Sunday, November 29, 2020

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Five Ways to Fall Out of Love

 

Five Ways to Fall Out of Love

by Emily Martin


Aubrey Chase is a pessimist who thinks of herself as a realist. Based on her parents' dying marriage, Aubrey believes that there's not much point to love since all she sees is breakups and fighting.

Across the street lives Webster. Just when Aubrey was ready to give love a try, Webster stands her up for Homecoming and then embarrasses her in front of the school. Over a year later and they still wage a daily battle to tick the other one off. 

But there's still a little something there. 

There's also Webster's cousin who might be able to show Aubrey that love can be more than the end of the relationship; it can be the beginning, too.

Now there's a triangle and Aubrey is more confused about relationships than ever.

Final Thoughts: I was not a fan of this one. The characters were pretty flat and the story just didn't flow well. I finished the book but not with the satisfaction of reading a good story. 

Rating: 2/5

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.



Thursday, October 29, 2020

Of Curses and Kisses


 Of Curses and Kisses

by Sandhya Menon


Jaya Rao has been raised to put family reputation above all things. When her family name is put in jeopardy, she moves with her sister to a boarding school in Colorado to help the rumors die down and keep her sister's reputation safe.

Grey Emerson has been raised to believe in a curse put on his family generations before. He has been taught that he will be the last of his name and his father has pretty much abandoned him to that boarding school in Colorado since he was able to start school.

Now the two of them will meet. Jaya will need to decide if reputation is everything, while Grey will need to decide if he will be ruled by the curse or by his heart.

Final thoughts: Ok book. Not a super attention-grabber, but it's solid in the writing and the main characters are decent. 

Rating: 3/5



Sunday, October 18, 2020

Kind of a Big Deal

Kind of a Big Deal
by Shannon Hale
 
Josie Pie peaked in high school but she just can't admit that. In high school, she was kind of a big deal, being popular, dating the popular guy, and getting all the juiciest roles in the drama productions. People recognized her and called her name in the hallways and around her tiny town. She was going to be BIG!
 
When her drama mentor convinces her to try out for a Broadway production in New York, she eagerly drops out of high school and heads to NY to make it big.
 
And she flops. 
 
Big time.
 
She barely gets by with a cruddy apartment, acting workshops, and a credit card that her mom got her, which she maxes out fast.
 
Josie Pie desperately takes a job to be a nanny and moves out to Montana with the single mom and daughter to try and get her life together and find a way to be the big deal she was always meant to be.
 
After visiting a strangely vibing bookstore, Josie sits down at the park to read and take her mind off her failures when she's suddenly IN the book with bandits, treetop hideouts, corsets, and more.
 
Once out, Josie wants back in. In the book, she was kind of a big deal again. That feeling is too good and Josie needs to feel it as much as possible.
 
So while her real world, friendships, and love life crumble around her, Josie dives into book after book, hoping to be the big deal she was always supposed to be.
 
Final thoughts: Um.No. I pushed my way through this book, mostly because I spent real money on it. Reading the book jacket, I thought this would be a Jasper Fforde Thursday Next type of book and it just turned out to be bad. Shannon Hale is kind of a big deal in YA lit so I don't really know what happened here, but everything was stilted and confused. The ending was completely strange and didn't fit with the reality of the book beyond that. I have no idea what happened here, but it wasn't good.
 
Rating: 2/5


Sunday, August 16, 2020

The Quantum Weirdness of the Almost-Kiss

The Quantum Weirdness of the Almost-Kiss

by Amy Noelle Parks

Evie and Caleb have known each other pretty much forever. Where Evie goes, Caleb follows. This includes the exclusive Newton Academy, a boarding school for math and science geniuses. 

Evie knows her physics inside-out and understands much of her own personal knowledge and lack, but she doesn't understand relationships yet. Even at 17, and nearing graduation, Evie has never kissed a boy and has always firmly rejected the idea.

So far, Caleb has been OK with all of that. He loves Evie and all of her quirks. He knows her better than anyone. He has always suspected that it would just take time, but that when Evie figured out how good kissing could be, it would be with him.

But things suddenly shift when Evie gets her first boyfriend, and her first kiss, and it's not Caleb.

Now Caleb must do what he can to support his best friend, but also try and shift her attention back to him without being the villain of the story.

Final thoughts: This is a modern retelling of The Shop Around the Corner (aka You've Got Mail), with teens, math, physics, and a slightly psychotic mother. Cute cotton candy fluff. 

Rating: 3/5

ARC thanks to NetGalley

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Midnight Sun

 

Add caption

Midnight Sun

by Stephenie Meyer


Too much to say so I said it in my podcast. 


Wednesday, May 27, 2020

The Princess Trials

The Princess Trials
by Cordelia K. Castel

Zea-Mays Calico has lived her life as a Harvester and dreamed of a day with the Red Runners will finally take over Phangloria and make all things equal across the land. For years, she has watched the Nobles and the other higher Echelons reap the rewards of the work of the lower groups and she wants to share all the wealth equally.

When Zea finally steps up and takes action against a Guardian who threatens another Harvester, the head of the local Red Runner league really notices Zea and recruits her for a new mission.

Join the Princess Trials, get close to the Prince, explore the castle, and find all the hidden passageways so that the Red Runners can attack and take over the kingdom.

But things don't go as planned and everything turns topsy-turvy as Zea makes her way to the Oasis and then has to survive something much more dangerous than the Guardians... The other girls in the competition.

Final thoughts: This has moments of decent scattered among a LOT of copying from The Hunger Games and The Selection. It's hard to read this with any sense of joy once you see all of the parallels and almost point for point plot theft at some points. I wanted to like it more but I just can see past the duplicate story lines.

Rating: 3/5 (barely)

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Not Your #LoveStory


Not Your #LoveStory
by Sonia Hartl

It was just supposed to be a special day for her mom. Macy Mae had saved and saved to be able to take her mom to a live Royals game. It was just supposed to be a great day.

And it seemed great at the time.

Even after accidentally spilling a drink on her seatmate, his subsequent t-shirt removal, and a few sparks, the day went pretty well.

Unfortunately, Macy Mae had no idea that her special day with her mom was going to be completely blown out of proportion when the woman sitting behind them decided to use this "meet-cute" between Macy and that boy into a way of earning instant Internet fame.

Within hours of getting home, Macy Mae has been all over the Internet and the news, and speculation is running wild about her and her #baseballbabe. Soon, her YouTube channel is blowing up and getting trolled. Her identity is doxxed and leaked out to the world. And Macy Mae gets everything she always thought she ever wanted, but never knew how to achieve.

But there's a cost.

Local boy Paxton finally seems to be ready to step up and talk to Macy Mae about more than just movies, but now she's Internet famous and her fame is dependent on dating #baseballbabe.

Final thoughts: This is a fictionalized version of the July 2018 #PlaneBae incident that took over the Internet for a few days. While the meet-cute incident is different, the players are much the same with a woman behind posting to improve her Internet presence and the boy playing it up for his own fame. Neither seems to care about the girl in this instance or how this all affects her life. This is a realistic and somewhat scary tale of what the Internet does far too well... make assumptions and run with them. This is not so much a YA novel as it is a NA (New Adult) novel, as Macy and all of the characters are post high school.

Rating: 3/5

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC!

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Pixieland Diaries

Pixieland Diaries
by Christina Bauer

Calla is a faeling. This means that she has human parents who abandoned her because she was born with magic. She was born with magic because her parents lived just a little too close to the realm of Pixieland.

So, being "just" a faeling means that Calla has been fostered by the fae, raised by the fae, taught by the fae, but she doesn't have the evil intentions her parents hold dear and all she really wants to do is play pranks on others.

Well... that and stare at Darius "Dare" the Winter Court's heir apparent.

Unfortunately, being 16 and looking 9 mean that he doesn't ever stare back at Calla.

And it also means that people don't believe that she's anything more than a pest.

She'll show them...

Final thoughts: Nope. Not for me. Calla is an unlikable character who behaves like she's on a triple espresso dosed with speed and a ton of sugar. It seems like the writer may have been too since there are sooo many errors in this thing. Even for an ARC, this is riddled with things like the names changing between sentences, spelling mix-ups (i.e. not to drag instead of not to brag) and, in the middle of a sentence there was an apostrophe-s just sitting there. No reason at all. Just  's.  WHY???? The plot is random with things popping out of nowhere. The characters are bare. Why is she writing in her diary the entire time? Stuck in a void and unable to do anything at all? Write in her diary. HOW? About to go into battle! Stop everything so she can write in her diary!!!
And, the thing I hate most SPOILER ALERT!!!! When she finds out she's not a tiny pixie, but a full elf with the bod to match (the glamour she didn't even know she had being stripped away), suddenly Dare is more than a little interested. Tiny, flat pixie... ignore. Boobs and curves? Go for it!!!  Same person but changed appearance and suddenly he takes an interest. Ummm. No.

Rating: 2/5 (and that's pushing it)

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Kissing Lessons

Kissing Lessons
by Sophie Jordan

Hayden is the most notorious girl in school, even when she really hasn't done anything to deserve that distinction. Her home life is crap and her looks are too good, so she has to face each day as if she's taking on the entire world. Boys claim that they've known her. Girls slut shame her. And Hayden just tries to get through to graduation so that she can leave town and never see her mother or their tiny town again.

Unfortunately, leaving town means getting money and with Hayden basically having to pay for everything on her own, saving is hard. When Emmaline approaches her with cash in exchange for lessons on how to be so confident with guys, Hayden can't afford to say no... even when Emmaline's older brother and hot jock, Nolan, tries to push her away.

Hayden gets in deeper than she ever thought when she starts to fall for Nolan and the possibility that maybe not everyone in the world is out for themselves.

Final thoughts: I liked parts of this book and Hayden started out strong, but like Sandy at the end of Grease, she changes herself in strange ways that don't fit in with how her character behaved throughout the rest of the book. Things feel unfinished and rushed by the end. There are so many areas that were never discussed and others that were just obviously placed for the moment of the plot and then forgotten. I didn't feel the ending was organic to the rest of the story and I definitely didn't feel like things were resolved well.

Rating: 2/5

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Today Tonight Tomorrow

Today Tonight Tomorrow
by Rachel Lynn Solomon

On her last day of her last year of high school. Rowan Roth reflects back on what she thought high school would be and what it ended up being. The only thing that hasn't changed is her need to beat Neil McNair at anything and everything, including Valedictorian and the Howl senior game.

When she and Neil are forced to work together, she remembers every time he bested her in school from their first essay contest to their election to the Student Council.

But THIS... this she will win no matter what.

And then she will head off to college to learn how to be the best writer possible and fulfill her dreams of being a romance author and give power and advice to all those girls who were just like her in high school.

What she doesn't realize is that being exactly who she really is is tougher than she ever thought possible. And that maybe Neil isn't who she thought he was, either.

Final thoughts: Cotton candy fluff with a predictable ending, but still a nice little ride. There were some formatting issues with the Kindle ARC, but nothing that couldn't be adjusted to pretty easily. It was also a nice little tour of Seattle and the overall story and relationships throughout felt real.

Rating: 3/5

Thanks to NetGalley, Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing, and Simon Pulse for the ARC

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Smoke Bitten

Smoke Bitten
by Patricia Briggs

Mercy has survived miniature zombie goats, vampire attacks, the fae, angry werewolves, a rapist, and her own bad luck. Now she needs to survive an unknown fae who has escaped Underhill, a rogue group of werewolves, the tension in her own marriage, and killer bunnies. (Monty Python would be so proud.)

For some reason, Adam, her husband and werewolf mate, has shut down their mating bond, while also spending late nights at work and sleeping in the guest room, effectively cutting Mercy out of his life. Mercy is trying to be patient and wait him out, but some people need a little offense instead of waiting in defense.

Tilly, the physical manifestation of Underhill, has dropped a door to her land in the Hauptman backyard in order to be closer to their semi-adopted son and former Underhill resident. Upon entering this world, she lets out an unknown fae who can take over the minds of its victims and make them do evil things to the people around them. 

There is a group of werewolves who have decided that now is the perfect time to try and take over their pack.

There's Wulfe, who has become radically changed after the events of the last book and who is now even more scary and unstable than ever before.

And there are killer bunnies...

With all the juggling that Mercy must do now, she should probably join a circus. 

Final thoughts: I love new Mercy books and this is no exception. She is such a strong character who knows her own mind and heart. She also seems to be the focus of a lot of bad juju, compliments of her father, Coyote. I hope that she gets a few days off of the crazy someday, although that will probably mean that I won't have anything to read and that would be sad. As with all of her books, Briggs has a complicated and convoluted story that makes sense at the end and makes better sense after a reread or two. I LOVE the return of some characters that we haven't seen for a while. I can't wait for the next book.

Rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Elsker

Elsker
S.T. Bende

When Kristia decides to take a leap of change and take a year of university courses in Cardiff, Wales, she never thought she'd end up on a course to save all life everywhere.

It helps that there's a literal Norse God there to help her out.

Final thoughts: Ugh! This is almost a literal plot point by plot point retelling of Twilight with Norse gods instead of vampires. Why?? It's dull, repetitive, plodding, and the "insta-love" has no chemistry whatsoever. 

Rating: 2/5

Monday, January 6, 2020

Join or Die

Join or Die
by J. Adrian Ruth

Alex Ayers is a regular kid with a bit of a temper, a best friend, a single mom, and a pretty good life in Las Vegas. That all changes when his absent father's best friend shows up and tells him he has to leave to attend an exclusive magic school before he Changes into some sort of mythological/magical creature.

At 14, he doesn't have any choice, so he's sent off to Fios Academy to learn about his past, his present, and his possible future as the next Scion who, with his ciorcal of friends, keeps the Creature community in line.

He's got competition for the Scion job, though, and also a few Creatures who aren't happy with any Scion being in charge. 

Alex has to learn about his own half-Creature self and history before things get out of control.

Final thoughts: I enjoyed the book while reading it, but I can't help comparing it to Harry Potter. He's about the same age. He si half-human (Muggle) and half-Creature (Wizard). He's a Chosen One. There are forces against him from the start from competition in the school to dangers from without. There's a barrier to protect the school from outside harm. There's a mysterious headmaster. He's forming a circle of friends who all specialize in different things that he'll need as time passes. The list goes on and on. But, again, I enjoyed the read. If I see the sequel pop up, I'll probably read it, too. And it does look to be at least a few books if it goes year-by-year at the school.

Rating: 4/5

Thanks to NetGalley and BooksGoSocial for the ARC.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Of Silver and Shadow

Of Silver and Shadow
by Jennifer Gruenke

In a world of magic, the magicians have been all but wiped out. 

Generations before, the king purged all the silver wielders from the land except for his own family. Since then, the only magic in Erdis has been hoarded by the the royal family and used to keep the rest of the land and the surrounding countries in line.

But things are changing.

A new silver wielder has grown and she may be what the rebellion needs to finally take the country back and keep the king from destroying everything.

Final thoughts: I wanted to like this much more. The characters had a lot of depth and it was fun to read from four different character points of view. However, that multi-view did get a little confused from time to time and story had to backtrack more than once to cover the viewpoints. I also struggled with some of plot as ideas seemed to be thrown in after the fact to cover for plot holes. Why does she have this power when no one in her family did? Let's use this idea to over that hole. How are you going to convince the people to overthrow the king? Here's something to cover that hole (and we've been planning it for years so just go with it). And there were other issues here and there that bugged me like the repeating over and over at how skilled someone was at something. She's good with a bow and arrow. We get it!
I'm not sure if there's a sequel since the ending could be considered final by some. It is nice to see a fantasy novel that doesn't necessarily automatically have to be a trilogy.

Rating: 3/5 

Thanks to NetGalley and North Star Editions for the ARC.

Spontaneous

Spontaneous
by Aaron Starmer

For some people, Pre-Calculus is difficult enough to make a person feel like her mind will explode, but no one expected that to literally happen... Until 3rd period pre-calc when Katelyn Ogden goes BOOM!

Literally.

Blood everywhere. 

One-time fluke, though. Nothing to worry about.

Until Brian Chen explodes in the middle of a group therapy session for the pre-calc survivors.

Suddenly all bets are off and seniors start exploding pretty regularly.

The government has no idea what's happening. The doctors are confused. The parents are panicking. And no senior is safe.

But Mara and her fellow seniors can't just sit there. They have to do something. They can't just wait for the day to come and they go BOOM. They need to live what little life they have left.

And they do.

Even if it kills them.

Final thoughts: I am not sure what the author was going for beyond a live each day to the fullest message. Otherwise, this book is just weird. I also don't think this author should be writing a teen girl point of view because he doesn't really know what he's doing. Maybe he should have gone with Dylan instead. The ending is a little ambiguous and leaves room for a sequel, but doesn't really feel like there will be one. Overall, meh.

Rating: 3/5

Friday, December 13, 2019

By the Book

By the Book
by Amanda Sellet

Mary Porter-Malcolm has not been raised in the traditional way. Her parents are academics who have kept out technology and encouraged the reading of classics by every child they have. And, until this year, they have also had Mary enrolled at a small, charter school with an emphasis on Socratic seminars and independent study. 

Now MPM must attend the local high school and learn how to navigate the halls of the campus and the social orders. Luckily, she at least knows how to avoid the scoundrels because she's read about all kinds.

When she meets three girls who need a little guidance to avoid one of those scoundrels, MPM is happy to join them and they are happy to return the favor by giving her every possible high school experience by the end of the year. 

What MPM didn't expect was for that very first scoundrel to end up being the very person she might want to spend time with.

Final thoughts: This one was hard to get into because it felt like Sellet was trying her best to either show off all the classics that she had read and/or to try and convince her readers to go out and read them. So much of this book ended up being long discussions about book after book and all of the scoundrels contained in those pages. Even the first few chapters felt like Sellet was trying to write using the same language as those classic authors. That may have been a narrative choice as that language was toned down over the course of the book as MPM became more accustomed to modern interactions and kept her nose out of the books. The problem with that is that it makes it more difficult for the reader to get into the story from the start. The ending was also a little flat and sudden so, while Alex was a pretty cool character, we didn't get to know him and that brought the overall story down.

Rating: 2.5/5

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC

Shout

Shout
by Laurie Halse Anderson

The author of Speak still has so much more to say.
But she won't whisper these words
These words she will Shout!

She will let out all that has been fighting her inside
and outside
Everywhere
and nowhere
It is time to let that voice out
It is time to tell her truth
It is time for her words to be read
and heard
and felt
and taken in
and made a part of
and lived
and loved
and absorbed

By every person who has felt anything
Ever


Final thoughts: This is the first time I have ever wanted to write on the pages of a book. I wanted to note and comment and mark every passage. If I had a highlighter, I would have made this whole book yellow and pink and blue. I actually dog-eared a couple of pages for the first time since high school (oh so many years ago). This is a must-read. And page 243 is now my life-mantra.

Rating: 5/5

Monday, November 25, 2019

A Bad Day for Sunshine

A Bad Day for Sunshine
by Darynda Jones

Sunshine Vicram has returned to her hometown with her freshman daughter, Auri, in tow. Despite having tried to run as far away as possible (about 30 minutes), she's back and she has somehow become sheriff of Del Sol without even knowing she was running. (How do you win an election you didn't put your name in for?)

On the plus side, she's living in her parents' backyard in an "apartment" they'd had built just for her and her daughter (as if they KNEW she would win that election she didn't enter) and she's got her forever BFF as her deputy.

She also starts her first day with a flasher, a rooster-napper, a car through the window of the sheriff's office building, a kidnapping, and a run-in with the guy she has crushed on since she they were kids.

She'll take on the kidnapping as the easiest of the things to deal with.

At the same time, Auri is at her first day of high school in a new town and she's starting on a bad foot since just a few days prior, her mom's BFF deputy raided the completely secret but known by everyone high school party and confiscated the beer (for himself). Now Auri is suspecting of being a narc and the student body pretty universally hates her. Except for Cruz. He is difficult to read, but doesn't seem to be anti-Auri.

Now both mom and daughter must pool their resources to figure out why someone would take another freshman who looks a lot like Auri and how to stop that freshman's prophetic dreams of dying before her 15th birthday from coming true.

Final thoughts: I LOVE Darynda Jones and all of her snark. There are some very Charley-ish moments here (and a reference, so we're in Charley-land!), but the vibe between mother and daughter brings on a different feel. Plus we get swoons for multiple ages now so RL moms can start sharing this with their older teen daughters. Some of the plot points are obvious and future stories can also be predicted, but Jones weaves a complicated web for all of her characters and this is really a joy to read. The only negative that I had was with the formatting of the Kindle ARC since the two ladies trade off points of view for the story and it sometimes isn't immediately obvious that we've switched with the formatting as it currently appears. 

Rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to NetGalley and St Martin's Press for the ARC.

A Conspiracy of Stars

A Conspiracy of Stars
by Olivia A. Cole

All of her life, Octavia has lived on her planet and loved where she lived. Her parents, however, were born on a different planet and came to Faloiv years before. They and others set up a tentative peace with the natives who live on Faloiv. Until now, that peace has seemingly been beneficial to the humans.

Unfortunately, between the fact that their ship was damaged, possibly beyond repair, and the fact that some people don't like not being the dominant species, tensions have been getting higher.

Octavia has been immune to most of this until the day she travels with her father to another area of Faloiv and her world changes completely.

Now Octavia knows that some humans are making dangerous decisions and those decisions could lead to everyone's destruction.

Final thoughts: I definitely did not like this book. I read it for a class, so I couldn't give it up, but I probably wouldn't have selected it on my own. The one redeeming part of this book is that it is a sci-fi novel in which the main characters are all of color, rather than the whitewashed future often portrayed by the genre. Otherwise, the whole book is heavy-handed in its portrayal of the whitecoats (white hats), colonialism, and even vegetarianism. 

Rating: 1/5

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Sparrow

Sparrow
by Mary Cecilia Jackson

Savannah Rose, better known as Sparrow, is a brilliant dancer. Her lifts and jumps are the envy of everyone in the company. She will definitely be the Swan Queen in the next major showcase.

But Sparrow keeps her private life out of her dance. She tries very hard to keep them separate. Her friends are from ballet. Her social life revolves around ballet. And she has no one else.

Until Tristan.

He's everything a girl could dream of. He's kind. He's generous. He's gorgeous. And he says he loves her...

... after every time he abuses her.

His love has conditions. His love depends on her behaving. If he gets angry, then she must have done something wrong.

Sparrow learned this with her mother years before. If they are angry, you were bad.

No matter how hard Sparrow's friends try to show her the truth and no matter how hard they try to protect her, they are no match for her own deep insecurities. 

And they are definitely no match for Tristan's fists when he gets angry. 

Final thoughts: Whoa. This one hit every button in me. I literally cried more than a few times during this. It is NOT an easy read. But it IS a necessary one for many. The author really nailed all of the points of view on this one. While there were a few little things to nitpick, the overall story is deep and meaningful. There is no HEA (Happily Ever After) in this. It does end, but it's not the same, predictable ending that people have come to expect. This ending is real. I strongly recommend this, but warn that there are triggers here.

Rating: 5/5

Thanks to NetGalley and Tor Forge for the ARC.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

The Stars We Steal

The Stars We Steal
by Alexa Donne

Leo is the oldest daughter of her father who is the king of his ship, literally. She's a princess with no money and her father needs to her find a wealthy husband so that the king can keep up appearances and keep up his luxuries.

The only way they have gotten by so far is on the generosity of Leo's aunt who has let them stay docked on her ship and waived the normal fees. But now Leo must step up. It's either find money or find a husband with money.

Leo has her own plans that will keep her family solvent and keep her out of a marriage of convenience, but selling people on a water filtration system that includes the sewage isn't easy.

Things get more tense and complicated when Leo's former fiancee (of all of 12 hours) comes back into her life three years after leaving. He's got everything she needs and some of what she still wants.

Can they come together when everyone tried so hard before to keep them apart?

Final thoughts: This starts off as a Persuasion rewrite with some Bachelor additions. Even the rose on the cover is meant to evoke The Bachelor (the author makes sure to state that in the course of the book to make sure that we know). The problem is that it starts off far too close to Austen's Persuasion at the start and then goes way off-kilter. Suddenly there is crime, extortion, danger, elections, and more. I do not understand Leo's final choice at the end because it matches Persuasion, but doesn't match what she was saying halfway through the book. She's an inconsistent character. While the space setting is interesting, it also distracts from the story, especially when things seem to be brought in just for a moment for the story and then left behind. Finally, my last issue is that this feels like Donne is leaving just enough space for a sequel as a just-in-case-this-does-well option. While the story is technically complete, it feels unfinished and incomplete. 

Rating: 2.5/5

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.

Friday, October 11, 2019

How to Speak Boy

How to Speak Boy
by Tiana Smith

Quinn is competitive. She's not just a little competitive; she is ultra competitive. She will do almost anything to win, except cheat. She's definitely not a cheater.

However, it looks like her biggest competition IS a cheater. Grayson seems to win at everything he does without even trying and rumor has it that he's cheated a few times to do it. 

Now Quinn and Grayson have become the co-captains of the speech and debate club so they have to work together. Quinn could finally learn the truth about Grayson and his winning ways. 

But she gets a little distracted when her AP Government teacher accidentally mixes up Quinn's essay with someone else's. With that simple mistake, Quinn now has an anonymous suitor who lifts her up and makes her stronger, even as Grayson seems to be trying to beat her at every turn.

Who is the letter writer who keeps leaving notes with perfectly timed messages in her box? And who is Grayson, really? 

Final thoughts: Cotton candy all the way and totally fun to read. This book is the YA version of The Shop Around the Corner and You've Got Mail. Everything is pretty predictable but it's still an enjoyable few hours spent.

Rating: 4/5

Thanks to NetGalley and MacMillan Children's Publishing Group for the ARC.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes

Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes
by Chris Crutcher

Sarah Byrnes and Eric Calhoune might be friends, or they might just be fellow outcasts. Sarah Byrnes is always Sarah Byrnes. Her facial scars from being burned as a toddler are things that she owns. If she is always Sarah Byrnes, then people can't take her name and turn it against her.

Eric Calhoune has been known as Moby for years. He's the whale of the swim team. He's fast and dangerous in the water, but trusts Sarah Byrnes to be there for him outside of the pool. She (and her attitude) scare everyone so Eric follows her and she trusts him.

When Sarah Byrnes ends up in the state hospital under psychiatric watch, only Eric knows the truth. While he waits for her to return, Eric must also deal with the people around him, including Sarah Brynes's scary father, an angry vice principal, and a Bible-thumping peer who judges everyone around him.

All Eric wants to do is date the Bible-thumper's girlfriend and win the next meet, but nothing will ever be that simple.

Final thought: I know this one is well-rated and received, but I'm just not getting it. There is just too much going on and it's far too messy. Granted, life is messy, but this book can be very hard to follow. There are extremely detailed descriptions going on for pages about the swim team practices and then barely anything when there is actual stuff happening outside of the pool. Things happen in the blink of an eye for some events and then drag on forever for others.

Rating: 3/5

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