I'm going to say right off the bat that I really wanted to like this book. There is so much potential in all of it, but in the end, I felt like it was all hype and no substance, making it a pretty disappointing debut from this new author.
My biggest complain is definitely about the writing. It's amateur at best, or at least reads like a first draft. In fact, it reads like the first drafts I read from new writer sin my FictionPress days, all said replacers and unnecessary adverbs. I kid you not, things like "'I know that look in your eye,' he accused me knowingly." and "'You've changed, too,' I admitted honestly." are pretty much par for the course in this book and it is so, so grating. The dialog is also full of cliche phrases and in scenes where there's supposed to be a huge emotional impact, Rubie and the others end up just speaking like robots and ruining it.
And then there was the hook, that Rubie is from Trinidad and has her own ‘weird lingo’ as they put it. Except I feel like the author tried way too hard on this. All I can think of is reading books set in Maine thinking “Oh cool, I’m from Maine, I should appreciate this” only to find that they tried way too hard with it and are slapping the reader in the face with the culture and dialect. She even goes so far as to bold words that are part of Rubie’s Trinidad dialect, which just makes it all the more obvious it’s shouting “LOOK AT ME I’M DIFFERENT.”
Another thing that caused me a lot of trouble was the big reveal, where it turns out that Gil had a twin sister who was stillborn a few days before their due date. While I can see him perhaps being aggressive and violent as he's portrayed, I definitely don't believe that he could be given hypnotherapy and 'remember' that he 'killed' his younger sister. The author couldn't even be bothered to throw in a quick 'oh they told me when I was three but I was traumatized and repressed it' to make it believable, but she spends an entire section of a chapter having Rubie look up the consequences of having a dead twin like she realized it sounded unbelievable and was pointing like "Look, science!" when everything Rubie looked at was likely talking about identicle twins (which Gil and his sister couldn't have been, being opposite sexes). Fraternal twins are not part of the same egg even if they end up being the same sex, so that entire sequence did nothing to make me believe the "plot twist" more.
And then was that the entire thing was about how boys and girls can have platonic relationships and it doesn't have to be romantic or sexual at all. It's a good thing to tell people, but I was put-off that there was nothing to do with alternate sexualities, for instance, and that in the end the reason Gil wanted her to be his friend was because he thought she looked like this girl he saw in National Geographic that he 'felt his sister in.' In other words, the only reason he even approached her was he was trying to replace his sister, thus sort of defeating the point of it.
And the final thing I have to point out is that the last bit of the book starting at ~65% has a lot of mentions of religion that put me off. I felt like a lot of stuff about Rubie was held back for nothing but dramatic effect and it failed, but the religion thing is one of the worst. She stopped believing (or at least started questioning) in God after her mother had a stroke and her father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, and when we finally find out, a lot of it is just super gross. There's even a conversation where it's pretty much said that if you don't believe in God you're wrong and need psychological help. Not really a message you want to be sending teens who are figuring things out for themselves at that age. So yeah, fail.
Overall, I'd say it's a two stars just because the plot could've been great. But too much drama, too much mediocre writing, and too much Evangelizing made it fall flat on its face. Like I said, I wanted to like this book. I'm a bit sad it didn't work out....more
Cloning seems to be a pretty popular thing in YA sci-fi in the last few years, and like every other trend, with the oversaturation, there’s always going to be hits and misses. In this case, I think Imitation was just average. There were some interesting ideas in this book and if it was really all that bad, I wouldn’t have been afraid to not finish it.
Unfortunately, it really is mediocre to a little below average. There are things that don’t connect with each other like I’m seeing an older draft in some parts and they forgot to change things to line up with the new direction. Not to mention that the ARC I received was really poorly formatted so as to distract me from the story at times, which I hope was fixed in the final version.
My biggest complaint is probably where the book ended. Without giving any spoilers, it was one of those ones that clearly is leading into the next book, but I hate series book endings where there isn’t any actual closure. Pretty much nothing is resolved and they’d just found out about some things and suddenly, the end.
If I got the chance I might read the next book just to see how it goes, but eh. This one is take it or leave it....more
A copy was received for free from NetGalley in exchange for a review.
Sarah Rees Brennan is one of those authors I had heard plenty about but never actually read any of her books. Reading Tell the Wind and Fire, I can certainly understand the hype: it has a certain magic to it that still, for the most part, is grounded in a reality you can believe. It’s not from the point of view of someone who knows a whole lot about how light and dark magic came into being or why light and dark magicians are separated despite needing each other beyond what she and everyone else has been told, but you can still get a feel for the society and the strain that the separation and segregation does to it.
I enjoyed this book, for the most part, but I think a problem I had with it was where it ended. There’s so much more to reasonably explore in this world, and in my opinion, it ended right when the action was really starting. The climax of the story is hard to pin down because it depends on what you think is most important to the story, Lucie herself or the building revolution. Either way, we’re left with so many unanswered questions that it feels like only part of the story and it left me not wanting more but feeling dissatisfied.
Because of this, I’d only rate this book average. It was a good read and I’d recommend at least looking at it yourself, though....more
A free copy was provided to me through Netgalley for review.
I had mixed feelings about The Art of Not Breathing. On the one hand, you have a story that the author seems to have put a lot of thought into, with the twists and turns that don’t just reveal themselves unintentionally right from the start like so many other family mystery books I’ve read.
On the other hand, I found myself not really liking Elsie a lot of the time. She’s sort of a brat, and nosey as hell (she even spies on her brother and his girlfriend having sex? while still taking about how gross it is? you could look away, you know) and she falls for Tay way too quickly. It felt less like a ‘teens fall in love quick’ thing and more of a ‘Elsie really wants to get laid’ thing, honestly. Though I will give it mucho credit that (view spoiler)[Elsie doesn’t actually end up with anyone in the end (hide spoiler)]. Though that’s balanced out by the fact that Elsie is such a snob to literally everyone in school, so it’s no wonder none of them really want her. She’s supposed to be a bullying victim but she turns around and does the same sort of thing to the one guy there besides her brother who’s willing to be nice to her.
All in all, I’d say it’s a good story, but the main character can sort of break you out of it because you find yourself not caring about a girl who can be so shallow and mean. I’d say it balances out to be about average.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
A free e-book copy was given to me by the author in exchange for a review.
I loved this book. It wasn’t perfect, by any means, but there was so much to like about it. I found myself telling my friends lines, such as the one where Scarlett had gotten raging drunk at a party the night before and was trying to remember what had happened after those first couple tequila shots, only to say, “Conga… had I done the conga?” Scarlett is a good narrator, and unlike so many YA novels I didn’t really find myself annoyed with her for any significant part of the book.
The concept itself is an interesting one, although if I had to say, I would’ve liked there to be a little more lead-up to the concept of Ceruleans. It’s in the summary, after all, but other than a couple scenes where we see there’s something up that isn’t normal, it reads just like a realistic contemporary book about a girl who’s just trying to find out why her sister would walk out into the ocean and drown herself. Realistic contemp is probably my favorite genre so I’m not complaining, but it would’ve been nice to have a bit more mysteriousness to the whole thing.
The only other complaint I would have is that I did feel like it was a little slow to start. As she’s getting her bearings around town there’s unnecessary details that slow things down and could’ve easily been cut to make things keep going. Still, it definitely didn’t ruin the book, and I’d definitely recommend this one. Happy reading!...more
A free copy was provided to me through Netgalley in exchange for a review.
Looking through the other reviews of this book after finishing it, I have to say that I share a lot of people’s sentiments about this book: it has SUCH an interesting summary, and I went in expecting Victoria to be hanging out with a cute nerd and spending time with some female video game programmers who acted like surrogate moms/big sisters to her while her mother was away touring Japan. I expected lots of personal growth from a girl who spends all her time with her cool rocker mom to a young woman who had her own ambitions but still wanted to be friends with her mom.
Unfortunately, what I got was a whiny protagonist who was OBSESSED with her mother’s stardom and who was such a brat to said mother I had to wonder what the author was thinking when she thought this was how teenagers are friends with their mothers. Vic made me cringe so hard, from her ‘accidentally’ bringing Shaun to a nudist beach (seriously you claim to spend like your entire summer on that island, how could you have not known it was there?) to her mouthing off to her mom and beyond.
Of course there were times when I could sympathize with Victoria but only because the other characters were so terrible, too. She and her friend Lucy were making a text adventure and suddenly, Lucy had to stay at her aunt’s to babysit while the grownups went on a trip to help her grandmother move. She was gone for about a week from what I can tell. In that time, I don’t recall one mention of Lucy trying to call or text her, and in fact Vic took that initiative a lot, asking how she was and whether she was going to be home for Vic’s birthday. Then all of a sudden, Lucy’s home and had COMPLETELY changed their game without Vic’s permission, claiming that ‘you never answered my calls so I did it myself.’ Ex-squeeze me? And based on the fact that Lucy only had ideas that she called ‘homages’ to a video game series she was obsessed with, I’m not really convinced that the game she made was the funny, highly original story people at the She Shoots showing claimed it to be.
And then there’s the matter of Vic’s mother. She flip-flops so badly between characterization as a woman who hadn’t planned on being a mom but was doing her best and an emotionally abusive, immature thirty-something who was famous young and never grew up from that. She CONSTANTLY bugs Vic about what she’s doing with her life when it doesn’t involve her, and Vic is rightfully reluctant to tell her about the game and She Shoots because every time Vic brings up something she likes or tries to voice an opinion, Mickey makes fun of her so badly that it sometimes has her in tears. She can never, not once, take her daughter seriously, and that’s REALLY damaging for a teenager, not something to casually laugh at and brush off. I feel like it’s supposed to be portrayed as something quirky, but it’s just horrible, especially since it’s obvious that it always happens.
Not to mention huge scenes are brushed right through. The trip to the convention that had been mentioned repeatedly throughout the book and that Vic finally got to go on when Shaun got them tickets? Nothing big really happened. She met one of her mom’s friends and got a Ms. Pac-Man dress. The She Shoots display where they presented their game to a bunch of people from the group? We don’t even get to hear any of it, it’s pretty much just “We did the talk and it was awesome.” There’s no such thing as tension or excitement in this thing because nothing actually happens, and that’s really disappointing.
And the romance was sort of gross, too. Vic really had no reason to fall for Shaun at first other than lust, and even then she talks so much about how much he smokes pot and how he stinks (which is supposed to be romantic, I guess?) that I can’t believe anyone would find him anything other than really rank. If it had been about her becoming FRIENDS with him and then finding out they had a lot of shared interests I’d have been more on-board, maybe, but as it was, bleh. No thanks.
In other words, a book that could’ve been great... in theory. Maybe they should’ve written the back cover summary first and then made the author actually write around that. If you were thinking about pick it up, I’d give this one a huge NO....more
Ended up DNFing. Just could not get into this book. I've been known to fight tooth and nail through some truly awful ones, but this wasn't awful so muEnded up DNFing. Just could not get into this book. I've been known to fight tooth and nail through some truly awful ones, but this wasn't awful so much as... boring and inaccessible for me....more
A copy of this was given to me through Netgalley in exchange for a review.
Grumpy Cat is an internet phenomenon, and you wouldn’t think that the transition from a meme to a comic would be all that smooth. A lot of people have tried to cash in on memes and I don’t think I’ve seen much success, especially since memes tend to have such a short shelf life.
However, after reading this graphic novel based on Grumpy Cat (and her friend Pokey!) I have to say that they’re on the right track with this. The art is pretty good, though the humans look a little strange when put beside the cats; the artist seems to have drawn super hero comics in the past and they probably have a bit of a style clash, but it’s okay.
The stories themselves are light and cute, and like a lot of slice of life type of stories, they don’t really effect each other. Of course, this brought about maybe the only problem I actually had with it: the first and last stories were both about haunted houses, and there was no continuity between them so it was a bit jarring and perhaps repetitive even if the actual stories were different.
Still though, I was really glad I was able to get this, and I’m looking forward to more volumes. It’s cute and definitely for all ages; safe for kids but not dumbed-down. Go ahead and pick it up when it comes out in Februrary!...more
A free copy was given to me through Netgalley in exchange for a review.
When is the story of a girl who can see people’s deathdates. They’re always hovering there above their foreheads, and after her father dies and her family is left with very little money, her mother convinces her to read for people so they can know when they’ll die. The story does take a tiny bit of time to really get going, and we find out that there’s a serial killer going around and Maddie is being blamed for it because all of the victims seem to have a connection to her.
The book itself is mostly average. I actually finished it in a couple days just because I was curious where things were going to go. The characters don’t have a lot of particularly interesting things different about them, but I don’t find them terrible, either. What I think mostly saved this book for me was the first climax, in which they’ve finally found out just who the killer is and Maddie and Agent Faraday go to apprehend them. Another good moment was the scene not long before that when Maddie visits the hospital and breaks down crying; it was powerful and I found my eyes misting a little right along with her.
Unfortunately, I also feel like this book was dragged on longer than it really had to be. There’s actually a second climax where Maddie faces off against the killer and I just didn’t feel the same tense excitement that I did with the one before that. So it was kind of a letdown.
All in all, I’d rate this about an average book. Pick it up if you want....more
A free copy was provided to me through Netgalley in exchange for a review.
Alright so this review is going to start with a story. When I was in college, the popular thing was to post your writing to FictionPress. It was a sometimes simple display site that separated your work by genre. I posted slash, otherwise known as gay romance. Make no mistake, I read it as well, and I was friends with plenty of other people who posted their own.
At least from what I saw, it was most common to have the main characters either high school or college age, making things roughly YA. This was 2008 through 2010 that I was really active on this site, so a few years ago (five years is a long time in internet time). Why am I mentioning this?
Because Bottled-Up Secret honestly reads like something I would have read on Fictionpress. A main character who isn’t stated to be upper class but spends money like he is, main character and friends who think they’re so OMG RANDOM AND WEIRD, a parent who is hardly characterized beyond their irrational disapproval of their child’s sexuality, love at first sight, tons of tell-not-show, manufactured drama, guy who went out with girls and the MC is the first guy he’s ever had feelings for, keeping their relationship a secret for no real reason, biphobia and no real climax. In fact, if I’d made a Cliché Slash Story Bingo Card, the only thing missing would’ve been strange names.
FictionPress was a dark time for me now that I look back on it, to be honest.
Given all this, I have to say I have no idea how this book got published. It really does read exactly like something from back then. It could’ve been an okay if mindless romance story, but it’s marred by uncreativity and a horrible need for some actual editing. I didn’t connect with any characters and didn’t really see what the big deal is with any of their problems.
In other words, I would definitely give this one a pass....more
A free proof copy was provided to me through Netgalley for review.
Maxine Wore Black is such an issue book that it practically radiates it. It’s based off (or is an homage, or retelling, or whatever) another story called Rebecca, though I’ve never read it so I’m going in blind and can only base this review off of the book itself and not that context.
There is plenty to like about Maxine Wore Black. It deals with a lot of issues and puts them in your face rather than trying to make light of them. And I really liked the parts where Jayla is taking care of kids, because even when tensions are high otherwise, it shows a part of her that lets us know she is a responsible, perfectly capable person.
Unfortunately, I’ve spent a lot of time on Tumblr and it felt like reading a blog of people derisively called Social Justice Warriors at times, especially when she approaches Francesca for help getting out of her situation with Maxine and the argument that ensues. Not that the arguments are always invalid, but scenes like that, and also the climax when Danny shows up, are just incredibly melodramatic to the point where you wonder if the author actually wanted us to take it seriously or not (probably she did, and that makes it worse).
In other words, there are plenty of gems in this book, but pivotal scenes don’t have the sort of impact they’re supposed to and so it sort of ruins the flow and impact of it all. If you’re more tolerant of soap opera-level drama, be my guest and pick it up....more
A free copy was provided to me through Netgalley in exchange for a review.
This Is Where It Ends is actually being released this month (January, if you’re reading this review late) and it comes at a time when mass shootings are a hot button topic in America. All in all, I feel like this treated it relatively well. The biggest issue with people trying to figure out a mass shooter is them blaming it on mental disorders, and as far as I can recall, it never once mentions it, or at least tries to use it as an excuse with Tyler. Things have been going badly in his life, but no one thinks that’s an excuse for trapping everyone in the gym and picking them off (the final count at the end of the book is thirty-nine, with twenty-something injured).
The book is told from several points of view, and unlike so many books that head hop, I felt like it mostly worked. Supplemented with social media accounts at the end of every chapter (mostly Twitter, with a blog every now and then) it definitely had the feel of a book that takes place in modern times as well, rather than someone trying to write a book about modern teenagers but using their own childhood a few decades ago as the springboard.
Besides treating the issue of school shootings pretty well, a selling point with this book has to be its diversity. Two of the points of view are girls who are in a romantic relationship with each other, two more are a brother and sister who are some sort of Hispanic (people who know the language better might be able to tell what country from the phrases and wording they use) and the brother is friends with a boy from Afghanistan. So if you’re looking for an issue book with a diverse cast where their diversity isn’t the issue, I’d say give this one a try and see how you like it....more
And here we come to the conclusion of the Unfortunate Fairy Tale series. It’s only five boYou can read more reviews on my blog, Words and Tea Bottles.
And here we come to the conclusion of the Unfortunate Fairy Tale series. It’s only five books, which certainly seems short compared to other series, but it seems like it’s been such a long ride. Like I said in my review of the last book, I really feel like Chanda Hahn has improved through the course of this series.
This time we follow Mina as she attempts to fix things after she found out that she, in fact, is the one who started the entire curse in the first place by going back in time. Because of the desperate situation, I feel like there’s a lot more action packed into this book, though there’s plenty of breathing room as well, such as when things are starting to really go well at the castle between Mina and Teague. I actually recall feeling like Hahn was going to have the entire thing be following Beauty and the Beast, since it was pretty close to it with Mina being willingly held captive in place of her loved ones, and them slowly warming up to each other as Mina got to know him and help around the castle, and I was just a little disappointed that it didn’t.
However, I do feel like this book really shined in the way it handled Mina’s siren lineage and her family and their crewmates. It actually made me really wish that we had found out a lot sooner that her mother was a siren and they were around to help, because I feel like it would really have benefited the earlier books, which I frankly found a bit mediocre and annoying.
All in all, I’d say that while it is a bit corny at times, especially in the end (though it was obviously trying to go for Happily Ever After so I can give it a little credit there) this was a pretty good ending to the series, and I just might look into Hahn’s other books, or keep an eye out for any new ones she puts out in the future....more
Reign is the fourth book in the Unfortunate Fairy Tale series, following Mina Grimm as she attemptRead more reviews on my blog, Words and Tea Bottles.
Reign is the fourth book in the Unfortunate Fairy Tale series, following Mina Grimm as she attempts to work through the fairy tales that have been thrown at her family as part of a curse ever since the famous Brothers Grimm first encountered the fey years ago. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while or looked at the archives, you’ll see that I’ve read and reviewed the previous three and will know that I felt like they’ve improved as they went, because I really wasn’t a fan of the first one.
This time around, I’d say there’s not a whole lot of improvement from the third book, but that’s not entirely a bad thing since I did enjoy it. This time Mina’s trying to deal with the fact that Jared has been recombined with Teague and that the Cinderella fairy tale is chasing after her as she goes to a ball with her on again, off again love interest Brody. There’s also time travel this time, as the Godmother Guild finds out that certain members of her family are simply disappearing.
I will be the first to say that I think Chanda Hahn is extremely creative. I love her ideas and twists on the tails so that she can make them work in a modern setting, and as this series continues, she really seems to be getting her footing. However I would have to have a little complaint about what we find out is the cause of the disappearance, namely that William Grimm had fallen ill and until Mina showed up, might not have made it through the night. We have a huge build-up, expecting it to be something Teague was doing, and it just seems like a bit of a letdown, especially since it’s connected with the huge journey she makes that’s related to the tales, and it just seems like something that the GMs should’ve known about or seen coming so that they could deal with it better and more easily.
I’d also have to say that the editing in this is sometimes shoddy. I’m of the frame of mind that self-publishing isn’t an excuse for lower readability, and the fact that I found a lot of missing words and tense switching, among other things, brought down my impression of it despite the vast improvements in both characterization and writing.
Despite this, if you don’t mind a series that takes a couple books to really get off the ground in terms of quality, I’d say that this is worth a read....more
A free copy was provided to me through Netgalley in exchange for a review.
Those Girls, as you can probably tell from the summary, is a book mostly about issues and friendship. Reading through it, I think the biggest impression I got was that it was kind of a cheap version of Pretty Little Liars and all the other books and shows that have come out lately that center around the problems of upper-class teenagers. Unlike those other titles, though, I found myself not necessarily caring about any of them.
The book is told from three point of views, each of the girls who are friends and, at the beginning, it mentions that two of them have been best friends all their lives, while the third, Veronica, got into their circle starting in fifth grade. It might just be me, but the way they treat each other does not scream ‘best friends’ so much as ‘you have things I want so I tolerate you a lot.’ There is very little to show they’re friends anywhere in the book other than talk of it, while in the present they’re pretty much treating each other like crap. Which is okay considering what’s supposed to be going on, but I felt like maybe the book should’ve started a little earlier or not tried to put so much emphasis on what good friends they were and more on how they were falling apart.
I also found myself not really empathizing with the characters, because their three point of views were so jumbled and confused that there really wasn’t a way to tell them apart from each other, other than a few defining characteristics that ended up being interchangeable anyway. I could sort of see what the author was going for, which seemed to be that your friends don’t always know things and often have different impressions of you than is the truth or than you do of yourself, but it wasn’t really passed off that well.
I did find myself enjoying the times when Alex was practicing and playing with the band, and I felt like that was the best part of the novel and sort of wished there was more of it.
I think the worst part of the book is that it centers so much around drugs and alcohol, when I felt like a lot of scenes could have happened exactly as they did without mention of them getting high or even drunk. I’m not against using those as plot devices in fiction, let alone YA fiction, but other than a few instances, it felt sort of forced and like the author felt like she had to have her characters be drunks and stoners when she really didn’t.
All in all, it’s an okay book, but the redeeming qualities in don’t make up for the bad in my eyes, so I’d probably say pass this one up....more
Received for free from Netgalley in exchange for a review.
My impression of H20 was actually mostly positive. It’s a book about an apocalyptic future where an asteroid almost hit the earth, but scientists managed to blow it up. But in exchange for avoiding that catastrophe, the asteroid mixed with the earth’s atmosphere, releasing a super parasite that attaches to water and destroys humans almost on contact. It’s a really bloody, awful death.
For one, the book goes into just enough detail about everything to paint a picture of what the world is like without dragging it out, or making it monotonous. With those small details, the author still manages to paint the picture of the world being miserable and, often, absolutely gross, just as a landscape full of dead and decomposing bodies should be.
I also do like that Ruby learns from her behavior and realizes what she does wrong. I feel more sympathetic towards her than a lot of YA protagonists I’ve been reading about these days. It is a bit ruined by the fact that she is so awful to “the nerd.” It just wasn’t congruent with the way she seemed to be characterized otherwise. Yes she was portrayed as ungrateful, but every teenager is ungrateful. There wasn’t really any explanation about her being popular before the parasite destroyed the world, jut a typical teen with her friends. And to be honest, if I were in the same situation, I wouldn’t care who it was, or if they had been the biggest geek in school, as she always describes him. I’d be happy to have someone I knew alive, especially considering he was a lot more prepared to take care of himself than she was.
The ending was also rather rushed, and I never felt like there was a particular climax to the story. It was a good book, but it fell short in any sort of immediate plot other than “get here, then get here.” So it’s average, thanks to the author thankfully not falling into a lot of YA cliché characterization....more
I wanted to like this book. And there were times where I did, but unfortunately they were very few and mostly clustered in the beginning and end.
The writing was… very mediocre. It had the problem of way over-sharing. It was more like a bulleted list of “this happened, and then this, and then this” where a lot of the non-essential events that did nothing but fill the gaps between actions could have been cut. And of course related to this, it tended to gloss over important things. They spend time being excited about something, and then it happens but it only takes about a paragraph, literally “And then this happened” and a scene change sometimes.
It was also extremely cheesy. I felt like I was reading a daytime soap opera instead of a young adult novel about teenagers who would never talk like that. There was simply too much effort put into making them seem like they were in love and apparently not enough thought into the actual book and its plot.
One of the consistency problems I had is a spoiler so tread with care. Danny’s friend share ends up being pregnant and it turns out she’s an entire three months along. She says she had been suspecting for a while and after she gets over the shock, Danny says she is “Almost like the old Cher.” Except he never knew the old Cher. If she was preparing for the prospect that she could be pregnant that’s all he knew of her- and this entire book takes place, except for the last chapter’s time skip, over the course of about two weeks.
There’s also the smaller one where Danny asks about and is told TWICE that his mom, her best friend and his father are reforming a band they had in college. Listen if you’re going to ask a question Danny, because otherwise I’m chalking it up to bad editing.
Honestly it’s not bad and most inoffensive towards the groups it’s trying to support so it isn’t a complete flop. But it reads a lot more like a first draft than it should....more
Like a lot of people, I’m a pretty loyal fan of Sarah Dessen and her books. Saint Anything is herRead more reviews at my blog, Words and Tea Bottles.
Like a lot of people, I’m a pretty loyal fan of Sarah Dessen and her books. Saint Anything is her most recent one, filled with just as much heartbreak and recovering from tragedy as her books tend to be. This time we follow Sydney, whose family is still reeling from her brother being sent to jail for hitting a kid while drunk driving.
As always, Dessen writes characters well, full of quirks and reason to like them even when they’re being unreasonable (for the most part). The acceptance of their situation is not rushed; in fact, I felt like it went at the right pace, especially since the story takes place not that long after Peyton was put in jail. Sydney’s mother is a bit frustrating, with reason to be, though I felt like it was laid on a little bit thick in some parts.
The only problem I really had with the book, though, was something that seems common in Dessen’s books: she loves flipping around in time. One minute they’re in the present, and another minute there’s a flashback. Sometimes there’s a flashback within a flashback and I just got completely turned around and confused at just what was going on in the present. I feel like for how long she’s been around, Dessen could learn to write a bit more linear.
Despite that, though, this is definitely a book I’d recommend. So happy reading!...more
This book was received from Netgalley in return for an honest review.
Femme isn’t all that impressive. I finished it in a single day, but that’s only because it was so short. I’ve never read a book in this series, but looking at other reviews, there are a lot of them saying they don’t expect much from it, and I feel like this isn’t an exception. There’s too much going on and it’s glossed right over within a half a page to a page. The entire climax of the book is resolved in a page when they get into the school and Sophie’s friend is like “Oh it’s over.” It’s some buildup for a resolution that isn’t satisfying at all.
There’s also a lot of stereotypes. The entire book focuses on it, in fact. You have Clea the butch lesbian, Sophie the ‘femme’ lesbian, the stereotypical mean girls. There’s a talk with Sophie’s teacher about how you shouldn’t be afraid of labels because they can help you know who you are and blah, blah, blah, but it doesn’t really stick with the reader.
Not to mention this book falls into the category of ‘adult who thinks they know how to use teen slang when they really, really don’t.’ It’s painful to read some of this stuff.
The only reason I gave it two stars on Goodreads instead of one is because I did manage to finish reading it without feeling the need to toss my Kindle across the room, so at least there’s that. But it goes into the increasing pile of ‘coming out stories that I wouldn’t recommend.’...more
Received from NetGalley in return for an honest review.
There’s really not much to say about this book. It was sort of cute and had some pretty original concepts in it, such as the funk, but I found myself bored with it pretty quickly. The side characters, especially the adults, tend to be cardboard cutouts there for the purpose of advancing the plot or, worse, just being mean to Anni so that she can talk about it for a page or two. I suppose the point is to show that she really didn’t belong in her previous life, but I found it annoying because there were plenty of ways to go about that without sacrificing characters to the cardboard gallery.
The writing itself is extremely amateurish too, a lot of rapid-fire dialog with no narrative or explanation, just the author expecting the reader to follow when I really didn’t. It might have been the whole “I was bored” thing, but there wasn’t any substance to it most of the time and yes, that doesn’t help to keep my attention.
Not to mention that like the previous book I received from this promotion company, the formatting was horrible. Lots of line breaks in the middle of sentences and even words when there was plenty of space left. I usually read landscape format so I tried switching to portrait, but it was still a problem and either way, the pictures at the start of every chapter would be sliced into pieces between pages, kind of ruining the effect.
So yeah this book was kind of a disaster. No one I’d recommend....more
Received an ARC as a gift from someone I follow on Twitter.
Evidence of Things Not Seen is an interesting book, in that I don’t think I’ve read anything quite like it before. While it’s obvious the author was trying to make it mysterious, so that we’re never quite sure whether the boy was kidnapped, wandered off, or if he really could have slipped into an alternate dimension. This is told by alternating chapters that are from the point of view of one or two people, and each chapter only loosely relates to any others, so other than cameos, you never really see other characters again.
Of course some things you do find out about, because a new character is related to the last, but it still seems a bit disjointed to be called a novel. And while I’m not exactly squeamish, quite a lot of the chapters center simply around abuse. While of course it’s a horrible thing, I feel like perhaps the writer didn’t think it through too much and simply went for shock value for a lot of the book.
While I did enjoy finishing it, I wouldn’t say that it was anything special. The disjointed chapters, sudden resolution and the fact that it feels like the author was going for shock factor a lot didn’t put it at anything above average in my mind....more
When she was little, Riley and her brother Aidan lost their parents in an oil refinery expYou can read more reviews on my blog, Words and Tea Bottles.
When she was little, Riley and her brother Aidan lost their parents in an oil refinery explosion. From there, their lives were pretty much nothing but downs. Their aunt and uncle mistreated them, everyone in the group home they lived in through high school hated Riley, etc etc etc.
This is about where I started having problems with it. Riley isn’t that compelling of a character, and she actually has a pretty bad mean streak. Not the ‘she’s traumatized and has a hard time controlling her emotions,’ kind, though. She, and pretty much everyone in the book, suffer from what I like to call Not Like Other Girls Syndrome. Phrases like “They’re so shallow” or “They look so generic” followed by “But we’re great!” are pretty common, from Riley, Aidan, and all their friends. It’s treated like it’s a good thing, that she’s looking down on girls that she doesn’t even know and probably don’t care about her.
It also felt incredibly over-dramatic. I’ve heard of mean girls, but the way she’s treated through the entire novel just felt like all the author could think of for conflict for most of the book was making Riley suffer at the hands of mean girls as much as possible. There’s not much sympathy to be had for her, either, because a great deal of the book is done in summary, saying ‘this happened and then this happened’ rather than actually playing out the events. We’re told a whole lot (including about characters, how they supposedly act etc) but we never see it.
I don’t know a whole lot about the subject matter either, but I have a feeling there wasn’t much research done into group homes and the foster care system, either. I just felt like in the real world, even with the horror stories about the foster care system, Riley and Aidan would’ve been handled a lot better. With Riley’s constant nightmares and panic attacks, she would’ve been sent to therapy a lot sooner than she was (she’s pretty much forced into it near the end of the book). The book also erroneously said Riley had night terrors, when she really just had nightmares that were often followed by panic attacks.
The romance was probably one of the better features of the book, but it didn’t really redeem it. Both of the girls Riley’s interested in have the Not Like Other Girls Syndrome that I mentioned earlier, which pretty much turned me off to the idea of either of them, if they feel like the only way to compliment someone is to put down others.
Finally, although this is the first thing that made me flinch, it has a Twilight prologue. By that I mean it has a prologue that’s literally just copy-pasting part of the climax of the story. I haven’t seen one of those in a while, so I thought the trend was over. I personally find Twilight prologues sloppy and a cheap way to try to drum up drama.
I really wanted to like this book, but I’m one of those people that doesn’t feel like bad representation is better than no representation at all. I’d give this one a pass....more
I feel like Populatti tried really, really hard to be what iRead more reviews at my blog, Words and Tea Bottles.
Received as a free ARC from Netgalley.
I feel like Populatti tried really, really hard to be what its author wanted it to be and fell horribly short. Considering there isn’t a single review below three stars that I’ve been able to find, I was expecting it to be pretty good, but most of the time I just felt underwhelmed.
As you can see from the summary, this book is about a girl whose social life depends on a social networking site her friend made. The friend, Crystal, is trying to get into a computer science program at MIT and plans to use the site for her portfolio, so a lot of love has gone into it. Supposedly Populatti is what rules the social scene at school. Unfortunately, I’m just not seeing it.
Does anyone remember the skit from The Amanda Show, The Girls Room? It had a few girls hosting a show in the girls bathroom, and one of them was named Amber. She always introduced herself saying “I’m popular!” and her friends would back it up (and even enforce it with violence). But then it turns out most of the people in the school either don’t like Amber or don’t even know her name.
Now imagine an entire novel of Ambers, only the writer was trying to make it seem like they actually ARE popular.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing inherently against books that are about high-class people who are popular and maybe a little bitchy. But these guys are sophomores in high school, spending all their time worrying about a site that boils down to an exclusive clique that even the book admits a lot of people see no value in because they’re pretty much required to only socialize with other members.
That and I just don’t get Livi’s progression. She was apparently bullied in middle school, before she moved to Golden Hill, called ‘drumstick’ because of her supposedly large thighs. It’s implied she had no friends, and spent a lot of time alone. And then in high school she proceeds to exclude and gossip about people who aren’t in Populatti, doing the same thing. She doesn’t even realize it the entire book. Instead of realizing that Populatti is toxic and getting out, all she can think of is that her friends would stop spending time with her if she wasn’t part of the site, not realizing that they probably aren’t actually her friends if that were true. Sure in the end she realizes that Populatti isn’t perfect, but the ending left me underwhelmed just like the rest of the book. There’s really no resolution to anything.
The writing itself is problematic too most of the time. There are times when it’s great, usually descriptions, but a lot of the time, it’s much too simple, and it’s made clunky by the fact that the author likes dropping in brand names. And, I usually don’t complain about the formatting of a book since it’s an unproofed galley, but to be honest, the formatting errors were way horrid. Entire chapters would be smashed to the left, about five words per line, and often coupled with that, there would even be times when words were shifted around in sentences so that I had to read vertically to understand what the sentence was trying to say. This book was already self-published, but it only shows up at print, so I’m guessing that since it was picked up by a commercial publisher, they decided to add an e-book version, which is what I obviously got. But as I said, the errors were just a little too gross for me to overlook.
So yeah, this book was probably a little below mediocre. As I said, it tried so hard, but it just didn’t get where it wanted to....more