To be fair, I read up until 50% of this book, skimmed for a while, and then skipped ahead to the 95% mark where I finished the book. So I wasn’t entirely sure whether to classify this book as a “DNF” read or as a full-fledged read. But in the end, because I knew what happened at the very end in terms of the resolution, I was overly indulgent and told myself I had completed this novel. The reason I was so hesitant to endure the other half was because of how much I really hated the characters. Only Everything is told in three different people’s perspectives: the exiled goddess Eros who goes by the name True on Earth, the dad-less student Katrina struggling with her identity, and the new kid Charlie who’s infatuated with Katrina. It’s an interesting cast by far, but what I really hated about them were that they weren’t compelling characters. In terms of the story itself, it was decent, although the attitudes of our main characters really pissed me off.
First of all, True, alias Cupid, was so stupid that I wanted to take her neck and squeeze. She would come to school wearing stuff like a dress layered over jeans, sneakers, and a baseball cap, it wasn’t just secondhand embarrassment, it was idiotic. If you made frequent visits to Earth, then you should be familiar with the fashion choices there. Even if you do meet up with your boyfriend or girlfriend secretly in a secluded forest, you should still have an idea of what you’re up against before you go to a foreign place. Not to mention, True was teaching Orion about Earth before they were separated and she got exiled to Earth. So the fact that she tries to make herself as conspicuous as possible at high school is ridiculous. High school’s ruthless—you’re going to get noticed for what fashion chooses you make, especially when they’re as out of date as hers were.
Furthermore, True needed to stop whining and being obnoxious. Every other chapter, she was saying something about how much she wanted her powers back. Like, no. You’re exiled for a reason, and if you can’t get along okay without your powers, then we have a problem here.
This could not be my reflection. The hair in tangles, the gray swipes of color under the eyes, the red nose with its skin peeling along its bridge. I leaned forward, horrified. Was that a pimple on my chin?
“No!” I cried, the tears flowing freely now. “This was not a part of our deal! No one said I was going to deteriorate!”
Then she goes on a tangent on how beautiful she was as a goddess, and how her being ugly would’ve made Orion run for the hills, because obviously true love is based off of how pretty you are. Nothing annoys me more in mythology than when characters are depicted as literally perfect just because they’re gods and goddesses. Obviously not, because Hera was a jealous bitch, and Hades was a psychotic bastard. True needed to stop with the “I’m so not pretty anymore my life is ooooovvvvveeeeerrrrrr” melodrama because nobody cares, girl. And then in another chapter, she gets drunk because she drinks two bottles of wine and then literally whines, “This has never happened to me before!!!” while ranting about how she needs to get back to Orion and reclaim her goddess-status. If you know that being a human’s different from being a goddess, you have to know that you’re weaker and more susceptible to illness and imperfection. But no, she continues to cry over how much of a lightweight she is.
In Katrina and Charlie’s point of view, True would constantly spout random shit that just made her seem really desperate and annoying. She would pretty much say out loud that she only needed x amount of match-ups left to be allowed back to Orion, and all it would do was make it harder for anyone to want to put their love life into their hands. She would push girls onto Charlie and even when he obviously wasn’t interested, True would whine at him and try and get him to give the girl in question a chance.
Both Katrina and Charlie were perfect for each other—because they were such pushovers. Katrina was in SUCH a toxic relationship, both with her old boyfriend and friends, and the fact that she didn’t even bother standing up for herself made me so mad. She didn’t even get angry at them for what they did to her. They treated her like utter shit and she wouldn’t even think, “That doesn’t sound right,” she’d be like, “I guess they’re not very close friends with me because they’re siding with her this time” instead. The same went with Charlie, because he couldn’t even stand up for himself and even though on the inside he would be screaming for help, on the outside he grinned and bore it.
I gave Only Everything that extra half star for the possibility of character development by the end, although with how much the supporting and main characters annoyed me, I wasn’t going to hold out. The ending did nothing to convince me to return to my reading spot and actually finish it, except for maybe the progression of Charlie and Katrina’s relationship, which was still nonexistent at 50% so I’m not sure how well that would’ve went over any other way.
It seems that the contemporary books I count on to lift my spirits have actually been crashing and burning, this one unfortunately not being that one book to break my unlucky streak.
At the end of eighth grade, Lucy Carpenter was mortified when she tried to make a move on her best guy friend, Jackson, wherein he responded, "Don't.” Years later, Lucy, moving in with Mikayla to a quant house, is suddenly thrust back into Jackson's world, but that's where the cliché story ends. Jackson actually ends up falling for Lucy's best friend Mikayla, which causes a series of problems and turmoil. Personally, I felt that Mikayla and Jackson's relationship was so stupid because she didn't even know his name at first and then all of a sudden she was willing throw away her best friend for the sake of a guy she barely knew. If my best friend had bad history with someone, I wouldn't go after that someone if I barely knew him or her. But not only was their relationship rushed and implausible, Mikayla briefly asked Lucy her opinion, and when Lucy replied a vague, "Sure," Mikayla interpreted it as a sign that she was doing things right and shouldn't change the amount of communication she was having with him. If you’re her best friend, you should be able to tell she’s not sincere, and you should be trying to take the relationship slower for the sake of your friend. Maybe it’s unorthodox of me, but personally I believe that a friendship takes precedence over a romance.
How to Meet Boys is told in both Mikayla and Lucy's perspectives, so you see both of them falling for a guy and having their share of romantic moments. I didn't particularly favor any of the relationships featured, and I felt that the conversation between the two couples at times was dry and lifeless.
Basically *and the following is an exaggeration*:
Lucy: hey Love Interest: hey L: what's up you look different LI: nah it's probably just my new watch L: lol cool
Lucy didn't even seem that bothered by Mikayla's relationship with Jackson, but we were told that she isn't supposed to like the idea of her almost-boyfriend and her best friend hooking up. Whenever she's not having a flimsy rant over how upset she is about the whole thing, she’s having a side romance. Since they worked together at Lucy’s grandparent’s store, they spent a lot of time together. By that point, I believed there was more chemistry between Lucy and Jackson than either of the real relationships going. Lucy and Mikayla’s friend dynamic is flimsy at best, and it’s irrelevant to have the fact that they’re best friends thrown in there if they don’t even spend that much time with each other....more
Why does this keep happening to me? All these amazing books that have received a ton of hype, and none of it has been up my alley! Better off Friends is pretty cute, yes, but it also has some flaws that I couldn’t really overlook.
First off, I loved Levi and Macallan’s relationship. They met when Levi first moved from California and soon became best friends. Their conversations are so best-friend material, encompassing everything that two people close to each other would say. I loved how comfortable and easygoing they were towards each other, and it was the small gestures they exchanged that really clinched it for me. There was this one scene where Levi saw Macallan at a restaurant and just put his head on her shoulder while she was order, like it was nothing. Even though I didn’t approve of Levi’s motives, the act in itself was adorable and super cute. Their friendship is the kind of relationship I want to have with someone. I want a best friend as dedicated as they are towards each other!
Past the content of their friendship, I can’t say I loved anything else. I felt like the first half was kind of slow, because I understand that it was to build up the relationship between Levi and Macallan, it wasn’t very interesting. I feel like I was either in the wrong mindset, but I just can’t explain why I felt bored by it. Furthermore, I wasn’t a fan of Levi’s character. I feel like the reason his feelings towards Macallan suddenly changed was groundless. It was a classic best-friend moment, but right after Levi started obsessing over what was going on, and the shift was way too abrupt for my liking....more
As much as I loved the idea of a book set during Hitler’s rule in Germany, this one ended disappointing me. Prisoner of Night and Fog takes place during the early 1900s, while Hitler is rising towards power and spreading his influence. The beautiful thing about this book is how Anne tried to almost humanize Hitler in the beginning, truly showing off his charisma and how he was able to get as far as he did with his vision to purge Germany of the Jewish population. The amount of research that’s put into this story is truly remarkable, and it’s obvious that Anne knows what she’s talking about. It’s not hard to tell that she spent an extensive amount of time looking into Hitler and his life outside of his political views. Not only does she properly build the setting with the right amount of facts without it becoming too overbearing, her attention to detail is breathtaking. The setting is wonderfully constructed, and the characterization is something to be admired. Gretchen’s brother Reinhard is one of the most chilling characters that I have ever had the pleasure of reading, considering his extensive role in the book.
Despite the wonderful premise and characterization, I felt like nothing happened in between. Gretchen was supposed to be focused on unearthing the grounds under which her father died, but it felt like she really didn’t care. The story was that her father had died a martyr, jumping in front of Hitler to save him from being shot, but soon she starts to question that popular belief. However, the mystery didn’t really start to unravel until the last twenty percent. I just felt like nothing really happened for the first two thirds, because the focus was mainly on the character development, romance, and setting. Even though it was interesting, it wasn’t enough to keep my attention. I didn’t want to keep reading, and I feel like Gretchen talked about possible theories but never really found anything of much use to her.
There’s obviously a romance between Gretchen and a Jew named Daniel, and I found that I didn’t even like that part. She’s the niece of the one person that hates Jewish people more than anything, but she seemed to jump into the romance without any hesitation. I wanted there to be some kind of social clash between them, or there to be a bigger conflict between Hitler and the Jewish population in Germany. While Prisoner of Night and Fog took place during the first phase of Hitler’s rule, when he was still campaigning for the extermination of everyone who followed that particular religion, maybe there could have been a more significant sign of the abuse and oppression from the hands of Hitler’s Party and regiment. Not that I condone his actions, and I don’t know enough about the Holocaust to know what was happening at that specific time, but that was just one of the pieces of the puzzle that didn’t fit perfectly.
Prisoner of Night and Fog is a must-read for historical fiction regulars, but for those who aren’t familiar with the genre and don’t find a liking to strong character-oriented stories, I would pass on this one....more
Tease would have been a more positive reading experience for me if one thing had happened: Sara was a completely different character entirely. While the idea is creative, Sara’s entire personality ruins the air of melancholy loss and grief.
What angered me the most about Sara was how nonchalant she was about Emma’s suicide. Tease is told in two time frames, before Emma’s suicide and after it. The two together worked well, but I really hated the kind of person she was in both time frames. I could understand her being a complete bully in the before parts, but the fact that she was still a pretty big bully in the after parts was really inexcusable. In those parts, Sara would continuously rant about how she had absolutely nothing to do with Emma’s suicide, when it was obvious she was. At first, she was a little bit of a bystander, acting as the major bully Brielle’s tag-along, adamantly agreeing with the biting jokes she made. But then Sara started joining on making fun of Emma, going out of her way to put her down to make herself feel superior, and there was this one instance when Sara started a string of angry Facebook posts on Emma’s wall, like, “Why are you such a skank?” and “What does it feel like to be a skank?” I get why you may be angry, but it was so stupid how Sara continuously preached her innocence when it was obvious she did participate in the bullying and harassment. No, you obviously aren’t as innocent as you say you are, so if you’re going to keep saying, “Boo hoo, everyone hates me because they all think I killed Emma but I didn’t DO ANYTHING!!!!!” we’re going to have a serious problem,
Another thing I had an issue with was the obvious slut-shaming. Brielle and Sara actively call Emma a slut, because she has a “reputation” for sleeping around, which everyone knows of. Absolutely everyone knows that Emma’s a supposed “slut,” but there’s absolutely no evidence of her reputation. The worst thing she does is hook up with someone once, but Sara and Brielle are doing way worse, so they had no right to be calling her those kinds of things if Emma was only hooking up with one person throughout the entire book. Even then, Brielle would be like, “Eww Emma’s wearing such a slutty outfit, like look at that tight dress!” If it’s not clear enough how much I despise slut-shaming, the two had no right to put Emma down for what she wore, especially since Brielle and Sara also wore the same kinds of clothing.
And what pissed me off even more was that when Sara caught Emma kissing Dylan, she exploded and called Emma all of these vulgar terms like slut and skunk, posting those messages on her Facebook. But when Dylan apologizes, she thinks, “It was all that slut’s fault Dylan cheated on me, but I still love him so I think I’m gonna sleep with him because that’s obviously what he wants.” First of all, it’s so degrading to assume that Emma was the sole perpetrator in the relationship, and that Dylan didn’t have at least one thing to do with the cheating. Another thing, if Sara thinks that sleeping with Dylan is the way to get him back, she shouldn’t be calling Emma the slut. Not that I’m calling Sara one, but her and Brielle’s definition for the word “slut” is exactly what Sara was doing.
It just really pissed me off how she didn’t blame the guy of the relationship because of how men are displayed as the blameless one in cases. Girls are more subject to being called sluts for cheating, but the guy won’t have as heavy of a punishment because society’s taught us that it’s okay that guys can’t control their emotions. It’s okay for a guy to cheat because they can’t help it. You have to be easier on them because that is just their nature. In the world today, we’re constantly glorifying a man’s actions and trying to place the blame on a woman, because they’re assumed to be more subject to labels like this thanks to slut-shaming. And Tease is obviously advocating this kind of action with how often it happens.
*end of spoilers*
While this book had potential in the summary, I really couldn’t bring myself to like this one even remotely with the slut-shaming, hypocritical characters, and degrading themes towards women....more
At first, I absolutely loved this book. And then right after I made my "I'm stopping my blog" hoorah post, I decided to reread Open Road Summer to make me happy and to hopefully break the pit feeling in my stomach I've had that I'm outgrowing young adult books. However, after rereading this book, I felt absolutely nothing reading it again compared to the first time.
The rating for this one went down from a four and a half star rating to a two star rating. And while it may seem harsh, as I was rereading it, I noticed a particularly disgusting thing: the slut-shaming. Reagan didn’t feel any remorse calling a girl a “slut” or a “skank” or “trashy” if they were wearing tight clothes. Like, if she saw girls hanging around Matt, she’d call them a slut, mainly because she felt threatened by them. Okay, so if you think you’re better than them, then you have nothing to gain by calling them a slut. In reality, she acted the same way that they did. She would adjust her bra for “maximum cleavage” when she saw Max coming towards her, and while there’s nothing WRONG with that, she’s a hypocrite for putting other girls down for doing the same thing. It was absolutely ridiculous how she didn’t even reflect on herself when unfairly labeling other girls for their appearances. She’s expressing herself through her clothes, and that’s completely okay, but if she condemns others for doing the same thing, then we have an issue.
And there was this one time where she described Matt's best friend as "wholesome." Like if you're gonna poorly judge someone as fat from a picture to make yourself feel better, just don't! At least try not to make it sound like you're a sarcastic bitch who's trying to boost your own self esteem by comparing you to others.
Another thing I didn’t particularly like the second time around was how stupid the “drama” was. Most of it involved Dee finding out about some rumor someone was spreading about her (she’s a celebrity, that’s obviously going to happen!) and then freaking out about it. One time, someone got a picture of her while she looked bloated and was like, “IS SHE PREGNANT!?!?!?!?” and Dee had a huge meltdown over the rumor. The only person who even remotely reasonable about this was Reagan, and all she said was that it would blow over. Literally, if Dee just let the rumor sit for a month or even a few weeks, the rumor would die down. Stars rarely ever do something about one little rumor, like if she were to lay low for a few months it'd be obvious she wasn't pregnant like one magazine said. Especially with something like pregnancy. Your stomach grows a lot when you're pregnant, so the rest of Dee's mere existence would directly contradict the one picture.
However, there was something that remained constant throughout both read-throughs—I loved the friendship between Dee and Reagan, especially how Reagan was always there for Dee’s career. Dee, an up-and-coming country singer, was currently on tour, so Reagan had been tagging along for the summer until she entered senior year. This ensued a series of laughs, heart-to-hearts, and all of the things you’d expect in a friendship as close as theirs. I envied how close they were at times, because I want someone that I’m so close with that I would ask them to come on tour with me if I became a famous singer (or vice-versa.)
ORIGINAL REVIEW I started this book at 10 PM on a school night, read straight through the book in one sitting, and ended at 1 AM, feeling a plethora of fuzzy feelings in the pit of my stomach and happy beyond belief. Open Road Summer paves the inspirational story of an unbreakable bond between two imperfect best friends and a heart-tingling romance—it’s addicting and close to perfect.
The one aspect that I was not a fan of was Reagan’s behavior for the shortest period of time at the end. I mean, I know she’s emotionally guarded and trying to work on her quick-to-judge attitude, but she was so stubborn. She wouldn’t listen to anyone, because she thought that she was right, even if what she believed had been taken out of context. It was a fairly ridiculous way of thinking, especially when everyone around her was trying to convince her that she had misconstrued everything. Besides that, Reagan was such a great character with so many different layers. She was sarcastic and witty, a truly delightful protagonist that warranted a fair share of laughs from me. However, we quickly learned that this facetious, flirty side of her was only a front to protect the inner turmoil lurking beneath the surface, evoking a lot of sympathy from me.
When Reagan first met Matt, there was immediately a sense of chemistry between the two, and I loved every minute of it! I was already loved Reagan’s quick wit and snarky personality, but it seemed to amplify when she was around Matt. What worked even better was that he seemed to be able to match her jabs in a round of flirt fighting, filing Open Road Summer’s pages with romantic tension and gooey feelings. The book is split two ways between the romance and the friendship, and I equally loved both. Still, Emery knows how to build a romance between two characters in a way that feels sweet and fervent at the same time. In between their irresistible banter, there were earnest conversations that made my heart melt even further. Everybody has something that haunts them, whether it’s big or small, including Matt and Reagan. I adored their honesty towards each other, how they were able to bare their souls to each other to display their unshakable trust.
And come on, who doesn’t love singers who are also country boys? You get the allure of a Southern boy mixed in with the awesomeness of a singer. Being a singer=at least 20 points on your attractiveness, and the Southern boy probably makes up for the rest of the points, at least in Matt’s case. I just love him! I also love Reagan and Dee’s friendship, especially how Reagan’s there for Dee’s career. Dee, also an up-and-coming country singer, is currently on tour, so Reagan’s been tagging along for the summer until she enters senior year. This ensues a series of laughs, heart-to-hearts, and all of the things you’d expect in a friendship as close as theirs. I envied how close they were at times, because I want someone that I’m so close with that I would ask them to come on tour with me if I became a famous singer (or vice-versa.)...more
Sweet Reckoning is an explosive ending to a popular trilogy, a book that almost didn’t get published for an indefinite amount of time. While many will be preaching the words of Wendy Higgins, I unfortunately will not be joining the ranks of adoring fans.
I think what clinched the reading experience for me was how disconnected I felt from the story as a whole. The chemistry between Kaidan and Anna wasn’t as on point as I expected it to be, the plot twists weren’t as shocking as originally anticipated, and the ending felt subpar. I don’t anticipate that many others will feel the same way that I do, because this book has a lot of desirable elements. Wendy’s writing ensures that you’ll have a fun time reading. I also appreciated how much Anna has grown as a character. She’s significantly changed ever since we were first introduced to her in Sweet Evil. When I first got into her head two books ago, I got the impression that she a little annoying with how she vigilantly tried to maintain her innocence. But she’s a badass now! Anna is fierce and has a significantly better tolerance of vulgar terms. Even though that aspect doesn’t really matter, it plays a large role in a supposed prophecy that focuses on Anna and how she’ll put all the demons back into heaven.
Overall, Sweet Reckoning seemed too innocent. Maybe it was the fact that nothing truly challenging happened to Anna. I had a epiphany at the climax because I was thinking of how every Nephilim was either for Anna or against her. However, if they were against her, they were secretly for her, so she kind of had everything handed to her on a silver platter. Perhaps I’m glorifying the reality of the situation, but I never felt the true sense of danger in each situation, except for maybe this one section that I can’t disclose because of spoilers. It seemed that wherever Anna went, she had multiple allies to defend and protect her. While having a substantial amount of allies isn’t a bad thing at all, the fact that Anna was never surprised by anything because someone had told them beforehand what was going on really bothered me. The feeling of innocence also was in part to the fact that I had completely forgotten Sweet Peril and was underwhelmed by a lot of things because I didn’t remember many of the character relationships.
The ending was really rushed, and it was a big reason why I ended up deeming the book three stars. I feel like a plot twist was incorporated to add a sense of urgency, but then the initial impact wore off quickly. Basically, the problem was talked out of. They stopped threatening each other, bickered over all these different things, fought for about five minutes, and then everything was over. Kind of anticlimactic. if you ask me, and also I was a little disappointed with the happily ever after of the ending. Sweet Evil and Sweet Peril had all of these bittersweet sacrifices that I dared to hope the same thing would happen. Unfortunately, nothing did. There was one instance that was supposed to instill emotion, but I was still underwhelmed by it, despite how much I wanted to feel moved....more
While Gwendolyn Heasley’s new novel can at first be dismissed as a lighthearted read about the inevitable struggle between one’s parent and themselves, it quickly morphs into something less simplistic. It endeavors to reach a new type of depth and create a coming-of-age story, when it is very obviously not.
Imogene suffers from a lifestyle under the scrutiny of the majority of the population. In fact, it’s gotten to the point that her classmates teased her about what happened on her blog. While I find it highly unlikely that a mom blog is so popular that Imogene herself gets recognized while shopping in a mall, I understood the sour feelings towards her mom’s blog because it was obvious from very early on that Imogene’s mother treated her like a baby. When her English teacher gives Imogene’s class a project to write a blog themselves, Imogene launches a campaign to escape the ridicule of both her mother and classmates before she formally enters high school. I would label Don’t Call Me Baby as a mix between a middle grade and young adult novel, because of the young age Imogene is portrayed at (15, entering ninth grade) and the superficiality of her problems. The innocence of Imogene and her peers wasn’t quite believable, given the amount of interconnection seen in the novel, when the “popular girl” of the grade attempts to ally with Imogene and takes an assignment seriously, when it was established that she was the stereotypical “popular mean girl.”
Don’t Call Me Baby’s biggest flaw is how abruptly the character development takes place. As soon as she decides to fight back against her mom, the conflict persists for maybe three or four chapters before the book abruptly changes tone and all of a sudden we’re focusing on (view spoiler)[the fact that Sage and Imogene are fighting because Imogene is questioning whether or not she really wants to fight her mom. We’re given NO previous development whatsoever on why Imogene is changing her mind, but after one blog post where Imogene is reflecting on the pros of getting away from the computer and “unplugging,” Sage is accusing her of all these ridiculous things. She’s saying, “Imogene you don’t care about this as much as me, you’re giving up on our goal, you’re such a fake and hypocrite!” Chill out, it’s only one blog post. It really doesn’t matter. But then they’re fighting and ignoring each other without any real explanation. (hide spoiler)] Imogene continuously thinks of new ideas, but they come at spontaneous and awkward intervals, without any previous development or foreshadowing.
My last few complaints were slightly nitpicky, like how unrealistic and unprofessional the Mommylicious blog sounds, and the ignorance of the main character. She jokingly asks what a CD is, because just because you’re fifteen means that you’re too young to understand what a CD is. CDs still exist, I have dozens of CDs, and I’m the same age. It’s absolutely ridiculous how much the younger generation is dismissed as an ignorant generation in Don’t Call Me Baby. Furthermore, with the number of allusions made, all of them are thoroughly explained upon delivery. As soon as a cougar is mentioned, Imogene takes it upon herself to explain it to her audience, which in reality is only herself since it’s her inner dialogue. The word “swag” is explained as party favors for bloggers, and while it may be a term that needs explaining, it shouldn’t need an outright definition compared to maybe an inference.
While this could have been a lighthearted book, another issue is how Gwendolyn attempts to give it an added depth by reflecting on the simple nature of teenagers and growing up. If it were not for the absurdity of the story beforehand, I would’ve bought it. But it remains that the lack of development and naïveté behind our leading and supporting characters produced an inability to even entertain the idea of this book being more than a “cute” book. I was originally holding this at a three-star rating, because it was decent, however I lowered it because of the anticlimactic ending and the overall rushed pacing, topped with an unfortunately failed attempt to provide depth.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
When I found this on my Kindle library, possessing no previous knowledge of where or when I downloaded it, I decided to start reading, even though it seemed like a long shot after the first few chapters. However, still I journeyed on, and still found nothing too special about this book.
Tess was way too focused on the romance, overall. The book centered around two things: the romance and her efforts to try to keep a pixieball alive. The pixieball is supposedly a rare breed, the last one of its kind, that her grandpa stole and grew himself. Her mother carried on the tradition, caring for it, and now it’s her turn. However, it’s gotten sick, therefore Henry and Tess are in an “urgent” race to find a cure for whatever disease Pix (her name for the pixieball) has. But, even though the pixieball is super important to her, enough that she’s willing to go through all the crap she goes through to try and save it, she doesn’t care when it comes down to the plant, or Henry. Sure, she cares about Pix, but when Henry tries to talk about saving it, Tess is more focused on how much they’re making out and the idea of them two together. Henry’s trying really hard to immortalize Pix, and Tess is more concerned that a letter heading says, “Dear Tess and Henry.” She’s more interested in the fact that their names are together on a freaking letter than on her plant that’s dying! And she constantly tries to make out with him when he seems like he may not be in the mood or want to talk about something on his mind.
Speaking of their romance, there was absolutely no chemistry between the two. Their “I really like you” statements could have held the equivalent passion as if they were acquaintances who barely knew each other in high school catching up on the side of the road. Their dialogue and conversations were bland, holding no substance or meaning. The beginning was cute, but when the story morphed into Pix’s illness, I was hoping that the character development would begin. There were some nice sentiments made in The Last Forever, like how not everything is picturesque and perfect like in movies and television series, but in the end it wasn’t quite what I was expecting or needing to compensate for the disposable romance and static characters.
During the first few chapters, Tess actually had a boyfriend named Dillon. But then it was dismissed within three sentences, something like, “Oh, apparently Dillon broke up with me…” and then Tess was free to chase after Henry Lark. It was an easy sentence to overlook, and because I was already disinterested in the story, I skipped over what I thought was a useless two sentences. Turns out, it was those sentences that freed up Tess’s relationship status. I had to look back and double-check when I remembered she previously had a boyfriend. When I found and familiarized myself with the section in question, I realized that it had been glossed over and glorified. It wasn’t memorable enough for me to remember it or for it to properly register in my brain. There wasn’t even a telltale reason why he decided to break up with her, but whatever. No development needed there....more
Strange and Ever After is an explosive ending to an equally explosive series, combining everything we knew about the last two books and building upon it even further. Susan Dennard has wrapped up this trilogy like an artisan, leaving your bones aching with remnants of emotion.
It’s hard to believe that this book takes place over only merely a week or two, but it’s not any less rewarding. It’s difficult to properly review Strange and Ever After because it’s as consistent as it was during the first two books. The plot remains the same high-strung series of Dead, mystery, romance, and necromancy. This time, the book is set in Egypt, and I love how each book takes place in a different setting because it adds a fresh addition to what’s going on, as well as clearing our minds for new possible clues and opportunities. What’s mentioned in previous books don’t necessarily tie into the big picture of this book, and only general topics and subplots are transferred through to relate the titles together. Otherwise, I’d never say they were in a continuous series because they’re so individual from each other while still engaging and wholesome. Either way, I’d recommend that you read A Darkness Strange and Deadly right before you start Strange and Ever After, because this book begins only a few hours where the other concludes, therefore you’re still reeling from the end and can jump right into the action with a short recovery period.
Eleanor really comes full circle in the final installment of the Something Strange and Deadly trilogy. Her feel-first, rationalize-later method of approaching situations bothered me at first, especially with how she continuously pushed and pushed people away. It seemed at the beginning of the book, when she was angry and out for blood, she would treat everybody around her poorly as a result of her rage towards Marcus. She never quite realized how this destructive way of living would eventually harm all of her companions. The issue was also present in the first two books, but it wasn’t as obvious since Eleanor didn’t truly begin feeling the level of intensity of her anger until Strange and Ever After. That was when I realized the ingenuity of Susan’s writing because Eleanor started off as a hostile, unforgiving character and somehow in a few hundred pages completely one-eightied into someone completely unlike herself.
And I must touch upon that ending. That ending. It’s bittersweet, encompassing both the imperfection of life and the ability to find happiness in even the darkest of storms. When I first registered what was happening, I was devastated at the audacity of Susan to decide on such a conclusion. However, after a given amount of time, a certain feeling of justification and rightness filled my veins, replacing the thinly veiled outrage. While certain found it unnecessary, the majority of the falling action and resolution included a number of sacrifices that revealed how truly unforgiving a power struggle can be, bringing more and more innocent people into the wake of destruction. The ending finally pushed me up to a four and a half star read, because of how fitting it was for the series. As much as I wanted to deny the reality of that particular ending, I found it to be the best one that could half been chosen....more
This book is so fun! It's mild and tame in terms of the horror factor, but nonetheless thrilling. It’s odd, how well the pieces of this book fit togetThis book is so fun! It's mild and tame in terms of the horror factor, but nonetheless thrilling. It’s odd, how well the pieces of this book fit together, because so much happened, including a new character addition, Oliver. The introduction of his character raised quite a few red flags, posing the question: was Susan choosing to include a love triangle? It was still unclear what Oliver’s true feelings towards Eleanor were by the last page, but I have a good feeling that their relationship won’t cross the line between platonic and romantic. Oliver was mysterious, but he also humanized Eleanor’s older brother Elijah’s character. While he was not present in A Darkness Strange and Lovely, Oliver’s previous relationship with Elijah (which occurred sometime during the first book) really helped me understand Elijah’s old self and establish why Oliver was so interested in Eleanor. If I could describe Eleanor and Oliver’s relationship, I’d call them desperate friends groping for a semblance of company in a society of isolation.
Plot-wise, a lot of things happened to compromise what we previously thought was true. Amidst Eleanor’s fervent chase to find Marcus, she expanded her knowledge of necromancy with the help of Oliver, and she fought the Dead alongside the Spirit-Hunters. What I’ve found with this series is that it’s mostly a mystery, with its fair share of subplots. Along the way, the Dead got slightly lost in translation, however all other aspects were wonderfully handled. The mystery unfurls like a rose, blooming only at after it has had enough nourishment from the sun and soil. Right before the rose is able to fully bloom into something beautiful, an earthquake happens, smothering the flower, inhibiting its growth pattern, ultimately killing it. The same was with the mystery, leading us on until the very last moment. I felt like I was going to gain something valuable from the mystery, until something happened that put our characters at square one. It was infuriating and addicting.
I must admire Susan for her writing, because Eleanor’s narrative exemplified her emotions and personality perfectly. Her actions and thoughts were realistic and reflective of her surroundings, surprising me with how accurate her reactions proved to be. Another thing I admire Susan for was how accurately she captured the setting. I can never imagine her writing anything except for historical fiction, but maybe that’s only because she writes her genre so well. Her vocabulary and syntax, ranging from words like “gooseflesh” to the overall elegance of everything, completes the novel for me. With her writing, the book flies by in a blur of hungry zombies and conspiracies.
A historical fiction that incorporates horror and steampunk, Susan Dennard’s unforgettable sequel to her hit Something Strange and Deadly is here with an unforgettable protagonist, impeccable writing, and unnerving plot....more
After falling in love with My Life After Now, I had high hopes for The Summer I Wasn’t Me, but unfortunately several aspects proved detrimental to my overall enjoyment of the book.
First and foremost, I appreciated Jessica’s choice to tackle a subject such as LGBTQIAPK (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, interest, asexual, and kinky, according to Why We Need More Sex Labels). While only the lesbian and gay portions of the acronym were addressed, the concept of a “de-gayifying” camp was absolutely absurd. The majority of the world population knows that you’re born with your sexuality, but I went with the idea that your sexuality could be changed at a camp, because it was meant to instill a sense of outrage in The Summer I Wasn’t Me’s audience. That did not mean I was okay with what happened later on in the book. The camp seemed to revolve around the idea that its attendants were gay or lesbian because they were raised with skewed perceptions of gender roles. The girls were taught that their real role in society was to look pretty and perform “feminine” actions, like cleaning and taking care of the house. The boys were taught to play sports and do the heavy-lifting in a relationship. It got to the point where it made me see red, but I went along with it, because, again, that was part of the camp’s characterization.
”Think about it, Lexi. Your whole life, your parents have given you mixed signals about the roles of men and women. Your mother worked out of the home. She dressed like a man. She shared the head of household duties with your father, thereby reducing his masculine identity.”
However, I don’t understand how brainwashing a bunch of kids into believing in a medieval set of gender roles “cures” the disease of being gay? If a woman acts like a man, does it mean that she’s gay? Today, there are people who strictly follow the Bible’s teachings and believe that women should behave traditionally. Even if you do identify with those teachings, you can’t deny that women and men’s roles in society are blurring together. Stay-at-home dads and stay-at-home moms exist, women are gaining rights across the board, and that’s been a great step for feminism in the last century! So, if there are that many people who are going against “traditional” gender roles, does that mean that all of their children are gay? Mr. Martin, the person in charge of the camp, blamed Lexi’s lack of real parental figures, a mom that stays at home and a dad who works everyday, for her being lesbian. That was really stupid, and the fact that Lexi went along with what he said and didn’t even think about calling him out for his blunder.
Some of the things he said were so unrealistic, and the methods used to alleviate each teen’s “gayness” were uncalled for and completely cruel. Another question I’d like to address: how was the camp still running? Some of the aforementioned methods deployed in order to guide each patient, for lack of a better term, towards the Land of the Straight, made them cry. It was quite unorthodox, but since I don’t know what one would actually do to relieve the unfortunate state of being gay (that was a completely sarcastic statement), I blindly continued in the beginning. However, in the end, things got intense and crazy, but still nobody questioned what was going on. If I was at this camp and was forced to do things that I didn’t want to do, things that made me cry, I’d want out of that camp immediately. There was another instance where I was questioning why New Horizons Camp was still running, because it was obvious that after the camp was over, each patient was free to go home and tell their parents everything that happened. How come nobody even bothered to tell their parents or another trustworthy individual about what the camp was truly like?...more
Kit Ward is one of my favorite characters purely because of her unorthodox upbringing. She was trained by her mother to kill, and carried our murders by the philosophy that nothing was right and nothing was wrong. Kit didn’t judge who deserved to be killed and who didn’t, she simply carried out the action and collected money from it. It’s such a gruesome way to go about murdering someone, and it instills fear in the general populace. Nothing is right, nothing is wrong, nobody is safe. Quite a chunk of food for thought, actually. Kit’s moral nihilism, drilled into her by the hands of her mother, not only shocked me, in a way something that cold can, but also intrigued me. How did Kit manage to live up to this philosophy, as the human mind naturally judges and corners people for their faults and thoughts? By the end, I realized that Dear Killer wasn’t about Kit’s killing spree, but rather her character development as a serial killer and her moral nihilism.
Her kills further intrigued me, and it ties back into what I said earlier about her serial killer persona. I loved her alter ego, Diana, the one that killed and committed murder; it proved to be a nice contrast, enforcing the idea that right and wrong are very different. I strongly admire Katherine's ability to flesh out Kit’s character in a way that manages to evoke sympathy in your readers and make it nearly impossible to hate Kit for her actions. I loved how Dear Killer wasn’t just about Kit’s sporadic, flawless killing spree, but it also shed some light on the flaws in Kit’s work ethic and how she began to question what she had originally been taught. Furthermore, I want to ask how you embodied our protagonist’s unfeeling mind so perfectly. She analyzed situations perfectly, improvising and improving her plans on a whim. When push came to shove, she had a perfect solution to her problem and an alibi to aim the beam of suspicion away from her.
But I also have so many questions about Dear Killer and Kit. First of all, how were her kills so flawless? While I loved the descriptions of the murders and the reflection on how Kit killed so well, there were still a couple things gnawing at the back of my mind. If she was killing during the wintertime, wouldn’t she have left footprints in the snow? Weren’t there security cameras at the Whitevale Tower that put her there at the scene of the crime? I don’t understand how there was no evidence on her, despite her fame as one of London’s most prevalent serial killers since Jack the Ripper. Also, it was established that she was paid for her murders, but I remember reading that the money was enclosed with the letter. Was it possible that she could just take the money without actually going through with the murder or did the money come after the murder separately? She divided her letters with murders she wanted to go through with and murders she didn’t, but what happened to the money given by those who didn’t have their requests fulfilled?
Besides the few plot holes that had me wondering, Dear Killer was a delightful read searching into the mind of a well-trained serial killer. I don’t think I’ve ever come across a story with a character so unpredictable and detached from herself, and Kit is a phenomenon in herself....more
This book, while dealing with a range of emotions and issues, is both addicting and infuriating. It holds a range of emotions that not only give its readers perspective of what it’s like to be a serial killer and psychotic kidnapper. While there were issues within the plot and characterization, The Cellar was an interesting take on being in captivity.
After Summer’s abducted by Colin Brown, who goes by the name Clover, she’s renamed Lily by him to satisfy his obsession with flowers. We got to experience a few chapters in Colin’s point of view that articulated how damaged his mind was. The reason behind why he abducted four girls was for a specific reason, and he suffered from OCD. I found his mentality towards kidnapping girls to be disturbing and unsettling, and while reading I was fighting the urge to start screaming at him and his reasoning. His was a twisted antagonist, which really intrigued me. I didn’t understand his motives completely, but his three dimensional character kept me from disregarding him as another delusional kidnapper. However, the most interesting aspect of his inner dialogue was how he truly believed that he was doing the right thing. Despite how everybody else thought of his actions, he truly believed he was doing the right thing by keeping these four girls in her cellar.
The Cellar takes place of the course of roughly a year and a half, spanning both Summer’s life inside the cellar, Colin’s struggle with his own mind, and her boyfriend Lewis’s quest to find her. It’s a lot to cover in a single book, and I felt that as a result the psychological effects on Summer lacked. She was kept in a cellar for over a year with three other girls—she witnessed murder, rape, and countless horrors. How could she not be damaged by what she saw? Her determination to escape captivity was admirable, but overall she was a relatively static character. Because of the action happening outside of the cellar and the occasional flashbacks, there wasn’t a lot of focus on Summer’s struggle with herself. At the climax, we were struck with a massive turn in character that came out of nowhere and felt forced. I needed for there to be a build-up to that moment, for there to be noticeable changes in Summer’s behavior. Rape and homicide are tough things to go through, but they were glossed over and instead her relationship with Lewis took prominence. I wanted her to deal with those topics, to cope somehow, but instead she didn’t seem very affected by what had happened.
Another complaint I had was with the plot holes scattered throughout. Colin, after collecting a new girl, would rename them accordingly, and then throw them in the cellar. He renamed them after the same four flowers, which was really frustrating, because I had no idea which girl was the girl in the present. We saw him abducting his very first girl and naming her Violet, but past-Violent was obviously a different Violent from present-Violet (the Violent that Summer was in captivity with). Past-Poppy was different from present-Poppy, and past-Lily was obviously different from present-Lily, who was Summer. I wished that there was a little more backstory to behind when and why he replaced a girl for a new girl, because that topic was also glossed over. The plot and inclusion of two other points of views outside Summer’s were a good choice on Natasha’s part, however I felt that it was too much to handle, given the flashbacks that were often used to clarify an event but only raise more questions....more
Originally I was so sure I wouldn’t enjoy this one, from the beginning that was mediocre, nothing that assured a pleasant reading experience, Luckily, after a few chapters everything turned around for the better. I was dumbfounded by Morgan’s cold attitude towards everybody that she encountered. Her persona was shrouded with coldness and it was like she had drawn “ice queen” onto her forehead in Sharpie. However, despite how forcefully she tried to shove people away, it didn’t bother me. I was more concerned with how little was given about her past. Morgan was closed off because of a video that had gone viral a few months ago, one that we don’t fully realize until much later in the book. It was the embarrassment of her life, and she was always mortified when people teased her about it. The “big reveal” of what the video really was about came a little later than I had anticipated and hoped, but I liked how it was handled.
This book is a book that gets better and better as the plot goes on. It starts with Morgan embarking on a journey with two friends to find her father, but ends by bringing the plot full circle in a classic bildungsroman. Her relationship with Amy and Adam, two coworkers at an amusement park that managed to force their way into her dad search, truly spoke to me. Janet made it possible for three teens who previously had nothing to do with each other grow together and become best friends. Their friend dynamic wasn’t one that was forced or rushed; with Amy’s passion and tenacity, Adam’s dorky tendencies, and Morgan’s drive, the trio shared memories that I didn’t think that they would. Amidst these bonding sessions, there was a telltale shift from Morgan’s guarded self to an open, willing character that could still dish out some heavy sass when needed.
16 Things I Thought Were True focused on the motif of lies and deception, each character seeming to hold a secret or suppress a truth. I appreciated how often it was incorporated into the story line without it becoming repetitious, a new lie seeming to occur at every turn. It was surprising how many characters were keeping secrets from others, revealing how even the most open person has one thing that they don’t want anybody else to know. With that being said, when the final reveal came along, it felt anticlimactic. The last secret we were left underwhelmed at first, but it wasn’t that big of an issue. The story continued to progress and transform at the end, becoming more than just a goose chase across the country. Janet Gurtler’s most recent novel is inspiring, bringing into light the power of friendship and the power of one’s own mind....more
I was excited to star this one, because of how much the setting intrigued me. How many books take place in Russia? However, that was probably the only thing going for this one because I put it down after reading 50%. For one, nothing happened at all. After Yulia was introduced to the place where she would be staying, nothing happened except for them talking about their powers and attempting to do some training exercises for it. I felt like the plot moved at a snail’s pace and I had no desire to continue reading. Maybe it was the blandness of the writing or the inactivity of our characters, but I was not motivated to read this book.
Secondly, the world building was a huge issue. I wanted background information for the powers that Yulia and her friends had, and why they were considered dangerous. They had powers that were coveted by others and ones that seemed to be unknown to the general public. However, before Yulia was brought to the thing with the people with powers (I honestly have no idea what to call it because I have no idea what it even WAS), she referred to herself as a fugitive. And because it was also made clear that her family didn’t know about her powers, it wouldn’t be because people knew she had powers. Then why? Why was her entire family hiding from the government? I don’t know if I just missed that part or if it truly wasn’t made clear.
My last problem that finally caused me to put it down was the biggest issue. Paired with the lack of world building, there was also no indication of the time period Sekret was taking place. At first, I assumed a little after the Industrial Revolution in the late 1800s to 1900s from Yulia’s reference to romantic pieces like the Overture of 1812 which transpired during the Industrial Revolution in Russia. There was the mention of Marxist communist theories from the same time period, which led me to think that it took place during that time, but then they mentioned the Holocaust and the Cuban missile crisis. Those, I’m pretty sure, took place fairly recently, forcing me to draw my conclusions a little closer to the 1900s. But then Yulia mentioned discord between Russia and the United States, which obviously is an issue in the present day. Maybe it takes place in the future then, but the setting was completely unclear for me. The entire reading experience would have been a better one if I knew when this book was taking place, and while it’s only a small aspect, it was the one that bugged me the most....more
i personally loved this one it's all about gossip and how rumors are harder than expected and overall it was just such a well done story with the narri personally loved this one it's all about gossip and how rumors are harder than expected and overall it was just such a well done story with the narratives and their relationship to alice, the unfolding of events, etc. etc. but the only thing i wasn't a fan of was how everything was in the past tense when some of it would be a memory and some would the equivalent of the present bc i thought it was all in retrospect when it really wasn't...more
The Romeo Club is cute and nerdy, the perfect combination for someone who’s a fan of romances that start between long-time friends and subsequently develop into something more.
When Delyla Denson helps her brother get a date with his long-time crush, his friends find out about it and want the same advice, which sets the stage for our story. As she helps CC, Kevin, and Trey land the girls they have their eyes on, Delyla deals with her fair share of drama, such as conflicting feelings towards her neighbor and brother’s best friend, Trey. I really liked the idea of the whole Romeo Club (what Delyla called her match-making “services,” so to speak); it was cute and funny, although I felt like the beginning was rushed. Within the very first chapter, she was helping her brother hook up with someone and then in the next chapter all of her brother’s friends knew about it and wanted to get in on the action. Either way, after I recovered from the abrupt shift, I began to enjoy it all.
I found that I actually related fairly well to The Romeo Club, mainly because it was a lot of back and forth in terms of her affection for Trey and vice-versa. It wasn’t something I noticed until three fourths of the way through the book, but it set up grounds to which I could sympathize with the overall conflict. However, despite how much I sympathized with Delyla, I wasn’t a fan of her whole “sabotage” mentality. It’s mentioned in passing in the synopsis, but when I fully got a taste of what was going on, I can’t say I was an advocate for her behavior in trying to ruin Trey’s love life for her own selfish reasons. Especially when you spend that much time setting a guy up with a girl he seems to really like, you can’t just abruptly switch to the sabotage with a capital S tactic.
I wasn’t particularly to fond of the whole subplot of Jimbo, the neighbor’s horny dog. While he was there purely for comedic relief, more times than not I was wondering how he was even relevant. He basically was there to steal the neighborhood’s belongings, and somehow, Delyla would ALWAYS catch Jimbo in the act of stealing something, take it from him, and then the stolen item’s owner would conveniently show up. Upon seeing the lost item in Delyla’s hand instead of Jimbo’s, they’d be like, “You’re so disgusting and foul, I can’t believe you’d steal something like this!!!” even though she would try to explain that it was the dog. What was even the point of that? I didn’t quite understand why that part was even included because it felt like it weighed the entire book down, and not even the neighbors’ wrath towards her, but the inclusion of Jimbo and his owners’ characters.
Despite how negative my review makes this book out to be, The Romeo Club is a flamboyant read, and I would recommend it to fans of high school romances....more
after rereading this book yesterday i've realized that there a few issues in the book like how in the end Anna cries SO. FREAKING. MUCH. that it kindafter rereading this book yesterday i've realized that there a few issues in the book like how in the end Anna cries SO. FREAKING. MUCH. that it kind of gets old but overall this book is so sweet and adorable and honestly a perfect book...more
This book is raw. It’s empowering. It’s beautiful and reckless at the same time. It made me feel emotions that no other book has ever made me feel before.
Wintergirls pivots around a girl named Lia who’s suffering from anorexia and coping with the death of her bulimic ex-best friend Cassie. I never had doubts on whether I would enjoy this book or not, because it’s painful from the very first pagel. As someone who looks in the mirror and sees all of the things wrong with her body, who steps on a scale five times a day (no matter how unhealthy that habit is) and feels even more worthless every time, Lia spoke to me immediately. As someone who watches everything she eats, as someone who feels lonely daily, Lia’s struggle and her spiral into darkness tugged at my heart. Anorexia and eating disorders are serious diseases, ones that I feel are easily dismissed as a “cry for attention” in society. However, Laurie exposes anorexia for what it truly is, a reckless disease that corrupts the brain. Lia measures the calories of everything she eats, vowing to only consume 500 calories a day. Where outsiders see a skinny girl, Lia sees a bulbous waste of space. Her days are measured in the amount of weight she can lose, how small she can possibly get.
I lift my arm out of the water. It's a log. Put it back in and it blows up even bigger. People see the log and call it a twig. They yell at me because I can't see what they see. Nobody can explain to me why my eyes work different than theirs. Nobody can make it stop.
Teens struggling with their body image and self-esteem will find solace in this book, in its powerful message to its readers. There were times where the hopelessness of Lia’s situation affected me, forcing me to put down the book and think about what was happening. Being in her mind truly made me uncomfortable, but almost relieved in a sick, morbid way. In seventh grade, I underwent a week where I stopped eating, taking in 500-600 calories a day, and I lost five pounds in a week. But during that week, I was always hungry, irritated, and tired. To imagine Lia going through the same thing every day of her life finally solidified my feelings towards this book. Laurie nailed Lia’s character and her struggle with disease.The character development blew me away, with Lia’s ups and downs. She went from “doing okay” to “spiraling downwards again” to “binge eating” to “feeling horrible about myself I’m a disgrace to mankind.” Her character was unpredictable, her inner dialogue reflecting that. She battled her body’s desire to eat a certain food and starved herself to the brink of death, and nowhere along the way did I fail to recognize the storm of thoughts churning within her.
085.00 is possible. I've been there before, in dangerland, sweet buzzing high gingersmoke air, crafty trolls hiding under bridges. But 085.00 makes me want 075.00. To get there I'll need to crack open my bones with a silver mallet and dig out my marrow with a long-handled spoon.
I almost never highlight the writing style of a book, but the writing was gorgeous. It perfectly mirrored Lia’s emotions, crossing out her traitorous thoughts of eating, and exemplifying her perception of herself and her guilt over Cassie’s death. Paragraphs would be left open ended so Laurie could insert phrases like “stupid/fat/bitch/stupid” to bring out Lia’s perception of herself. The metaphors used in Wintergirls are beautiful, and I imagined a wispy ballerina floating through the book, dancing and dropping comparisons like feather-light bombs. The language is breath-taking, propelling the book forward and keeping its reader captivated until the last twisted page. Wintergirls is dark and bleak and desperate, but Laurie balances all of those aspects deftly with the power of her words, finishing the book with a wholesome feeling and wonderful ending. My only advice to those who choose to venture into the depths of this book: good luck, because you’re in for a wild, wild ride....more
At first, I was skeptical at the idea of one girl living in a household with twelve Walter boys (technically eleven, but the other girl was a tomboy and considered a guy). But since I was looking on Wattpad and stumbled across this one before I was asked to join the tour, I jumped at the chance at reviewing a book that I was already slightly familiar with. My Life With the Walter Boys is comical, endearing, and romantic, with Jackie struggling to fit in amongst this rowdy group of boys. I was really expecting for Jackie to bond with the younger boys as well as with the older boys, and Ali luckily satisfied my needs. While each relationship wasn’t fully fleshed out between the boys, it was like she was a part of the family. I also appreciated how there was animosity and welcoming towards a new addition to the family, because twelve children is already spreading the parents of the family thin. The different effects and responses to Jackie’s moving in provided a realistic perspective of what was going on inside the Walter household.
There is an obvious issue with the romance, and that’s in the love triangle. It sort of reminded me of The Summer I Turned Pretty’s relationship structure, but it wasn’t tiring to me. I ended up liking it to an extent. enjoying the tender moments that Cole and Jackie shared together, but hating how he strung her along because he was conflicted for his feelings towards her. I liked the comfort of Alex and Jackie’s relationship, but I didn’t like how Cole was constantly trying to break them apart so he could have her. The drama infused throughout the relationship was understandable, and a narcotic side of me enjoyed Cole’s volatility, Jackie’s indecision, and Alex’s oblivion. The banter between Jackie and Cole always managed to make me laugh, their witty remarks fresh and enlightening. While the romance isn't anything particularly special, it's very cute and endearing.
Besides the romantic relationships, there was also plenty of friendships forming. The one I’d like to highlight was between Nathan and Jackie. Their platonic friendship spoke to me because they were truly like the brother-sister pair that was reminiscent of my relationship with my brother. Another thing I’d like to point out, the negative aspects of the book, was Jackie and Sammy’s relationship. Sammy, Jackie’s best friend from her old town, played a relatively minor role in the book, even though she was Jackie’s best friend. After two conversations, Jackie stopped talking to Sammy, which baffled me because they were, I repeat, best friends. With new friendships and relationships budding, it would have been nice for her to at least hold on to one old friendship. Finally, my last quibble had to do with Jackie’s coping process. Her entire family died in a car accident, and even though she felt like she was betraying her family by allowing herself to fall in love again, she didn’t seem that affected by it. If I were her, I’d be crying every night, having nightmares, etc. etc. I didn’t mind that she was happy, but I wanted her healing process to play a role in the book. Instead, it was mostly romance and drama.
My Life With the Walter Boys is a quick read that had me cracking up with Cole and Jackie’s fun interactions. The book is like whipped cream: light, sweet, and oh-so delicious—perfect for anyone in the mood to let loose and relax....more
Side Effects May Vary, contrary to the positive reviews everywhere, was a strong miss for me. I found the main characters annoying, the pacing disarming, the severe gender stereotyping, and the organization messy. I was looking for a cancer book that would punch me in the gut with redemption and justification, but ultimately my gut was untouched and rather disappointed.
First of all, the pacing was rather a mess. We have four different perspectives happening, Alice and Harvey now, and Alice and Harvey then. Not only were Alice and Harvey’s individual voices impossible to tell apart most of the time, but the “then” and “now” scenes were completely jumbled up. We’d randomly have five chapters now, and then ten chapters then, and so on and so forth. It was disorganized, and the plot suffered because of it. The “then” was mostly to establish what Alice did when she first found out she had cancer, but with the lack of a pattern in the chapters, it seemed easier just to split the book into two parts, one half detailing what she went through before she went into remission, and the other half about how she coped with the consequences, as opposed to jumbled up chapters that confused and bored me.
Our two main characters, Alice and Harvey, are well-developed, with a palpable and sound characterization. By the end, I made the conclusion that Side Effects May Vary isn’t really about Alice; it’s about Harvey and his unrequited love for Alice. Either that or this book lost its way in my brain, because while Alice was the one dealing with leukemia, this book strongly focused on the hot-and-cold relationship of Alice and Harvey. Bluntly, Alice was a bitch, and Harvey was a pushover. Alice repeatedly used Harvey for her twisted bucket list of people she wanted to screw over. Personally, I understood why she may have held angry feelings towards these people, but the way she acted outside of those instances were unforgivable. In maybe the second chapter, after Alice finds out she’s in remission, there’s a chapter where she and Harvey are sharing an intimate moment together. Then in the next chapter, she’s hooking up with another guy and is apathetic towards Harvey when he catches her in the process of hooking up. Around halfway through the book, pages and pages later, Alice began harping on and on about how Harvey started dating another girl and how Alice had finally chose him, but he instead went and chose another girl. I would’ve been slightly sympathetic if she hadn’t done the same thing to him earlier with Eric.
Harvey, who was even worse than Alice, was a total pushover. He submitted to everything Alice told him to do, and even when everybody knew that he was being used by her, he seemed okay with it.
”You are in love with me, and you always have been. But this is the truth, Harvey: I don’t love you. Not at all. Not you, not anyone, and anything.” And because that wasn’t enough, because I hadn’t done enough damage, I said, “You’re sad and pathetic. You have no spine, and the fact that you think someone like me could ever love someone like you only proves my point.
After Alice acts like a total bitch to him, he still chooses to go back to her and he still loves her, no matter how bitchy she acts towards him. Harvey actually was a sweet guy, which made Alice deserve him even less because she insinuates that she’s almost better than him, in a way, and even when she tries to act nice, she ruins it with a complete move that made me want to punch her, even if she was in remission.
”You can’t apologize for my feelings and expect things to be better.” He paused. “Especially not when you’re the reason for them.”
I knew what he was talking about, but that hadn’t been what I meant. I didn’t think. “Harvey—“
“No,” he said. “An apology like that makes it sound like you had nothing to do with why I was mad when you were what got me all angry in the first place.” His voice rose with each word. “That’s not okay.”
“I—I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for it to sound that way.” I almost said it, that I was sorry for how I'd acted and what I did, but instead I said, “Do you want to write up your own apology and I can sign it? Would that work for you?”
Jesus Christ, Alice, just because you had cancer doesn’t mean that you can alienate your best friend and expect him to continue to be your friend after you said something like that. She constantly acted like the world owed her something for making her go through cancer, and while cancer is a devastating disease, she did not have the right to say, “I felt like the universe owed me this.” The universe doesn’t owe anybody anything. As pessimistic as it may sound, her having cancer doesn’t make her special. Cancer is devastating, tragic, and I wouldn’t wish it upon anybody, but people unfortunately still get it, and those who do may be entitled to certain things, but it doesn’t give them the right to act like they’re special or that everybody around them owes them something because they had cancer, which is exactly what Alice did. She was reckless, angry, and didn’t seem to care how she could hurt those around her.
During the “then” chapters, while Alice was going through chemo, I had a question gnawing at my mind: Where were her parents? Harvey was the one driving her to and from her chemo sessions, and wouldn’t you think that her parents would have wanted to be around for something like that? And when she was executing all of her pranks and screwing over all the people who had originally screwed her over, where were her parents? Where were the authority figures that disciplined her or at least Harvey? The stuff they did was serious, and there is no way that the principal didn’t know about what they did.
Finally, the stereotyping used in Side Effects May Vary. A certain scene in general pissed me off, and it was when Alice met Tyson, a gay boy, in the bathroom. Even though they had never really talked before, Tyson started confessing pretty much his entire life story to her, even though no earlier relationship was established. Tyson then proceeded to start crying in the middle of his story, and while it may be true for some guys, it’s an overused gay stereotype. All the gay guys are over emotional, and at first I let it go, but as the trend of stereotyping continued, it was harder to let go.
It wasn’t really a guy car, but it was my car. —Harvey
Because gender stereotyping is totally okay, and admitting that having a car that’s “girly” isn’t something he’s completely comfortable with is also okay, like “girly” things signify weakness and that you’re a pussy, whereas guy things must signify manliness. Another example was when Harvey was confronting Alice about her always using him, and after she dismisses him quickly even though she knows he’s right, he throws this line at her:
"You never surprise me, Alice, which is such a disappointment.” —Harvey
That line was completely unnecessary in what they were talking about. Like “you’re such a disappointment because you always use me and I always know that you’re using me.” But Alice is really shocked by what he said, and how I interpreted was that even though he knew that she was using her, he constantly kept coming to her, indicating how much of a pushover he was and how much of a manipulator Alice was. Out of context, Harvey’s saying that it’s Alice’s job to surprise him and keep him on his toes, even though that’s not what a girl or guy’s role should ever be in a relationship. While the irrelevant translation means nothing towards the actual book, that piece of dialogue should have been worded differently, like, “You’re never going to change, Alice, which is such a disappointment.” Something like that, something that didn’t offend me as extremely as it did. It’s nitpicky beyond nitpicky, but with the earlier instance (not all covered in this review), that one line really affected me.
While I understand why some people could have enjoyed this book, it was extremely hard for me to. The stereotyping thrown everywhere and Alice’s character pissed me off to the point of no return, and I was extremely apathetic towards Side Effects May Vary....more