the ending of this book, I predict that the plot of the sequel will be much of the same. And that's what I found most disappointing about this novel: the story, despite its high fantasy trappings of magical, terrifying things, felt simply like another iteration of the stories the author has written before.
In future books in the series, I hope Armstrong takes the time to mix up her usual plot line and infuse it with some of the emotional heart that first impressed me in her Darkest Powers series....more
In all, this New Adult anthology of first times (first kisses, first intercourse, first meetings, and others) fell where most new adult books do with In all, this New Adult anthology of first times (first kisses, first intercourse, first meetings, and others) fell where most new adult books do with me: in the two-star range. Some stories were stand-outs, but overall, the plot arcs and character development of each tale felt underdeveloped, rushed, or unbelievable. I was also extremely disappointed in the number of significant typos in the collection, from misplaced and misspelled words to frequent changes in verb tense to a flip from first-person to third-person perspective and then back again in one story. Given that this was published by a large publisher and not an indie one, I surprised that these mistakes slipped through and so frequently.
Mini-reviews for each story appear in the reading progress updates below....more
Complex, dark, and evocative tale – Gratton’s best book yet, 4.5 stars
Tessa Gratton has penned her best book yet with Book 2 of her United States of Complex, dark, and evocative tale – Gratton’s best book yet, 4.5 stars
Tessa Gratton has penned her best book yet with Book 2 of her United States of Asgard series: The Strange Maid. I stayed up late into the night, with goosebumps raised on my arms, to finish this book. The story, the writing, and the characterization are all beautiful, deep, and complex. I love a book like this that prioritizes character development over plot, but The Strange Maid still manages to combine the two well. Most of all, though, I love the risks that this book takes with characterization, theme, and source material.
Signy Valborn is a girl on the verge of Odinist glory as a Valkyrie, and she embraces the dark things she believes that should include – blood and death and violence and chaotic, passionate things stirring inside her soul. I love that Gratton was willing to create a wild, out-of-control, and fearsome female character; in doing so, she affirms that madness, desire, and a longing for revenge can be felt by all, not just males. Signy, however, is not a one-note character; she also experiences fear, doubt, and love. The other characters who flank and support Signy are also well-developed, from Soren Bearstar of the first book to Ned the truth-teller who hides behind his poetry to the gods and other Valkyries themselves. I also so appreciated the themes conveyed in the story about loss and revenge, the balance between chaos and control, choice versus destiny, and the types of relationships that matter in our lives.
In addition, Gratton skillfully plays with and updates Norse mythology to create a modern tale that pays homage to the violence, strength, and madness that was celebrated in Old English works like Beowulf. Because of this and the adept way the characters are portrayed, this book felt more mature than most other YA titles I’ve read. This is a complex and evocative tale that will be best appreciated by readers who aren’t afraid to feel uncomfortable from time to time while reading. Reading the first book in the series or having a background in Norse tales isn’t necessary to understand and appreciate the story, but it will likely help.
I have always been a fan of Gratton’s work, but my appreciation for her craft and the intentionality of her writing has been taken to a new level after my reading of The Strange Maid. I can’t wait to see what the next book in the series brings, and I will definitely be recommending this title to my friends and older students alike.
Note: This review refers to an advance review copy....more
Fun & engaging third installment keeps the action & intrigue coming
Marissa Meyer’s third installment in her Lunar Chronicles, Cress, picks up Fun & engaging third installment keeps the action & intrigue coming
Marissa Meyer’s third installment in her Lunar Chronicles, Cress, picks up right where the second book left off. Cinder, Thorne, Scarlet, and Wolf have escaped Earth and are now hiding in space. Their greatest chance for eluding Queen Levana and her dangerous companions lies with Cress, a gifted hacker who’s lived alone in a satellite for the past seven years. Soon, a rescue plan goes amiss, people are captured, and satellites start crashing to earth. Old characters and new ones must work to find a way back to one another in order to bring the evil Queen down.
As with her previous installments, Meyer has created a fun and engaging story in this book. CRESS is full of action and intrigue, and the author does a wonderful job of interweaving the storylines of the two previous books with the one. It was exciting to see how hints from as far back as the first book were linked to major plot points or character reveals in this novel. All of the characters that readers have come to love (or loathe) make appearances again, and some characters, especially Cinder, begin to grapple with real issues of how to use power and how one’s personal decisions can affect others, including whole cities or nations. Though not practical like Cinder or strong like Scarlet, Cress comes across as an endearingly naïve but earnest character who mixes well with the existing cast.
While a fast and enjoyable read overall, I did sometimes wish for a bit more: more swoon, more character and relationship development, and more gravity regarding the issues being experienced by the characters. This series is a refreshingly upbeat collection when compared to many other young adult novels, but the issues it addresses (war, torture, sacrifice for others, lost identities) often felt like they were passed over too quickly. Similarly, some characters accepted certain big reveals too easily.
Even with these quibbles, I had a great time reading CRESS, and I can’t wait for the final installment to come out next year (Winter). Not only will the final book provide a conclusion (and hopefully some happy endings for the characters), but it will feature quite possibly the most intriguing heroine of the series. The few glimpses given of Winter in this book had me simultaneously riveted and unsettled. The Lunar Chronicles is a series I will be recommending to my students and adult friends alike.
Note: This review refers to an advance review copy....more