51 Followers
60 Following
sunsetxcocktail

sunsetxcocktail

Currently reading

Once and for All
Sarah Dessen
Progress: 53/400 pages
Fireblood (The Frostblood Saga)
Elly Blake
Progress: 9 %
Becoming Bonnie
Jenni L. Walsh
Progress: 60/320 pages
The End of Oz
Danielle Paige
Daughter of the Burning City
Amanda Foody
Progress: 282/384 pages
Wintersong
S. Jae-Jones
Progress: 30 %
Bad Girl Gone: A Novel
Temple Mathews
Progress: 4 %
Glitter
Aprilynne Pike
Progress: 103/384 pages
Burning Glass
Kathryn Purdie
Progress: 298/490 pages
Another Little Piece
Kate Karyus Quinn

DNF: The Locksmith's Daughter

The Locksmith's Daughter - Sharmila Cohen, Karen Brooks, Karen Brooks

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I snagged a copy of this one when it was a Read It Now on Netgalley. This was a case of it sounded like a good idea at the time. I was looking for something different than what I usually read and this one caught my attention immediately. I'm quite fascinated with Elizabethan period drama but I'm just not getting into this one. I'm not rating because I don't think I've read enough to rate, just enough to know that at the moment it's not for me. I may pick it up again at another time.

 

Thank you Netgalley and Harlequin (Australia), TEEN / MIRA.

DNF: Defy the Stars

Defy the Stars - Claudia Gray

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

Another one I was really looking forward to but after about 100 pages turns out I just don't like it. I'm not interested in the plot, there seems to be a bit of a religious theme at the beginning which I really didn't care for at all. I'm not connecting to the characters, and after not being overly thrilled at having to read more, I called it quits. Just not for me.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Bonnier Zaffre for approving my request to view the title.

DNF: Beasts Made of Night

Beasts Made of Night - Tochi Onyebuchi

I received a copy from Penguin First to Read.

 

I used some of my points to secure a copy of this one. I was quite looking forward to it. While it's not bad, at 187 pages, I've come to the point where I just don't care anymore. The concept is quite fascinating. In this Nigerian inspired fantasy, the hero Taj is an Aki, a Sin Eater. The Royal Family of the fictional city of Kos are supposed to be pure and free of sin, sin comes in the form of Sin Beasts which the Aki consume and absorb into their skin in the form of tattoos. Interesting enough.

 

But there was something off about the plot and the execution of the story. I can't say I felt particularly attached to any of the characters. The world building was interesting enough but the writing was kind of flat. And the plot seemed to jump from one thing to the next. There was a barely there romance that felt way too insta-lovey for my liking. He meets with a princess once or twice and then he's fascinated with her. Understandable, but again, there was something that just wasn't there to make it work for me.

 

It's getting to the point where I'm not looking forward to finishing, and as I said early, I'm bored with and don't care enough to find out how its end. There is definite potential in the writing and as I said the world building was interesting and quite unique. While this book was not for me I would certainly be interested in seeing more from this author.

Review: Be True To Me

Be True to Me - Adele Griffin

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I actually had a request wish granted for this one. An enjoyable read, though very meandering and almost no plot until right before the end.

 

The novel tells the story of two different girls on an exclusive island during the summer of 1976 and the boy they both want the attention of. I don’t quite get why it had to be set in 1976, the setting didn’t really do anything for the story. The setting didn’t really make much difference, the plot could have easily worked as a modern day summer story.  

 

Jean has been living in the shadow of her prettier, popular, older sister Daphne for her whole life. Only this summer Daphne is off to Europe, so Jean can have some fun without having to be compared to Daphne. She’s really looking forward to it. Jean comes from a very well to do family who are summering on the exclusive Fire Island. She has a couple of best friends and meets a good looking boy, Gil, the nephew of one of her parents’ snooty friends. Gil’s friendly and easy going. They share a night out in New York before heading to Fire Island for the summer, but it’s enough for Jean to be head over heels for him. It’s kind of insta-lovey and she’s obsessed pretty quick.

 

Jean was nice enough, if a little dim. She’s sheltered, spoiled and very naïve. Whether it’s a rich people thing or whether the drinking laws in 1976 were less strict, I don’t know, but there were lots of parties and everyone was drinking, even the teens. (Might be a rich people world thing, I vaguely remember something along the same lines in the modern day Gossip Girl series of the parents not caring too much if their teens drank at social functions).

 

Jean has a habit of shooting her mouth off and speaking no inhibition regardless of hurting anyone when she drinks. She does this quite a bit. She can also be very selfish, but I don’t think she realises this. This shows more towards the end, when she does something that appears on the surface to just be her wanting the cute boy for herself, but if she hadn’t done it, then an outcome that was tragic might have been different.

 

Fritz was the more outgoing, can’t remember her background, but she came from a family of lesser standing, army kid I think. There were definitely some class issues when Fritz got friendly with Gil and was given a cold reception by his family simply because she wasn’t from a family as well to do as theirs. Fritz joins her best friend for the summer on Fire Island, and hits it off with Gil too. Fritz had a lot more personality than Jean did. She was friendlier and more outgoing.

 

The novel is told in alternating points of view from Jean and Fritz as they both try to get Gil’s attention. I can’t say I liked Gil much at all. While he comes across all polite and friendly, charming and good looking with a great potential future, he was clearly playing these two girls against each other. Telling one something different to the other one. He gets them both pretty obsessed with him, even though he does eventually choose one over the other, the other can’t let go. There’s very little interaction with the two girls together, there’s hints that could be a rivalry but it’s not really explored.

 

It’s very slow and meandering. And as I mentioned earlier the plot is almost non-existent. Until the end when things take a rather surprising turn. Didn’t see it coming at all. I did think it was well written, and while I can’t see the point of the 1976 setting, the actual place the girls were summering in was lovely. The setting was well described, the characters were all well fleshed out. Despite being rather slow at points, I did enjoy the novel. Don’t know if this is something I would read again, but I would definitely read something else by this author.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Algonquin Young Readers for granting my wish to read the title.

Review: Lost Girls

Lost Girls - Merrie Destefano

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

Oh dear. This was a bit of a train wreck of a book for me. It started off quite good, fairly intriguing mystery. Can’t say I cared much about the characters really, but there was enough of a what the hell happened mentality to keep me interested in the plot. Rachel wakes up with no memory and finds out she had been kidnapped and managed to escape. She only remembers up to about a year before this happened. Only to find when she gets home with her family she’s ditched her best friend, and the ballet she loves, got a new boyfriend and become a really mean bitchy goth.

 

The novel centres around Rachel trying to figure out what happened to her. She has flashes of memory and learns she can fight like a pro but has no idea how she learned. She has a whole set of new friends including some of the most popular kids in her school. A hot boyfriend she doesn’t remember getting together with. And learns she’s been sneaking out fighting and getting high.

 

As Rachel gets used to going back to school and being at home, she finds secrets about herself in her room connected to a load of other missing girls. The mystery deepens. The problem I had with the characters was they were all kind of flat. I didn’t really care about any of them, it was only curiosity on the mystery aspect that kept me interested. But as the plot progressed and secrets were unravelled, the more ridiculous the plot became.  

 

It was trying to be a dark gritty thriller and it did deal with some rather dark themes – dead girls, assault, underground fight clubs, drugs, criminal activity, all involving teens. At some point near the end there was a bizarre twist that could almost suggest human trafficking. The problem I had with it was the story line became so farfetched and ludicrous it was more eye rolling than shocking. It was certainly uncomfortable in parts. The writing was weird as well, it was trying to be deep and intense and at some points became almost waxing and poetic.

 

The main character was a ballerina and there was a lot of references to Swan Lake, which just got annoying.

 

At the start of the novel I wasn’t sure if I liked it or not, but by the end I definitely didn’t like it at all. Not for me.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Entangled Publishing LLC for approving my request to view the title.

Review: Juniper Lemon's Happiness Index

Juniper Lemon's Happiness Index - Julie Israel

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

This wasn’t necessarily a bad book, I certainly didn’t flat out hate it, it just did nothing for me. I wasn’t’ wowed by the storyline or the characters. The novel tells the story of teen Juniper who is trying to cope with the death of her older sister Camie. Juniper’s parents aren’t really coping well at all, her mom is in a state of zombie like shock, and her dad seems quite passive. All understandable given the circumstances. Juniper copes by writing down the positive things about her day on a series of index cards she keeps hidden.

 

I remember very little about the plot really, nothing about it stuck with me. It felt almost like this was something in some variation or another I have read before. Juniper wasn’t a bad character really. A reasonably nice girl though she did have some anger issues and was a bit sneaky in some respects even though she was trying to help others her actions wound up doing needless emotional damage to other people.

 

She finds a letter her sister wrote to someone addressed as You. No names. The bulk of the novel centers around Juniper trying to work out who You is and how to get the letter to them. As well as dealing with her own actions the night Camie died. The other storyline involves one of Juniper’s index cards going missing which sends her on a hunt to find it which involves going through the school dumpsters. She winds up connecting with a troubled bad boy with a snarky sense of humour who becomes more of a friend than she would have thought possible given the way they seem to antagonise each other at the start of the novel. She meets another cute boy in joining the school Booster club. She makes a few other friends. There’s a mean girl who keeps popping up being nasty.   The search for her index cards leads her to learning some things about other students’ secrets. She tries in her own way to help the more troubled students. Which of course goes wrong at some point.

 

The end was quite touching when she finally figures out how to do a tribute to her sister’s memory.  

 

Not bad, as I said, but just kind of okay. There was nothing remarkable about the story that stood out for me as a reader.  

Review: When I am Through With You

When I Am Through with You - Stephanie Kuehn

I received a copy from Penguin First To Read

 

I really loved the last book I read by this author, and was really looking forward to this new one. After reading it, initially I gave it a four star rating, I really liked the main character, but found the twist in the novel quite disappointing. And after thinking about how to review it for more than a week after I finished, I realised I just didn’t like it that much at all. So I’ve lowered the rating to a two star.

 

The main character Ben is in jail for killing his girlfriend Rose. There’s something really compelling about Ben’s voice. He makes no apologies for his actions. He’s quite blunt in some respects, but in others almost quite passive and pessimistic. Calls himself a realist, but it’s almost quite depressing. He’s from a small town he never sees himself getting out of. He spends most of his time taking care of his mother who suffers from injuries from a car wreck and depression. He doesn’t see much prospect of ever getting out of his small town, thinking he’ll be stuck taking care of his mom for the foreseeable future and being stuck with minimum wage jobs.  Though you do get the impression he could be quite intelligent if he puts his mind to it.

 

When he meets a girl called Rose who decides she’s going to be his girlfriend, things change for him. Can’t say I really liked Rose much. She’s a drama queen who has to have things her way. When this book started I had plenty of ideas for how he may have killed her and the why was almost understandable.

 

The bulk of the story is a camping trip gone wrong. Ben and a group of other students heading up to a local mountain range. Ben suffers from debilitating migraines as a result of the same car accident that injured his mom. There’s also hints of something he did to cause the accident, also that he killed his step-father. This is all explained in context as the novel progresses. It goes to explaining some of his pessimistic personality.

 

There’s a handful of other kids on the camping trip, two stoners/drinkers, Rose and her brother, a girl Ben is sort of friends with, a few others and a nice teacher who seems to be the only adult encouraging Ben to do something with his life. At some point while separated from the main group Ben, the other girl and the two stoner/drinkers stumble across another group of campus. A creepy old man and two weird women with him. Someone’s heard a story about escaped convicts and boat loads of hidden cash. The weather is getting worse.

 

And things start going wrong very quickly. But it takes an incredibly long time (or it seems like) for anything to actually happen. It’s very slow and when things finally start happening, it’s…like…eh. The actual killing of Rose was nothing like I had been picturing when thinking of the start of the novel. It felt rather anticlimactic.

 

Despite Ben’s shifting personality from pessimistic to passive aggressive, I did find his tone of voice incredibly compelling. Even though the story was gloomy and rather boring, there was something about Ben’s telling of it that made it a quick read to want to know what happened but in the end it was all rather disappointing.

 

Looking forward to the author’s next book, but didn’t really like this one much.

DNF: GIlded Cage

Gilded Cage - Vic James

I received a copy from Netgalley.

Another one for the DNF pile. I couldn't get into this one. The society baffled me. I can't get my head around the concept. It was weird and annoying. In this British novel society is still split by huge class divisions. The elite aristocrats at the top run everything and all have some sort of magic ability. The working class have to complete ten years of slavery, where they don't get paid. They an either work in something called slavetowns in factories or domestic work. There's lots of different characters, lots of plots and different agendas, and it's all really really boring. Didn't care about any of it. I made it to 40% but I just don't have any interest in figuring out the plot or the characters. I just can't get my head around ten years of forced slavey in a modern world. Don't get it. At all. And really just don't want to read any more, so DNFing.

Thank you to Netgalley and Pan Macmillan for approving my request to view the title.

DNF: Nowhere Near You

Nowhere Near You - Leah Thomas

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I just can't get into this one. Sad, because I remember I really loved the first book because it's characters and plot were so unique. Though I just can't connect with this second book at all. Possibly because I remember very little about the story in the first book. The novel takes place shortly after the first one finishes with the two characters still writing to each other. Ollie is looking for other kids like him and Moritz has an opportunity for a new school. It's not a bad book by any means, the characters  are still very different and original, I just can't get into the story at all. I have a finished paperback of the first one, and I did get a paperback of this one to go with it. So it's certainly a book I may go back to and reread both together at some point in the future. 

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing PLC for approving my request to view the title. 

Review: Blood Rose Rebellion

Blood Rose Rebellion - Rosalyn C. Eves

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I had pre ordered a finished hardcover, I put in a request on Netgalley, and 90% of my Random House requests are declined, so I was completely gobsmacked when I was actually approved for this one. So I wound up with a pretty white cover finished copy and a pretty blue cover copy for my kindle.

 

Though I don’t really know what to say on the actual story itself. It’s an interesting idea. In this alternative historical society the upper class wealthy people are magical users, Luminates. Various families have different magical traits. When they reach a certain age society children go through a test to see what magical affinity they are suited to. Only the elite class can become Luminates. There are rare instances where children like our heroine Anna, are barren with seemingly no magical talent whatsoever.

 

Anna’s best hope in society is marrying of equal wealth. Her older sister Catherine outshines her in every respect, magically and looks. Catherine is a snob. She has a younger brother who I got the impression was quite weak and sickly. Her mother is much of a snob as her sister, and her father seems quite passive. Debutant balls in this society require a display of magic. The novel starts with Catherine’s debutant ball and magical display. Anna is supposed to be out of the way with the younger brother but it doesn’t happen. She’s been seeing a wealthy boy, Freddy, whom she has a big crush on. She winds up crashing her sister’s ball and something goes drastically wrong when the magic collapses when Anna arrives in the ballroom.  Anna apparently has the ability to break magic apart.

 

Scandalised, her mother sends her off to Hungary with Anna’s grandmother to Grandmother’s home estate. Where Anna gets a lesson in Hungarian magic and politics. She inadvertently finds herself on the land of Hungarian Romani’s. Which sparks a love-hate relationship with a boy she meets. There’s also a rebellion going on she finds herself entwined with, a group of people who (understandably) hate the fact that only the aristocrats of society can use magic. They’ve spelled it to be so. Anna has the capability of bringing this to a collapse.

 

The biggest problem I had with this novel was that I found it quite repetitive. The magic and the rebellion were quite fascinating, Anna was a likeable enough heroine. But she finds herself in situations that are quite often morally ambiguous. She’s faced with some really tough choices in following her heart or following her own mind. Most of the situations she’s faced with are the sort where there is no clear right or wrong answer. Whatever decision she makes, someone will be hurt. And she goes back and forth over this in various situations throughout the novel.

 

Definitely a worthwhile read and after that ending I’m looking forward to the next instalment.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Random House Children's for approving my request to view the title.

Review: The Names They Gave Us

The Names They Gave Us - Emery Lord

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I had pre ordered this one ages ago, but I have a habit of pre ordering finished copies of Emery Lord books and requesting them on Netgalley as soon as I see them. Usually I start them as soon as I’m approved, but in this case it took me a while to get round to starting this one. Mainly because of the subjects it dealt with – faith and cancer.

 

While it took me a while to get into the novel, by the end I did love it to pieces, and as with every Emery Lord book I’ve read by the end I was in floods of tears. Beautifully written, and I thought it handled the tough subjects excellently. A+ points for diverse characters, transgender rep and friendships as well. The characters were fantastic and well fleshed out. The romance was adorable. The adults were likeable as well.

 

The novel tells the story of teenager Lucy who has learned that her mother’s cancer has returned. Lucy’s dad is a pastor, she’s very religious. She has a great relationship with her parents, she has a steady boyfriend of several years Lucas. Though on receiving the news, she falls to pieces. She starts to question her faith. It’s all handled very thoughtfully and manages to do it without being preachy at all. So bonus points for that.

 

Lucy’s parents run a Christian themed summer camp and she usually helps out as a councillor, but her mom convinces her to try being a councillor at the camp the other side of the lake, Daybreak. Which is a camp helping troubled children. Her mom thinks this may help Lucy deal with some of her own issue. She’s in pieces in private, but determined to put on a strong face around her parents. Though she’s acting out and getting overly amorous with the boyfriend. The boyfriend was also very religious and frankly, a bit of a dick. He was trying to be patient and understanding, but it didn’t come across very well – then – he puts their relationship ON PAUSE over the summer. Jerk.

 

Lucy is a bit reluctant to try Daybreak, she just wants to be with her mom. But she finds herself getting to know the other councillors her age, and dealing with the children, from all sorts of different backgrounds with all sorts of problems. As much as I liked Lucy and her voice I did find her to be kind of sheltered, maybe something to do with her deep religious beliefs. One of the kids, a girl of 14 is pregnant, and Lucy is quite shocked by this. She turns out to really connect to the girl and help her a lot.

 

Lucy makes friends in the camp, though the other councillors have known each other for years, she struggles to find her way into the close group of close-knit friends. It’s very sweet as she learns to accept the other kids who they are, find things in common with them, and gets to know them. She finds herself attracted one of the councillors her age, a boy named Henry. They bond and develop a close friendship with the potential for something more. Lucy has to figure out if she really wants to make the relationship with Lucas work, or go for something new with Henry. It works really well and adds a lot of depth to Lucy’s character as she struggles to make her decisions.

 

Lucy has to deal with a lot of different emotions and manages to handle them extremely well. She has her moments where she does fall apart. I did find I really liked her views on her struggle with her faith as well. A lot of it made a great deal of sense as she pondered it out. And there really were some beautiful passages on faith towards the end of the novel.

 

Tough subjects, but well worth reading.

 

I loved it.

 

Thank you Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (UK & ANZ) for approving my request to view the title.

Review: Waste of Space

Waste of Space - Gina Damico

 

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

This is the second book I’ve read recently with a satirical tone which seems to be poking fun at the absurdity of “reality” TV.  In this reader’s opinion, this is the better book. It’s funnier, and there are an abundance of characters who needed to be punched on lots of different occasions, but it is utterly gripping.

 

The premise of this one is pretty straight forward as explained in the synopsis. Ten random kids thrown together on what they think is a spaceship, and sent into space. Which is really a big ass soundstage in the Californian desert somewhere with a host of spectacular special effects, built by a team of scientists. Lead by an executive producer who’s a gigantic moron but clearly thinks he’s the best thing since sliced bread.  

 

The casting is the worst type of stereotyping, and personalities will almost clearly clash, with maybe two or three characters who were actually likeable. It’s impossible to recap much without being spoilery.

 

Of course with this sort of premise, it’s not long before things go hideously wrong. There is a slightly snarky tone to most of it, it’s told in a series of reports and interviews and such of what happened after it all went down. Nothing is as it seems, behind the scenes things unravel fantastically, and the viewing public are utterly fascinated. It’s the type of terrible TV show that you find yourself unable to stop watching no matter how obviously fake it is and how obviously bad it is.

 

I did find some of the characters to be really surprising, showing a really surprising side to themselves. There were a fair number of them who were idiots. There was also some great twists to the plot as well.  Nothing too deep. It was quite silly in parts, and quite funny. Very entertaining.

 

Thank you Netgalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group for approving my request to view the title.

Review: A Tragic Kind of Wonderful

A Tragic Kind of Wonderful - Eric Lindstrom

 

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

Not entirely sure what to say on this one. This is a contemporary YA novel about a girl with bipolar disorder. I know almost nothing about how bipolar disorder works, so I feel like I can’t judge how good the representation was. I liked the author’s debut novel. I liked this one too, but not quite so much.

 

It tells the story of Mel Hannigan, who is struggling to cope with bipolar disorder. She works at an old people’s care home, has a few friends, reluctantly sees a therapist, takes her meds, though seems more comfortable talking to one of the doctors at the care home where she works than confide in her regular therapist. She keeps a track of meds and how she’s feeling in a somewhat complex routine noting how she’s coping and feeling. Each chapter starts with a list of Mel’s tracking routine. (Which seemed complex to me, it was explained in the novel though I can’t say I understood it).

 

Mel had a brother who met a tragic end, who also had bipolar disorder, she lives with her mom and dad and her aunt who also has the disorder. They each deal with it differently. The aunt is very outgoing and loud, where Mel is quite quiet and while she connects to a few friends she can’t bring herself to tell the truth about her disorder.

 

Her family moved at some point, and Mel found a great group of friends, but a fight and falling out with one, lead to the others getting some false information and cutting her off.  Though at the start of the novel the girl she had a fight with drops a bombshell on her leading her to have to try and speak to the others again. While this is going on Mel is getting to know David, the grandson of one of the residents at the care home. They have a somewhat rough meeting which leads to a cute romance.

 

The novel dealt with Mel’s ups and downs, struggles reconnecting with her old friends, and the truth about what really happened and why they all fell out, dealing with her disorder, falling for David, realising that the therapist isn’t so bad and is there to help.

 

Of course nothing is quite so smooth and everything goes wrong at some point. It seemed to me at least to be handled quite realistically, Mel was a likeable character, she had good moments and bad moments, times when she did stupid teenage things which caused problems in other respects. Like partying and drinking which had a big effect on her meds. Fights with her aunt. Surprising things came out when Mel reconnected with her old friends. One thing I did like was the parental input from Mel’s parents. Not overbearing, but understanding and helpful, which was nice to see.

 

A decent contemporary read.  I did buy a finished copy (The UK paperback has a really nice bright pink eye catching cover, I couldn’t resist).

 

Thank you Netgalley and HarperCollins UK, Children's for approving my request to view the title.

Review: Royce Rolls

Royce Rolls - Margaret Stohl

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I was really looking forward to this one. I’m actually not interested in reality television. (With the exception of Judge Judy and court TV)  I pretty much loathe the type of reality TV this book is based on. But I do actually like novels about reality TV.

 

Unfortunately, this book didn’t work for me at all. The satirical nature of it was almost too over the top, it seemed to be going one minute like it was making light of all the ridiculous drama that this scripted reality family go through, then tried to be deep and meaningful as the main character tried to do whatever it took to keep her family together.

 

The biggest problem I had was the main characters, the Royces,  were all horrible horrible people. The mother Mercedes is the worst type of all about me showbiz mother who only seems interested in keeping the show on air, the eldest daughter Porsche, who was an attention seeking bimbo, focused only on her own fame and her own product line of cosmetics. The sixteen year old daughter Bentley is the one the reader is supposed to be routing for, nothing like the vapid character she supposedly portrays on the show she’s really quite deep and smarter than anyone ever imagined. Problem for this reader was I just didn’t like her. And then there’s Maybach, the youngest brother, who’s sole purpose seems to be the cute gay brother. Though for Bach, he seemed to just have a gambling problem that was used as plot point later on rather than give him a romance or something.

 

The premise of the novel is the show is on the verge of cancellation, the family want to keep it going, Bentley wants out and wants to go to college instead. So they keep coming up with more and more ridiculous antics to keep the public watching. So the older sister comes up with an idea for making a wedding, which would give her new product lines and sponsorships and things. Of course it’s all a big fake.

 

But when the chosen groom makes an appearance it all goes wrong very fast. The drama is ridiculously increasing throughout the novel. And to be fair, Bentley does a pretty good job of playing her role as the brattiest daughter of the bunch, managing to ruin planned events and become the worst sort of paparazzi fodder. It’s told with a tone that’s meant to be humorous, but it’s the type of humour that I found got very old and very tiring quite quickly.

 

Bentley finds herself stressed more than she wants to be, she finds out a pretty shocking secret about her sister’s so-called fiancé. She can’t talk to anyone about it. She’s also dealing with constant bickering between her mother and Porsche who seem to be trying to one up each other in antics meant to get attention. And then there’s annoying network executives to deal with and producers and such.

 

She does get a little bit of freedom when she can sneak away and hang out at the library, where she chats to a boy named Venice who appears to be a vagrant. She can talk to him like herself, she doesn’t have to play a character. And Venice listens to her. He was actually one of the decent characters. He had a huge secret of his own as well.

 

Again to be fair, the twist at towards the end was pretty damn epic.

 

There was just too much annoying stuff about the book in general to care by then, too much of Hollywood image crap, the body shaming was really irritating. While there were some decent scenes of the family coming together, finally, when the answers to the twists are finally revealed. There just wasn’t anything really redeemable by the end for my liking.  Reading it was a bit like even though it’s terrible there was still a need to know how it all turned out.  

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (UK & ANZ)

Review: It Started With Goodbye

It Started With Goodbye - Christina June

Netgalley actually granted one of my request wishes! Which was a fun summery themed contemporary YA novel. There was nothing startlingly original about the plot. Tatum is an average snarky teenager with a larger than life spoiled rich girl best friend, a dad who works far too much and is often out the country on business, a stepmother who’s way too strict and a step sister who is a goody two shoes.

 

At the start of the novel Tatum and her best friend whose name I have already forgotten get big trouble when the BFF and her sleazeball boyfriend are caught doing some major shoplifting. Of which Tatum was unaware, she was in the car waiting for them when the police showed up and was lumped in as the getaway driver.

 

While her BFF gets off with practically no punishment other than transferred to a snotty boarding school miles away, Tatum gets stuck with community service, a fine, grounded all summer, a mass of chores and lecturing from her parents. Her dad has to go out of the country on business so she’s been left with her stepmother to met out the punishment.  The sister is a brilliant dancer and goes to some snooty art school, Tatum has a secret graphic design business she’s trying to get off the ground. After a show at her sister’s school, she leaves some of her business cards out, and starts getting some responses.

 

For the most part Tatum was actually quite a likeable character, she was easy to relate to and understand as she moaned about her situation, it’s no fun being grounded during the summer! Doesn’t help when her stepmother announces that her mother, Tatum’s grandma is coming to stay for the summer as well. Thankfully, Grandma turns out to be really cool, and actually listens to what Tatum has to say, doesn’t automatically dismiss her as a grumpy teen.

 

She ends up trading emails with a music student interested in her graphic design service, and they get to know each other throughout email. It’s delightfully cute and entertaining, the guy is a cellist and he introduces her to new artists and music she’s never heard, including some of his own pieces. There’s some wonderful descriptions and emotions brought out as Tatum listens to the pieces. It was quite surprising and incredibly moving in parts.

 

She’s made some friends with some of the kids on her community service team that she knows from school, and a guy in a band. She’s gets some escape from her monotony of community service then chores from a baby sitting job she’s supposed to be doing, which gives her a breath of freedom. Turns out that the step sister isn’t actually as bad as she’s made out to be, and later on in the novel through conversations with the grandmother she learns some things about her stepmom that explain why she’s the way she is.

 

Some nice scenes of the family coming together towards the end as discussions are held, after many many arguments, tears and tantrums throughout the summer.

 

A decent read, with a cute romance, family drama and likeable characters.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Blink for granting my wish to view the title.   

Review: The Memory Book

The Memory Book - Lara Avery

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

This book was an absolute heartbreaker. And I loved it. Surprised because I really wasn’t expecting much considering I really didn’t like the last book I read by the same author, but I really enjoyed this one.

 

The novel tells the story of 18 year old Samantha, who has a rare disease which will cause memory loss and other nasty side effects, very few teenagers are diagnosed with the disease and very few (if any) survive. Sam is very smart and almost ready to graduate high school, with dreams of going to college in New York. Determined to survive and live her life the best she can, in spite of the horrible news she’s been dealing with.

 

She writes The Memory Book as a guide to her future self for when her memory has been sliding and she can’t remember things. She has two younger siblings, a brother and a sister and involved parents who are reluctant about the whole college thing. She sees a guidance councillor regularly and doctors regularly.  Sam is a brilliant debater, she’s off to Regional Debate Championships with her friend and debating partner Maddie, she’s set to be Valedictorian when she graduates. And the boy she’s had a crush on for years, Stuart, who went off to New York and became a published writer, has come back into town. All going pretty good. She’s going a high school party and actually talks to her long term crush.

 

However, it all starts to go wrong, symptoms of Sam’s illness which cause her to forget where she is, strike suddenly, and unexpectedly. Maddie freaks because Sam didn’t tell her about the seriousness of her illness, Sam is naturally crushed. Bright point of life is when she starts developing a friendship into something more serious with Stuart. At the same time her childhood friend Cooper has recently come back into her life as well, Cooper became a big baseball star in high school then blew it with a pot addiction. Sam finds an unexpected closeness with Cooper, opening up to him as they reminisce about their childhood companionship.

 

The novel was very emotional, I loved Sam’s voice, given what she was dealing with she was incredibly strong and very brave. Her inner monologue went from a range of emotions from excitement and swooning over her developing relationship with Stuart, funny, moody, despair. She talks about her fears, her desires, what she longs for. The struggles with talking about what she’s going through. Dealing with the fall outs when things happen.

 

There’s a love triangle that does pop up but it’s one that works really well and managed to surprise me. And still made me smile.

 

Sam’s memory book also includes input from her parents and siblings and later Cooper who all start adding to the narrative.  The emotional impact was incredibly deep and moving.

 

By the end I was in floods of tears. I was reading the last 20% or so during a slow afternoon at work and by the time I’d finished I had to leave the office and have a cry in the toilets for five minutes. I reread the end again at home and cried all over again.

 

Beautiful, beautiful book. The story manages to go from cute and funny to gut wrenching with some incredibly sad moments. Even so, it was a really amazing read. I loved it so much I bought a finished copy.

 

Thank you Netgalley and Hatchette Children’s Group.