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Publisher: Harper Teen

Friday, August 21, 2015

Review: Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway

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

Review: Emmy & Oliver by Robin BenwayEmmy & Oliver by Robin Benway
Published by Harper Teen on 23 June 2015
Genres: Abduction, Contemporary Romance, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, GLBT, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: Also Known As, Going Rogue

Place(s) Traveled To: Unknown, California // San Diego, California

First Line(s): Oliver disappeared after school on a Friday afternoon, way back when we were in the second grade, and small things seemed really important and important things seemed too small.

This has been the year of contemporary reads for me and when I first received a copy of EMMY & OLIVER by Robin Benway I was intrigued by its premise and knew it was a book I wanted to read. But then life got in the way and it dropped off my radar until around the time it was released and several of my blogger friends began to talk about it. This prompted me to dig out my copy and I settled down to read it. EMMY & OLIVER is a quick read and for the most part I was totally engrossed in its story. The story is set in the now when one of the title characters Oliver, is returning home after many years of being away having been kidnapped by his dad. He returns to family and friends who have moved on but have also stood still while he’s just moved on. Everyone in the story has been affected by Oliver’s kidnapping, especially Emmy whose parents became even more over protective than they may have normally done. She has a super early curfew and she’s not allowed to do anything dangerous and so has to sneak off to do the things she loves, like surf.

While Emmy’s parents are super involved in her life they are also a bit clueless as I don’t see how they’ve managed to miss the fact that she’s been surfing for years. Surfboards aren’t an easy thing to hide after all and sand is one of the most clingy trackable things ever. I know this, I grew up on the beach and my parents always knew when we’d come home from a swim. So there were times when things seemed a bit hard to swallow. But nothing bugged me more in this book than the interludes. These short little snippets of different ages in Emmy’s life as she reflects on things. They never failed to pull me out of the story and the very last one just had me sighing so hard in frustration which left a slight sour taste in my mouth on the final pages instead of sighing happily in heart-achy feels. EMMY & OLIVER was also an odd mix of tense where one moment it was in the present and then another it seemed like the future looking back and it just threw me.

 

Emmy & Oliver Quote

While I didn’t always like how the story was told I did like Emmy & Oliver’s story. I loved how they were childhood friends and how even when apart they still kept the memory of the other alive. Although Oliver was definately more present in Emmy’s world than Emmy was in his. But that is understandable when he was raised on the run and she was raised in the shadow of his absence. I enjoyed her friendships and I loved watching as Emmy & Oliver reconnected with one another. This is what I’d call a slow burn story and while I didn’t always think that timelines and plot points were done in a cohesiver and logical way I did like the story of Emmy and Oliver. They fit together and gave me the warm and happy feels that I love in a book. I only wish we got to spend more time with them as a couple as the whole ending felt a bit rushed.

EMMY & OLIVER is mostly a light hearted contemporary novel with these pockets of intensity. Oliver is such a fish out of water for much of the book trying to find his place in a life that still thinks of him as being seven years old. Everyone in this story had to relearn each other in a crash course and it wasn’t always an easy journey. Oliver is grappling with fact that his mother never abandoned him and also with the new family she’s created during his time away. EMMY & OLIVER is often an engrossing read and despite my issues I did find it hard to put it down. This was I story I thought about when I wasn’t reading it. Robin Benway is a strong writer with distinctive plots. I like her story lines and I am looking forward to seeing what she comes up with next.

irishdarkblue

Emmy & Oliver Collage

 

Add Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

four-stars
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Saturday, June 6, 2015

Review: Labor of Love by Rachel Hawthorne

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

Review: Labor of Love by Rachel HawthorneLabor of Love by Rachel Hawthorne
Published by Harper Teen on 10 June 2008
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Friendship, Girls & Women, Love & Romance, People & Places, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Young Adult
Pages: 320
Format: eBook
Source: Gift
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars
Also by this author: Trouble From the Start

Place(s) Traveled To: New Orleans, Louisiana

First Line(s): “I see a spectacular sunrise.”

***This review contains some spoilers. Read at your own risk.***

Labor of Love by Rachel Hawthorne is a book that Andi of AndiABCs has been telling me to read for a while. So much so that she eventually gifted a copy of it to my kindle and when I needed a happy book to read I decided this was the one. Labor of Love is set in New Orleans not long after Hurricane Katrina and the city is still rebuilding. Enter in Dawn and her friends Jenna and Amber who all take time out of their summer to be part of a home building project. Dawn is a last minute addition to the trip as her initial plans included spending the summer with her boyfriend tour various water parks. That is until she catches him cheating on her and she decides to join her friends instead. One of the first things the girls do in New Orleans is to visit a psychic who tells them all things that they are unsure they want to hear but it leads them all down unexpected paths.

One of the things that the psychic tells Dawn is that she’s going to meet someone soon and fall in love. As she’s anti-boy and anti-dating at the start of the trip she doesn’t believe it. Then she and her friends meet Brady, Tank and Sean and sparks start to fly between them all. No, not a crazy menage but they all pair off into almost too perfect to be true groupings as each guy seems to be the perfect match for each girl. Even Amber who struggles with her feelings for Sean as she has a boyfriend at home. Dawn is attracted to Brady and vice versa but the two are both reeling from hurts and so they make a pact to only be together for the summer. No strings, no long term commitments just experience the here and now with no feelings involved. Which we all know is just a recipe for disaster waiting to happen because feelings always come into play in these situations and someone always ends up getting hurt.

Labor of Love Quote

The hurt, and break up of the non-couple, is brought about by the actions of Amber, who I never really liked, and Dawn because sometimes you are your own worst enemy when it comes to a situation. Amber, freaking out over her feelings for Sean decides to run away from New Orleans and return to Texas where she’s disappears for most of the book. Things are lighter and happier during that time without all of her angst getting in the way. But then she returns and she brings with her Drew, Dawn’s ex, because she thinks they should get back together. No matter that Dawn said that would never happen no matter how sorry he ever said he would. But Amber knows best and is all confused when Dawn gets mad at her for pretty much telling Drew that she was pining for him and wanted him back. And this is about where in the book I started to heavy sigh and roll my eyes and wish that Amber never came back to New Orleans.

There is drama and angst and of course Dawn and Brady break up because their is a misunderstanding and Brady is thinking he’s reliving a scenario with his last girlfriend and doesn’t want to repeat it. What I did like was that Dawn owned up to her mistakes and then worked to rebuild the trust between her and Brady. She never pushed and she also communicated her feelings and more importantly apologized for her actions. There was a lot of growth on her part and it was good to see in a book. It was also good to see that Brady didn’t immediately forgive and forget immediately.

Overall, Labor of Love was just an ok book for me and this may have been the time in which I read it which was really sad. The characters seemed a bit wooden at times but I did grow to like Dawn and Brady and their story. There were things I didn’t like and had issues with and this one took me far longer than it should have to read but it wasn’t a terrible story. While it won’t ever be my favorite Rachel Hawthorne it does make me want to continue reading her backlist titles.

irishdarkblue

IR - Labor of Love

Add The Fill in Boyfriend by Kasie West to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Jesse’s Girl by Miranda Kenneally to Goodreads. (Review coming soon.)

three-stars
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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Review: Better Than Perfect by Melissa Kantor

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Review, Young Adult1 Comment

Review: Better Than Perfect by Melissa KantorBetter Than Perfect by Melissa Kantor
Published by Harper Teen on 17 February 2015
Genres: Adolescence, Contemporary Romance, Family, Health & Daily Living, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars
Also by this author: Maybe One Day

Place(s) Traveled To: Milltown, New York // New York, New York

First Line(s): “I’m going to miss you.”

When I read Melissa Kantor’s debut novel, Maybe One Day (my review), I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it considering one of its main themes was one that I don’t like to read about much. Cancer. So it was with high hopes that I picked up her sophomore title, Better Than Perfect. I was hopeful for some of the same magic and story of friendship that Kantor captured in Maybe One Day along with a fun romance and a story that would just give me all the happy feels. Sadly, Better Than Perfect didn’t live up to my expectations and I hated that it included another trope that I don’t care for all that much, cheating. Throughout most of the story Juliet has a boyfriend and for the first portion he is away in France with his family.

During that time she meets Declan, a musician from England who recently moved to town, and they hit it off and hook up. While Juliet’s boyfriend is a bit of a dickhead and she’s better off without him I don’t like that she hooks up and leads on someone else while dealing with her issues. Issues of which she has plenty all while she trys to maintain an outward appearance of perfection even as her entire world is falling apart. For me, Juliet was a really hard character to like and I didn’t care for the fact that the bulk of this book was told through her inner monologue. I am a dialogue girl at heart and I think that if she’d had more conversations with people then maybe I would have liked this one a little better because there would have been a little less of her and more of others to break things up a bit. I just found Juliet to be selfish and superficial and I really don’t know what Declan saw in her as she never showed her real self to anyone.

Better Than Perfect Quote

Better Than Perfect was a quick(ish) read and it was well paced and written but it just didn’t have the same magic for me as Kantor’s debut. I missed the easy friendship that the characters in that book had and just thought that Juliet was too stiff and standoffish to really get to know. Even though we spent the entire book in her head it still didn’t feel as though we ever got to know the real her. She was still just the girl that she thought others wanted her to be. In all honesty, I don’t know what Declan saw in Juliet and I often felt bad for him because of how Juliet treated him. I get that she was going through some things but that didn’t mean that she had the right to jerk the poor boy around.

I am still a fan of Melissa Kantor and plan on reading her next book as I enjoy her writing style. There were just things about this one that I just didn’t care for and it kept me from fully enjoying the story. Overall though I do like Kantor’s world building and her writing as well as most of her characters. I wish that I had liked this one more as I do think that parts of it were better written than Maybe One Day and if it wasn’t for Juliet and the cheating than I may have liked this one a little more as well.

irishdarkblue

IR- Better Than Perfect

Add The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aquirre to Goodreads (my review)

Add Welcome Caller, This is Chloe by Shelley Coriell to Goodreads (review coming soon)

three-stars
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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Review: The Fill-in Boyfriend by Kasie West

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Review, Young Adult1 Comment

Review: The Fill-in Boyfriend by Kasie WestThe Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West
Published by Harper Teen on 05 May 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Friendship, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars
Also by this author: The Distance Between Us, Pivot Point, Split Second, On the Fence, P.S. I Like You

Place(s) Traveled To: Fremont, California // Los Angeles, California

First Line(s): In some part of my brain, probably the logical part that seemed to be missing at the moment, I knew I should let go and walk away, to maintain some of my dignity.

Over the last year or so I’ve become a big fan of Kasie West and so when a new book of hers lands in my mailbox you can be sure that it won’t be long before I drop everything in order to read it. This was the case with her newest book, The Fill-In Boyfriend, which is another contemporary with a very cute premise. Fill-In Boyfriend is told from the point of view of Gia whose boyfriend decides to break up with her in the parking lot of her prom. Which is such a douchebagery thing to do and crushes Gia, not because she loves him, but because now her friends won’t think that he is real. I had a real problem with Gia’s circle of friends in this book as they were all catty and mean and not true friends at all. With everything her so-called friends said and did I often questioned why Gia wanted to be around these people are they were not nice. And while Gia could often be a bit superficial and annoying she was mostly nice.

Gia’s family were also characters that most often annoyed me, especially her brother who was a pretentious asshole much of the time. The characters I did really like in this were the boy she manages to convince to pretend to be her boyfriend and his sister. Both were real and genuine and were characters that I wouldn’t mind knowing in real life. As always I loved Kasie West’s writing style and the pacing of the book and it took me no time at all to whiz through these pages. But all the unlikable characters contained inside prevented me from loving this one as much as other books by West.

The moments I liked best were the ones where Gia allowed herself to be human and not the perfect girl that she often pretended to be. I liked how Gia was when she was around Fill-In Boyfriend as she was likable and friendly and someone that I would want to get to know. There were moments between Gia and her Fill-in Boyfriend that were total heart achy moments. I hated when Gia would revert to her old self and start to sabotage things all because of her faux friends.

Overall, I did enjoy Fill-In Boyfriend but I didn’t love it. The things mentioned above just kept me from fully connecting with these characters. I also thought that there was a lot of things left unresolved at the end. Things just felt unfinished and so I was left a little unsatisfied as a reader. But I am still a big fan of Kasie West and I will still recommend her books every chance I get. And I know that the next book of hers that lands in my mailbox that I’ll be dropping everything in order to read it. This is how much I like her stories…even if I don’t always love them.

 

irishdarkblue

IR - Fill in Boyfriend

Add Not in the Script by Amy Finnegan to Goodreads. (Click here for my review)

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

three-stars
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Monday, April 20, 2015

Review: Trouble From the Start by Rachel Hawthorne

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Review, Young Adult1 Comment

Review: Trouble From the Start by Rachel HawthorneTrouble From the Start by Rachel Hawthorne
Published by Harper Teen on 28 April 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Love & Romance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars
Also by this author: Labor of Love

Place(s) Traveled To: Unnamed, Texas

First Line(s): “You can’t stand here, Avery. You have to get out there and flaunt it.”

Trouble From the Start by Rachel Hawthorne is a companion book to The Boyfriend Project and both books are released on the same day. The two books involve two friends and Trouble From the Start deals with Avery and bad boy Fletcher. For me, Trouble From the Start started off a bit rough and I didn’t like the slut shaming aspect of the book. Avery is a good girl and she goes on one motorcycle ride with the bad boy and all of a sudden everyone is acting like she’s the biggest slut in town. It was almost enough to make me stop reading but I am glad that I didn’t because once we got through that rough patch things did get better.

There were times when the book seemed to contradict itself and Avery did get on my nerves but I adored Fletcher. I loved his POV scenes and wish there had been more of them. He is the sort of character that makes you want to reach within a books pages and give a hug to. While, with Avery, there were times in which you wanted to shake her. She was just a little too judgey at times although never near as judgmental as her BFF Kendall.

Trouble from the Start Quote

Oh my stars did Kendall really bug the ever loving crap out of me. Enough that I am wary of reading her story, The Boyfriend Project, though I do have it all pre-ordered and will most like read it eventually because I do hope for cameos from Fletcher and Avery. There is also a part of me that hopes that being inside Kendall’s head will redeem her character a bit.

As for Trouble From the Start its a cute read and I read it in just a couple of sittings. Its not overly deep but it has its moments of fun as well as ones that make the heart ache. The ending was a little cheesy but this one really shines in the middle. This was my first time reading a Rachel Hawthorne book but I know that it won’t be my last. She writes a fun story and there’s always room in a reading schedule for a fun story.

irishdarkblue

IR - Trouble from the Start

Add Bright Before Sunrise by Tiffany Schmidt 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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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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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Review: The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Review, Young Adult5 Comments

Review: The Art of Lainey by Paula StokesThe Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes
Published by Harper Teen on 20 May 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Girls & Women, Love & Romance, Parents, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, War & Military, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Hazelton, Missouri // St Louis, Missouri

First Line(s): Maybe if I’d paid more attention to my mom and her tea leaves, I would have seen it coming.

 

When your boyfriend of a few years dumps you in the middle of your family’s coffee shop without warning or preamble what is a girl to do? Does she accept the breakup and move on? Or does she listen to her BFF, grab an ancient guide to war, and do whatever it takes in order to get him back? In The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes Lainey is determined to win back her boyfriend, Jason, and if takes doing her summer reading and learning to understand the content of The Art of War then by gosh by golly that is what she will do. Initially I was on the fence with reading The Art of Lainey the synopsis didn’t really grab me but then a few readers I really trust read it and fell in love so I knew I had to check it out. I then read this one in its entirety on the train from New York City to Boston.

The first chapter was a little rocky and the break up scene was a little anti-climatic but once the story really got going I was totally sucked in. I loved Lainey and her friend Bee. I loved how they interacted and really meshed well with each other. They were true friends and that is a rare thing to see in books these days. Usually the BFF in a book is a false friend who is mean or who dumps the MC over something stupid and trivial. But Bee is there through it all and even encourages Lainey on some of her more wild suggestions on how to win Jason back. Then there is Micah. Oh, he is a boy that will make all the girls swoon. He’s just so sweet and real and he doesn’t put up with Lainey’s crap. He challenges her and as such they don’t always get along.

I loved all of the characters in this book, I loved how there were parents who were involved and not randomly out of town or so wrapped up in their own lives they ignored their offspring. I liked how Lainey grew and changed over the course of the book as she learned things about herself. One of my favorite quotes in the story is this:

“If you asked me whether I was the type of person who liked trying new things or preferred sticking with what was familiar, I would have told you I was the second girl. The if –it-aint-broke-don’t-fix-it girl. I also would have told you plays were lame. It suddenly occurs to me that I don’t seem to know very much about…me. It’s a weird feeling, like maybe a stranger is inhabiting my body. Or maybe a stranger was, and I kicked her out.”

The Art of Lainey is a quick read. Its fun and engrossing and doesn’t touch on any major social issues. Its a light-hearted book with a down to earth heroine that will make you laugh. This is a great book to curl up with on a hot summer day as you lounge on the beach or by the pool. It will make you laugh, it may make you cringe as Lainey says or does something you would, and it will also make your heart ache as romances play themselves out. I walked into The Art of Lainey with low expectations and left the story wanting more cute, contemporaries from Paula Stokes she is definitely an author to watch.

 

irishdarkblue

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Art of Lainey2

four-stars
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Friday, June 27, 2014

Review: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

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

Review: Jellicoe Road by Melina MarchettaJellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Published by Harper Teen on 28 August 2006
Genres: Adolescence, Contemporary Romance, Emotions & Feelings, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Survival Stories, War & Military, Young Adult
Pages: 419
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
two-stars
Also by this author: Finnikin of the Rock, Froi of the Exiles, Quintana of Charyn

Place(s) Traveled To: Unnamed, Australia (7 hours from Sydney) // Sydney, Australia

First Line(s): My father took one hundred and thirty-two minutes to die.

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchatta is one of those books that people have been telling me for years that I should read. They tell me how good it is and other things that equate to a red blinking sign screaming HYPE! HYPE! HYPE! Books that are overhyped and I typically don’t get along and so I resisted and then I tried it and I put it down after a chapter. I tried this several times and each time I kept putting it down and telling people that it probably wasn’t for me even though I adored Finnikin of the Rock, Froi of the Exiles and Quintana of Charyn. Everyone then told me that I had to read past 150 in order to ‘get’ Jellicoe Road and to fall in love with it. 150 pages?!?! That is almost half way through the book and long past my cut off mark. It shouldn’t take 150 pages for a story to get good. Then I made a deal with Andi of AndiABCs, I would read Jellicoe Road if she read Finnikin of the Rock. As my love for Finnikin knows no bounds this was determination enough to plow through the angst filled book that was Jellicoe Road.

Oh my stars was this book filled with angst and unnecessary conflicts and drama! The adults were all selfish and petty putting their wants and needs over the wellfare of those around them. The teens were all so unlikable, especially Taylor, who was the narrator of most of the book. This made it hard to get into the story because I just didn’t care about anyone. I also don’t get what the big deal is over Jonah Griggs who is nothing more than a bully for much of the book. Then there is the mystery, the story within a story that is supposed to big this big mysterious, edge of your seat thing. The reveal of which is supposed to be so mind blowing that it makes the whole slow moving boring ass book worthwhile. And yet…I figured things out at the beginning of the book so the big reveal kind of fizzeled and I was left thinking…”That’s it?” If these characters just communicated with each other and didn’t keep such big secrets for pointless, selfish reasons then most of the ‘conflict’ in this book could have been resolved before the story had even started.

I did managed to get to the end of Jellicoe Road but it was a struggle. I forced myself to turn the pages and it was hard not to fall asleep as it was so darn boring. Kids running around the Australian outback angsting over war games and territory and how they are all broken and oh woe is me. I found myself rolling eyes and sighing the heavy sighs of frustration a lot while reading this one as there seemed to be no point or purpose to the book. This is one that I intially rated as a three star read but the more that I think about it the more I feel that rating was wrong and geared more towards all those I know love the book than my actual reaction. So I’ve lowered my rating and have given away my book and am just done with Jellicoe Road. I’ve heard that Marchetta’s other contemporaries have that similar 150 page rule so I think that I might just avoid those as well and just stick with her fantasy novels because its just such a different feel to her writing in those and I just like them so much better.

 

irishdarkblue

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jellicoeroad3

two-stars
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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Review: On the Fence by Kasie West

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Review, Young Adult4 Comments

Review: On the Fence by Kasie WestOn the Fence by Kasie West
Published by Harper Teen on 01 July 2014
Genres: Adolescence, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friends to Lovers, Friendship, Love & Romance, Parents, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Young Adult
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: The Distance Between Us, Pivot Point, Split Second, The Fill-In Boyfriend, P.S. I Like You

Place(s) Traveled To: Old Town, California // McKinley, California

First Line(s): The engine whined against my attempt to go faster.

I first became a fan of Kasie West when I read her contemporary debut, The Distance Between Us and she became an autobuy author when I read (and devoured) Pivot Point. So I was very excited to be able to read and review her newest contemporary, On the Fence, as it features two of my favorite tropes – the boy next door and friends to lovers. So I knew the moment that I read the synopsis that this would be a book for me. And it was. I just loved every page and while I didn’t like this one as much as The Distance Between Us there was much bonding and fangirling and I am totally buying any and all Kasie West contemporaries from here on out.

Charlie isn’t your typical girl next door character, she’s tough and tomboyish and isn’t a girly-girl. She grew up in a house surrounded by brothers and one of her biggest loves is playing soccer. She’s not afraid to wrestle with the boys and can often hold her own against them. This makes her a little itimidating but she was so down to earth that she was an easy character to relate to. I just loved how she and her family got along and I liked that she had to face consquences for her actions. Because the end result of her having to find a job in order to pay off a speeding ticket is that she ends up finding herself as well. Not that Charlie is a lost soul but its really nice to see a character change and grow over the course of a book. I like how Charlie becomes comfortable in her own skin and embraces being a girl (and the girly-girl things that come with it) as well as staying true to the things she loves, like playing soccer and being ‘one of the guys.’

I also liked how there were cameos in On the Fence from The Distance Between Us. This just adds a bit of realism into the story and I loved seeing more of Skye Lockwood who was just such a fun character in Distance. I also really loved Braden and how he fit so well into Charlie’s life although that is also cause for a bit of tension as he is her brothers best friend. I thought that their story was really sweet and real and I just loved their chats by the fence at night. Though I hated how each day they’d act like nothing happend. I just wanted them to get together sooner and admit they liked each other. Though its easy to understand why they avoided doing so at the same time. So much would change if they upset the balance of their friendship as it wasn’t just about them. There was the whole Reynolds clan to contend with as well. HAve I mentioned how much I loved this family? This is how brothers should act with a sister not like in that other book where the family was just awful!

Good secondary characters can really make a story and West does a great job with them. So much so that I wish that all the Reynolds boys would get a story of their own though at the same time I’m really happy with this book as is and look forward to the many re-reads that are in my future. On the Fence is a story filled with cuteness and its one that I recommend to all lovers of contemporary stories. Its fast paced and fun and would make a great beach read. Its also left me yearning for more Kasie West books and I’m already dreaming of May 2015 when The Fill-In Boyfriend is released.

 

irishdarkblue

 

 

on the fence3

 

four-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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