January 30, 2019

Book Review | The Museum of Intangible Things

0

intangible

The Museum of Intangible Things by Wendy Wunder is a young adult coming-of-age story centering around best friends Hannah and Zoe. We experience the story from Hannah’s point of view as she details the life of two girls in a lake town in New Jersey who want to escape from their crappy lives. Zoe decides that the two of them need to get away, which results in them taking a cross-country road trip.

I read Wendy Wunder’s first novel, The Probability of Miracles, a few years ago, and while it wasn’t my favorite book, I remembered enjoying it. Unfortunately, that was not the case with this book.

The biggest problem with this book was that everything was told to us instead of shown. There were also some things that were being explained to the reader that I personally thought didn’t need to be explained.

One of the interesting and weirdest things about this book is Zoe’s Museum of Intangible Things, a series of “exhibits” she designs for her younger brother Noah to help teach him the complexities of the world. It’s unclear to me if Noah has autism or some other sort of disability and that is why Zoe made this museum or if it was supposed to be one of her “quirks.” Whatever the case, I thought it would have a more prominent role considering it is where the title of the book gets its name. It is really only mentioned briefly in one of the early chapters and not touched on again, apart from maybe one time in an offhand comment during the road trip.

The characters in this book were just plain annoying. Zoe was the manic pixie dream girl to her best friend, the girl that could be a party girl and be a “normal” teenager one minute and then the next moment she believes that aliens are coming to get her. Hannah is a doormat who just goes along with anything Zoe tells her to. Even when Zoe makes her do illegal things during this road trip of theirs, and they learn that their parents are looking for them, Hannah doesn’t try to ask Zoe to at least consider contacting home or get her to turn the car around. She just goes along with it, I guess because Zoe is diagnosed with bipolar disorder and she doesn’t want to upset her, but none of this seems healthy or helpful for Zoe. No, this whole story instead is about Zoe helping Hannah become a more outgoing person, because obviously Hannah’s love life and need to grow a backbone (which she never does) is more important than helping Zoe get the support she needs.

The love interest, Danny, was also unnecessary and awful. He worked as an ice cream truck vendor near Hannah’s hot dog stand by the lake, and supposedly they have been secretly in love with each other since they were young until he got a girlfriend around middle school/early high school. It was never clear if he actually broke up with his girlfriend to be with Hannah, and he even said that he was only with that girl so he could have a “practice girlfriend.” Hannah, honey, I don’t care how in love you think you are with this guy you’ve had four conversations with. Leave him.

There were a few times where I thought I should just DNF this book, but I wanted to give it a fair chance. Now it is done and I’m sad to say it left me bored and a little annoyed.

Rating: 1 out of 5 Stars.

Have you read this book? What did you think? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

October 30, 2018

Book Review | Alex, Approximately

0

You’ve Got Mail is one of my all time favorite movies. It has beautiful shots of New York and books, lots and lots of books. What’s not to love? It also has a great enemies turn lovers story line that is compelling to watch. When I heard that there was a YA version of this story with vintage films instead of books, I was so excited to check it out.

Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett follows Bailey “Mink” Rydell, a film fanatic with a love for vintage clothing. She has just moved to a small beach community in California to live with her dad, and to find Alex, her friend from an online film forum. She has no idea who Alex is and does not tell him that she has moved to his hometown, instead wanting to seek him out and see if they are drawn to each other as easily as they are online. But then she meets Porter, a boy from work who is drop dead gorgeous and gets under her skin. Bailey has to find out who to go with: Alex or Porter. (Spoiler but not really because it is in the synopsis on the back of the book: they are one and the same).

I thought overall that this was an okay story. It was about what I expected for a YA version of You’ve Got Mail, although I will admit I had higher expectations.

I think it might have benefited more if we could have seen things from both Bailey and Porter’s perspectives. Bailey isn’t necessarily a bad main character, but she has this naïveté that feels so unrealistic to me, and I’m saying this as someone who was very sheltered growing up. I also would have personally gone about their first meeting being different. The whole relationship starts with him being a complete ass and making fun of her (not mild teasing, making fun of her) and then she hates him for five seconds before remembering that he’s hot. It could have been something simple (and yes, predictable) like they met at work, thought each other were attractive, but he was being a bit too bossy and she was being pretentious (which she kind of is) and that was their big reason of disliking each other.

It also felt like there was all this unnecessary drama added in to make the story longer, mostly involving an old surfer friend of Porter’s who was acting like a tool the whole time just because. It was a bit boring.

Again, this was an okay book. I don’t know if it is something I will re-read again, but for what it was, it was all right.

Rating: 2.75 out of 5 Stars.

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts? Share in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

October 11, 2018

Book Review | Scream All Night

0
When you read the synopsis of a book, you expect the book to follow through with what those two paragraphs promise. Boy, does Scream All Night not follow through.
scream all night
Scream All Night by Derek Milman follows Dario, the youngest son of a eccentric indie horror filmmaker. Dario has been emancipated from his family and the crazy world of the Moldavia movie studio for several years, but he is called back for his father’s funeral. During the will reading, Dario is appointed head of the failing studio and must find a way to help save the company from having to sell to a bigger corporation that will turn their projects into cookie cutter horror flicks.
The book started off promising, introducing us to Dario and his less than favorable feelings toward Moldavia and having to grow up on a movie set. However, this should have been an introduction and then something he overcomes, Dario spends the entire book gripping about this point. The reader learns very quickly how much Dario’s father stunk as a parent, but Dario does nothing to show how he can be better than his dad until the last 30 pages of the book. Instead he complains to every person about what a terrible person his dad was and acts superior to his older brother who has known nothing of the world outside of the castle.
The other characters were similarly angsty and were constantly repeating their issues without truly growing or trying to move past them. The only character I kind of liked was Hayley, but she was not fleshed out at all. She ended up being a manic pixie dream girl. Still, she was more bearable than the rest of the characters.
I thought this was going to be a fun look into the indie/horror film industry. Instead I trudged through a 394-page story focused on family drama. The only way I managed to get through it was by imaging the Moldavia castle as some sort of Scooby Doo-Tim Burton hybrid. Even that didn’t help. Sadly, this book was a huge let down.
Rating: 1 out of 5 Stars.
Have you read Scream All Night? What were your thoughts? Share in the comments below!
Thanks for reading!
October 1, 2018

Book Review | The Cheerleaders

0

Hey there, Literature Lovers!

For the month of October I decided to check out a few thriller/spooky books in order to get the mood for Halloween. I’m not normally someone who gravitates toward these types of stories because I am easily scared, but thought it would be worth stepping out of the comfort zone and giving a new genre a try. The first book I decided to test out was The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas.
cheerleaders
The Cheerleaders is a young adult thriller that follows Monica, a high school junior who is on her school’s dance team. The school is planning a memorial to honor the cheerleaders who died five years before, including Monica’s older sister Jen who committed suicide after the murder of her two best friends. While searching for something in her stepfather’s desk, Monica stumbles across some letters that question whether the police really caught the man who killed her sister’s best friends. The rest of the novel focuses on Monica and her friend Ginny piecing together the story of what happened five years ago.
The overall concept of the cheerleaders dying was interesting and kept me intrigued, although I did feel like the ending was a bit obvious. I’ve never seen the Pretty Little Liars show, but it felt like this was a story that could have happened on that show. Alongside the murder mystery, the author was trying to tackle some very serious topics, but I don’t think in the end that they were handled the right way.
Spoilers Below: (trigger warning for statutory rape and abortion)
 
Monica hooked up with an older guy named Brandon over the summer and got pregnant. She does not tell anyone about this except her mom, although she excludes the identity of the father, and gets an abortion. This is never explictly said, but most of the early chapters heavily allude to this. Brandon is suddenly employed by the school as the track and field coach and Monica is left wrestling with her lingering feelings for him and knowing that it was wrong. In the very end it is discovered that she is not the first high school girl Brandon has taken advantage of. What annoyed me was that this was an important storyline throughout the book and a pretty defining thing for Monica, and in the end she does not blame him for being a monster who used her. Instead she says that she used him too. No, Monica. Just no. I think that the author had shown some great growth for this character and then did not follow through.
 
My favorite character was Ginny. She was nice, helpful, and just seemed like the kind of character you would want to give a big hug. Everyone else felt flat for me, including our main character Monica. I also enjoyed the scenes that were flashbacks of Jen from five years ago. It was interesting to see what was actually happening with her and getting a better understanding of who she was at the time of the deaths.
This was just an okay book to me.
 
Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars.
 
Have you read The Cheerleaders? What did you think? Sound off in the comments below!
Thanks for reading!
September 18, 2018

Comic Review | Welcome to Wanderland #1

0

IMG_7551

Welcome to Wanderland is a new four-issue series set at the Wanderland theme park. We follow a girl named Bellamy who spends most of her time at the park, searching for the Easter Eggs and secrets that are around the park. She accidentally stumbles across a door marked Staff Only that holds a portal to the real Wanderland. There she meets the evil Princess Syla and the fearless Princess Lark Meadowstone, who is now known as Riot, both of whom mistakenly think that Bel is a mage.

I just finished reading the latest volume of I Hate Fairyland and was so happy I found another comic that features portal transportation and bright, fantastical worlds.

As this is still the first issue, we obviously haven’t gotten into the real meat of the story yet. However, the characters are all very charming and make me want to keep reading. The witty retorts and casual banter that Bel shares with her brother and Riot is very funny. The artwork is great and reminds me of some of the older Disney Channel shows, like Dave the Barbarian, that were subverting some of the ideas we have of medieval times.

I can’t wait to see how the story continues in Issue #2, which is coming out on October 16th.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars.

Have you read Welcome to Wanderland? Are you going to continue the series? Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

September 18, 2018

Book Review | Sing

0

Hey there, Literature Lovers! This past weekend I was fortunate enough to attend the Taylor Swift reputation Stadium Tour with my sister in Indianapolis, and what an incredible show it was! We haven been to a lot of concerts, but you could tell during this show that it was flawless!

IMG_7520

To get myself in the mood for the show, I decide to read Sing by Vivi Green, which you can tell by the cover art is loosely based on Taylor’s Swift.

Sing

Sing follows international pop sensation Lily Ross, who is 92 days away from starting her Forever tour, which features songs about her boyfriend and fellow celeb, Jed. The thing is, Jed doesn’t see their relationship as forever. He ends things with Lily with very little explanation, leaving her crushed and unmotivated about her music. Her best friends decide she needs to escape and whisk her away to a small island in Maine where she can be normal. And one perk of being normal is finding small town romance. Lily must find balance between the star she is and the quiet town she has fallen in love with.

This was a short, easy read for me. The descriptions of the island town really made me feel like I was there. Overall, Lily was a pretty good and empathetic character. While she was upset about her boyfriend leaving her, she didn’t allow it to consume her entire life. Instead she decided she wanted to accompany her friend to the house in Maine and find time to focus on herself and what she wanted her music to be like now. She doesn’t do this out of revenge toward Jed, she does this as a mental health trip for herself.

Her friends and some of the other characters were a bit cookie-cutter, just there to be Lily’s support team, but they were able to offer her great advice if she ever stumbled, which wasn’t too often as she was a tough and emotionally intelligent person.

If you are a Taylor Swift fan or love fictional books about celebrities, I recommend you give this one a shot.

Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars.

Have you read Sing what were your thoughts? Have you been to any concerts before? I would leave hear about it in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

August 16, 2018

Book Review | Gilded Ashes

0

gilded ashesGilded Ashes is a novella from Rosamund Hodge, author of Cruel Beauty and Crimson Bond. This Cinderella retelling is set within the same universe as Cruel Beauty, where there are demons and Gentle Lords who barter with the common folk to achieve their own ends. Cinderella, known as Maia in this retelling, has been living with a haunting secret for years: her mother is a demon, and she must constantly lie about her happiness to save the people around her from this ghost.

I was surprised how quickly I fell into this story. I liked Cruel Beauty for the most part, but I found the continuous descriptions of the horrible demons monotonous at times. I think 80 pages was the perfect length for this. It definitely gave me Ella Enchanted vibes during all the scenes with Maia and Lord Anax (the prince in this version). They had an easy back and forth and felt like they were real people getting to know each other.

It was also refreshing to see the stepsisters in a different way. In every version of this story the stepsisters are mean to Cinderella simply because they can be. In this version the younger stepsister Thea was actively trying to be friends with Maia while Kore was mean to Maia because she thought that was her mother wanted her to do. All three girls were simply looking for happiness in this dark world and were trying to do whatever it took to reach that happy end.

Overall, I really enjoyed Gilded Ashes and would highly recommend picking this up for your e-reader.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars.

Have you read any of the Cruel Beauty books? Which was your favorite? Share in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

August 14, 2018

Book Review | Rapunzel and the Vanishing Village

0

vanishing villageRapunzel and the Vanishing Village is the second book in Lelia Howland’s Tangled series. These are in connection with the Tangled television series currently on Disney Channel. This story is set toward the beginning of season 2, where Rapunzel, Eugene and their friends are off to search for the source of mysterious and magical black rocks that have started to crop up around the kingdom. These rocks have some sort of connection to Rapunzel and are the reason that her hair grew long again. The show is currently focusing on this particular mystery so we are instead given this extra adventure, which includes the group visiting the village of Harmony Glen, the birthplace of the Flynn Ryder books, which has been removed from all the recent maps of the kingdom.

I enjoyed this story as much as the previous one. I am a big Tangled fan and loved having this extra story. I liked that Eugene was added to the story as a POV character, although I thought he might have a more prominent role in the story. There were also a few occasions where I felt he was a little out of character, but overall I felt Lelia definitely locked in on making each of the POV characters sound unique. Much like the other book, the ending felt a bit predictable, but as this is a book for younger readers that is to be expected. The new characters in the village were pretty interesting, and it was nice to visit a different setting outside of the kingdom of Corona. Overall, it was a fun read that I would recommend to any Tangled fans or adventure novel lovers.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars.

Have you read either of the Tangled books or watched the show? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!

May 22, 2018

Book Review | Once and For All

0

onceandforall

Once and For All is the thirteenth book by Sarah Dessen, who has always been one of my favorite authors. This book, like almost all of her previous works, is set during the summer and follows Louna, the daughter of a wedding planner. Growing up in this industry has made Louna cynical about love, or maybe it was the tragedy of her first love that made her that way. But all that changes when she meets the confident Ambrose and she wonders if there is a second chance at true love.

I have read every Sarah Dessen novel and thought I knew what I was expecting: a cute novel with realistic characters and a ethereal summer feeling. Instead we were given a flat story complete with flat characters. I finished this book so sad that I didn’t enjoy it, and now I’m left wondering if I have romanticized Sarah’s previous books or if I have simply outgrown her work.

While Sarah does focus on the day-to-day details of her character’s lives, it is usually presented in an interesting way, and there is usually some sort of conflict that is the driving force of the story and keeps you holding out for the next chapter. She is able to tacitly handle writing about more difficult topics that are unfortunately a very real part of life (Dreamland and Just Listen are the best examples). The romance she incorporates is also handle well, with a steady build-up and a cute resolution. This book fell short in all these respects.

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

Our main character, Louna, is not a great character or terrible character. She is barely a character, which is almost worse than being an annoying character. Her main story is that she still mourning her first love, Ethan. They met at a wedding and had one magical night together where, at the end, they profess their love for each other…after only a few hours of meeting (ugh Insta-Love). They then spend the next few months texting back and forth and make plans to see each other during an upcoming break. That is until there is a shooting at Ethan’s school and he is killed. I feel for Louna in this situation, as well as anyone who has ever been caused any harm by a shooter. It is a relevant topic to discuss, but while I applaud Sarah for trying to touch on this subject, I’m not sure it totally worked. Ethan’s death is heavily foreshadowed throughout the entire book, including the flashbacks where Louna reminisces about their one night. However, it sometimes felt like Ethan would be brought up randomly to further the not-really-there plot of this book. I did enjoy all of these flashback scenes. I think if those had been this book, with a bit more build-up of the romance between Ethan and Louna, I would have preferred it, because honestly, it sounds super cute. Oh, Ethan sounded way better than Ambrose.

Our love interest Ambrose was super annoying and selfish. He held up his own mother’s wedding because he was flirting with a girl in the parking lot. He steals someone’s dog (granted it was a dog from a potentially abusive owner) and receives no repercussions of this. He also tries way too hard to be funny and seems to think he is the most charming person to ever grace the planet. I have met people like this in real life and there is not a single person I know who finds this attitude attractive.

My favorite characters in this book was William, the gay godfather, and Crawford, Jilly’s younger brother who reminded me of Klaus Baudelaire. The rest of the characters left much to be desired.

I purchased the Barnes and Noble edition that included an extra scene set one year later, and I personally think it is so much better. Those thirteen pages held the familiar Sarah Dessen magic, with characters from previous books making an appearance and some cute moments between Ambrose and Louna. I really wish this had been incorporated into the main story.

Sadly, this was a disappointing read for me. I still loves Sarah’s work and am looking forward to what she brings out next. But right now all I can say is: Why do meh stories have to come with the prettiest covers?

Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars.

Do you have a favorite Sarah Dessen book, or simply a favorite summer read? Please share in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

April 29, 2018

Book Review | Prince in Disguise

0

prince in disguisePrince in Disguise by Stephanie Kate Strohm follows Dylan, a American high school student who is whisked away to Scotland during her Christmas vacation for her sister’s wedding to a nobleman. The couple had met on a Reality TV show called ‘Prince in Disguise’ and now their wedding and the planning process will be televised. Dylan does not like being in the spotlight, nor does she like being in her sister’s limelight. All she wants is to go home…until she meets the dashing Jamie and sparks begin to fly. Christmas, stolen kisses in the snow and new love with a cute boy with an accent? This is one contract away from being the next Hallmark movie.

Honestly I think this would have been a great movie. For a book though the pacing felt a little off to me. The romance in the book moved really fast. Jamie and Dylan had known each other for like a day and half before they started making out in the snow and sleeping together in a barn.  Also the main character was kind of annoyingly naive/uninformed about this country she was visiting and was about to have a brother-in-law from. I also could not relate to the disdain that Dylan felt toward her other sister, Dusty. She was very judgmental and catty toward her. I understood that she was tired of being in her sister’s spotlight (literally in this case), but that’s still your sister. Maybe it’s just because my own younger sister and I are very close, but I found myself annoyed every time Dylan talked smack about her sister.

The author definitely captured the feeling of Christmas in this book. I felt very festive, even though I was reading this in the spring. I was ready to curl up with a spicy candle and some cocoa and spend the day reading. She also really made me want to visit Scotland at Christmas (or really at any point of the year).

Overall, this was a cute book, and I might read it again, but, as I said, if this had been a movie I might have enjoyed it more.

Rating: 2.75 of 5 Stars.

What did you think of this book? Do you have a favorite rom-com story (whether it is a book or a film)? Please share in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!