Thursday, December 3, 2020

Eartheater by Dolores Reyes, translated by Julia Sanches: A Review



That was the first impression I had once I flipped to the last page of this story on my tablet last night. Whoa and I need to sleep on this.

I read this book in one sitting. Literally opened my tablet, loaded the book, and started reading. Less than two hours later the book was over and was just....stunned? maybe? Speechless? It's been 12 hours since I finished the book and I'm still sitting here trying to figure out what fascinated me the most, why I'm rating this so high but then not high enough.

First off, the writing style might irk some people. It's a rhythm that is necessary and before long, I barely noticed it. The voice of the story is very no nonsense, clear-cut almost because the impression given is that our lead, Eartheater, does not have the time or the energy to deal with anything that is not essentially important. She might ignore things but she has a reason for it and really, readers can't fault her for that.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

When We Were Magic by Sarah Gailey: A Review

Just a bit of an aside before we get into the whole review I wrote.

I call this my review that just keeps on giving. I read this book earlier in the year, just before the lockdown hit, and I really wanted to like it. Instead, once I finished it, I went on a word rampage, typing everything that came into my head, just this long stream of gripes that I just had to put down on Goodreads before I could really put the book away in my mind. I was happy when so many people liked what I wrote because I kept checking reviews while I was reading, searching for someone who had the same issues I had with the book. The representation in the book made me want to adore this story but I couldn't get past, well, the story, which is not the takeaway you want from a book. So I wrote it all down, tagged it with a spoiler alert, and hoped other readers would find that they could relate to the so many issues I had within the story.

And so with that out of the way, onward to the review I wrote that I have to admit, turned out pretty okay in my opinion.

Monday, November 2, 2020

Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert: A Review

Sorry but I just barely got through this book. I even changed my rating from 2 stars to 1 star after finishing this review because yeah, I am not ever reading this one again.

My first issue was the character of Dani Brown. The book opens with Dani making a request to find the perfect friend-with-benefits and while fine, it seems reasonable, this is a romance after all, I knew I was probably not going to be happy when the rest of the scene played out.

Apparently, the perfect person for this request will be someone who follows all of Dani's specific rules, the main one being that said person will not attempt to pursue a relationship with Dani, they will not expect her to develop feelings for them, or else she will move on to the next happy candidate. Dani believes that the other person will not only attempt to change Dani, because she "knows" she is not an ideal relationship partner, but that they will also eventually find her lacking as a girlfriend and then the fighting starts so why not just never allow said scenario to happen?

Anna K: A Love Story by Jenny Lee: A Review

*I received this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways*

I remember reading Tolstoy's Anna Karenina in high school and writing an important paper on it but other than the bare bones of the story, which is about a woman and the tragic consequences of her affair, I honestly can't tell you anything else about the book.

For that reason alone, I admire Jenny Lee's efforts in writing a book inspired by that Russian classic and setting it in today's modern times.

However, while I could appreciate the efforts that went into placing these characters in high school, showing their actions and mistakes with the use of technology and what not, I also feel like the scope of the tragedy does not translate well inside of a high school setting. The whole plotline of Anna K. and her being stuck between Alexander and Vronsky just did not resonate with me at all.

What I did truly enjoy were the side characters. I wanted to know more about Dustin, Kimmie, Lolly and even Anna's brother Stephen. I think the storyline with Dustin and his family life and how it intersected with Stephen and Anna made for a more compelling plot. I didn't care for Kimmie in Part One but as the book continued, I found myself waiting for the story to return to where she was and how she was growing as a character. I wanted these characters to get a happy ending.

I do like the biggest change that Lee used in her book. Part of me thought it was pointless, maybe even didn't have to happen, but I was touched by the appearance of a character in the epilogue that put, maybe not a "nice spin", but at least a different perspective on the events of the novel that I truly believe makes it worth reading.

In the end, I did like the book and I believe it did a truly admirable job of bringing a classic to a new audience. 

Rating on my Blog Scale: 8.5 Stars.

So apparently there will be a second book in this series, currently scheduled for release April 27, 2021. I don't feel right posting the title here because of SPOILERS, but hey, I'm in for book 2. Definitely on my list of books to keep an eye out for.

Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey: A Review

Overall I thought this was okay. I thought Georgie was the cutest lead character which just made it glaringly obvious how horrible everyone else was.

Because they were horrible. I wanted to enter the world of this book and take a baseball bat to their knees. Georgie deserved so much better.

First star off is for the family. Good grief, they were horrible/despicable/insert similar adjective here. Dismissive in such a way that I honestly wondered why Georgie even bothered to still communicate with them. The worst was her brother Stephen, who over the course of the story has several plot points involving him that made me want to throttle him. He forgot about a brunch that Georgie wanted him and his wife to attend but the point that bothers him is not that he hurt his sister's feelings by being a jerk; what bothers him is that Travis, Georgie's love interest, was the only one to show up and was therefore alone with his baby sister. He finds out their other sister, Bethany, wants to be more involved with the actual construction part of the family business and he not only denies her the chance to try but he also makes it so that Bethany can't do her own jobs outside the company so she can prove to her darn family that she can do the job. But the real kicker was at the end, where Stephen runs to Georgie and helps to break her heart after he misunderstands something he overheard Travis saying at a bar. Given that Stephen and Travis were supposed to be best friends and he should have been able to use context clues to help figure out why certain words were said, this last straw just made it seem like Stephen sincerely wanted everyone to fail, even if he had to make it happen himself. He was like this the whole book. It's hard to forgive a character when their every move proves they suck.

Second star off for the combination of bad nicknames and the constant referring to Georgie as a child. The name "Two Bats" for Travis was ridiculous, worse still the fact that this was both revealed and then explained in detail within the first few pages of the book. Not charming and maybe also too much info too soon for hooking me in for the romance. Then there was the fact that Travis calls Georgie "baby girl", a nickname that was just wrong to me. You guys see the cat in my profile picture? Her name is Lydia and she is my spoiled princess/dragon monster and I call that little creature "baby girl" on a daily basis. The fact that a grown man decides to call the woman that he is interested in "baby girl" when she is actually a 23-year-old woman and not a "girl child" or even an "awkward kid" like the book actually stated at different points, just makes the wrong emphasis for me. It's not endearing and it bugged me that Georgie seemed to love the nickname so much. There also was the fact that Travis stood up for Georgie at a family dinner where everyone in attendance had a hand in undermining Georgie, treating her like a kid that needs to keep quiet while the "adults" are speaking and I am just confused. Why couldn't he call her something else? He is basically saying, "They can't treat you like a baby, baby," and it does not make any sense to me in the long run.

Now for the final star off. When you throw in the fact that Travis only paid Georgie better attention after she changed her wardobe, cut her hair, and got another well-meaning man to ask her out, it all just goes meh to me. I am not a fan of love interests who had a chance to make a move and only act on their feelings after someone else has taken a chance. The truth was that Travis was the childish one and if he cared, he would have tried to fight fairly for a chance with Georgie, not manipulate her into choosing him. Unfair in so many ways.

In the end, the story is not the wonderful, heartwarming romance I thought I was in for when I opened the book. But I did love Georgie and I want Bethany to succeed and I want Rosie to get her dream restaurant so I guess I'm in for book 2 to see if those women get what they want. 

Rating on my Blog Scale: Still 2 stars. I look at this book cover and turn away to find something else on the shelf whenever I see it in stores.

To continue though, I did read Book 2, the one about Rosie and her restaurant.


So color me baffled that I would rate book 3, the one about Bethany, 7.5 stars on my rating scale. I'm even keeping it on my list of paperbacks to eventually add to my insanely huge library. I was quietly charmed by the events of the book and I'm still surprised that I liked it so much. Enough that it will get its own review soon.

Hopefully, anyways.

Kissing Ezra Holtz (and Other Things I Did for Science) by Brianna R. Shrum: A Review

2.5 Stars rounded down to 2 Stars

I wanted to really like this but Amalia needed a smack over the head. She talked about being judged for her choices and for her interests and then turned around and did the same thing to Ezra over and over again. She sometimes mentioned how she knew what she said was unfair, that she was being a jerk, but in the end, for me, she didn't show enough growth.

Also, I was not a big fan of her attitude towards school. She had her big art school dream and didn't have a single back-up plan in place? Seriously? And she honestly thought coasting through her classes doing the bare minimum was okay because she was going to be an artist, what did she need school for, and just no, she must have had her head in the sand to believe her grades didn't matter. I think she was too selfish and I am honestly glad she had her dreams shattered. I just wish readers had been shown that she really understood why her plan to get into art school didn't work out like she envisioned and why she really needed to make changes for her future.

There were a lot of cute moments. The representation in this book was awesome. In the end though, I wanted this girl to understand that caring for people does not make you weak, working hard does not make you lame, and you don't always get exactly what you thought you wanted would make you happy. But guess what? You can be insanely happy with completely different choices and be eternally grateful that you did not go that different route.

After a whole book of this personal crisis of if Amalia is not an artist, then who is she, the conclusion of maybe 20 pages having her realize she loves Ezra and might be able to make chemistry into a career was not enough of a payoff. It almost feels unfinished because the book just ends and maybe she makes something out of her relationship with Ezra, maybe she keeps up with her AP classes and proves she can handle the workload, maybe she makes it into a good school and is happy on her new path but readers will never know that for certain. Because the book had not yet reached Thanksgiving in their timeline and Amalia had not truly accepted the need to work harder to get what she wants, it might be that she just gives up and goes back to blowing everything off again. I just wanted something a little more concrete out of this character at the end, since I spent the whole of the book waiting for something more than just a couple maybe getting together. 

 Rating on my Blog Scale:..........

Yeah, still 2 stars, even with the way I sparse it out for my ratings. It just really disturbs me that a kid in high school believes they can get their dream with a minimum amount of effort and no fallback ideas. Just ARGH, tell me kids are smarter nowadays? Or don't, and let me have hope a little longer.

The Ghost Wore Gray by Bruce Coville: A Review

I have finally gotten the chance to read this story. When I was about 11 years old, I was wandering around Waldenbooks when I found a book called The Ghost in the Big Brass Bed and chose it as my new must have read. The following week I saved my allowance and bought The Ghost in the Third Row. I loved the idea of kids my age helping ghosts, finding clues, being all around awesome. I used to put both books in my bag and carry them around everywhere, and I honestly mean everywhere, these books meant that much to me.

I always knew there was a story between those two books but I never had the chance to find it. It might be trivial, but I am happy to say that the copy of this book that I managed to find matches my old paperbacks that I have kept safe for the last twenty years. It makes elementary-school-aged me very giddy.
I mean look at that cover art I managed to find. That's the cover that matches my old paperbacks and I just love the way they look compared to the new art that I've seen around. I did not want those covers, I wanted THIS cover. Yes, I am picky, I've learned to manage it by writing about it in these blog posts. So there.
In terms of story, this one was what I expected it to be, heartbreaking and a little wistful when the story wraps up. For the fun of it, I am reading these in order, so it is nice to see the development of Nine and Chris's friendship the way I was supposed to experience it. I enjoyed the back and forth with Nine and her dad, and the support that Nine knew she had with Chris at her side. I do wish there were more mysteries to read in this series but these three books will always have a safe place on my bookshelves, no matter what. 
Rating on my Blog Scale: 8.5 Stars.
My guess is my rating reflects the fact that the child inside me still demands more Nine Tanleven stories. Seriously, I can't be the only kid who read these and wanted more. I refuse to accept that.