I hate to say this about a book that I enjoyed at the time, but I remembered almost nothing about After the End when I started reading Until the BeI hate to say this about a book that I enjoyed at the time, but I remembered almost nothing about After the End when I started reading Until the Beginning. I recalled the premise, but I couldn't recall the character names or the whole of the situation. And unfortunately for me, Until the Beginning picks up right where book one leaves off.
I even considered DNFing the book because I didn't have time to reread the first book or play catchup. My fortitude paid off when, slowly, I was fed breadcrumbs that brought me back to the story. I may or may not have done some skimming because the alternating point of views were a little jarring, and not too much other than traveling happened in the first half of the book.
I know I say that I don't like a lot of tension in books, but it felt like there wasn't any in Until the Beginning. I don't know if it was my detachment or something in the writing, but I never felt like Juneau or Miles were ever in any danger. The stakes didn't seem that high, but then again, it was a long time before anything really happened other than seeing cars in the distance for so long.
If you haven't read After the End, I would highly recommend reading it and Until the Beginning back to back so you can enjoy the continuous story. I have no doubt that I would haved loved Until the Beginning even a year ago because Juneau's hippy-dippy, Yara-loving, nature-hugging ways were neat and made a lot of sense. Something was just lost for me.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book briefly for reviewing purposes through Around the World ARC Tours in exchange for an honest review. The book was likely provided to the tour by the publisher or author, which has in no way affected the outcome of my review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own....more
I don't usually do this, ever, but I've YA contemporaries this month. I enjoyed Emmy & Oliver so much, even though it was a book that I had passI don't usually do this, ever, but I've YA contemporaries this month. I enjoyed Emmy & Oliver so much, even though it was a book that I had passed over initially. One of my librarian coworkers read and loved Emmy & Oliver, and after listening to her rave about it, I absolutely had to get my hands on a copy. Emmy & Oliver was just as good as she made it out to be.
I want to be honest with you about how I felt about Emmy & Oliver when I first saw its summary - I wasn't buying the "maybe even more" part of their friendship because Oliver was kidnapped when he was seven. I have an eight-year-old, and "maybe even more" isn't something that's on the kiddie brain. However, after I actually started reading the book (imagine that!), I saw that there was a lot more to the story. Maybe even a little about how their thoughts on how childhood love should play out was challenged was featured. Maybe.
I thought Emmy & Oliver would be told by dual points of view from the way it was "pitched" to me, but the novel is told only through Emmy's POV. Oliver does open up to her and fill her in on the ten years that he was missing, but Emmy is the main protagonist. I find that I was pleasantly surprised that the book was more about her than her and Oliver, though I would like to see something about him. (Maybe in the future?) I also want to say that I thought Drew was a great secondary character who just happened to be LGBTQ. I say we give him his own book, too.
Emmy & Oliver is a really great read that is good for both younger and older teens, as it is clean, and the only issue that parents would really have a problem with is Emmy's repeated lying to her parents about surfing. Anywho, I loved Benway's writing style, and if any of her books are as cute as Emmy & Oliver, I'll definitely be checking them out!
- 3.5/5 Stars -
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book briefly for reviewing purposes through Around the World ARC Tours in exchange for an honest review. The book was likely provided to the tour by the publisher or author, which has in no way affected the outcome. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own....more
Vanishing Girls is a weird book. It's not sci-fi/fantasy/paranormal weird. It's not even the sisters' relationship that is weird. I think the writing, the twists, and the character interactions are what makes it all so strange, and to elaborate will mean spoilers.
Honestly, I had part of Vanishing Girls' plot twist that is really central to the novel figured out from the start, but the execution of the twist was so off. After being presented with the "truth" behind a mystery, I like to have some sort of satisfaction. Vanishing Girls only left me scratching my head. I understand why tackling the issue is important to YA, but the events surrounding it were confusing. I get that Oliver is trying to blindside the reader, but I was confused to the point that I knew I would have to reread it to have any understanding. And I didn't like the characters enough to justify rereading the book.
Nick (Nicole) and Dara are the sisters who tell the story in alternating points of view. Dara spent the book wallowing in self-pity about the wreck, and Nick... Well, I just didn't care too much for Nick. I guess, out of the two, that I liked Dara the best. I completely understood why she was so angry with the world, but Nick didn't make sense. I mean, she made more sense at the end, but not to the level that I need to enjoy a character and a book.
I wish I could talk about the twist, but that would ruin the book. Even though I knew what was going on, I was pretty pissed after the reveal. I keep going back to this because it was the true point of Vanishing Girls. But ugh, anyways.
As for the part about Madeline Snow, I don't even know why it was in the book. In the end, it made no sense to me.
I guess Vanishing Girls just wasn't a "Kayla book". Oliver's writing is beautiful, but between this book and Panic, maybe she's just not for me. :-(
- 2.5/5 Stars -
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received a finished copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way affected the outcome. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own....more
I really hate to leave a DNF review, as I did not finish the book, but I think it's important to talk about some of the issues that I had with CrimsoI really hate to leave a DNF review, as I did not finish the book, but I think it's important to talk about some of the issues that I had with Crimson Bound because that's what I personally look for in a review, in addition to whatever positive aspects that there may be.
I was very excited to read Crimson Bound because I loved Hodge's Cruel Beauty. As soon as I started the book, I was excited to follow Rachelle on her journey. She seemed to be a flawed and tough character like Nyx, but somewhere along the way, she lost me. I was unable to connect with her because she continuously wallowed in self-hatred (as far as I read). She reminded me a little of Katniss Everdeen, but not in a good way. Yes, Rachelle is a badass, but the wallowing... *sigh*
Another reason why I quit reading Crimson Bound is because I felt like a love triangle was coming on. Is that really the only way to create angst and conflict in romance? I'm not going to break down the way the book was written because I don't get to pick the story, but I did choose not to continue. Rachelle was already bad enough without having to deal with romantic issues.
To be fair, I did enjoy the fairy tale portion of the novel, and I won't say I'll never try to read the book again because of it. That world's mythology and setup is fascinating, but it's hard to go explore the world-building of a novel when the character is grating on your nerves. I never did get to the point where I saw any parallels between Crimson Bound and the Little Red Riding Hood story, unless Rachelle is the Big Bad Wolf. (I hope not, especially if I pick it back up.)
I'm not sure if Crimson Bound just caught me on a bad reading week or if I've gotten incredibly picky, but it just wasn't for me. I know a lot of readers are loving it, so maybe it'll work out better for some of you guys....more
This is an extremely difficult review to write because I loved the first book in the Winner's trilogy. The Winner's Crime is a beautifully written book that continues with the fascinating world-building, but I just didn't like the story. The plot made me uncomfortable the entire time I was reading, the characters became pretty unlikable, and it felt very much like how a second novel in a series should feel.
The Winner's Crime made me feel uncomfortable because the Arin and Kestrel couldn't catch a break. It's not because there was anything that I particularly didn't care for like rape, animal abuse, etc. I don't want to give anything away, and it's hard to really describe the amount of suckage in their lives without spoiling the book. I guess I'll go so far as to say that Kestrel loses everything (take that as you will). And Ronan... Don't get me started on how things turned out for him. That really turned me off from the book.
That's not to say that Kestrel didn't deserve to lose everything. Her actions in The Winner's Curse are really starting to catch up with her, and she's still on her dishonesty kick. And, of course, Arin is jumping to the wrong conclusions about everything, and I just finally got so tired of him that I was tempted to skim his parts. (That would have been stupid because the intrigue really shouldn't be skipped over.) Two other characters that I started to really hate were Jess and Kestrel's father. Sure, they have reasons of their own to be terrible, but ugh...
There was a lot that happened in The Winner's Crime, but I feel like the entire book was just setting the stage for the final book in the trilogy. Nothing was really resolved. There were new characters and areas introduced, but they didn't serve too much purpose in the story. The Winner's Crime ends with a pretty huge cliffhanger, which is frustrating, but I don't know if my frustration stems from where the characters end up, their behavior, or the fact that not too much has progressed since the end of The Winner's Curse.
I know my review is a little ranty, but I expect a lot of Rutkoski because she's an excellent writer. The Winner's Crime wasn't enough to turn me off of the series, so of course I'm dying to read The Winner's Kiss. I just hope that it makes up for everything missing in The Winner's Crime.
- 4/5 Stars -
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way affected the outcome. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own....more
Haunted by Lynn Carthage is just the kind of young adult novel that I like to read. My only experience with YA as a young person was reading R.L. Stine, Lois Duncan, and Christopher Pike, and Haunted is definitely in their league. It was a very nostalgic read.
Because I read so many paranormal, slightly horror YA novels back in the 90s, Haunted was very predictable. I called Phoebe's secret almost immediately, but that took nothing away from the novel. The point and fun of it is the creepy/chilly ghosts and other characters and trying to figure out what is really going on in that old house. (Phoebe's secret is given away at 55% in your Kindle copy if you're like me and want to peak, though I didn't this time. I mean, I didn't have to.)
Another awesome thing going for the book is that I never wanted to skip ahead. I'm really back about doing that with any sort of mystery. I don't like a lot of tension, and Haunted was at my happy medium. There were twists and turns (some that I even missed), but the tension was never palpable enough that I had to find out what was going on. I couldn't put the book down, and I was happy to read it in order. That is quite rare.
Even though I had Phoebe figured out, I liked her a lot as a character. I'm obviously not a teen since I was reading these books in the 90s, but she really brought out my motherly instincts. I think that's part of why I was able to figure her out so quickly, but my heart absolutely broke for her. She loves her family so much and felt so ostracized for what she did back home in California prior to the events of the novel, that I just wanted to hug her. I think a lot of teen readers will be able to relate to her because who doesn't feel like their parents are blowing them off if they have younger siblings? I also really dug her relationship with Tabby. I guess there was enough of an age difference between the sisters that she felt so protective of her. I think it may have been the best part of the book.
If you like stories about hauntings and a good, mild mystery, Haunted is well worth reading. Though it lacked some surprises for me, I'll definitely still continue the series. It's a fantastic debut.
- 3.5/5 Stars -
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received a copy of the novel from the publisher through Book Junkie Promotions in exchange for an unbiased review. It has in no way affected the outcome. All expressed opinions are awesome, honest, and courtesy of me....more
I really enjoy short story anthologies, but I had no idea what a fucking treat The Thing About Great White Sharks would be. (I'm using coarse language to convey feeling, not my trashiness, by the way.) This is literary fiction just the way I like it - with a little bit of magical realism, a touch of sci-fi, and a mix of something else. It's shocking, horrible, and wonderful, all rolled into one.
My favorite two stories in the collection are "The Thing About Great White Sharks" and "Sheila". "Sheila", the first story in the collection, broke my heart into a million pieces and blew me away. Sheila, the titular character, is John's, the protagonist, Brittany spaniel, who also happens to be a robot. He's had her for 25+ years, bought when his wife was dying, and has become illegal to own because of the Ginger Creek incident. "Sheila" made me stop and consider the way breeds are treated and how responsible pet owners are usually the ones who suffer the most from bans. "The Thing About Great White Sharks" left me wanting more than I got, in the very best way possible. Jennifer, the main character, is a government test subject after an unknown disease causes all living things to attack and try to kill Homo sapiens. She is forced to battle various creatures so the results can be studied as the government searches for a cure. I think we need an entire book about her, mmkay?
I enjoyed most of the stories, but I will say that "What to Expect When You're Expecting an Alien Parasite", "Melville Loves Hawthorne", and "The Other Husband" went right over my head. If there was an underlying theme in any of them, they were beyond me. (I think "What to Expect When You're Expecting an Alien Parasite" may have just been humorous, but I'm making no guesses.) Other than those three, I have no other issues with The Thing About Great White Sharks. It is glorious.
If you're not a reader of short stories, I highly recommend that you start with this one. There is a little bit of something for everyone, and with each story being only a few pages long, The Thing About Great White Sharks is a great book to pick up and set down (good luck with that!) as time allows. I will guarantee that you'll find something you like here. (I bet you're a fan of "Orchids", just you see.)
- 4.5/5 Stars -
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received a copy of the novel from the publisher through TLC Book Tours in exchange for an unbiased review. It has in no way affected the outcome. All expressed opinions are awesome, honest, and courtesy of me....more