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Genre: Illnesses & Injuries

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Review: Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless by Liz Czukas

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Review: Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless by Liz CzukasTop Ten Clues You're Clueless by Liz Czukas
Published by Harper Teen on 09 December 2014
Genres: Adolescence, Contemporary Romance, Emotions & Feelings, Friends to Lovers, Friendship, Illnesses & Injuries, Love & Romance, Mystery & Detective, People of Color, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 289
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

First Line(s): Top Ten Weirdest Things People Do Everyday at Goodfoods Market.

Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless by Liz Czukas is a humorous contemporary novel and a quick read good for when you aren’t looking for something too deep or heavy. The main character, Chloe, is likable and a girl that many people can relate to. I enjoyed seeing this world through her eyes and often laughed at some of her inner monologue. The fact that she makes lists was also another thing about her that allowed her to worm her way into my heart. I do so adore a good list.

In some ways, Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless reminded me a lot of the brat pack movies from the 80s. You know the ones The Breakfast ClubSixteen Candles, and Pretty in Pink – just to name a few. There is an ensemble cast to this book where you have a good mix of personalities all working together for a common cause and along the way also becoming friends. Its a fun read that will make you laugh and smile and wish that you worked at Goodfoods with this crew so you can take part in the shenanigans as well.

Top Ten Clues Quote

 

All is not sunshine and roses though in the Goodfoods universe, there is a mystery aspect to this story as well as someone has stolen the holiday donation money and Chloe and her co-workers are all the primary suspects. For me, the mystery portion was very weak and was almost a distraction from the story than anything else. Although without the theft then these characters may not have become a unit and as such we wouldn’t have had a story. So its one of those Catch-22 sort of situations. The mystery isn’t hard to figure out though that doesn’t take away from the story. This is more of a story about making friends that will last a life time and maybe a little romance along the way.

Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless is a quick read that I enjoyed. Its a book that makes me curious about Czukas’s other books as I do love a good comedic story. Sometimes they just needed when the real world gets to be a little too real and sad and you need some cheering up. Books like this are also great if you’ve just read something emotionally heavy or need a book to transition from one genre to another. Its not a deep story but it was witty and fun and one that I would recommend to many of my friends.

irishdarkblue

IR - Top Ten Clues

Add The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes to Goodreads (Click here for my review.)

Add The Chapel Wars by Lindsey Leavitt to Goodreads (Click here for my review.)

three-stars
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Sunday, January 11, 2015

Audio Review: Bruiser by Neil Shusterman

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Audiobook, Review, Young Adult1 Comment

Audio Review: Bruiser by Neil ShustermanBruiser by Neal Shusterman
Narrator: Kate Rudd, Laura Hamilton, Luke Daniels, Nick Podehl
Published by Brilliance Audio on 03 May 2011
Genres: Action & Adventure, Adolescence, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Illnesses & Injuries, Love & Romance, Sci-Fi, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Sports & Athletics, Young Adult
Length: 6 hours 55 minutes
Format: eBook
Source: Audible.com
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: Violent Ends

Place(s) Traveled To: Unknown, USA

First Line(s): If he touches her, I swear I’m going to rip out his guts with my bare hands and send them to his next of kin for lunch.

My choice to pick up Bruiser by Neal Shusterman was two-fold, first it was a Neal Shusterman book and I was curious to see what his writing style was like outside the world of Unwind. And second, the audio was narrated by Nick Pohdel, Kate Rudd and Luke Daniels – three narrators that I really enjoy. Its also narrated by Laura Hamilton but she was an unknown to me at the time and of the 4 narrators I liked her narration the least. Her part was that of Bruiser’s little brother, Cody, and that was a character that annoyed the ever loving crap out of me (think Carl on The Walking Dead) and Hamilton almost sounded like a cartoon as she read his POV scenes. But Pohdel, Rudd, and Daniels shined and I fell more in love with their narration styles than I had been before.

The story of Bruiser is a bit harder to talk about because to talk about it risks giving away the very thing that makes this book special. At its heart though Brusier is a story of misunderstandings, forgiveness, and friendship. Brewster, nicknamed Bruiser, by his classmates is a loaner and is always getting into trouble. He has a reputation of being a bad boy with a bad attitude and so everyone stays away. Then one day he and Bronte strike up a conversation and they talk. This happens a few times and Bronte sees something underneath the gruff, standoffish persona of Brewster and the two start to fall in love. This is something that Bronte’s twin brother, Tennyson, wants to try and stop and he does what he can to come between the two. Tennyson is a popular kid in school and everyone likes him. His reputation is to be the cool kid, the guy on top, the one that everyone wants to be friends with because he’s so charismatic and nice. Only as the story progresses you learn that the ones you think are nice aren’t so nice and the ones you think are bad aren’t so bad.

Bruiser Quote

Brusier is such a layered story and each chapter, each POV change just leads you deeper into its depths. Its a slow reveal but then also one that is not impossible to figure out. The foreshadowing parts I could have done without and then there were some things that the characters did that nearly broke my heart. But overall, this was a story that I enjoyed. It kept me on the edge of my seat and I was invested in how each of the characters storylines would play out. With the exception of Cody, because even though he was a child, I just didn’t like him. Its so hard to write believable children in books sometimes and this is one case that fails. Cody is whiny, selfish and entitled and by the end I really didn’t care what happened to him. I found his POV moments to be distracting and I just really wanted to return to Bronte, Tennyson or Brewster as I felt they were the only characters to go through any real growth. Who they were at the start was different than who they were at the end.

This book will tough your heart strings and tug on them and fill you up with emotion. So many emotions. Even with the foreshadowing and the impending sense of dread that unfolds as you read (or listen) to the story and yet you can’t stop listening because you are filled with a burning desire to know what happens. Shusterman, as usual, has a gift with world building and storytelling that just sucks the reader in and won’t let them go until the story is over. Even then you are left with residuals and wonderings of what ifs as you think about where the story might go if it went on just a little longer. Bruiser is a story built on its characters and its such a strong cast. Its a book that I knew little about before picking it up and I was glad of that as the story unfolded. This was one of my favorite audios of 2014 and its a story that I highly recommend. There is something in it for everyone.

irishdarkblue

Irish Recommends - Bruiser

four-stars
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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Audio Review: Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Audiobook, Review1 Comment

Audio Review: Where She Went by Gayle FormanWhere She Went by Gayle Forman
Narrator: Dan Bittner
Series: If I Stay, Book 2
Also in this series: If I Stay
Published by Penguin Audio on 05 April 2011
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Death & Dying, Emotions & Feelings, Friendship, Illnesses & Injuries, Love & Romance, Music & Musicians, Performing Arts, Young Adult
Length: 5 hours 21 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: If I Stay

Place(s) Traveled To: New York, New York // Brooklyn, New York // London, England

First Line(s): Every morning I wake up and I tell myself this: It’s just one day, one twenty-four-hour period to get yourself through.

Ok Internet,

I have a confession to make, are you ready? Ok….I didn’t really like the book If I Stay and so when its sequel, Where She Went was released I didn’t think that I would ever read it. It wasn’t until I saw the movie of If I Stay that I began to consider picking up Where She Went. I wasn’t sure I’d like the movie but I had screening passes so I went and I liked the visual form of the story so much better than the book. I became invested in Mia’s story and curious to know what happened to her when the movie ended. So I checked out a copy of Where She Went and gave it a try. As with some others I was a little surprised, but pleased, that the narrator  was Adam, Mia’s boyfriend from the first book.

Right from the start I thought that Where She Went was a pretty solid read. I was engrossed in the story and my heart really went out to Adam and all that he was going through. Yes, I felt for Mia as well but how things went, its just that Adam seemed so very broken and Mia was just cracked but still on the mend. I also liked the epigraphs featuring lyrics from Adam’s bands album at the start of each chapter. These just highlighted how much Adam had changed in the three years since If I Stay and just how far he had separated himself from all those that he loved.

Where She Went Quote

Where Where She Went lost me at the end….and spoiler alert if you haven’t read this one yet…so Adam and Mia are on a bridge and they are finally talking about the horrible thing Mia did in just cutting off Adam without a word. There is tension, lots of tension, and exclamations from me saying “Finally! Finally Adam is confronting Mia!” And then the tension just breaks and for with a sigh Adam is all you’re forgiven and I am fixed. That the last three years of guilt and torture and all that other crap he’s been putting himself and those around him through was just done. Then there was this rush to a happily ever after that just felt a bit unreal. It wasn’t solid and I just feel that eventually Adam and Mia will split again over resentments that they don’t realize still exist.

Overall I loved the narrator, Dan Bittner, and thought that he was perfect for Adam but he did a horrible job with the female voice. There is a small chance that my dislike with Mia also made me dislike Bittner’s narration of her lines but as I said, that’s just a small chance. This is a narrator that I would listen to again and when I do I’ll be able to better evaluate Bittner’s skill with doing female voices.

 

irishdarkblue

 

Irish Recommends - Where She Went
four-stars
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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Review: The Year We Fell Down by Sarina Bowen

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, New Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: The Year We Fell Down by Sarina BowenThe Year We Fell Down by Sarina Bowen
Series: The Ivy Years,
Also in this series: The Year We Hid Away, The Understatement of the Year, Blonde Date, The Shameless Hour, The Fifteenth Minute
Published by Self-Published on 24 March 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Friends to Lovers, Friendship, Health & Daily Living, Illnesses & Injuries, Love & Romance, New Adult, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Sports & Athletics
Pages: 268
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars
Also by this author: The Year We Hid Away, The Understatement of the Year, Blonde Date, The Shameless Hour, Him, The Fifteenth Minute, Coming in from the Cold, Us, Bittersweet, Steadfast, Rookie Move (Brooklyn Bruisers, #1)

Place(s) Traveled To: Hartford, Connecticut // Greenwich, Conneticut // Harkness,Conneticut // Etna, Connecticut // Unnamed, Wisconsin

First Line(s): “This looks promising,” my mother said, eyeing the dormitory’s ivy-covered facade.

I first heard about Sarina Bowen when an author friend recommended a title of hers called The Understatement of the Year which is the third book in Bowen’s Ivy League series. As I’ve mentioned a time or two I like to read a series in order and as this author friend also said the others were worth the read I decided to just go ahead and buy the whole lot and started reading the first book, The YEar We Fell Down. The Year We Fell Down is the story of Corey  Callahan and Adam Hartley (called Hartley by friends throughout that you pretty much forget his real name) and takes place over the course of a year at their school, Harkness University (Read: Yale without being Yale). Corey is a Freshman and is starting off school relearning how to walk after a freak Hockey accident several months prior. Hartley is also recovery from a hockey injury but his was the result of male stupidity that leaves him with a broken leg. They are neighbors and are instantly attacted to one another but there are several obstacles in their way. Queue up ALL THE CLICHES!

First there is the biggest hurdle, Hartley has a girlfriend. A long time girlfriend who is pretty and rich and is conviantely away for the semester in France. She is also a royal b*@#& and no one likes her, not even Hartley most of the time, so it often baffled me why he was even with the girl since all he did was point out all the things he disliked about her and the things he did like was that she was pretty and had money. (Head desk. Repeat.) Then there was Corey with her typical heroine hangups of how she’s not pretty enough and the added issue of her handicap which she thinks will prevent her from ever finding love. Especially with Hartley as he is just so handsome and amazing and just perfect in every way. (Head desk. Repeat.) But where Corey bugged me the most was her use of the phrase, hope fairies. It was childish and overdone and I swear my eye started to twitch be the end every time her internal monolgue went there.

For me, The Year We Fell Down, wasn’t a bad book but it wasn’t super great either. There were typos and continutiy errors and random name changes throughout the book. There were some unbelievable bits and the fact that it really just barely didn’t cross the cheating line. Any regular reader knows that cheating is a big bookish turn off with me and has killed a book or two for me. There are books where there is mutal attraction but the one who is taken doesn’t actually cross the line but its a very fine line and there have to be other elements in the story that wow me enough to pull my brain away from fixating that character x is not single. The Year We Fell Down didn’t have enough of those elements and so every time Hartley was focusing thoughts on Corey in a romantic way (and vise versa) I kept yelling at the book “He has a girlfriend!!” It was a frustration and totally took away a star from my rating.

The Year We Fell Down wasn’t a train wreck though and I did really enjoy the secondary characters in the novel and I did like the school setting where it took place. While I think that Bowen’s writing needs a little polish and that this story could use another round of editing or two to clean up some things there is enough promise to it all to keep me reading the next books in the series. Plus, I did already buy them all so there is that as well.

 

irishdarkblue

Year We Fell Down Quote
three-stars
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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Review: Hard to Hold on To by Laura Kaye

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Hard to Hold on To by Laura KayeHard to Hold on To by Laura Kaye
Series: Hard Ink,
Also in this series: Hard As It Gets, Hard As You Can, Hard to Come By, Hard to be Good, Hard to Let Go, Hard as Steel
Published by Avon on 19 August 2014
Genres: Abduction, Adult, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Girls & Women, Illnesses & Injuries, Love & Romance, People of Color, Short Story / Novella, Social Issues, War & Military
Pages: 208
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars
Also by this author: Hard As It Gets, Hard As You Can, Hard to Come By, Hard to be Good, Hard to Let Go, Hard as Steel

Place(s) Traveled To: Baltimore, Maryland

First Line(s): As the black F150 truck shot through the night-darkened streets of one of Baltimore’s grittiest neighborhoods, Edward Cantrell cradled the unconscious woman in his arms like she was the only thing tethering him to life.

Hard to Hold on To by Laura Kaye is the most recent book in her Hard Ink series which involves a group of 5 ex-military team members who are working to clear their name after a betrayal of their commander. Each book in the series needs to be read in order as each book builds upon events that happened previously. We are first introduced to Edward Cantrell, Easy, in the first book and I was looking forward to his story. However, I was very disappointed to learn that rather than get a full book like all the other team members, his story was only going to be a novella and I am left to wonder why. Granted to have so many books that happen in only a few days with two characters falling madly in love does stretch credibility so I might have had issue with that. Though as this is a novella where characters fall in love even faster that too stretches the realm of probability so if we’re going to deal with unrealistic timelines then I would have rather had this one exist as a full length book.

The other books in the series founded themselves on being more than just a love story and had this crazy, over the top storyline that they were dealing with and Hard to Hold on To didn’t do anything to add to the overall storyline. This book does deal with a little bit of post-traumatic stress of Jenna as she recovers from her kidnapping in book 2 but it doesn’t really go very deep into the potential ramifications of that. Though I did like the connection and bonding that this incident brought between Jenna and Easy. And I did enjoy the little cameos from the rest of the team as well. Since Hard to Hold on To is a novella its a very quick read and there isn’t a lot of substance to it since it is just Jenna and Easy’s trip to a HEA.

While this one doesn’t add to the overall story ARC I don’t think that it can be skipped entirely though if a reader does skip it they won’t be missing much at all. Which is part of why I think that Jenna and Easy got the shaft and its a shame that their story was almost an after thought to the series as a whole. I just feel that there was so much potential wasted here and some psychological issues for both Easy and Jenna that could have been explored/addressed that could have taken up a longer book even without making an addition to the Church storyline. So while I enjoyed this novella I was also very disappointed by it.

irishdarkblue

Hard to hold on to quote

three-stars
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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Review: Far From You by Tess Sharpe

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Review, Young Adult2 Comments

Review: Far From You by Tess SharpeFar From You by Tess Sharpe
Published by Disney-Hyperion on 08 April 2014
Genres: Contemporary (No Romance Focus), Death & Dying, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Girls & Women, GLBT, Health & Daily Living, Illnesses & Injuries, Love & Romance, Mystery & Detective, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Harper’s Bluff, California

First Line(s): It doesn’t start here.

 

When I first heard about Far From You by Tess Sharpe I wasn’t sure if it was a book that I would like. I wasn’t sure I wanted to read a story about addicition and recovery so I didn’t think much of until. That is until one night in NYC where I was getting tipsy with Andi from AndiABC’s that she talked it up so much and was such and book bully for it that I decided to give it a go. (Also, how nerdy are we to be talking about books in a bar?!? But that’s just how we roll.) So I made a library request for it right there and then and fates had it waiting for me not long after I got home. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from Far From You by from the opening lines until the end this book had me hooked.

I loved Sophie’s voice and how Sharpe crafted her story with bits of the past woven into the present day narrative. I loved following the clues of how Sophie ended up where she did and wondered what really happened to Mia that night. While I did figure out the mystery fairly early on, the knowing didn’t detract from my enjoyment on how this book was written. I found myself whizzing through the pages and loving how Sophie changed and grew as a character despite all the gossip about her. I liked how she stood up for herself and stood her ground even though no one believed her story. I liked how she fought to uncover the truth about her friend and most of all I liked how this one barely had a romantic story line to it.

All to often in books these days the story is bogged down because the main character gets distracted by a boy. She almost forgets herself to angst over her love and everything else takes a back seat. In Far From You, Sophie could lose herself into a romance but she doesn’t. She admits she has feelings but she doesn’t act on them in memory of her friend. Her focus is on Mia and even though Mia is dead Far From You is very much a friendship story. We get to know Mia thorugh flashbacks and your heart aches that her life was ended before it ever really began.

Its hard to belive that Far From You is a debut novel and I am so glad that Andi pushed me to read it. I loved Sharpe’s writing and am looking forward to seeing what she comes up with next. I would love to see more stories set in this town but I also love how this was a standalone novel. Its a great story and one that I don’t think that you’ll regret reading. Its not perfect but its well told and I love it because its slightly flawed. If you’ve been hesitating about Far From You then stop because you don’t know what you are missing.

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irishdarkblue

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far from you2
four-stars
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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Review: The Treatment by Suzanne Young

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Review, Young Adult1 Comment

Review: The Treatment by Suzanne YoungThe Treatment by Suzanne Young
Series: The Program, Book 2
Also in this series: The Program, The Remedy, The Epidemic
Published by Simon Pulse on 29 April 2014
Genres: Abduction, Action & Adventure, Adolescence, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Death & Dying, Diseases, Dystopian, Emotions & Feelings, Illnesses & Injuries, Love & Romance, People & Places, Sci-Fi, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: The Program, The Remedy, The Epidemic

Place(s) Travels To: Salt Lake City, Utah // Portland, Oregon // Unknown USA

First Line(s): Over the last four years, suicide has reached epidemic proportions, killing one in three teens.

 

The Treatment by Suzanne Young is the long awaited followup to The Program which I listened to on audio and just loved it. I was debating on if I wanted to listen to The Treatment or read it when I received an egalley back in October and knew I wouldn’t be able to wait in order to see what happened. The Treatment picks up not long after the events in The Program ends with Sloane and James on the run from the Programs Goon Squad. Things are dicey for our beloved duo and that makes for some edge of your seat moments. Its not long before they hook up with the small rag-tag band of rebels including new character Dallas and Realm. I had mixed feelings on Dallas and move from disliking her, to liking her, to feeling sorry for her, and back again. My feelings for Realm never wavered.

In fact, I grew to dislike him more than ever. He was worse in every way in this book filled with lies and manipulations. He acted so horrible towards Dallas and would play both Sloane and James in an attempt to drive a wedge between them. If I could have smacked Realm out of the book I totally would have. Its rare that I dislike a character so intensely but I couldn’t find any redeeming qualities in this one and my feelings for him did end up effecting my enjoyment of the book. Its hard to fall in love with a story when there is a character that just makes you so grumbly.

The actual story moved along at a fast pace although I found it a little more choppy than the first book. It was filled with weird little jumps and some awkward transitions which would also take me out of the story. But as with the first book, The Treatment, is filled with issues that will make a reader think. Its also scary in its realism as I could see a world like this existing if real world events played out in a particular way. Dystopias are always more scary there there is a potential for them to come true. I always love a book that can make you think and this one definitely has that. And its message isn’t so overpowering that it weighs down the story instead it only adds to it.

As with The Program, I was in love with Sloane and James and I fell even more in love with them in this book. Even with all that Realm tried to do they still managed to find a way to remain true to each other. Though there were many ups and downs for our duo I did like where they ended up even as it wounded my heart a little.

The ending of The Treatment seemed a little rushed and hard to believe but overall I enjoyed this one. I liked what Young did with this characters and I enjoyed knowing that this was a duology so that events weren’t overly drawn out. I even liked that even though Sloane and James’s story is complete there is potential to have a spin off book or novella with some of the other characters in the story. I think that The Treatment and its first book are well worth the read and can’t recommend them enough.

irishdarkblue
four-stars
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Saturday, April 5, 2014

Diverse Energies Anthology Wrap-Up Post

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Review, Short Story Saturday, Young Adult0 Comments

Diverse Energies Anthology Wrap-Up Post

Diverse Energies Anthology Wrap-Up PostDiverse Energies by Tobias S Buckell
Series: Diverse Energies,
Also in this series: The Last Day, Freshee's Fogurt, Pattern Recognition , Gods of the Dimming Light , Next Door, Good Girl, Pocket Full of Dharma, Blue Skies, What Arms to Hold Us, Solitude
Published by Tu Books on 01 November 2012
Genres: Abduction, Action & Adventure, Adolescence, Anthology, Death & Dying, Diseases, Dystopian, Emotions & Feelings, Espionage, GLBT, Health & Daily Living, Illnesses & Injuries, Love & Romance, Mystery & Detective, Mythology, People & Places, People of Color, Politics & Intrigue, Sci-Fi, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Short Story / Novella, Social Issues, Survival Stories, Young Adult
Pages: 268
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars

 

Short Story Saturday is a feature here at Ticket to Anywhere where I start to read some of the various anthologies I have, one story at a time. Starting with Diverse Energies which the book synopsis describes as  “In this stunning collection of original and rediscovered stories of tragedy and hope, the stars are a diverse group of students, street kids, good girls, kidnappers, and child laborers pitted against their environments, their governments, differing cultures, and sometimes one another as they seek answers in their dystopian worlds. Take a journey through time from a nuclear nightmare of the past to society’s far future beyond Earth with these eleven stories by masters of speculative fiction. Includes stories by Paolo Bacigalupi, Ursula K. Le Guin, Malinda Lo, Cindy Pon, Daniel H. Wilson, and more.”

 

Story 1: The Last Day by Ellen Oh – 2 stars

Story 2: Freshee’s Fogurt by Daniel H. Wilson – 3 stars

Story 3: Uncertainty Principal by K. Tempest Bradford – 4 stars

Story 4: Pattern Recognition by Ken Liu – 2.5 stars

Story 5: Gods of the Dimming Light by Greg can Eekhout – 3 stars

Story 6: Next Door by Rahul Kanakia – 1 star

Story 7: Good Girl by Malida  Lo – 3 stars

Story 8: Pocket Full of Dharma by Paolo Bacigalupi – 3 stars

Story 9: Blue Skies by Cindy Pon – 4 stars

Story 10: What Arms to Hold Us by Rajan Khanna – 3 stars

Story 11: Solitude by Ursula K. LeGuin – 3 stars

 

Average Rating: 3 stars

 

Favorite Story: Blue Skies by Cindy Pon

Least Favorite: Next Door by Rahul Kanakia

irishdarkblue
three-stars
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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Review: Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens

Posted by Irish in 2 Stars, Review, Young Adult2 Comments

Review: Faking Normal by Courtney C. StevensFaking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens
Published by Harper Teen on 25 February 2014
Genres: Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Girls & Women, Illnesses & Injuries, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 321
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
two-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Rickman, Tennessee

First Line: Black funeral dress. Black heels. Black headband in my hair. Death has a style all its own.

***Spoilers ahead. Read at your own risk.***

Dear reader,

I can not tell you how many times I wanted to bang my head or throw my book across the room during my read of Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens. Faking Normal is a book that I wanted to love, especially after meeting Stevens at an author event not long ago for she was just so nice and her book sounded so good. Perhaps I just built it up too much because I was mightily disappointed. First off the names were really off putting and I am growing tired of the trend that all names in a contemporary YA story need to be so strange and different. What is wrong with using normal every day names? But what bothers me the most is that Faking Normal was an easy read and with its subject matter it shouldn’t have been.

At its heart, Faking Normal is a story about rape and as such it should be a difficult story to read. The reader should be emotionally invested in Alexi’s story and Alexi herself should show some emotion. She shouldn’t be so passive and more concerned with protecting her rapist than with dealing with what happened to her. Alexi is such a non-character in that she never voices an opinion, she never says no, and she never takes an active role in her life. She sits around until her friends call her, if they don’t she assumes that they had something better to do and that its perfectly fine that she wasn’t included. She never once calls them or actively seeks them out.

With her rapist she is always super nice and accepting and never shows any reaction to what happened. Sure she scratches her neck but as a reader you never fully understand why because nothing seems to phase her. Her issues are presented as so minor that I often wondered why Bodee’s life traumas were pushed aside and often ignored even though he watched his father murder his mother. But he is often forced to put aside his feelings in order to deal with Alexi during the few moments she decides to have a reaction. But the things she reacts to are never the traumatic moments that you would think. Like when she almost lets her date have sex with her, something she intnernally says she doesn’t want, but yet she never once tells him no. If it wasn’t for Bodee then she’d have had sex with the guy.

Even during her rape, with people not too far away she never said no, she never called out, she never struggled. She never let on in any way that she wasn’t ok with what was happening. As a character Alexi, is super passive and just allows herself to be led. Her friends tell her to date, so she dates who they tell her too even if its not what she wants. She just walks around life having no real thoughts or opinions and she just seems more like a robot than a person.

Another thing that really bothered me about this book was the slut shamming and blame passing. Anytime a girl did anything even remotely sexual she was a slut or whore but a guy can cheat on his girlfriend and do whatever he wants and its ‘just something guys do.’ The excuse most often use to pass off a guys horrible behavior towards a girl was ‘he was drunk’, he was just being a guy, he was sad about losing the game, he was happy he won, etc…pretty much anything a guy did was ok and there was a good reason but a girl, nope…not allowed. It was just infuriating.

Faking Normal is also a bit a of a mystery as we don’t get told who Alexi’s rapist is until near the end of the story. There are lots of red herrings tossed up and times when Stevens seems to be pushing one character over another. But despite all the deflections I pretty much knew who it would be before the end of the first chapter. The rest was just smoke and mirrors and served more as a distraction to the fact that nothing was happening than in developing suspense about the big reveal.

There were also several creeptastic scenes with Bodee where he’d sneak into Alexi’s room to watch her sleep or hide under her bed. And as with Bella in Twilight she often found this sweet and endearing. No. Just no. The final straw though was the ending. Its this magical ending that really has no resolution to it. Bodee is healed but Alexi telling him he is. She is healed by seeing a bird. Her sister just immediately believes and accepts her sisters written declaration and puts aside years of animosity to hug her. And the rapist is allowed to just walk away with no consequences. For reals?? I just…I can’t. Just can’t believe this book.

The only thing saving Faking Normal from a 1 star rating is that it was well written. There were a few times when I thought about DNF-ing this book but then I’d read just one more paragraph and kept on reading. As I said above it was an easy read and so it didn’t take too much time to read it all the way through. But as I also said, this should not have been an easy read. It should have been difficult and raw and filled with emotion but instead it was very surfacey. Its as if there was this wall between me and the story and as a reader there was something pushing me away and preventing me from going too deep. Issues are never fully explored and everything is just tidied up too nicely. Will I read another Courtney C Stevens book? Right now I am on the fence and will have to wait until I read a synopsis before devoting any more time to her words.

Others who liked this more than I:

Mostly YA Book Obsessed: “Oh wow, I am blown away by how emotional this was! I was expecting it to be but it still blew me away. Seeing how Alexi would cope with her situation would break my heart a little bit more each time.”

Stay Bookish: “I think the portrayal of [Alexi’s] character, as a victim most of all, was interesting. Her attitude was far from ideal but it rang true nonetheless. The whole novel focuses on her facing demons and I thought the development in that area was real inspiring.”

YA Book Central (Lauren Thomen): “FAKING NORMAL isn’t the easiest book to read — although the clean, truthful prose certainly helps — but it’s worth the pain and the tears. While the events of Alexi and Bodee’s pasts are not universal (although for too many, they are), every reader can find themselves in the pages of FAKING NORMAL. Maybe not in action, but in heart.”

irishdarkblue

 

two-stars
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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Short Story Saturday: Grim – Better by Shaun David Hutchinson

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Review, Short Story Saturday, Young Adult0 Comments

Short Story Saturday: Grim – Better by Shaun David Hutchinson

Short Story Saturday: Grim – Better by Shaun David HutchinsonBetter by Shaun David Hutchinson
Series: Grim,
Also in this series: The Key, Figment, The Raven Princess, Thinner Than Water, Before the Rose Bloomed, Beast/Beast, The Brothers Piggett, Untethered, Light It Up
Published by Harlequin Teen on 25 February 2014
Genres: Adaptation, Adolescence, Anthology, Diseases, Friendship, Illnesses & Injuries, Love & Romance, Sci-Fi, Short Story / Novella, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 30
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: The Deathday Letter, Violent Ends

 

Short Story Saturday is a new feature that I am doing here on Ticket to Anywhere where I start to read some of the various anthologies I have, one story at a time. One of the anthologies that I am focusing on now is Grim edited by Christine Johnson which is described as: “In the days when fairy tales were first spun, they weren’t the sweet and cheerful stories we tell today. Back then, fairy tales were terrifying. They were a warning to the listener to stay out of the night, to keep away from the mystical and ignore the mysterious.”

Place(s) Traveled To: Hamelin Space Ship

First Line(s): I feel real.

Original Story: Pinocchio The Pied Piper

I was never a huge fan of the whole Pinocchio story but in Better by Shaun David Hutchinson I have seen a potential in it that I never have before. Hutchinson’s version is much darker than the original and really lives up to promise of what I thought the Grim anthology should be. Hutchinson takes this pretty bland story and transports the reader into a futuristic world where a group of humans are flying through space looking for a new home. Think Across the Universe by Beth Revis but where things don’t go as well. Better is a quick read and I loved the promise of it. This is the sort of retelling that I was hoping every story in this anthology would be when I picked it up. Better is also a story that I would enjoy if there was more to it but at the same time I think that its pretty solid as it is.

Edit: I originally thought this story was based on Pinocchio but have since learned it was really The Pied Piper.

irishdarkblue

four-stars
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