book review · books · Shar

Always Never Yours: Am I too jaded?

Title: Always Never Yours

Author: Emily Wibberly and Austin Siegemund-Broka

Genre: YA contemporary Romance

Themes: First love, belonging, family

Blurb (from Goodreads): Megan Harper is the girl before. All her exes find their one true love right after dating her. It’s not a curse or anything, it’s just the way things are, and Megan refuses to waste time feeling sorry for herself. Instead, she focuses on pursuing her next fling, directing theatre, and fulfilling her dream school’s acting requirement in the smallest role possible. Continue reading “Always Never Yours: Am I too jaded?”

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book review · Shar · Uncategorized

Review: Genuine Fraud (genuinely not for me)

33843362Title: Genuine Fraud

Author: E. Lockhart

Genre: YA mystery/thriller

Themes: Friendship, murder, power, wealth and poverty

Blurb: Told in reverse chronological order, Genuine Fraud is about a girl who has conned her way into inheriting and heiress’ fortune. Now on the run, Jules refuses to let anyone take what she’s got away. But what did it take for her to get what she has? Where has she come from? And what happened to Imogen? Continue reading “Review: Genuine Fraud (genuinely not for me)”

book review · books · Shar

Review: The Way to Game the Walk of Shame

Hi Virtually Readers! Confession: I sometimes love writing scathing reviews. This is an example.

the2bway2bto2bgame2bthe2bwalk2bof2bshameTitle: The Way to Game the Walk of Shame

Author: Jenn Nguyen

Genre: YA contemporary

Themes: romance, friendship, being a senior, academic success, bad boy with forgivable backstory, it totally makes sense to fake a relationship yes definitely brilliant idea yes.

Basic idea: When smart-girl Taylor wakes up in bad-boy Evan’s bed the morning after getting drunk at a party, she knows her reputation’s on the line. To save face, she draws up a Love Contract to make it seem like they’ve been dating all along. As one might imagine, this idea is *genius*

Do I detect similarities to To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before? Yes, yes I do.

Needless to say, the plot was entirely predictable. I was only surprised (and mildly at that) by the almost-love-triangle. Also, it was one of those situations where if everybody talked and hugged, nothing would happen.

I liked the characters, and they were perfectly good characters. But the dual-narration thing didn’t quite work for me. Even though the characters were so different, they still had really similar-sounding voices. Evan was really nice and cinnamon roll-y. I liked that he never apologized for or regretted his ‘playboy’ ways. But I thought the complete turnaround of his character as he started fake-dating wasn’t necessary or realistic. (side note: taylor is a very boring MC name)

I LOVED Carly, Taylor’s best friend, and wished her and Aaron, who is Evan’s best friend, were bigger parts of the story.

I would have been unsatisfied with this book if there wasn’t the ‘before’ section at the very end. While Taylor waking up in a boy’s room was a captivating beginning, the placement of that scene just didn’t work for me, tbh.

A few last thoughts: I did enjoy reading this. But I didn’t love it. I wish there was more (I mean ANY) diverse representation. It kind of confused me, because the author (based on her name) probably isn’t white, and her main characters didn’t have to be? Actually, there was one ‘diverse’ thing, if that counts: both Taylor and Evan lived in blended families/had stepfathers. However, their feeling about their stepfathers were super different. And Evan’s dad in the end is nice. I liked that the characters didn’t base their ENTIRE future on their bf/gf (because that’s a bit silly).

Plot: 2/5

Characters: 3/5

Setting: 2/5

Themes/writing: 3/5

Total: 2/5

How do you feel about fake-relationship books? What about bad-boy-has-tragic-backstory books? What about how the main character ALWAYS gets into the Ivy League? Do you have different standards for different genres?

 

book review · books · Uncategorized

Review: P.S I Like You

Hi Virtually Readers! Before I start this review, I have a mini announcement: Shanti and I are going on holiday! We’re mainly going to the beach at a little ex-French-colony in South India called Pondicherry (we’re also stopping at some other places on the way there/back). I think we’ll have internet and still manage to post, but since it’s a holiday, it may be sporadic. In any case, we’ll be back for good at the end of January. 

25486998Title: PS I like You

Author: Kasie West

Genre: YA contemporary

Themes: Friendship, falling in love, family, music, bonding over being useless at chemistry

A (invented by me) blurb: Lily can’t focus in her Chemistry class, so she doodles and obscure song lyric. The next day, she’s very surprised to see that someone has replied with the next line. So begins a conversation made up of many letters. Lily’s starting to really like the person she’s writing to, but will she have the courage to tell him who she really is?

wanted to like this book. I really did. But I couldn’t get past some of the problems.

The setting: was a generic high school in America. It didn’t fascinate me, it wasn’t interestingly described; I couldn’t picture it in my head. I get that the focus was the characters, but why did the setting have to be so bland?

The lack of diversity: As far as I could tell, every characters was white, straight, and of normal abilities. There was no sense of any diverse perspective, and as a brown girl who’s never been to America, that annoyed me. I guess Lily’s family was poor (if that counts as divers) but not so poor they didn’t have a house or two cars or phones or anything.

The plot: was entirely (And I mean entirely) predictable. I saw everything coming from miles off. Lily was supposed to be surprised by who she’s writing to, but I basically knew almost from the start. Also, there were two other boys called Lucas and David whose presence added nothing to the plot and felt like a waste of time. Even the twist with Lily’s guitar and her little brother was super obvious.

The characters: I’m on the fence (hahaha get it?) about this.Only one character annoyed me: the love interest. (It’s a ‘surprise’ so I won’t spoil it). It was completely a horrible-boy-on-outside-turns-out-to-be-a-cinnamon-roll trope, which doesn’t make sense. Good cinnamon rolls act like cinnamon rolls, yo.

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But there were some things I did like.

The other characters: Lily was really interesting. She’s the first YA songwriter heroine I’ve encountered, which was cool, and I liked her practicality and also how she actually spent time at home. She was a good character, although I had less respect for her lack of attention in chemistry. Chemistry is interesting and fun and deserves more attention than Lily ever gives it.

Lily’s best friend Isabel, and their relationship was AMAZING. She was such a great best friend. At one point, Lily’s willing to give up said boring love interest for their friendship, until Isabel says that she’s okay with it.

The family: as the (co-) eldest of four children, like Lily’s family, I liked how family was presented. Like Lily, I’ve never had my own room, and my house is also mildly chaotic (aka rarely tidy, apart from my half of my room). I loved all Lily’s family members, and how they actually enjoyed spending time with each other.

Overall, PS I Like You was a fluffy read with great potential. Like On The Fene, tough, too many aspects just didn’t quite work for me.

Plot:1/5

Characters: 3/5 (would be 4 without the unnecessary boys floating around)

Setting: 2/5 (I’m being generous)

Total: 2/5

Have you read this? Do you pay attention in chemistry ? What’s the last thing you read? What are your favourite (and least favourite) tropes?

book review · books · Uncategorized

Little Review: Things we know by heart

Hi Virtually Readers! I’m actually away and being disorganised/running around like a headless chicken (currently one of my favourite phrases because it basically=my life). Also some people (*ahem* parents ) told me to post more negative reviews so okay. (Oh yeah btw today is our birthday! even though this is a scheduled post. Shanti and I are in different places for the first time. *cries*)

Title: Things We Know By Heart141667736822864849

Author: Jessi Kirby

Genre: YA contemporary

Themes: Death, family, grief, falling in love with vital organs

My blurb: Quinn’s boyfriend, Trent, died a year ago. Hoping for closure or connection, she seeks out the recipient of his donated heart, a boy called Colton. Trying to let go of Trent and fall in love again is hard, especially when they both have secrets.

This book’s main flaw was being 100% predictable I saw the romance, the central tension, and the ending all from miles away. The plot felt entirely unsurprising and uninteresting, although I did enjoy the characters, it was nothing new.

The MCs—Colton and Quinn—were both round. Each had their own secrets and burdens to carry (these caused the central plot conflict). I liked them, but didn’t really connect to them. I did like all the secondary characters—Quinn’s sister Ryan, her grandmother, and Colton’s sister. They were far more interesting and deserved their own stories.

The setting was beachy California. A few of the outdoor settings were interesting and beautiful, but overall, as with the plot, I felt like I’d seen it all before (there are too many YA books in California, I swear. What about Idaho or Arkansas or (gasp) not the US?

The themes—moving on, dealing with loss, and honesty—were the best part of the book. I haven’t lost anyone significant in my life, but Quinn’s struggle to balance grief and having a life seemed realistic (except when she refused to do anything for a whole year). I loved how Quinn grew over the book and (with some help) got over Trent without denying his existence.

Premise:4/5

Setting: 3/5

Characters:3/5

Themes:4/5

Plot:2/5

Overall:2.5/5

Have you read any predictable/unpredictable books recently? Do you ever feel like YA contemporaries get really similar to each other? How many books can you think of that are set in California?

book review · books · Shar

Two Books I didn’t Like Much

It is the day of the low starred review (technically, I read both of these in the middle of the month but whatever.) Anyway, I couldn’t take photos, since these went back to the library, but hey, they didn’t deserve photos anyway (yes. I am mean).

#1- This Is Where the World Ends- 1 star

My basic feeling toward this book is confusion. In a bad way. I spent the first half of the book being like ‘what is happening’ because of our unreliable narrator Micah with memory loss and Janie, who basically just pranced around like ‘I’m cool and Micah loves me so I can do whatever I want, because we’ll end up together anyway.’

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The cover is gorgeous though

JUST NO. The basic idea is Janie and Micah were friends, then something happens and Micah wakes up with issues (which I never really got why) and who knows what happened to Janie. I HATED Janie because she was so freaking stupid, even if bad things happened to her she shouldn’t have been so stupid. I liked the ‘old’ Micah before the event, but he seemed to decide that just because ‘something’ (which I still don’t understand) happened to him he could drink a lot, leave school, and engage in stupid risky behaviour. But Because of the switching perspective/format, I didn’t really get a sense of what either of the MCs were actually like, nor did I see any characterisation.

I was very confused. But the ending wasn’t really that interesting, and from about the middle of the book it was really obvious, and I disliked all of the characters so much that I wasn’t really invested, at all. And also there were all these random details, like Metaphor (a pile of rocks), some wings, and some English teacher’s ‘secret to life’ which I didn’t care about. EITHER MAKE IT RELEVANT OR LEAVE IT OUT, HONESTLY.

BUT the language was beautiful, even though it was super confusing. And it’s discussion of sexual abuse was raw and heartbreaking. BUT STILL. CONFUSING AND POINTLESS. I can’t remember how I felt about Falling Into Place. But I know how I feel about this one, and it’s not good.

#2-Isla and the Happily Ever After- 2 stars

Unlike This Is Where The World Ends, I don’t really know how to define why I didn’t like this book. I really liked Anna and the French Kiss, and Lola and the Boy Next Door, but Isla?… not so much. So I’m going to question myself about various story elements and find out why I disliked it so much.

Basic premise? Again, this is mainly set at the american school in Paris, but a few years after Anna and Etienne. It involves a girl called Isla and one of St. Clair’s friends, Josh, and they obviously fall in love.

Plot? Firstly, unlike the other two, where the plot centres around the couple getting together, Josh and Isla get together pretty early in the book, and the rest of the plot basically revolves around romantic tension, which I am just not a fan of.

9627755Characters? I didn’t really connect to either of the main characters (except when Isla decided to be nice to her sister Hattie, because that was a good moment). I felt like I knew a lot about both of them, but I didn’t really understand either of them really. And I also really didn’t ship them at all together. And also, I disagreed with so many decisions they made (like gallivanting around Europe illegally and having sex. Just why??) BUT. I LOVED Kurt (Isla’s best friend who is just basically the bestest and amazingist, loves making maps, is autistic, and who Isla just abandons when Josh comes along) so that was a bonus.

Setting? Actually, I really liked the setting of Paris/New York/Spain, especially since I’ve been to Barcelona. And especially that moment toward the end with the Notre Dam and Etienne and Anna. OH MAN.

Language? It was easy to understand but not really stellar or beautiful or easy to connect to.

Have you read either of these books? How did you feel about them? What’s one book you read recently that you loved/hated? How do you feel about stupid characters and excessive romantic tension?

book review · books · shanti · Uncategorized

The Accident Season- wasted potential

Hi there Virtually Readers. Today is a sad day. It is a day of a Negative Book Review. I had heard lots of great things about The Accident Season, but I ended up feeling like I had wasted my tie. It had great potential- marvellous writing, a creepy atmosphere- but I felt like it went nowhere. Here’s why.

 

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It’s the accident season, the same time every year. Bones break, skin tears, bruises bloom.
The accident season has been part of seventeen-year-old Cara’s life for as long as she can remember. Towards the end of October, foreshadowed by the deaths of many relatives before them, Cara’s family becomes inexplicably accident-prone. They banish knives to locked drawers, cover sharp table edges with padding, switch off electrical items – but injuries follow wherever they go, and the accident season becomes an ever-growing obsession and fear.
But why are they so cursed? And how can they break free?

There are the characters. Stuff was mentioned about their backstories, and they all had ‘secrets’ which was sort of the point of the book… but it felt like an in joke to me They had all this history, which was only barely shown (and there were these weird italicized flashbacks. What was up with that?). I never really got a sense of who the characters were. Little details were added, and I get that with the changeling references there was supposed to be some symbolism, but it did nothing for me. I actually got a bit annoyed, because Bea, Cara, Alice and Sam were so wrapped up in themselves that they didn’t think about anyone else. They came off as sort of pretentious (I mean, they wrote poetry and drank wine, not beer, and lit candles) not that that’s necessarily bad, but… I had all these questions, about each of the four main characters, and many of them were unanswered. What did they want to do with their lives? How had their relationships with each other evolved? Why did they keep their secrets? Where did they belong? Only a few of these were really answered, and I didn’t appreciate that.
‘But the evocative atmosphere! What about that, and the writing to die for? It’s like Maggie Stiefvater’ I can hear enthusiastic fans of The Accident Season screaming. The writing was beautiful, but it didn’t make me care about any characters or what was going on, though it was lovely to read. Even the setting was not that explicit. I’m pretty sure it was in Ireland..but it felt like any generic green rainy rural YA setting, like Forks or New Hampshire or Otago. The dialogue was well done, but I didn’t really stick with Cara’s internal narrative. It irritated me because it didn’t change my understanding of anything– that is, The Accident Season could have just as well been told in third person. As for the creepiness… well it was sort of generic as well. There was never a clear answer on the ghosts and the reality of the Accident Season, or the presence of magic Seeing as all of these things were central to the plot, I felt sort of cheated.
There was also very little plot. There was this whole mystery aura and ‘find Elsie!’ thing going on, but nothing much happened. There was a shop that disappeared (obviously) and a party, plus periodically everyone got injured, but who cared? And halfway through the book this random woman Gracie popped up. Who even was she? The plot basically wrote itself in circles, and I didn’t care. There were reveals at the end, but they had no emotional impact, at least for me.
Also, some of the characters actions downright annoyed me. They were drinking and smoking and kissing and lying, but these actions were seen without consequence (except for two significant kisses). I never noticed the characters thinking about what they had done and why that was significant. I don’t expect every YA book to read like a health class and go on and on about responsibility… but I want serious topics (highlight for spoiler) like rape and incest to be covered with the respect they deserve, you know?
And there was a teensy thing that bothered me- the word ‘amn’t’ was used twice in place of am not. Is that dialect? If you’re doing dialect you should go all the way or nowhere I think.
So the despite the well crafted writing, I really didn’t like the Accident Season for all the above reasons– an essentially pointless plot and characters.

Do you ever read books where you just don’t care about the characters? Have you read the Accident Season? tell me in the comments