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Book Review: Someone Elses Summer by Rachel Bateman

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3-out-of-5-stars

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

Description: “Anna’s always idolized her older sister, Storm. So when Storm dies in a tragic car accident on the night of her high school graduation, Anna is completely lost and her family is torn apart. That is, until she finds Storm’s summer bucket list and decides to honor her sister by having the best summer ever—which includes taking an epic road trip to the coast from her sleepy Iowa town. Setting out to do everything on Storm’s list along with her sisters best friend Cameron—the boy next door—who knew that Storm’s dream summer would eventually lead to Anna’s own self-discovery?”

Review: I’m not sure that “epic” is the word I would use to describe this road trip, maybe played out? I really liked the idea of Anna taking over her deceased sister’s bucket list. The road trip was light and entertaining but unoriginal. I felt like this book didn’t have an aspect that makes it stand out from other YA coming of age/road trip books. Anna and Cameron fall in love (obviously) but I never felt connected to their characters and quite frankly I didn’t really like Cameron. The characters weren’t really fleshed out. For example, we keep hearing how Piper is Anna’s best friends but all of their conversations and interactions are superficial. I wish there was more character development to help me become vested in the story. I honestly think my favorite character was Storm, who you never actually meet in the book but only hear about. Storm seemed to be the most dynamic character of the bunch. While I enjoyed the beginning half of the book I quickly grew uninterested. Overall, this book is a standard coming of age story that many teenage girls will enjoy.

 

*please note that I received an advanced copy of the book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

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Book Review: The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares

“The Whole Thing Together” by Ann Brashares

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3-out-of-5-stars

Description: “Summer for Sasha and Ray means the sprawling old house on Long Island. Since they were children, they’ve shared almost everything—reading the same books, running down the same sandy footpaths to the beach, eating peaches from the same market, laughing around the same sun-soaked dining table. Even sleeping in the same bed, on the very same worn cotton sheets. But they’ve never met.

Sasha’s dad was once married to Ray’s mom, and together they had three daughters: Emma, the perfectionist; Mattie, the beauty; and Quinn, the favorite. But the marriage crumbled and the bitterness lingered. Now there are two new families—and neither one will give up the beach house that holds the memories, happy and sad, of summers past.

The choices we make come back to haunt us; the effect on our destinies ripples out of our control…or does it? This summer, the lives of Sasha, Ray, and their siblings intersect in ways none of them ever dreamed, in a novel about family relationships, keeping secrets, and most of all, love.”

Review: I really struggled to read this book, I found it slow, confusing and lacking dimension. All of the interesting aspects of the story are briefly mentioned and are glossed over. The story felt like it was rushed.

This story is about a variety of personalities, how they cope with life and how they manage to live together. Due to so many characters it was difficult to keep track of who is who (sorry Mattie and Emma) and to feel connected to any of them. The characters and story of Ray and Sasha are more developed but I found the whole romance to be disturbing. Even though Ray and Sasha are not biologically related the budding romance between them creeped me out.

I wish the author cut the number of characters in half and gave them more details and focus. The characters had a lot of potential for growth but due to the overwhelming number of characters, all with personal struggles, I found it difficult to get to know them. A lot is mentioned and hinted at in the book but not much is flushed out.

While I will be purchasing this book for the public library I work at due to the author’s name (teens will still want to read it) I do not think I will personally recommend it to anymore.

*please note that I received an advanced copy of the book from NetGalley

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Book Review: Lost in a Book by Jennifer Donnelly

Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book by Jennifer Donnelly

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2-out-of-5-stars

Description: “An original addition to the beloved Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, “Lost in a Book” follows the lonely, bookish Belle as she finds an enchanted book in the Beast’s library called Nevermore that carries her into a glittering new world. There, Belle is befriended by a mysterious countess who offers her the life she’s always dreamed of.

But Nevermore is not what it seems, and the more time Belle spends there, the harder it is to leave. Good stories take hold of us and never let us go, and once Belle becomes lost in this book, she may never find her way out again.”

Review: There might be some burning pitchforks after me after this review but here it goes! There was a lot of hype surrounding this book and I became very excited when I heard about it (I even went to 2 stores to purchase it only to find out that it was sold it!). I was a huge Beauty and the Beast fan growing up and cannot wait for the movie! I must say that I had high expectations for this book, a lot of friends told me it was amazing, and maybe that is why I was so let down.

I found the story to be overplayed (love vs death, enchanted book, etc); to me it came off like a typical girl getting sucked into a fantasy world, blinded by beauty and is too dumb to realize what is happening. Belle is supposed to be a book smart character but does not see or listen to the warnings she is given in Nevermore. I became frustrated that she would fall for Death’s trickery so easily, I felt that she should have seen what was coming. Even until the middle of the book I was still holding out hope that Belle’s wits would persevere (not so much).

The story unfolds quickly, almost too quickly in my opinion. Due to the fast pace it was hard to feel a connection with the characters. I wish the book slowed down and built up more anticipation. Also, the character of Beast was lacking, he is not present for the majority of the story and I felt like he could have had a lot more depth than what was shown. It was hard to figure out why Belle was so drawn to Nevermore when she constantly spoke about her love for the servants and even her blossoming friendship with the Beast. Overall I felt like this story was rushed and not fully developed. I wanted to like it but just couldn’t get into it. This book is a quick read, I was able to binge read it in 2 days.

Even though I was not the biggest fan of “Lost in a Book” I do have several friends that adore it! They enjoyed it because it was not a retelling per se but still keeps the original characters present. Jennifer Donnelly is a great author and I did like how it wasn’t your typically retelling. There will be many Jennifer Donnelly and Beauty in the Beast fans that will find a treasure in this book!

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Book Review: My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

 

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Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

Description: “Katie Brenner has the perfect life: a flat in London, a glamorous job, and a super-cool Instagram feed.

Ok, so the real truth is that she rents a tiny room with no space for a wardrobe, has a hideous commute to a lowly admin job, and the life she shares on Instagram isn’t really hers.

But one day her dreams are bound to come true, aren’t they?

Until her not-so perfect life comes crashing down when her mega-successful boss Demeter gives her the sack. All Katie’s hopes are shattered. She has to move home to Somerset, where she helps her dad with his new glamping business.

Then Demeter and her family book in for a holiday, and Katie sees her chance. But should she get revenge on the woman who ruined her dreams? Or try to get her job back? Does Demeter – the woman with everything – have such an idyllic life herself? Maybe they have more in common than it seems.

And what’s wrong with not-so-perfect, anyway?”

Book Review: Surprisingly, this is only the second Sophie Kinsella book I have read and therefore I cannot compare it to any of her other novels. I found “My Not So Perfect Life” to be an easy read with a lot of relatable/likable characters. The dialogue is clever and the characters are quirky and off-beat. This book is a great portrayal of what it feels like to be a 20 something.

  • Trying (and failing) to reinvent yourself
  • Attempting to land the perfect job
  • Trying to get by when you don’t have enough experience to land said perfect job
  • Attempting to make your life look perfect on social media

Although I personally connected to this book on a 20 something level I think adults of a wide age range will also find it relatable. The characters are fleshed out nicely with lots of quirks and flaws. They all have personal struggles that they hide behind a facade. This story is all about having your own issues and attempting to keep your life together while portraying yourself as “perfect.” While being a fun book to binge read over a weekend, it is also a reminder that no one’s life is perfect. I highly recommend this book!

 

*please note that I received an advanced copy of the book from NetGalley

 

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Book Review: You Know Me Well by David Levithan & Nina LaCour

You Know Me Well by David Levithan & Nina LaCour

Description: Who knows you well? Your best friend? Your boyfriend or girlfriend? A stranger you meet on a crazy night? No one, really?

Mark and Kate have sat next to each other for an entire year, but have never spoken. For whatever reason, their paths outside of class have never crossed.

That is until Kate spots Mark miles away from home, out in the city for a wild, unexpected night. Kate is lost, having just run away from a chance to finally meet the girl she has been in love with from afar. Mark, meanwhile, is in love with his best friend Ryan, who may or may not feel the same way.

When Kate and Mark meet up, little do they know how important they will become to each other — and how, in a very short time, they will know each other better than any of the people who are supposed to know them more.

Told in alternating points of view by Nina LaCour, the award-winning author of Hold Still and The Disenchantments, and David Levithan, the best-selling author of Every Day and co-author of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (with Rachel Cohn) and Will Grayson, Will Grayson (with John Green), You Know Me Well is a deeply honest story about navigating the joys and heartaches of first love, one truth at a time.”

Review: This is a great coming of age novel, not only for the LGBT community, but for all teens. There are love obstacles in this book (like most YA novels) but they aren’t overdone or blown out of proportion. I felt the teenage angst was appropriately portrayed. While I no longer feel it, I was able to enjoy the melodrama and it took me back to the feelings I had as a teenager. This novel poetically describes the struggles of trying to be yourself and find out who that is. The only issue I had was that at times it was hard to figure out who was speaking, I personally prefer when the character speaking is clearly stated. Don’t let the fact that this story has a LGBT element stop you from reading and recommending it, people from all walks of life can enjoy the beauty of this book! I would recommend it to adults and teens who connect with the LGBT community, who are struggling with their own identity and who enjoy realistic YA fiction.

*please note that I received an advanced copy of the book from NetGalley

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Book Review: Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick

Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick

Description: Nanette O’Hare is a hardworking high school student, a good daughter, a best friend and a great soccer player. Yet, Nanette feels like there must be more to life than going through her every day routine. A teacher sees Nanette as a kindred spirit and gives her a book called “The Bubblegum Reaper.” Nanette becomes consumed by the mysterious book about a boy who decides to “quit.” Her teacher helps her get in touch with the reclusive author; it is through the author that she makes new friends, finds her first love in a troubled teen and begins to question her very way of living.

Review: “The Silver Linings Playbook” is one of my favorite books (waaaaaay better than the movie), when I saw that the author wrote a new YA novel I was dying to read it. Unfortunately, the book didn’t have the same magic as “The Silver Linings Playbook,” at times I honestly thought I was reading a John Green novel (think “The Fault in our Stars” without cancer).  I really did want to like this book, I love YA novels that are philosophical and forces you to think. The reason why I didn’t like it is because I found it preachy and the story line obvious (who would have thought the troubled poet would get himself into trouble and meet a sad end?!?). The characters are very stereotypical – the troubled violent teen who writes angsty poetry, the teenage girl who has it all but yet it’s still not enough, the reclusive author who won’t answer questions, a boy  who gets bullied by his classmates and a group of high schoolers who only care about getting drunk and hooking up. I wasn’t able to connect with the characters; I wanted to shake them, tell them to suck it up and deal with it (which might have to do with the fact that I’m now in my mid-20s and can see past high school agony). While I wasn’t able to connect with them many teens who have dealt with bullying, peer pressure and divorce will feel for them.  Although I wasn’t a huge fan of the book I do know some teens who will enjoy it. The book depicts the ups, downs, ins and outs of being a teen. It portrays the confusion and varied emotions that hit in the high school years. Although it depicts these emotions nicely I don’t think it shows how to best handle them and might leave teens with more questions and answers (just like the author of “The Bubblegum Reaper”). I would recommend this book to young adults who like John Green and those who question society norms but are mature for their age.

*please note that I received an advanced copy of the book from NetGalley

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Book Review: Flawed by Cecelia Ahern

Flawed by Cecelia Ahern

Description: “Celestine North lives a perfect life. She’s a model daughter and sister, she’s well-liked by her classmates and teachers, and she’s dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan.

But then Celestine encounters a situation in which she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule and now faces life-changing repercussions. She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found FLAWED.

In her breathtaking young adult debut, bestselling author Cecelia Ahern depicts a society in which obedience is paramount and rebellion is punished. And where one young woman decides to take a stand that could cost her everything.”

Book Review: YA dystopian novels (and their movie counterparts) are overdone, I decided to give this one a shot because of A) the author and B) it sounded intriguing. I  found this book to be a refreshing change from the recent dystopian novels, there was no instalove or love triangles or wars. There is some violence (aka branding a person) and intense scenes in the story.  The first half of the book was a little slow and bland but picked up in the second part. It was an enjoyable read but not one to write home about. Celestine as a character is a little weak, I’ve read some other reviews that declare her to be unbelievable but I felt her back and forth questioning (of who to trust/what to do) is extremely realistic. She grew up with strict societal rules stating that all Flawed are lesser beings, now everything she grew up believing has been turned upside down.  I did find her slightly frustrating though; she was wishy washy and I kept hoping she’d come in her own as a strong female character. The idea of branding people in specific places based upon their crime was interesting and brought me back to my English Lit classes (“The Scarlet Letter” anyone?). I wish there was more information on the other characters, I found them more intriguing than Celestine. Each character had an agenda that was fueled by something personal, I would love to find out more about them (especially the grandfather). I also wish there was more backstory of why/how these society rules came about (more than just one sentence). I will be reading the next book because I am curious about what happens. I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to people who liked the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld.

*please note that I received an advanced copy of the book from NetGalley

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Book Review: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Summary: Simon is in his last year at Waterford, a school of magic. Simon doesn’t have your typical high school experience; his roommate is a vampire, his girlfriend broke up with him and he is considered to be the savior. Also, wherever Simon goes people end up being attacked by the evil Insidious Humdrum. Not only does Simon have to find out how to defeat the Humdrum but he also has sworn to help his roommate, Baz, find out who killed his mother. Simon, his best friend Penny and his nemesis Baz must work together to figure out who killed Baz’s mother and how to stop the Humdrum.

Review: I’m a huge Rainbow Rowell fan and was excited to get my hands on this book. I will admit that I have not yet read Fangirl (where the character Simon Snow comes from) and maybe if I did I would have liked this book better (or maybe not).  This book was pretty much Harry Potter; except Harry’s gay, Ron’s a vampire, Professor Dumbledore is a power hungry Mage and Lord Voldemort is Harry’s alter-ego. I was very disappointed in this book, if I didn’t know any better I would have assumed this was the final book in a series. The story starts off right in the middle with no introduction to the characters, the world of mages or the threat of the Humdrum. For the first 100 pages or so I kept rereading sections in hopes that it would make sense. The plot doesn’t actually pick up pace until half way but even then I was still confused and had a lot of unanswered questions. The big finale was a huge let down and I’m still not sure I know exactly what happened or who/what the Humdrum is (or why Simon has a tail). The plot was very drawn out and the end was just plain confusing and boring. While there are a lot of plot holes, the characters are well fleshed out. The only reason I kept reading this book is because I enjoyed finding out more about the characters, each is driven by a specific relatable desire. Overall I would not recommend this book, I think it will let down Rainbow Rowell fans and anger Harry Potter fans.

*please note that I received an advanced copy of the book from NetGalley

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Book Review: The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever by Jeff Strand

The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever by Jeff Strand

3.5 out of 5 stars

Summary: Justin, Bobby and Gabe are amateur film makers who decide they are going to make the greatest zombie movie ever within a month. While they have the passion to create the movie they have to overcome many obstacles, such as borrowing $5,000 from a grandmother that expects interest, a house fire and a car accident. Will these 3 friends be able to pull off making the zombie movie of the century? Or more importantly, will they still be friends after it?

Review: Jeff Strand strikes again with a hilarious book that appeals to a vast audience. This book won’t win any awards or be declared a classic but it will make you laugh. The characters aren’t all that relatable and you don’t really connect with him but you can’t help but love the quirky characters. The plot line, while not believable, goes along at a good pace and keeps the reader guessing what crazy antic is going to happen next.  It’s nice to read a YA novel that isn’t full of epic adventures and love triangles.  This is a great book to get reluctant readers, especially boys, to pick up a book.

*please note that I received an advanced copy of the book from NetGalley

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Book Review: The Passenger by Lisa Lutz

The Passenger by Lisa Lutz

3 out of 5 stars

Summary: Tanya Dubois finds her husband deceased at the bottom of a staircase in their home. She fears that if she stays she will become a suspect in his death. For the second time in her life Tanya finds herself in the position of needing a new identity. Tanya reaches out to a man who helps her get a new identity, the first of many that Tanya tries on. Along the way Tanya meets Blue, a bartender, and kindred spirit. They quickly realize that they are both running from their pasts. The girls join forces to try to establish new identities and start over. Once the two women find new identities they part ways but it is not long before their paths cross again.  What terrible thing has Tanya done that has made her run for 10 years, will she be able to escape it?

Review: “The Passenger” was a fun quick thrilling read. It’s easy to get caught up in the crazy ride that is Tanya’s life. The main character changes names and identities numerous times but for the sake of this review I will be referring to her as Tanya. There are a lot of plot twists and questions about Tanya’s past. The whole time you are reading you are dying to know what has happened. There is a nice balance of past and future, the snippets into the past (in the form of emails) allows the reader to see that there is a lot more going on than expected. The emails work wonderfully to pull the readers in and to make them want to know more about Tanya. After a while the story got stuck into a pattern – Tanya steals an ID, changes her hair color, finds a hotel, goes to a bar, orders a drink, goes to sleep, wakes up and does it all over again. What made those stagnant moments better are the moments where she finally starts to settle in to an identity and life. I personally enjoyed when Tanya became a teacher and started to form personal relationships with her students, colleagues and the owner of the local bar, these moments humanize her. It’s hard to declare whether Tanya is a likeable character or not because she changes identities so often and along with a new identity comes a new personality. I  never really felt bad for Tanya, she wasn’t a relatable character and her actions while on the run were not always the best. Once I finished the book I realized there were a lot of unanswered questions and plot holes (such as what did happen to the dead husband?!). The ending tried to nicely wrap the story up with a poetic justice bow but a lot of minor plot lines were dropped. This is not a probable tale, to enjoy it you need to be able to suspend disbelief. I would highly recommend this book to someone that is looking for a fast paced thrilling read that doesn’t require too much thinking.

*please note that I received an advanced copy of the book from Netgalley

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