A free e-ARC copy was given to me in return for an honest review.
Well! What can I saw about Roman Holiday? It isn’t nearly the same book as it was when I first saw it, slapped up on inkpop and titled Junebug (the sequel to Roman Holiday is titled Junebug now, for one). That was a long time ago. And by long I mean three years.
Roman Holiday is a self-published new-adult novel. I’ll say up front that it does suffer from a typical self-published ailment: sprinkled with typos. It isn’t that bad, but they’re quite obviously there and it makes me sad. I just don’t like typos is all. The only other thing I have to complain about is the consistency of the details on the condo. It was a matter of getting things in line, I think, because the details of it were a little slushy for it being a main plot point of the novel.
Getting past that, though, the actual book is great. The characters have several layers to them and are witty without being overly-so (believe me, when you get a character who knows just what to say at every single turn, it can get old really fast). The characters were my favorite part of the book, in fact; it’s been a long time since a single line in a book has been able to make me sit back and laugh for a while before I can start reading again (that line being "... And then a big green penis came out of the sky and K.O.-ed everyone."). The plot itself is a somewhat of a standard romance plot (girl meets boy after something tragic happens in her life and the boy helps her heal) but the characters and unique situations breathe life into it that I’ve failed to see in other takes. Although I will admit it’s a little strange how Junie puts it, that Roman is filling in the hole left by her father. I can see where the book was going with it: Junie feels lost without her father, who shared a love of music with her as Roman is now. It just feels odd to compare your father to your love interest like that…
Uh, anyway. As you’ve probably guessed, I would definitely recommend this book! Look it up, will ya? I might have to send that giant, green penis after you if you don’t.(less)
Okay. So. This book was a huge disappointment for me. The premise is definitely an interesting one, and it’s relevant to what’s going on in schools now. The fact that the author decided to have it from the bully’s point of view could’ve been great. Not everything is black and white, after all, and so being able to look into the mind of the person who was being so horrible was something I looked forward to, just to see how the author would make us sympathize with Chelsea.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work. The only point of view I found myself enjoying in this book was Tessa’s. She’s Krista’s best friend, Krista being the one who’s bullied. Tessa is the only one who was at all tolerable in the book. Krista’s character development is rushed and unbelievable (going from completely confident in herself to starving herself within a week?). Chelsea’s story is even worse. We’re supposed to believe that her home life is horrible, that her mother doesn’t care about her at all, but what we see is the exact opposite. The worst part of her life is that she doesn’t have a father and her family is lower-middleclass, I think. They can’t really afford a lot of nice clothes or fancy food or whatever, but Chelsea makes it even harder for herself by being an ungrateful brat who seems to think she deserves to live the same type of life as Paris Hilton and all those types of people.
There’s also the problem that the author attempts to have side stories, mainly Tessa’s family issues and Chelsea with that older guy (as a warning, there are implications of violence and even rape in Chelsea’s side story). But well… they don’t fit at all. And nothing is resolved. At all. The ending just stops.
So yeah, this book isn’t that great. Not one I’d recommend even as a quick read, which it thankfully is. I finished it in maybe four hours, and that was with taking breaks.(less)
Out of Nowhere is one of those socially conscious books that was obviously written with a purpose,...moreRead more reviews on my blog, Words and Tea Bottles.
Out of Nowhere is one of those socially conscious books that was obviously written with a purpose, especially when you consider the ending. It does get a bit heavy-handed at times, but I wouldn’t go anywhere near saying that it’s two-dimensional or unenjoyable just because it’s an ‘issues’ book.
Throughout the book, Tom is struggling with trying to figure out his stance on all the Somali refugees ending up in his town. They’re what are known as “second-wave” because they had originally been put somewhere else, but had decided to move there after a while because the conditions were better. If you’ve read previous reviews of mine, you’ll know that I hate plots that simply revolve in rehashing the same problem, to the point where it seems like the MC has amnesia for how many times they’ve had to learn the same lesson or make the same decision about something. I didn’t feel like this happened with this, even though he does have to make decisions about things a lot. And when he’s still feeling a bit like the Somali refugees are invading his town, it’s completely understandable; there are new kids there every week, ones who can barely speak English and have no idea how to do anything. While he does feel bad for them, he’s frustrated, because it’s his home and they’re just coming in one after another. The issue is treated well without being too preachy or trying to make Tom seem like the good guy when he still thinks the Somali refugees shouldn’t be there. He’s human, is what I’m trying to say, and the book does well to go with that.
The book goes at a good pace, and the ending shows that not everything goes the way you hope it will, even if you try your best and realize the error of your ways. Because of this, I’d say this is probably the best book Padian has put out so far. Happy reading!(less)
I’ve actually been actively seeking out books lately where the characters are dealing with grief;...moreRead more reviews at my blog, Words and Tea Bottles.
I’ve actually been actively seeking out books lately where the characters are dealing with grief; it gives me an idea about how others write and perceive it, which is helpful for Nowhere Fast. The Sky is Everywhere wasn’t perfect, but I felt like it’s a good example of its genre.
The characters are layered and quirky in the right way, from the main character who leaves poems around town, to the handsome love interest who’s actually fairly awkward and shy, to the grandmother who drags all their worldly possessions out on the lawn to test them for bad luck. Unfortunately, the characters are also where I felt this book had its biggest flaws. Lennie continually hoops up with her sister’s boyfriend, Toby, for one. While feeling out of control of your life is a common symptom of grief, it makes it out like they have no choice but to do those things, when it seems more of a matter of self-control. The COULD stop themselves, she COULD tell him no. They just don’t want to. Toby even seems to do it on purpose at points because he wants Lennie for himself rather than see her with Joe.
There’s also how Joe acts when he sees them kissing. An entire part of the book revolves around Lennie trying to get him to forgive her. While it’s understandable he’d feel hurt at someone cheating on him, especially since it’s happened before, I found his reaction a little too dramatic, and like Lennie and Toby’s relationship, it seems to be justified when it shouldn’t be. He was cheated on once before and suddenly it makes him distrust automatically the moment he thinks it’s happening again. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to be with someone whose default trust level is so low, no matter how cute they are or how much they say they love me; it almost borders on an emotionally/mentally abusive relationship, making her worry if certain interactions with other boys will set him off.
Then again, I might just be thinking too hard about this.
Regardless, the writing is beautiful and shows well that the author is a poet first. Despite the dramatics, the story arc is well laid-out, too, so I’d say this is a book worth reading if you can get past the stated shortcomings.(less)
A free copy was given to me in exchange for an honest review.
Well, what can I say about Afterlife Academy? Unfortunately, not a lot of good things. I was part of the cover reveal tour, and I will give it credit and say that I still think it’s a rather nice cover. The premise for the book itself is interesting, too, making the afterlife seem like just another life, rather than the popular perception of the afterlife that Christianity has given us.
Unfortunately, the book itself falls apart almost immediately. Its biggest fault is the main character, Riley. She’s utterly unlikable. She’s a Mean Girl all the way through the novel, and she’s the worst kind, too, because she’s both unaware she’s one and thinks that what she does to other people is justified. Her excuse for relentlessly picking on Anthony is literally just “Well he enjoys math and science so obviously he’s brought it on himself.” She’s like this through the entire novel, so much so that it makes me wonder why Anthony forgives her for the horrible things she’s done, and why the headmistress, her roommate, and the half-demon lunch lady all say they “really like her,” with the lunch lady saying it right after they meet. What’s there to like?
As a side note, I will never understand why British English says “maths” instead of “math.” I understand it’s short for “mathematics” but it just sounds awkward to me. It might be a case of “say a word enough and it stops sounding like a word,” though. The word “maths” comes up so very much in this book because Riley spends so much time thinking about Anthony, mostly justifying her actions towards him in life.
The book is also inconsistent, which doesn’t help Riley’s case for being a good character. It starts right in the first sentence, in fact, with Riley saying she’s always been a good girl, and that of course the first time she does something bad, she dies. However, it’s clear she’s done a lot of bad things in her life, and even she’s aware of it; she says more than once that she cut class more than attended in life. So while she’s never gotten in a car with someone without a license and run someone over before the start of the book, she’s skipped class, given her parents more grief than most girls her age, and spent her free time doing things like stealing Anthony’s glasses and pasting the heads of people she and her friends don’t like on the bodies of porn stars and posting them online.
Another inconsistency is that Riley seems to make a major character development almost every chapter, but the thing is, it’s the same one. She’ll realize what a horrible person she was in life, either to Anthony or in general, and vow that she’ll be a better person, or at least try. But by the next chapter, or in extreme cases the very next paragraph, she’s right back to calling Anthony a geek and worrying what her friends would think if they could see her now. At some point she starts worrying that she’s in love with Anthony rather than her old boyfriend Wade, but it comes right out of left field amidst her still calling him a geek and failing to see why he even qualifies as a human being.
Tied in with this point is her wanting to escape Afterlife Academy. She spends the whole novel on it, first thinking that she and Wade are so connected that he just knows she’s there and will somehow break in despite everyone saying that no one alive knows about the place. When that doesn’t pan out, she tries to get expelled, despite being told that no one has ever been expelled because there’s no place for them to go- and there’s certainly no hint that if someone were to be expelled, they’d be brought back to life rather than being sent into limbo or something. I say this ties in with the previous point because, again, she makes realization after realization that she enjoys being at Afterlife Academy and thinks she wants to stay, and then in the next chapter, scene or paragraph, she’s right back to thinking Wade is going to save her or she’ll be able to find the rumored exit portal and go back to Earth.
The lesson she learns is pretty weak, too. Everything and everyone in the afterlife is grey (with a few exceptions like Narcissa’s horns and Caydi’s vampiric pumpkin) but parts of Riley are still colored and it supposedly makes her stand out. It’s mentioned in the context of wondering why she still has color and that’s about it, though. Riley’s bullied a grand total of once, but the only indication that she can’t make friends is that she’s still judgmental and, for instance, won’t even try asking someone else if she can sit with them in the dining hall. She says she learns what it’s like for someone she bullied in life and it makes her regret her actions, but again, the lesson never seems to stick and there’s little shown for why she actually knows this because barring the one mentioned instance, she’s pretty much brought the loneliness on herself.
All-in-all, the novel just doesn’t work. The author can’t seem to decide when things are supposed to happen, or even if Afterlife Academy is a good place or if this was supposed to be a dystopian-type novel. Combine this with a horrible main character, and it was just hard for me to care whether Riley adapts to (after)life there or gets out and reverses the accident that got her and Anthony there in the first place. Speaking of that, though, the ending is just as weak, rushed and unbelievable as every other plot point. It makes me sad that such an interesting concept wasn’t used in the kind of better, more effective way it deserves.(less)
This e-book was given to me through NetGalley in return for an honest review.
There were ups and downs in Poor Little Dead Girls. The story itself, I think, is pretty solid, and there were a lot of things about it that I liked. For instance, I loved that Sadie and her roommates, Trix and Gwen, got along so well. Trix and Gwen are daughters of nobility and were sent to school in America to try to prevent the press from getting wind of their crazy shenanigans (and other things). It was entirely possible for them to end up as mild antagonists, girls who do nothing but make fun of Sadie and laugh at her when she’s in trouble. Instead, they end up being people Sadie relies on, first to help her out in getting used to high society life (they lend her a LOT of clothes) and then when she’s trying to find out what’s going on with the Sullas.
The author also seems to have put a lot of thought into the secret society, with more than one scene dedicated to Sadie learning about the rituals, what they do, who’s been a part etc. When an entire book centers around it, it really does help to know what she’s getting into, even if in the end, it turns out that it was completely wrong. The Sullas seemed sketchy at first but not overly-evil, which helped lend a layer of reality to it.
Now for the minuses. The writing is only average, in my opinion; there was really no time where I found myself thinking “Wow, I really like that passage/conversation/bit of description.” The other thing is that when things came to a head and everything was revealed, I found myself sitting back and thinking “Really? She went with that?” There was no build-up, in my opinion, for what was actually going on; the deaths had nothing to do with the Sullas’ true goals, and it was kind of a let-down, actually. For a scene that was supposed to have a huge impact, it fell pretty flat.
Still, I did enjoy the book for what it was, so I’d say it’s more than worth a quick read. (less)
While David Inside Out clearly had good intentions in mind, much of the novel fell flat for me. David's reactions to EVERYTHING, from his mother to be...moreWhile David Inside Out clearly had good intentions in mind, much of the novel fell flat for me. David's reactions to EVERYTHING, from his mother to being rejected, were so dramatic and over-the-top that I had a hard time relating. Added to the numerous errors (it switches into third person point of view for one two-line paragraph at one point) it makes for a good light read, but nothing to be taken seriously.(less)
**spoiler alert** In general this was a good book, and there were times I just couldn't put it down. For instance, when Lena and Julian are in the old...more**spoiler alert** In general this was a good book, and there were times I just couldn't put it down. For instance, when Lena and Julian are in the old subway, and are saved from the scavengers by the then-mysterious people who apparently wield rats. "Oh my god, what is this? WHERE DID THIS COME FROM?" I thought. There are a few things I think could have been expanded upon to make it better, though. For instance, we have all this build-up with the parallel stories, but we don't get much background on how they came to the decision to stay in New York and scout out the DFA.
We also don't see a lot of interaction between Raven and Blue until they're migrating in the Then storyline and Blue is dying from sickness. We do get the background of how Raven found her, and it explains why Raven joined the invalids and why Blue was so important to her. But for a group of people who live in the wilds because they want to be able to freely express emotions, including love, we don't see a lot of affection. It is, perhaps, against Raven's character, but with how much she freaks out at Blue's death, I would've liked to at least see more interaction with them.
One final thing, and this is completely subjective, was that I didn't completely enjoy the ending. It was a good turn of events, but I feel like even if it's a series or trilogy, long novels like this shouldn't end in such cliffhangers. I felt the same with Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick, actually. We know the story's not done, you don't need to do something like that to us!
But, despite all this, I did rate the novel four stars, so it's definitely a must-read if you enjoyed the first book.(less)