Category Archives: Book Review

Fragile Chaos

Hi guys! Here’s my stop for the Fragile Chaos blog tour (hosted by Rockstar Book Tours)

Toward a Secret Sky

My review for Toward a Secret Sky is going to come off kind of meh. The reason being, I found the book just kind of meh. Maybe even a bit less than meh. Maybe more kind of…ugh.
 
I know. So specific, right?
 
I liked the premise, and the setting and cultural details all had a great sense of dedication. I don’t know much about Scotland despite the fact that my ancestry is almost all Scottish (I plan to remedy this soon. I’d like to know more about it, starting with attending my county’s Scottish Games.)
 
However….
 
Ugh. Maren wasn’t a likeable character at all. I felt bad for her, but the emotion was lacking. She falls into insta-romance with a hot guy who turns out to be an angel…
 

It was all so tropey and overdone.

Little of the magical world was explained, and when it was, it was done in a ‘this is for the reader’s benefit’ sort of way. It was kinda cringe-worthy.
 
BUT, then I have some hang-ups in the other direction. There were a few things I LOVED. I liked the villain. And un-like a few other Blink titles, the villain isn’t half-baked. He does some actually bad things. Like, attempted rape. (which some books shy away from committing or coming close to committing.) Even a major character was murdered, right under your nose. (which I appreciate, because again, most authors shy away from committing to major character deaths like that.)
 
I did like Gavin, his side of the relationship came off as less superficial than Maren’s. But….still somewhat uninspiring.
 
So, there it is. My review of a somewhat mediocre angel-lore book. I wish the same passion that went into the setting and culture, went into the characters and relationships. So much of it came off as….cheeseballs. Cheeseball-y. Whatever.
 
The end redeemed some of that cheesiness. Maren moped for a while and then decided to do something about it at the prompting of another character. Thus not extending our suffering at the whole “We can’t be together, it’s forbidden” angle. It puts a little more oomph and offers a light at the end of the tunnel for future plot lines.
 
Having said that, I really hope that the character quality drastically improves. I’ll be cautiously optimistic and keep my eye out for its release. (I hear there will be two more installments, which will take place in other countries! Darn? Hopefully she remains as dedicated to the cultural influence in the future.)

It Started With Goodbye

I’d been hearing about this book EVERYWHERE. I’m not sure I’ve seen a more aggressive publicity campaign by Blink. For real, I can’t think of one.
 
So, I was REALLY looking forward to this book, especially because I tend to enjoy books by Blink.
 
Unfortunately, It Started with Goodbye wasn’t one of those books.
 
This was touted as a Cinderella-ish retelling. You know, A girl with a stepsister, a step-mother and a grandmother as a fairy godmother. But that’s a liberal description of It Started With Goodbye. It meets the qualifications, but barely.
 

The book’s biggest problem, was lack of commitment.

The antagonist was nonexistent in this book. In the book, Tate has issues with her stepmother, stepsister and even her father. She even falls into the wrong side of the law. But all that tension dropped, right after it arose. One moment, she would be mad at her stepmother for some injustice or unfair treatment. Then, a paragraph later, Tate would say “but I can see where she was coming from”. It wiped away all of the emotional momentum in the novel.

 
It DROVE ME NUTS. Because it meant that the book had no plot. None at all. In Cinderella, Cinderella escapes her stepmother and step sister’s cruelty. She gets a gown, goes to a ball, meets a prince, and falls in love, right?
 
But here, she wanders around aimlessly for the entire book. Finally, in the last thirty pages, she goes to a festival and meets the ‘prince’. True, she does a few other things, like start a graphic design business…. Which would be great, except it failed to carry any conflict into or out of the novel. While it did serve the purpose of bringing her in contact with the ‘prince’, that’s the only purpose it served. It all seemed so pointless…so directionless and never ending.
 
The writing was okay. However, combined with the plot, the book is less than satisfactory. Dare I say it, it seemed mediocre. It makes my heart ache knowing that the potential of this book was wasted away. There are so many other amazing books out there! Ones that I haven’t even read or heard about.
 
Another huge problem for this book was empathy.
 
I haz none.
 
Not here anyway. I didn’t feel for her, her problems…nothing. A BIG part of that, was the previously mentioned weakness in the plot. Because, if a character isn’t against anything, it’s hard to be for something. In the end, it was kind of like a “shrug” moment where “all is well that ends well”. So unfortunately I can’t recommend the book. Just literally can’t. I so wish I could. But I don’t.

To Catch a Killer

This book is a disgrace to murder mysteries everywhere.

Well, To Catch a Killer wasn’t the worst mystery I’ve ever read…. But it’s definitely up there in the top five. It was SO BORING.

Bad Boy Bargain

So first, an excerpt from The Bad Boy Bargain, then on to my review!

Pushing the Boundaries

Now for the excerpt and a giveaway!

Nimona

I swore I wrote my Nimona review, but when I went to copy and paste it, I couldn’t find it anywhere.

Cue panic.

So now I don’t know if I actually wrote the review, or if I just dreamed I did. (I frequently dream about writing my reviews, rearranging sentences and whatnot. It’s way more dramatic and stressful in your dreams.)

It was so good too! So now, I’m going to have to rewrite and hope it’s as awesome as that one was. So much for binge watching Inu x Boku SS.

When I first started reading Nimona, I was worried that it wouldn’t live up to its hype. But it was SO GOOD. SO. GOOD.

The art was GORGEOUS.

The story starts with our villain, Lord Ballister Blackheart. And, our dear Nimona storms in, demanding to become his new SIDEKICK.

At first, I wasn’t sure where the plot was going (or if there was one). Enter Sir Ambrosius Goldenloins, the goody-goody to end all superheroes. The dialogue was fantastic, so I kept turning the pages. Of course, the art helped too.

It’s filled with witty exchanges, and bread crumbs of information about the characters and their personalities. Even Nimona has an amazing backstory .

Nimona was forever fouling up Lord Blackheart’s plots (whilst simultaneously trying to improve them).  She had this beautiful naivete about her.

But in the end, you learn that she placed herself there for a purpose. She ends up delivering a message on loyalty and friendship.

It was fantastic. I love endings like this one. I won’t say what it was (because that’d ruin the magic). But what I can say, is that you’ll never regret reading Nimona.

The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily

I had uber high hopes for this book. There had been a lot of buzz about it, so I picked up a copy while I was at ALA Annual conference 2016. Even though it released in October, I wanted to save it for the holidays. I wanted to let it get me into the spirit. The title, The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily, is as close to saying that it’s for Christmastime without actually saying it.

That plan only succeeded half way. Yeah, I saved it for the Christmas season, hoping to get all snuggly with it. However, this book was extremely depressing.

On one hand, you could say that this means the authors knew how to express emotion.

Or, you could say that this is not a cuddly Christmas time story. There were so many pros and cons to this story! I keep wildly flipping between wanting to give it four stars, or 3.5.

I can’t decide.

Because the emotions of it all were fabulous. It dealt with hopes, let downs and personality changes that occur after traumatic events. (or at least after massive life-changes). So that part was super touching, because I’ve been through some of that…

Except, I kept wanting to smack the crap out of both of them for their crappy attitudes.

At one point, Lily decides to go to the island and then she doesn’t tell anyone that she’s leaving. Which is fine, except everyone freaked out because she’s been acting strange.

Not only does she leave, but SHE STAYS GONE. She randomly walks into a bakery and starts decorating gingerbread and just ends up crashing there. Overnight. It goes on a bizarre bunny trail, ending with frosting an orgy gingerbread scene. Um…okay?

I know depression makes you do odd things, and makes you not care…about anything….

But it just came from out of left field so fast that it felt odd and out of place for the book.

So, what I’m thinking/feeling about this book? CONFLICTED. It had a cutesy ending, where everything was tied up in a string (but not in a sudden, weird way…).  It was hilarious when the librarians ended up with injuries after slipping on glittery ice (and Dash ended up with an eye patch…)

Soo….I liked it? 4 stars? Yes? Why am I asking myself so many questions?

I definitely think it should come with the warning that it does have its depressing thoughts.

I’m extremely prone to getting depressed around Thanksgiving/Christmas. So that may be another reason I was so affected by Lily’s emotional state.

I’d don’t know if I’d recommend it for Christmas/wintery fun. It has it’s perks. So I’d recommend it for those who don’t mind a side of depression with their eggnog.

The Boy Next Door

FAN-TAS-TIC.

The Boy Next Door was a perfect winter read (I happened to read it just before Christmas). At first, I was skeptical that this was going to turn out kind of….chintzy. But it starts with a sweet and short prologue (I’m not a huge fan of prologues, but this one was ok).

Then it heads off directly into the drama. But, not immediately to her relationship drama with Gabe. It starts with an ice dancing couple arguing. (this couple dates each other off the ice)

This other couple was an excellent touch for the book, because it brought the reader closer to Gabe’s fears. He fears that if he starts dating Maddy, that they’ll end up like this other couple. Bickering all the time, and with a dead career in skating.

I got engrossed, fast. Perhaps another reason for that was DUAL POV. YAS. I can’t resist male POV. It’s inexplicably refreshing

And here, we have the obligatory misunderstandings and physical chemistry. This is potentially one of the steamiest YA’s I’ve read.

There are secrets and overheard conversations…mistaken identity… It was all so well balanced.

There were only two points that made me rate this a four star instead of five.

Maddy.

I liked her well enough, but there was a lot of flaws and drama surrounding her, and yet none of it was her own.

I mean, there was drama that involved her. Like with her father and her Gabe and skating… but as far as personal, inner flaws went, there weren’t any. Not any real flaws. Not like Gabe’s fear of commitment or fear of losing control. No flaws that interfered with her life in an equally extreme sense.

The second, would be descriptions.

What made me dock the star, was because there was a lot of skating terms used, which weren’t described. It would have been better if there had been more descriptions of the moves.

I love watching ice skating, but I don’t get to do it that much. I couldn’t remember any of the moves names. Which meant that when the scene was playing out in my head, it was sparse due to lack of identification. I couldn’t picture exactly what was happening during their skates.

There were some fabulous descriptions elsewhere. (like describing the cold of the rink, which made me feel physically cold. Holy great writing batman!)

Some of my favorite parts were of course in Gabe’s POV. His POV was a bit sparser, coarser. It’s a texture of voice that I adore.

I’m keeping my copy and will be re-reading it every Christmas to feel the winter spirit. I’d absolutely recommend this to older YA readers.

Gap Life

At first, I was totally excited for this book. Though Americans are low on the world totem pole of academics, I find that Americans put extreme pressure on their children to immediately attend college out of high school.

I loved the idea of a book that addressed it in a very direct way, without squeezing through loopholes. Unfortunately, the book didn’t totally address what I was hoping it would.
Instead, it falls victim to a terrible trope.

The Manic Pixie Dream Girl. The dream girl is Rayne.

What is a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, you ask?

Here is the Ubran Dictionary’s definition:
A Manic Pixie Dream Girl or MPDG, is a term coined by film critic Nathan Rabin after seeing Elizabethtown. It refers to “that bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.” A pretty, outgoing, whacky female romantic lead whose sole purpose is to help broody male characters lighten up and enjoy their lives.

Don’t get me wong, these kinds of characters can sometimes really work for a story. There have been a few that I even love!

Rayne, is not one of them.

In the start, I actually loved her. She was different, in the same way I was different as a teenager. I saw things so much more different than other kids my age.

But then, she spirals in to this odd pattern of hot and cold behavior with Cray. It’s so fast and furious, you’ll feel like you’ve been whiplashed. It was too much.
On top of that, it draws a fuzzy line between Cray and Rayne. Yeah, when people say a girl is “leading on” a guy, there are a lot of discussions that the concept doesn’t actually exist.

But in this case, I really felt like Rayne treated Cray unfairly when she was encouraging his affections (and returning them), whilst simultaneously in a serious relationship with a guy from Italy. It was a bizarre game of back and forth with her.

It was just….meh. It was conflict for the sake of conflict and nothing more.

Later on in the book her attitudes about the world around her get more and more…well, manic, and it gets to the point where I start thinking “I think this girl needs a bit of psychiatric help”. She just started jumping to conclusions and flying off the handle in a way that seemed so completely random.

Another issue I have with this book:

Cray’s father.

He was a controlling asshole. And by the end of the book, it was like *shrug* all’s well that ends well!

It ended kind of sitcom style, where dad realizes he’s been too tough but the kid also realizes that the father wanted what was best for him. Yay family kumbaya moment! (Not.)
My experience with controlling people (especially with people as controlling as his father), is that they don’t all of the sudden decide to not be controlling assholes.
They just don’t.

It made the whole thing seem contrived. Completely derailed from reality (or any semblance of it).

It just was a meh read. Not good, not bad….not miserable but not really enjoyable either.
Just. Meh.