Normally, when I see a lot of buzz for a book, I try to avoid reading it until the hype dies down so that I’m not as influenced by others’ feedback. ANormally, when I see a lot of buzz for a book, I try to avoid reading it until the hype dies down so that I’m not as influenced by others’ feedback. As a result, I didn’t bother reading Stephanie Garber’s Caraval until recently.
The setting in Caraval was mysterious and enchanting, making it hard to figure out what was real and what was imaginary. Furthermore, the writing in Caraval was very flowery, enhancing the magical, dreamlike vibe of the book.
Where Garber lost me as a reader though was with the lack of character development. Not only did the secondary characters feel like actors at times - I now understand why - but I struggled to like Scarlett. She constantly talked about loving Tella, but it wasn’t evident how much her sister meant to her until the end when everything was revealed at once in a poorly executed dramatic moment. Instead, for the majority of the book, Scarlett seemed more fixated on lusting after two different boys....more
Speed of Life by Carol Weston chronicles the life of Sofia over the course of a year, several months after her mom’s sudden death from an aneurysm. AsSpeed of Life by Carol Weston chronicles the life of Sofia over the course of a year, several months after her mom’s sudden death from an aneurysm. As time passes and her life changes in unexpected ways, Sofia slowly grows and learns that life can go on even after a loved one dies. Weston’s background as an advice columnist is clearly evident in the voice of Dear Kate, and I also liked how realistic the book felt. At the same time, many parts of Speed of Life felt very juvenile, making it a book I would have enjoyed a lot more had I been much, much younger. ...more
Since I love stories featuring pirates and they have not become a trend in YA yet, Tricia Levenseller’s Daughter of the Pirate King was one of my mostSince I love stories featuring pirates and they have not become a trend in YA yet, Tricia Levenseller’s Daughter of the Pirate King was one of my most anticipated debuts of this year. Unfortunately, I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would, mainly because the romance played such a prominent role but felt very forced. Alosa also came across as extremely cocky – she reminds me of Captain Jack Sparrow, though not as likeable – and while some people might have no problems with that, I just kept wondering why her character had to be so annoyingly exaggerated....more
Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman was a book that I decided to read because I loved its premise – hunting for and getting to keep books byBook Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman was a book that I decided to read because I loved its premise – hunting for and getting to keep books by having to solve puzzles! However, unlike some MG books which have crossover appeal, it was obvious that the target audience for this book were Middle Graders for two reasons: 1) Emily’s friend James names his cowlick and almost treats it like an imaginary friend, which was annoying to read about as an older reader, and 2) the villain of the story was quite predictable and you knew that the characters were never in any danger from him. ...more
If you're not a fan of contemporary novels due to their slower pacing, Speed of Life by J.M. Kelly probably isn't for you since it has a plot where veIf you're not a fan of contemporary novels due to their slower pacing, Speed of Life by J.M. Kelly probably isn't for you since it has a plot where very little happens. There are also instances of slut shaming in Speed of Life, and it features a narrator that comes across as selfish. However, it also has a plot twist that I didn’t see coming, and shows a strong relationship between twin sisters that evolves over the course of a year. In addition, I liked that Crystal chooses to pursue a non-traditional career. ...more
It’s sad to say but there’s a distinct lack of diverse love interests, which is why The Possibility of Somewhere by Julia Day caught my eye. A love inIt’s sad to say but there’s a distinct lack of diverse love interests, which is why The Possibility of Somewhere by Julia Day caught my eye. A love interest who was Indian? Awesome!
Unfortunately, the romance in The Possibility of Somewhere was hard to believe for so many reasons, not the least of which was that Ash and Eden lacked chemistry. It was also not clear why they hated each other in the beginning, and the issue of racism that the two had to deal with from their parents was handled much too easily. Furthermore, although the synopsis makes it seem like the book would be narrated from both Ash and Eden’s perspectives, Eden actually was the only main character. As a result, Ash basically came off as a jerk who only noticed her when she wore some fitting clothes and then had all these expectations about her, whereas Eden became one of those clingy, annoying girlfriends.
The friendship between Eden and Mundy wasn’t something I liked either, and basically rubbed me the wrong way the minute it was revealed that Mundy only befriended Eden because Mundy had never hung out with anyone that lived in a trailer park. Meanwhile, Eden kept going on about how perfect Mundy was.
The only thing that saved The Possibility of Somewhere from being a complete failure was the great relationship between Eden and her stepmom. Stepparents usually seem to be a source of tension in the books I’ve read so it was nice to see this type of familial relationship depicted positively....more
Having enjoyed Brodi Ashton’s Everneath series, I was really looking forward to reading her newest book, Diplomatic Immunity. Sadly, Diplomatic ImmuniHaving enjoyed Brodi Ashton’s Everneath series, I was really looking forward to reading her newest book, Diplomatic Immunity. Sadly, Diplomatic Immunity failed to live up to my high expectations for several reasons.
First, Piper was a character I never really warmed up to. I found her to be very judgemental, and thought she could have tried a bit harder to look up some other ways to get into Columbia besides just trying to win the Bennington. As well, even though she claimed to be very serious about journalism, her feelings got all muddled up pretty quickly.
Secondly, I thought the relationships could have been better explored. I would have liked more insight into Piper’s family’s financial situation for example, and thought it was weird how Piper’s otherwise normal mom decided it was acceptable that Piper drink on Embassy Row (because it’s international soil) and be out all night as long as she came home before the sun rose. Another relationship that felt flat was Piper’s friendship with her best friend, Charlotte, since their conversation seemed to only revolve around Piper’s life.
Finally, the romance lacked chemistry, and I didn’t understand what Rafael saw in Piper (besides the fact that they both had siblings with ASD, which seemed extremely convenient). I also couldn’t fall in love with Rafael because I thought he was very stupid for being so frank with Piper when it wasn’t a secret that she was out for a good scoop and he had already been burned by a previous girlfriend for something similar. ...more
Inspired by a beloved series published over seventy years ago, Ann M. Martin has written Missy Piggle-Wiggle and the Whatever Cure for readers (like mInspired by a beloved series published over seventy years ago, Ann M. Martin has written Missy Piggle-Wiggle and the Whatever Cure for readers (like me) who know nothing about Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. To the parents in Little Spring Valley, Missy, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s great-niece, is a bit like Mary Poppins in that she can cure children of their bad habits. Although younger readers might be amused by the annoying habits of some of Little Spring Valley’s children and relate to them, I couldn’t help but notice how overly reliant the parents were on Missy to solve their problems instead of parenting their children themselves. For example, the Freeforalls are too busy working and have no rules for their kids so it’s no surprise that their kids are rough and tumble. But of course Mr. and Mrs. Freeforall have no idea why their children are so unruly, and think that their kids need to be cured....more
I’ve been trying to read some of my older books lately, and one of the books I decided to tackle was Karen Foxlee’s Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy. I sI’ve been trying to read some of my older books lately, and one of the books I decided to tackle was Karen Foxlee’s Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy. I started Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy way back when it was in ARC form, but put it aside when I wasn’t feeling engaged by the story. I recently decided to give it another chance because the reviews that I’d seen for it were quite positive. Unfortunately, this book and I just didn't click. A tween me would probably have been bored by the writing (which is lovely but doesn’t sound very middle grade-ish) whereas the present me found the plot extremely predictable and was bored by the Marvelous Boy's story. I also felt like the book was trying too hard to stand out, what with Ophelia having a long name, constantly pulling on her braids, and repeatedly using her puffer. ...more
Having loved Stacey Jay’s Of Beast and Beauty and in the mood to read another fairy tale retelling, I decided to read Princess of Thorns. UnfortunatelHaving loved Stacey Jay’s Of Beast and Beauty and in the mood to read another fairy tale retelling, I decided to read Princess of Thorns. Unfortunately, Princess of Thorns turned out to be nothing like Of Beast and Beauty!
Where I was expecting a fabulous retelling, Princess of Thorns didn’t deliver. Admittedly, this might be more my fault than the book’s because I automatically equated the name of Aurora with Sleeping Beauty and thought “fairy tale retelling.” Aurora in Princess of Thorns, however, is the daughter of Sleeping Beauty and Princess of Thorns is very much not even close to a retelling of Sleeping Beauty. I’m not sure why Jay decided to make her princess’ name Aurora instead of giving her any other name, but you can see why I’d be confused, right?
Once I got over that, I was left disappointed by the worldbuilding. The worldbuilding is pretty much nonexistent, and literally the only thing that’s clear is that in the world of Princess of Thorns, there are ogres and fairies. Also, the ogres have taken over Aurora’s throne and are trying to kill her due to some poorly explained prophecy that guarantees they’ll stay in power forever if they do so. Basically, it reduced the need for the ogres to be well-developed characters.
Similarly, the main characters were lacking in character development. Aurora was supposed to be this kickass heroine, but she just exasperated me with her attempts to pretend that she wouldn’t develop feelings for Niklaas. Niklaas was even more annoying though because he was constantly bragging about all the women he had slept with. I could never swoon over a guy like that! I didn’t buy the chemistry between him and Aurora, and thought they’d have been better off as friends. ...more
**spoiler alert** Having liked Claire Legrand’s previous MG novels, I was looking forward to reading Foxheart, especially since I love books that invo**spoiler alert** Having liked Claire Legrand’s previous MG novels, I was looking forward to reading Foxheart, especially since I love books that involve thieves and magic. However, I wasn’t expecting Foxheart to incorporate time travel, a tricky subject to explain in my opinion, and made even more so in Foxheart because Quicksilver’s mentor is her older self. It was a concept I struggled with, and when combined with the fact that the worldbuilding wasn’t fleshed out enough for me, it negated the book’s enjoyable beginning. ...more
I liked the first quarter of the story, but after that the plot went downhill. I found it hard to believe that Daniel wouldn't Google his symptoms andI liked the first quarter of the story, but after that the plot went downhill. I found it hard to believe that Daniel wouldn't Google his symptoms and thought Sara's conclusions about what happened to her father after doing a little "research" were ridiculous. ...more
The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann is a book that I’d describe as well, peculiar. It was written by Bachmann when he was in his teens, yet reads likes itThe Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann is a book that I’d describe as well, peculiar. It was written by Bachmann when he was in his teens, yet reads likes it’s been written by a more experienced author. It’s classified as a MG novel, yet has an adult as one of its two main characters and features steampunk and politics, topics most middle graders aren’t really interested in. Personally, I felt emotionally disconnected from the characters; and while the worldbuilding was imaginative, I would have liked it to be better explained....more
The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson was a book that I wanted more from. For example, although it addresses the fact that transgendered teens arThe Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson was a book that I wanted more from. For example, although it addresses the fact that transgendered teens are often bullied and are more likely to have mental health issues, I would have liked this to have been done more through showing than telling. As well, despite the book beginning with David wishing that he was a girl, David didn’t end up being as interesting a character as Leo, who appears to have a huge secret for at least half the book. Unfortunately, I knew what this secret was because of the summary on Goodreads so I was frustrated by how long the secret took to be revealed. Finally, I thought that some parts of the story were rushed (e.g. I personally didn’t feel that Leo and David were that close when the two decided to open up to each other) whereas other parts weren’t explored enough (e.g. we never find out Leo’s mother’s side of the story with regards to his dad and how her opening up to Leo then changes Leo’s relationship with her). ...more