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Review: Stealing Snow

Stealing Snow - Danielle  Paige

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I requested this title on a bit of a whim. I was less than impressed with the author’s debut novel Dorothy Must Die, which I read about 200 pages of and gave up.I really wanted to give the author another chance as sometimes while I've hated first novels, I've really enjoyed the second novel. 

 

I had the same problems with Stealing Snow that I had with Dorothy Must Die. Certainly very creative, but I felt they were both very flashy but nothing had any substance. World building was all over the place, and the characters were flat.

 

Stealing Snow is “Snow Queen” retelling. I certainly credit it for it’s originality. It’s hard to think of a Snow Queen retelling without delving into a Frozen references, even though I didn’t like Stealing Snow, I was pleased to see the main character Snow’s ice magic was quite unique, and there was nothing resembling Frozen that I could pick out at all.

 

However, I just didn’t like this novel. It introduces the main character, Snow, who after trying to walk through a mirror as a child has spent almost her entire life in a mental hospital. She spends her days getting her education out of Encyclopaedias, a haze of drug cocktails, and watching a soap opera with her favourite staff nurse, getting into fights with one other difficult patient, a thief nicknamed Magpie, and swooning over a boy she calls Bale, a firebug who is her only friend but she is not allowed to see; for reasons of course.

 

At one point a strange boy, Jagger, shows up with a cryptic message Snow thinks is a dream, next think you know, she’s escaping and running into this new boy Jagger who leads her into a strange snow covered word called Algid. Somehow Bale has gotten loose – or something happens and Snow comes to learn Bale has escaped into Algid as well.

 

Snow meets a variety of characters who we don’t know if they’re good or bad. She learns of a the evil king has frozen the landscape and there is a prophecy of a girl who’s the most powerful thing ever – the king’s long lost daughter – she’s the most powerful thing in the whole world and this girl will off the king and set the world right again.  Of course she thinks it’s ridiculous but everyone else is convinced Snow is the long lost princess. As the novel progresses Snow starts to realise she is incredibly powerful; (of course) but can’t control her magic. She meets a River Witch and her assistants Kai and Gerda who offer to train her and get her ready for the prophecy after she runs off from Jagger deciding to search for Bale on her own.

 

As things progress and we learn some characters aren’t what they seem and new ones and new plot lines are introduced, Snow’s desperate search for Bale, the possibility that feelings for Jagger might be developing from tentative trust to something more.

 

There were bits of it I liked, as new characters were introduced, particularly when Snow falls in with a group of female thieves thanks to reuniting with Jagger after ditching him. The girls are all different and uniquely pretty in their own way, but do use some overly flashy and dramatic magic, run by a Queen Margot. She has her own plans for Snow and her magic.

 

While there were some bits of I like, the biggest problem I had with this novel was I came to loathe Snow. The girl was a fucking idiot. Each new group of people she meet warn her quite bluntly that the king knows she’s now in Algid and training her magic. He’s sent his most deadly warriors and magic beasts after her, including the feared and dreadful Enforcer.

 

Talk of Snow and the prophecy is strictly forbidden. On several occasions Snow ignores this completely and heads out into public places –

one market where she’s recognised and a little boy sings a song about her – the guards storm in and are about to execute the boy not giving a crap about the boy’s wailing parents. Snow kicks up a fuss and her uncontrollable magic lets loose and it’s a big fight between herself and the guards and the enforcer and big upset for the regular people.

(show spoiler)

 

 

She does this several times. Ignores warnings and the possibility she will put others in danger to do whatever the hell she wants. The thief group she joins sets her off on an initiation task. She’s given very strict instructions. It doesn’t go according to plan and Snow lets off her magic again – creating danger for those around her.

 

By the end of the novel I wanted to punch Snow several times. She’s a selfish moron. All she wants is to get Bale and get back to her own world. Fair enough, that’s understandable. But let’s ignore all the people who have been depending on you to show up learn your gifts and help make their world right.

 

There were quite a few twists at the end of the novel that were quite surprising and unseen. Certainly original, I will say that, definitely something I never saw coming. Unfortunately, I was so sick of Snow and fed up with the novel in general by the end that the twists just made me roll my eyes. Not a series I will be continuing.

 

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

Review: The Reader

The Reader - Traci Chee

I received a copy from Penguin First To Read.

 

This particular fantasy wasn’t on my immediate must have radar, I must admit. I knew of it, I was waiting for some reviews from blogs I followed before looking for closely at it. I took a chance at requesting when I saw it in Penguin’s First to Read list. It got off to a bit of a rocky start, I found it rather clunky and boring. Turns out by the end I absolutely loved this fantasy. I loved this fantasy so much I pre ordered a finished hard cover from the Book Depository.

 

I very nearly DNFed several times in the first 100 pages or so. The world building was interested enough. The bulk of the population of this world is illiterate, except a few chosen who belong to some sort of society that is very powerful (and possibly dangerous). History and stories and such are passed down through word of mouth. At first it almost seems like there’s no magic even, which is surprising in a YA fantasy. Turns out though magic does have a pretty big part to play by the end of the novel.

 

The novel starts by introducing the main character Sefia and her aunt leaving a busy town, the aunt has some sort of mysterious path and we learn right off she’s a brilliant thief. Shortly afterwards the aunt, Sefia’s only living family, is kidnapped by a group of masked people, men and women. Leaving Sefia alone with a strange object that she’s to protect at all costs. The object turns out to be a book. Sefia is left alone to reminisce about the deaths of her parents – both murdered – and how she escaped and came to her aunt. She has to figure out the purpose of the book and teach herself how to read it.

 

The world building was interesting enough, though I did find those first hundred pages very very slow. The story does jump in time to a year later after the kidnapping of Sefia’s aunt. I think it’s after that when most of the other characters are introduced.

 

Aside from Sefia, we are introduced a number of other different characters in different locations. The scene setting is quite visually striking and one thing I really loved about this fantasy was how the women were just as strong (in many occasions stronger) than the men. There was no shove the women to the background. The women in this novel pretty much kicked ass and were awesome.

 

After other characters are introduced – a young man with a gift for words is given the chance to join the society of Readers and become part of a mysterious Library to learn the words and the magic that comes with the knowledge of books. In training the guy’s magical abilities increase. He strikes up a friendship with a nameless Assassin in training. Which becomes one of the most incredibly moving, slow burning romances I’ve come across in a long time. This seems to have absolutely nothing to do with Sefia and her own book.

 

There’s another plot of a crew of pirates striking a deal to sail to the edge of the world, a mismatch of different characters with interesting histories. I was a little apprehensive when the pirate plot was introduced as the last few books I’ve read with this sort of thing I’ve not liked much at all. Turned out the story for these guys was one of my favourite parts of this book.

 

Sefia herself has become a Reader and is determined to rescue her aunt. In tracking her down, she comes across a group of mercenaries who seem to be abducting young boys and sending them off to some sort of fighting ring. Sefia inadvertently finds herself rescuing one of these boys she names Archer due to his proficieny with a bow and arrow. Archer appears to be unable to talk. I was worried when this happened that here comes the inevitable romance (it’s a YA fantasy after all). However, again I was quite pleased with how things progressed between Archer and Sefia, trust developed over time turning into friendship turning into more, the possibility of another incredibly slow burn romance.

 

While all of this is going on, the novel’s very unique take on magic begins to develop as the story progresses. It’s not obvious magic, flashy spells and such. Everything is more intricate, there’s magic in the young man’s studies, Sefia discovers a very powerful vision type magic when she kills someone for the first time, the Assassin has some pretty nifty and scary magic of her own. The more the novel progresses, the more the magic builds. Becoming pretty damn huge in Sefia’s part by the end.

 

Even though all the different characters were interesting enough and as neat as the storylines were, it’s like – where is all this going? It does all come together – but not in the way I would have ever guessed. The twist with the young scholar and the Assassin in training was pretty jaw droppingly awesome.

 

All in all by the end of this novel I was absolutely hooked and I cannot wait for the next book. I need it! Now!

Review: The Society

The Society - Jodie Andrefski

I received a copy from Netgalley.

An enjoyable story about a girl who takes her own styles of vigilantism against the bullies in her high school only to realise revenge isn't always the answer, especially when things take a turn for the worst and go too far.

Sam's dad went to prison just before Sam went to high school. He had an affair with her best friend's mom. The best friend Jessica, found out and whilst spying on Sam's dad and her mom discovered Sam's dad's criminal activities. Sam's dad went to prison, Jessica's parents broke up. Sam's mom took off leaving Sam in a trailer with her Aunt Lorretta Jessica turned on Sam and refused to have anything to do with her. As high school progressed Jessica became the Queen Bee of the mean girls and she and her friends took to making Sam miserable. Even though Sam had nothing to do with her dad’s criminal activities or the affair Sam is relentlessly bullied. Sam has a ray of light in her best friend Jeremey who sticks by her and shields her from the bullies as best he can.

 

 The school has a “secret” society, The Society (not the most creative name) but this group is the cream of the crop of the high school they attend. The most popular students are members and there are all sorts of benefits to being part of The Society. Sam knows she never had a shot in hell at the Society, but as Jessica is the queen bee – Sam decides the Society is perfect place to get her revenge on Jessica and the other mean girls.

 

So she formulates a plot and hacks into the Society website to manipulate it to her own needs, enlisting some of the nicer people, inviting them to join and complete the required initiation tasks she has redesigned with the intent of humiliating Jessica and the mean girls while getting the benefits The Society offers for her own friends.

 

All goes well at first, but like most revenge plots, the course of vigilantism doesn’t always run smoothly. Jeremy finds out Sam’s plans and is furious with her, imploring her to think about what she’s doing. Sam stubbornly refuses to listen as the mean girls are getting their comeuppance and Jessica’s reputation is going rapidly down the toilet. No one’s been hurt, so where’s the harm?

 

Given Sam’s situation it’s easy to understand why she feels the way she does and if she can do something about the people making her miserable, why not turn the tables on them and give them a taste of their own medicine? However, she’s not only manipulating them, she’s manipulating other people as well to do the tasks for her rather than doing anything herself. She’s the mastermind behind things. That’s not so bad, right? There’s a fine line here between what’s right and wrong and even though Sam believes she’s right….there’s definitely a morality issue here.

 

There’s also some weird side plot about Sam getting involved romantically with a motorcycle riding boy Ransom – whose sole intent with Sam becomes very clear right off (even though she can’t see it)

 

But things with Sam’s revenge plan get worse and people do start getting hurt. And on top of all these things with Ransom aren’t going as she thought and her feelings for Jeremy are changing. Jeremy’s uncharacteristically jealous the second he comes across Ransom. But as things become more and more chaotic with Sam’s plans and get worse and worse, she finally realises – what am I doing?

 

Spoiler but something I was surprisingly pleased with.

Sam actually turns herself into the police after a very serious turn when Jessica actually gets hurt and winds up in the hospital. While I didn’t always agree with Sam’s twisty turny plotting, I was quite impressed with her when she manned up and turned herself into the authorities willing to take full responsibly for her actions.

(show spoiler)

 

 

All in all, an enjoyable read with interesting characters, and a believable plot.

 

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

DNF: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance - Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem! - Jane Austen, Seth Grahame-Smith

I have never been able to finish a Jane Austen novel. I often wonder if I'm the only one who simply does not like and will most likely never like her books. Though weirdly enough, sometimes I like retellings of classics. But even the addition of zombies can not make this bearable for me.

 

 

DNF: Kids of Appetite

Kids of Appetite - David Arnold

I received a copy from Penguin's First to Read.

 

Not for me. I keep picking this up, reading a few chapters and putting it aside. The story is simply not grabbing my attention at the moment. There is nothing wrong with the novel that I can think of, I don't hate any of the characters. It's a fairly interesting concept. Two different kids Victor and Mads both fall in with a group of very different misfits. There's been some sort of incident - a murder and the story flips between the different view points of Victor and Mads in their police interviews and the events leading up that lead them there. The problem for me is I'm not connecting to anything in this novel. So it's a DNF for me.

Review: Pasadena

Pasadena - Sherri L. Smith

 

I received a copy through Penguin First to Read.

 

I loved this one. This is a gritty novel set in Los Angeles with one of the most unlikeable characters I have come across in a long time. It’s one of the rare cases where in spite of the fact that the main character Jude is an unapologetic bitch, her characterization is so good it works brilliantly and as a reader it didn’t even bother me how rude, bitchy and obnoxious this girl is. Usually I hate characters like this. But I still kind of liked this girl.

 

I can’t really say how well the noir homage was done as it’s not a genre I’m familiar with (I don’t think saying I saw LA Confidential once counts).

 

The novel tells the story of the sudden and unexpected death of Jude’s best friend Maggie. Set during summer in LA you really get a sense of the uncomfortable sticky heat of LA in high summer, with the tense atmosphere of the novel it was really visual and I could picture everything going on so clearly, like watching a TV show or a movie. Jude races back from her vacation at her dad’s house (her parents are divorced and she spends the school year in LA with her mom and mom’s string of less than reputable boyfriends). Her good friend Joey picks her up from the airport and the novel progresses from there.

 

Jude meets with some of Maggie’s other friends – just because they all knew Maggie and were friends with her doesn’t mean any of them like each other much. Jude is still in shock from this news – it’s pegged as suicide – Maggie is found floating face down in a pool with a glamorous swimsuit on. Jude’s convinced it’s murder. She’s flat out cruel to almost every other one of Maggie’s group of friends – Dane, Tally, Hank, Eppie, Edina, Luke. Dane and Tally are a couple as are Hank and Eppie.

 

Luke turns out to have a huge crush which boarders on flatout stalking. (Luke’s stalking/crush thing turns out to be a huge plot point that becomes very helpful in Jude’s investigation into Maggie’s death later on in the novel)/

 

Edina and Jude seem to be competing for the BFF spot, though Jude clearly thinks she’s the only one that counts and Edina is a hanger on wannabe and a poor excuse of a person. Most of these people are pretty awful with the exception of Joey (who was awesome) and Hank and Eppie, who were actually nice. Maggie managed to bring all these people together and make them feel special.

 

Maggie herself was rich and extremely popular and desired. Yet of course, had a cruel drama queen streak of her own. As Jude starts digging to the days before and up to Maggie’s death she stars digging into these people who knew Maggie in ways she didn’t. She begins learning some uncomfortable home truths. She speaks without thinking and doesn’t give a crap about what she’s saying or if it will hurt anyone’s feelings. Throughout it all Joey seems to be the only one who can tolerate Jude’s attitude problems enough to stand by. But even he has his limits. His strength to stick with Jude is pretty damn admirable.

 

Of course Jude has her own drama to deal with, digging into Maggie’s friends and her death brings up some uncomfortable home truths of her own she had long thought was buried and stuff she never really dealt with herself.

 

A really diverse cast of very well put together characters who were well fleshed out and believable even if most of them weren’t particularly likeable. Brilliant sense of place and setting, visually striking. It’s a brilliant mystery and completely unpredictable.

Bookish Bingo summer 2016 Wrap Up

 

 

With the completion of Kissed by an Angel by Elizabeth Chandler (didn't have high exception for this book - a 700 page YA romance with angels - wildly exceeded my expectations and turned out to be so damn good!) covering the 500 page + square thus finishing by Bookish Bingo card.

 

Titles Read:

Yellow Cover: Pretending to be Erica by Michelle Painchaud - 4 Stars

Outdoors: Shipwrecked by Siobhan Curham - 3.1/2 stars

Water on Cover: The Girls of No Return by Erin Saldin - 3 stars

Mental Health: The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter - 3.1/2 stars

Political Intrigue - The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barns - 5 stars

Food in Title or on Cover - 100 Days of Cake by Shari Goldhagen - 5 stars

Red Cover - A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas - 3 stars

F/F or M/M Relationship: Without Annette by Jane B Mason 3 Stars

Middle Grade - Kristy's Great Idea (Babysitter's Club #1) Anne M Martin - 5 stars

White Cover: How it Ends - Catherine Lo - 3 stars

Name in Title: Saving Montgomery Sole by Mariko Tamaki - 3 stars

Historical Setting 1900-1950 - Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee- - 5 Stars

Aussie Author - Wildlife by Fiona Wood - 4 Stars

POC MC - Pointe by Brandy Colbert - 3 stars 

2016 Debut - The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee - 4 Stars

Stars with S U M E R - Even As the Sky Falls by Mia Garcia - 3 Stars

Free - The Devil and the Bluebird by Jennifer Mason-Black 4 stars

Monsters - Heir to the Sky by Amanda Sun - 2 Stars

Weather Words in Title - A Frozen Heart by Elizabeth Rudnick - 4 Stars

June July August Release - A Season for Fireflies by Rebecca Maizel - 5 stars

Book about Books - Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira - 4 Stars

over 500 pages - Kissed by an Angel by Elizabeth Chandler - 4 Stars

Magic - The Reader by Traci Chee - 5 Stars

Part of 4+ book series - Betrayed (House of Night #2) PC Cast - 3 stars

Folklore or Mythology - Dark Descendant by Jenna Black 4 stars

 

You Can see my Goodreads shelf where each book has the dates read here

 

Best Books

Kissed by An Angel, A Season for Fireflies, The Devil and the Bluebird, The Thousandth Floor, The Reader, Outrun the Moon, The Fixer, 

 

Worst Books Read

There wasn't anything this time round I particularly hated, though Heir to the Sky was very boring, and I was a little disappointed with The Girls of No Return. I wasn't overly impressed with Betrayed (House of Night 2). This series is actually pretty awful but there is something addictive about it despite how bad it is. 

 

Honorable Mentions

Dark Descendant. Bookishly Ever After, Shipwrecked, Wildlife, Pretending to be Erica. 

 

SPOILER ALERT!

Review: The Detour

The Detour - S.A. Bodeen

Despite my initial absolute disdain for the main character, this turned out to actually be a pretty good read. It read very much like a teen horror movie.

 

It tells the story of 17 year old Olivia Flynn, who at such a young age has already become an international best-selling author with a YA trilogy. She has legions of fans, rich parents, and the means to do pretty much whatever the hell she wants. She's got her ticket written to a prestigious Ivy League college because her dad's alumni and her parents are wealthy so she's already got a room waiting in the best dorm on campus. She's completely and totally full of herself and a complete and utter pain in the ass bitch. I loathed this girl from the first page onwards. She flaunts her success and her wealth in the most obnoxious way possible and doesn't seem to give a crap about anyone or anything other than herself. She is absolutely the worst kind of over privileged author who thinks she utterly deserves all the fame and wealth and success right away. She has no patience for the "old women" she constantly sees at conventions and workshops who she thinks don't have a snowball's chance in hell to be as successful as she is

 

On the way to a writers retreat, her expensive car has a terrible accident. She spots a young girl with a flute who appears to have seen everything and shouts to the girl for help. Things go rapidly downhill from there. She wakes in a locked basement room, with the girl’s mother, clad in a “Mrs Daryl Dixon” t-shirt. And her nightmare begins.

 

As things go from bad to worse for Olivia as the mother and daughter team start to torment her, she’s suffering injuries from her car wreck (and constantly whining about her missing £300 Italian leather shoes that are no longer on her feet) she learns that the mother, Peg, seems to think Olivia is responsible for something bad that happened (to either Peg or the daughter, it’s unclear) and Olivia must suffer for it. Olivia clueless brat she is, has no clue what that something is. So she starts to think back.

 

We learn of her oh-so-traumatic childhood. Apparently she was bullied mercifully throughout her school years, to the point of where she developed that hair pulling affliction (which has a really complicated name I can’t remember or spell) no one noticed and no one helped her. The group of girls she wanted to be friends with had her be really mean to a new student who joined the class, but then turned on her the next day.

(show spoiler)

 

 

When her parents found out they pulled her from that school and her mom gave up her law career to home school Olivia who by then had decided she wanted to be a writer and had a talent for it. So instead of focusing on home schooling or even finding a new school to transfer the girl to, Olivia and her mom decide to focus on Olivia’s writing. She got a few hours of school in the morning and then she blabs on about how she worked really hard at her writing and got like, instant success.

(show spoiler)

 

 

Which personally, I didn’t agree with at all. Yes, it sucks horribly when people pick on you for seemingly no reason other than they can, I've been through that myself, so I know first hand just how frustrating and horrible it can be.  It’s really really had to be sympathetic at all to Olivia, even though what she went through as a child was horrible because she’s such a hateful know-it-all bitch at present.

 

Though I hate the fact that this little bitch had only a bit of school work in the morning and then got instant success for a writing career. I loathe Olivia so much I can’t find anything redeeming about her to be happy that she rose above the bullying and became successful. She didn’t deserve to be destroyed the way she was, but I do think her parents coddled her too much when they found out. They didn’t’ report it to the school or get anything done about it or send her to a therapist or anything like that. It’s let’s become famous and successful and then they’ll all see how awesome I am. Which just makes me want to gag.

(show spoiler)

 

 

 

As Olivia remembers she’s continually tormented by Peg and the daughter, and their horrible cousin Wesley who is a really slimy piece of work. Olivia starts to take in her surroundings and think about how she’s going to escape. What she’s seen on movies and TV and what not to do. To be fair, she’s actually pretty logical and shows some keen intelligence when we get to this point. Which comes with more reminiscing about her past and her oh so fabulous carer.

 

She remembers when a novel came out a few months after hers with a very similar plot. So similar that she blogged about it and her fans gathered up and called it plagiarism and actually went after the other author, verbally attacking her and pretty much destroying her career. Olivia doesn’t think she did anything wrong.

(show spoiler)

 

 

As much as I loathed Olivia, and rather enjoyed seeing the little brat desperately trying to preserve herself and figure it all out, it was actually a pretty good read. Though it still drove me up the wall when the red herrings came back in and the answers finally came to light and Olivia found out what it was she had done that was so terrible. And it was pretty fucking awful on her part. Yet of course, she manages to justify it to her benefit so of course can’t have done anything wrong at all and she deserved none of what happened to her. (Spoiler – she totally DID deserve everything).

 

At least by the epilogue she had finally toned her hatefulness down. The ending did make me grin. A totally and utterly deplorable main character, but if you can look past that, a pretty good read.

Review: Kasey Screws up the World

Kasey Screws Up The World: A Young Adult Novel - Rachel Shane

 I snagged a copy of this novel when it was available as a Read It Now title from Netgalley. I figured I’d give it a shot, I’d most likely either love it or hate it. Turned out just to be okay. There was nothing particularly remarkable about it. I didn’t flat out hate it, I didn’t love it either.

 

It tells the story of 16 year old Kasey who feels like she has spent her whole life in the shadow of her older sister Lara. Both girls enjoy dancing, and both girls are very good at it. However, Lara has always been the prettier of the two and talented to the point where she can make a good career out of her dancing.

 

While Kasey’s parents funnel all their energy and attention to Lara’s career, their mom seems to see Kasey’s dancing as “just a hobby”.  Their mom is terrible, one of the worst back seat driver parents I’ve come across in a long time. Kasey barely seems to register to the mom, except when she’s in trouble.  The dad is okay, makes lame jokes to lighten the atmosphere when it gets tense and seems kind of passive.

 

The story starts with Kasey returning to school after a vacation where something terrible has happened to Lara, her dance career is DOA, and all of Lara’s friends hate Kasey, Kasey’s own friends from her dance team have turned on her and are making her miserable before she can even get in the school door. She quits the dance team and hides. All is pretty grim, there is one ray of light in her friend Lonnie. Even though it appears at some point in the summer she fucked things up with him, Lonnie seems to be more than willing to forgive and forget and still wants to be Kasey’s friend.

 

Kasey’s miserable, she wants people to understand her side of what happen, but no one will listen to her, so she decides to start a blog. The novel flips between what’s happening now and what happened on the vacation that lead up to the incident with Lara. It seems that before the accident, despite the fact that Kasey felt a little overshadowed by Lara they seemed to get on pretty well. Lara stuck up for her, they shared clothes and makeup and stuff and it looked as though they were sort of friends.

 

Though when on their family summer cruise vacation they meet two boys, Fin and Hayden, and things start going downhill between Lara and Kasey from there.  Kasey’s always been kind of shy, Lara encourages her to flirt with Fin while she goes for Hayden. Fin does bring out Kasey’s fun side and while she hangs out with him without Lara around, she finds herself being flirty and funny and cute in a way she’s never really had the chance to. As the cruise progresses and they find daft things to do on the ship – sneaking into adult discos, pretending to be newly-weds to win a competition (which was pretty funny actually) their feelings start to grow. Meanwhile Lara has been planning on entering the talent show, some producers for a big dance TV talent show are supposed to be there, and Lara (and their mom) seems to think that if Lara can win the talent show on the ship, she’s a shoo in for this TV show. But somehow Kasey ends up in the talent show too.

 

And from then on it gets to the accident and the aftermath of the accident. There’s a big was it an accident or not theme, and as Kasey blogs about it, the kids at school all start reading and commenting, the dance team mean girls even have t-shirts at one point “team accident” and “team on purpose” (no brainer to which one the mean girls are wearing). But Kasey’s former best friend starts thawing. There’s a mystery going on as to where Lara’s been since the incident. She was supposed to be in her first year of a local college but snooping Kasey finds some stuff out. Money also disappears from mom and dad’s bank account and Kasey takes the blame – even though it has nothing to do with her.

 

I did think Kasey’s parents reactions to her after the incident was pretty unfair. They pretty much freeze her out. It’s like they only tolerate her in the house because they legally have to. It’s applied at a few times that Kasey isn’t even allowed to eat meals with her parents if Lara’s there. Which is pathetic and cruel. Lara doesn’t want anything to do with Kasey and in this family what Lara wants goes. No one wants to listen to Kasey’s apologies.  So it’s understandable why Kasey wants to get her side out, and while blogging is the only way she can do it.

 

Though at least by the end of the novel there’s progress when all the answers finally come out and the sisters can start working on their relationship again. It’s never going to be quite the same, but at least things start improving. Kasey makes a monumental effort for Lara to show her there’s more to the world than dance and how she can still have a career in dance even if she’s not actually physically dancing. Which was sweet.  Kasey’s friendships start getting better. And plus points to Lonnie for sticking by Kasey throughout the whole thing. The ending was a little sickly sweet for me and everything wrapped up with a sort of Disney channel TV show happiness.

 

It certainly wasn’t a bad novel by any means, decently written with believable characters. Though it was only an okay read for me.

DNF: A Court of Mist and Fury

A Court of Mist and Fury - Sarah J. Maas

I made it to 400 pages and I'm now at the point where I'm cringing when I look at my paperback because I STILL have another 200 pages plus to finish. Not happening, its long winded and boring and I'm starting to loathe the main character. Calling it quits on this series. 

Bookish Bingo Mini Reviews

How It Ends - Catherine Lo Kristy's Great Idea - Ann M. Martin Without Annette - Jane B. Mason

How It Ends – Catherine Lo – 3 Stars

I read this in a couple of hours. An enjoyable, believable YA novel about how friendships form and fall apart and picking up the pieces when friendships go south. Tells the story of Jessie and Annie. Jessie has terrible anxiety problems, an over protective mom, a father who doesn’t believe she has “mental health issues” and her mom is just coddling her too much. While Annie on the other hand is a bit more outgoing. Her mom died, her dad has remarried only a short time afterwards, to a woman Annie despises, the woman has a daughter a year or so older than Annie, of the too perfect and who can do no wrong variety.

Jessie had some friends who ditched her and became queen bees/mean girls. They were horrible and in her eyes each one of these girls is always out to get her. She becomes fast friends with Annie, even though they are different they just seem to click and get each other. Annie doesn’t know anything about Jessie’s anxiety problems. Jessie develops a calming pill addiction. While the two girls click, and get to know each other, there’s a brilliant contrast between the two parental units and how involved Jessie’s mom is and how appalling Annie’s step mother is.

 Things start unravelling in the friendship, there’s boys involved, and Annie starts hanging out with the girls Jessie thinks ditched her and were unnecessarily mean.

Jessie starts to fall apart, and Annie gets very frustrated, even when she finds out about the anxiety problems and tries to help, even thinking she’s helping by telling the other girls what’s going on, it all goes wrong. Then Annie finds herself pregnant and can’t seem to understand how it happened – she’s very naïve about birth control and protection. The tables turn on her and she goes from potential queen bee to zero very quickly. It’s quite sad to see how horribly she’s treated by girls she thought were her friend. By this point she’s had a huge blow out with Jessie. Yet in spite of that, Jessie tries to be there, even though she’s now a little more confident and found some new friends of her own. She tries to help Annie through her hard time. It’s emotional on both parts as the two girls try to deal with their own dramas and situations.

The only real issue with the book I have is that at one point Jessie becomes addicted to her anxiety medication which her mom has kept locked up and only gives when necessary. A visit to the doctor says that’s a bad idea and Jessie should have access to her meds whenever she needs them. She becomes addicted, and unless I missed it, I don’t remember Jessie’s pill popping being dealt with. It’s sort of eclipsed by the Annie pregnancy storyline. Considering how attentive Jessie’s mom was with the meds, surely something should have been noticed? I don’t know, that was the only bit that seemed left without any sort of conclusion.

Other than that, it was a pretty good solid YA read with a great mix of characters and families.

 

Kristy’s Great Idea (Babysitter’s Club 1#) Anne M Martin – 5 Stars

I loved these books when I was young. I lost count of how many I read, I was completely addicted to this series. It’s basically about 4 middle school girls, who set up a club for babysitting in their small town, each one’s got a different personality – Kristy’s sporty, Mary Anne is serious, Claudia is the coolest kid on the planet, and Stacey is beautiful and sophisticated. Yet they maintain some tight friendship despite their own issues. Kristy has a huge family, lots of brothers and sisters both older and younger and her mom’s been seeing a new man with annoying kids and she’s determined not to like him no matter how nice he is  (I can't remember if her parents are divorced or if the dad died). Claudia has a mean older sister who is really smart and perfect in everyone else’s eyes and she’s constantly in her shadow. Stacey has a secret no one can quite figure out. Mary Anne’s dad is really strict. Re reading this as an adult it’s as good as it was when I was a kid, but there were definitely things about it I had forgotten.  So a great nostalgic reread.

 

Without Annette – Jane B Mason – 3 Stars

A boarding school novel with a f/f relationship. Josie fell in love with her best friend Annette and they have been dating for quite a long time. Annette has a horrible home life with an abusive mother who drinks like a fish and is a mean drunk, her dad barely seems to get involved or anything. While Josie has older brothers and a really supportive family. Josie manages to get herself and Annette into a really exclusive boarding school a long way from their small home town. So off they go thinking they’ll be roommates and can have a great new life. First problem – they are not roommates. And the academy is not quite what either Josie thought.

As if new roommates weren’t hard enough to deal with, Annette has decided she wants Josie to keep their relationship a secret. Annette has one of the most popular (and rich) girls in the school as her roommate. While Josie has the weird girl. (The weird girl turns out to be pretty cool herself and a pretty good friend). Annette’s personality starts to change and not in good ways. As a result, her relationship with Josie starts to suffer.

Josie starts making her own friends, particularly getting along well with some of the more adventurous boys. She’s got brothers she was close to so they’re all surprised when Josie’s quite capable of beating them at poker, drinking, and climbing trees. The classes are tough and hard work is expected of everyone. Josie’s coping, Annette is not. The novel deals with the stresses of new pressures, new friends and the relationship between Annette and Josie. My biggest worry about this was when Josie starts hanging out with the boys there are hints of feelings developing, and it was like, oh for fuck’s sake. Things with Annette are going south, please don’t let Josie be swept off her feet by a boy. Thankfully, Josie makes it clear she’s a lesbian, it’s not a phase and won’t be changing that. Phew!

A pretty good read for a boarding school novel. Though as much as a liked Josie as a character, I did feel her relationship with Annette was a bit flat and lacklustre. Otherwise, a fast, enjoyable read.

 

Reading progress update: I've read 9%.

The Detour - S.A. Bodeen

So this book is basically Misery for the YA crowd. The "author" is a seventeen year old brat who reeks of privilege and thinks she's the coolest thing since sliced bread because she wrote a best selling trilogy at 17. Which may be possible, true, but why her? This girl is just plain awful. 

 

18 pages in I hate her guts and can't wait to see the bad guys go all Annie Wilks on her spoiled stupid ass. 

Review: Read Me Like A Book

Read Me Like a Book - Liz Kessler

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

A pretty good coming of age novel. There was nothing about it that particularly stood out with to start, I've seen this title in UK bookshops for some time. While the f/f relationship definitely piqued my interest, I’m always up for f/f in YA fiction. However, the whole teacher/student premise just bothered me a little. However, when it popped up on my auto approval list for Hatchett Children’s on Netgalley I figured, what the hell and decided to give it a shot.

 

It’s a UKYA, and it tells the story of 18 year old Ashleigh who’s in her last year of college. She’s a fairly middle of the road student, kind of derivative about the “swotty” students who study and get good grades. The novel opens with Ashleigh at a party, waiting for her friend Luke. She meets a really hot guy Dylan and starts flirting. Ashleigh’s home life is pretty rotten, her parents seem to be fighting all the time and she doesn’t appear to like being around in the house when it happens, particularly as it’s obvious something is wrong but the parents are pretending everything’s fine. Understandable. It’s a horrible situation to be in.

 

There was nothing particularly wrong with Ashleigh as a character, she had her stroppy teenager moments, there was drama with her best friend Cat, who’s a lot more outgoing than she is. The thing with Dylan isn’t really progressing as Ashleigh would like. She can’t seem to figure out her feelings for him. They date and talk.

 

And then a new English teacher, Ms Murray comes along and completely captivates Ashleigh’s attention. She starts paying attention in her class, starts to care about her school work and impressing this new teacher. Ms Murray is actually a very personable teacher, she can hold the kid’s attention and get them talking. She treats the kids like people and does seem to care about helping them with their work and making sure they do well. Ashleigh starts getting more involved in school activities and making friends with people she would normally ignore.

 

There is some jealousy with her friend Cat, and a fair bit of drama where Cat’s over the top personality can get grating. All the while Ashleigh is starting to discover new feelings when she’s in her English class. Things with Dylan are finally progressing, but the feelings she’s having towards him are lukewarm compared to the sparks she feels around Ms Murray.

 

To be fair, I was pleased to see that the whole student/teacher thing was barely there. It was more Ashleigh discovering a possible new side to herself she had never realised was there. Her feelings developed in a very believable way from hey, cool teacher, to out right crush to omg what the hell is happening to me, why am I feeling this way about the teacher and not my boyfriend?

 

While Cat the BFF could be a pain in the ass, when Ashleigh finally comes out and realises what the feelings mean,  Cat is great about it. You couldn’t ask for better more supportive friend. Though some of Ashleigh’s newer friends are not that nice about it. There’s mean rumours and more drama.

 

The drama with Ashleigh’s parents is also dealt with quite realistically, though the dad is really annoying, particularly towards the end of the novel. I loved how Ashleigh’s relationship with her mom grew over the course of the novel.

 

So all in all, a pretty good coming of age novel. Nice to see it done with a lesbian romance theme. More of these, please.

Story Sprites Round 5 July Updates

I was a little late to staring Story Sprites but I have managed to get a few squares covered for July.

 

 

Books Read

Gay Female MC - Read me Like A Book by Liz Kessler - 3 Stars

Setting: American Chinatown - Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee - 5 Stars

Deceased Author - I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan - 3 Stars

POC Author - Pasadena - Sherri L Smith - 4 Stars

No Romance - The Smaller Evil  by Stephanie Kuehn - 5 Stars

Novel with Fire And/or Ice Theme - A Frozen Heart by  Elizabeth Rudnick - 4 Stars

 

Currently Reading:

2016 Fantasy - This will either by Ruined by Amy Tintera or The Reader by Traci Chee (depending on which I finish first)

Book with Vampires - Betrayed (House of Night 2) PC Cast

Classic Horror: The Shining by Stephen King (reread)

Character with Physical Deformity - Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto

Fairytale Retelling - Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige

Vigilante MC - The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows

Female Empowerment as Theme - Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes

Setting: 19th Century: These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

Bookish Bingo Updates, July

 

At the end of July this is now what my Bookish Bingo card looks like this:

 

 

This was from my last Bookish Bingo post of what I'd read.

Titles Read:

Yellow Cover: Pretending to be Erica by Michelle Painchaud - 4 Stars

Outdoors: Shipwrecked by Siobhan Curham - 3.1/2 stars

Water on Cover: The Girls of No Return by Erin Saldin - 3 stars

Mental Health: The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter - 3.1/2 stars

Political Intrigue - The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barns - 5 stars

Food in Title or on Cover - 100 Days of Cake by Shari Goldhagen - 5 stars

Red Cover - A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas - 3 stars

F/F or M/M Relationship: Without Annette by Jane B Mason 3 Stars

Middle Grade - Kristy's Great Idea (Babysitter's Club #1) Anne M Martin - 5 stars

White Cover: How it Ends - Catherine Lo - 3 stars

 

Now Covered

Name in Title: Saving Montgomery Sole by Mariko Tamaki - 3 stars

Historical Setting 1900-1950 - Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee- - 5 Stars

Aussie Author - Wildlife by Fiona Wood - 4 Stars

POC MC - Pointe by Brandy Colbert

2016 Debut - The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee - 4 Stars

Stars with S U M E R - Even As the Sky Falls by Mia Garcia - 3 Stars

Free - The Devil and the Bluebird by Jennifer Mason-Black 4 stars

Monsters - Heir to the Sky by Amanda Sun - 2 Stars

Weather Words in Title - A Frozen Heart by Elizabeth Rudnick - 4 Stars

June July August Release - A Season for Fireflies by Rebecca Maizel - 5 stars

Book about Books - Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira - 4 Stars

 

That leaves me with 4 Squares to cover by the end of August

 

So Currently Reading

over 500 pages - A court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas

Magic - The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows (reread)

Part of 4+ book series - Betrayed (House of Night #2) PC Cast

Folklore or Mythology - Dark Descendant by Jenna Black

 

 

 

 

 

DNF: Spontaneous

Spontaneous - Aaron Starmer

I received this book through an offer from Penguin's First to Read. Unfortunately, it didn't work for me and I'm DNFing and just over 100 pages.

 

It was on my August release list, interesting idea, a small town with high school aged kids randomly exploding and a very snarky protagonist. My biggest issue with the book was the voice of Mara the main character. It was kind of crass, very blunt and snarky. Usually I like this kind of humour, and this kind of character. While the tone does have a fairly believable teenage POV on something very weird happening, and I can even understand where Mara's coming from. However, she does waffle a lot.

 

In the end, there was something about the narrative simply wasn't doing it for me, and I found myself rolling my eyes a lot whilst reading those first 100 pages or so. It was kind amusing at first,  but at least for me it was the type of humor that gets very tiring very quickly.

 

100 pages in and I'm bored, after reading some spoilery reviews over on Goodreads and seeing where this is going, I'm not interested in spending more time reading this.

 

Thank you to Penguin First Reads, but this one wasn't for me.