29 October 2015


Author: Kathy Reichs
Series: Virals #1
Rating: 1.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Bury

I’ve bought a lot of the Bones books when my local used bookstore went out of business, but I haven’t read any of them yet.  I kind of wish I had started with her adult series instead of her first foray into young adult, because the transition did not go well for her I’m afraid.  The characters are one dimensional and cliche, and it feels a lot more like a middle grade writing quality than young adult.  The narrative from Tory’s point of view and the dialogue between the teenagers is so terrible it is laughable.  It goes from being so dumbed down to these fourteen year olds spewing out knowledge even I don’t know in my middle twenties.  It is definitely not knowledge teenagers sit around book learning.

If it was just Reichs’s portrayal of young adults, I could probably have been okay with it.  But the plot is also so absurd that it is really hard to find a redeemable quality of this week.  For a small portion near the end, the plot actually gets a bit suspenseful and isn’t such a chore to work through.  But then the resolution of the plot is so far fetched that in the end I just felt I’d wasted all the time I forced myself to keep trucking through it.

I bought a copy of Code from the bargain bin at BAM so I will probably give this series one more shot.  Hopefully she learned from her mistakes as she got her feet wet in this one and made the next one better (fingers crossed).

Court of Fives

Author: Kate Elliott
Series: Court of Fives #1
Rating: 2.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

I am a bit conflicted with this novel.  It is a bit slow with a plot and there definitely isn't much action/adventure to keep the pace moving.  The best correlation I can make is that Court of Fives is simmers along with the plot.  Elliott tries to use the game of Fives to add suspense and excitement, but the writing feels so rushed to portray the speed and agility needed that it's darn near impossible to get a mental image of what's actually going on, so I ended up speed reading through those parts.  Also, it doesn't really add anything to the character development, and I am not overly found of the way the game is worked into the plot.  I just think Elliott could have achieved the same goals with a better premise that would have been more engaging for the readers with a plot that is much more gripping.  It is also a bit heavy on the romantic drama and the character develop isn't really there to accompany it.

So while I kind of like the world that Elliott creates, and I think the plot could have been very well done, it just seems bogged down in its own slow drama to ever really get me sucked in.  Not sure if I'll read the next installment in the series or not.

21 October 2015

Spinning Starlight

Author: R.C. Lewis
Rating: 2.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher for an honest review.

Liddi Jantzen has been in the spotlight her entire life as the only daughter of a technological super company.  The fact that she has eight brothers, many older than her, did not stop her parents from giving her controlling interest in the family business upon their passing, even though Liddi has yet to show the promise her brothers have already expressed for years.  Liddi is still trying to make her breakout move to prove herself worthy when all eight of her brothers disappear without a trace, just as people try to attack Liddi on the family property.

Though she knows she has yet to live up to expectations in the public eye, Liddi cares nothing up the upcoming tech expo when she gets word of the disappearance of her brothers, and she is thrown into a world of intergalactic travel that, quite frankly, I still don't know if I conceptualize.  Liddi's ventures into the unknown area of their inhabited worlds is where this novel and I start to part ways as it become more than a bit hard to follow in places.  Truthfully, I got a little lost in all of the Khua business and still don't understand it.  I don't know if it just wasn't explained well enough or if it just went over my head, but that whole concept is kind of lost on me which makes it difficult to really invest in the story.  I don't care much for the "alien" romance either or understand why Lewis even feels it is needed for the plot.  There is so much material for the story just in the relationships between Liddi and her brothers that I thought the romance was just a needless interference.  And relationships between different species/with aliens just tend to creep me out a bit.

Lock & Mori

Author: Heather W. Petty
Series: Lock & Mori #1
Rating: 2.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Bury

Petty definitely has a talent with prose, I will not deny that.  Unfortunately, it's written well enough that the main character, Mori, comes off a bit of a sociopath in the end - which I guess makes sense since she's Jim Moriarty.  Having the main character be a sociopath, however, makes her kind of hard to sympathize with.

This novel also suffers from a heavy dose of romance, and the romance isn't written well into the story line.  It definitely feels forced, although it is kind of fun watching them swim through the awkwardness of teenage love, although I am not entirely sure that is Petty's intention.  The characters felt very one dimensional and Sherlock just wasn't as lovable as I'm used to based on other current adaptations.

The combination of the romance, the characters, and the realization of the plot combine to bring down the talent and sometimes eloquence of the prose, so unfortunately this novel falls in the middle and becomes just another reworked adaptation.  That being said, I'll probably still pick up the next installment, just to test the waters once more.

18 October 2015

A Thousand Pieces of You

Author: Claudia Gray
Series: Firebird #1
Rating: 2 / 5 stars rating
Verdict: Bury

This novel has just enough vision to make you hopeful that you've finally found another good sci-fi YA novel, and then so much poorly timed romance to make you curse the author for ever giving you hope in the first place.

It's hard to find good young adult sci-fi, and I don't think I've found another yet about the multiverse theory of the universe.  It has such unlimited potential in the plot, but Meg is so wishy washy with her allegiances and trusts that it makes the back and forth of the plot - which focuses mainly on whether she has feelings for Theo or Paul more - just plain hard to stomach.  In addition, the plot itself it wasted on subplots within the different parallel universes that have little if nothing to do with the main premise of the story.

I really wish I could have liked this novel, but it just wasn't for me.

15 October 2015

Modern Romance

Author: Aziz Ansari
Rating: 4 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

I didn't do any research going into this book, so I thought it was going to be a non-fiction, comical memoir based on similar material to his latest Netflix comedy special.  But alas!  There are facts in this book, guys!  He did studies with actual people and accumulated data and came to scientific results.  This book is more like 80% science and 20% Aziz's humor (and him telling you over and over again how lazy you are for making him read the audiobook to you instead of picking up the book yourself).

And believe it or not, this book is actually really entertaining and interesting.  The further I got into this audiobook, the more I found myself thankful that I was able to meet my hubby in college and that I never had to test the waters of online dating.  In some ways, it reminds be a bit of Drew Berrymore in He's Just Not That Into You and how she said it was so exhausting having to track potential partners through text and phones and online messaging and apps and call backs...  Aziz does a good job of showing how our culture has come to embrace the technology age with regards to romance.  So while you won't laugh aloud the whole time like a Jim Gaffigan audiobook, you'll still chuckle here and there (Alfredo!) and learn some interesting insights as well.

11 October 2015

Six of Crows

Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: Six of Crows #1
Rating: 2 / 5 stars
Verdict: Bury

Let me start by saying there really isn't a single character in this novel I could relate to.  Most of them, in fact, I didn't even particularly like.  Kaz, the leader of the little ragtag group, is a prime example of this fact.  He really doesn't have any redeemable qualities.  The entire novel, I kept waiting for some spark of hope, but every time I saw one it was squashed not to far down the line.  Kaz is powered by revenge and greed, and he is basically the exact same person he despises from his childhood.  Everything that was done to him, he has done to at least one other person.

Matthias and Nina?  Do not even get me started on this disaster of a "romance".  There really doesn't seem to be any chemistry between them.  Their backstory is slow to unfold to figure out where all the animosity comes from, and with all the buildup, the truth between where their "sexual tension" comes from is laughable at best.  While I liked some of Nina's characteristics, the fact that she cannot separate herself from her issues with Matthias really put me off from her.

I will give Bardugo credit for character development.  There is a lot of backstory told for each character woven into the story.  So much so, in fact, that the plot seems to limp along like a dog with a bad leg.  A lot of the story is devoted to this backstory.  But, unfortunately, since I never really connect with any of the characters, a lot of this is basically lost of me, only making the story seem to drag out.

The plot picks up for about 50 pages towards the end, but even then it doesn't feel that satisfying.  I think Bardugo tries too hard to throw in twists and turns into the plot via secrets Kaz keeps about the plan from his crew.  It makes the plot feel a bit disjointed, and a little unplanned in parts, as if she is backtracking to cover up gaps previously.  I ended up feeling just as frustrated with Bardugo as the Crows were with Kaz.  And the ending (which I think is absurd that Kaz didn't see it coming, since I fully expected it from the start) was so underwhelming and unfulfilling that I doubt I'll continue this series.

Ash & Bramble

Author: Sarah Prineas
Rating: 1.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Bury

I love a fairy tale retelling, but Ash & Bramble does not deliver.  From the very beginning, I could tell it wasn't going to be one of the better retellings I've read.  After all, though this is a Cinderella story of sorts, there are no elements of the original tale until quite a bit down the road.  I think Prineas would have been much better off just trying to be unique instead of trying to pull popularity from the retellings angle.

I do not like how half of this story is written in first people from Pin's view and half is written in third person to follow Shoe.  Either make it first person from both their perspectives, or third person and don't have a character narrative.  It almost feels like cheating, since each POV has its advantages, and Prineas is trying to capitalize on both.

The storyline is also kind of confusing.  I get that it is supposed to be a fractured fairy tale of Cinderella, but the whole thing with the Godmother and the fortress, and then the punishment being what it was?  None of that really made much sense at all to me.  As the plot comes together, the storyline becomes a little less confusing, but it still doesn't make much sense to me.  The whole thing about Story just seems... I don't even know the word for it.  But it isn't really gripping at all.  I think the best thing I can say about this novel is that I kept limping along because I kind of/sort of wanted to know what the ending was going to be.  Be it definitely doesn't really hold my interest, and I don't think the ending is really worth it since it's isn't that spectacular in the end.

The characters certainly don't help matters either.  I realize that the Godmother takes away their memories of Before in order to get them to be obedient slaves in the fortress for the cause of Story or whatever, but that seems counterproductive for Prineas.  Without a gripping plot you need gripping characters.  And these characters have no depth at all!  They don't really even have any characteristics to speak of!  It honestly feels like reading a children's fairy tale or watching a Disney movie, where the time is so short and the plot so condensed that there isn't time for development.  Prineas can't use that excuse, though, because we have 450 pages for her to give Pin, Shoe, and Cor some depth.  But we get nothing.

The other thing that really, really annoys me is the incessant correction of "Pen" and "Pin".  Am I the only person who thinks they sound EXACTLY THE SAME?  It is probably irrational, the amount of fury this ongoing thing causes in me each time I come across it.

It seems like retelling of fairy tales are becoming more and more popular in the YA genre these days, probably thanks to Disney remaking every animated classic into a live action story these days.  With the abundance of talent in the genre, this is definitely a novel that can be skipped.

03 October 2015

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Author: Jesse Andrews
Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

“I mean, you can know someone is dying on an intellectual level, but emotionally it hasn't really hit you, and then when it does, that's when you feel like shit” - Greg

Like the film, this book really isn't about Rachel (the dying girl).  It focuses mainly on Greg (me), the self depreciating downer who hates high school and does everything in his power to skate by as friends with everyone until the worst four years of everyone's life is finally over for him.  It is also about Earl (Earl), who is probably my favorite character, even if he has the mouth of a character out of Grand Thief Auto (seriously, does any person really talk like this?  It is massively annoying).

I would have loved this book more if Grey wasn't so self depreciating.  I mean, good lord.  I know a thing or two about being someone who carries around a healthy dose of self doubting, but Grey cranks it all the way up to eleven.  And while it makes for a lot of humor in the novel, if you stop to think about it, it also makes you thankful that Greg is only a fictional character, and not someone in real life.  But at least I like to think, based on the way that the novel plays out, that at least Greg starts to realize this, perhaps, by the end.  Maybe he realizes that a lot of the time, he is the only one standing in his own way (or maybe not).

There is a moment in this story where Earl points out exactly that, and in that moment I totally love Earl.  Earl and Greg are maybe, just barely friends - as Earl points out - because Greg doesn't really know how to be a friend.  He spends so much time trying to please everyone and keep everyone happy, he can't make friends.  Greg points this out early and often throughout the book (I am thankful that I am a bit of the opposite, and don't give a flip what people think 95% of the time - especially in high school).  Earl has a few other really special moments in this novel... when he isn't being just plain foulmouthed.

I think the funniest and most self deprecating thing about this book is how it points out that it would make a terrible movie.  This is great, because as I read the story, I remembered that they are making/they made a movie out of it.  And I'm sure it's going to be toned down to PG-13 in order to target the projected audience.  And the whole time I am reading the story, all I can think is:

  1. They are going to have to cut so much of the dialogue out in the movie, so it is going to lose a lot of the humor
  2. About 90% of the humor comes from Greg's narrative.  And even if they make a voice over styled movie, it is still going to lose at least 50% of the humor and quirk that comes from the narrative.
  3. Since this novel doesn't really have much in the way of a plot - at least in the terms of what a film industry would think - I am fairly certain the movie is going to suck.  Especially with the ending the way it is.
So that is definitely funny as well.

All and all, I am not sure the book lived up to all the hype it has been getting (and I am thinking Greg is 100% right in saying this book will make a terrible movie), but it was definitely worth a read.  I feel like Andrews may have tried a little too hard to try to channel what he thinks teenage boys are like (or maybe Greg and Earl are just a little too realistic to be 100% likable), but it isn't too shabby for a debut novel.  I'll definitely keep an eye out for his next story.

(Oh, and as a final note, I have to give props for the screenwriting style woven into the story.  As someone with a best friend who works in the film industry and got me hooked up with Celtx in college, I could appreciate some of the humor tied into the formatting of this story).