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3 Reviews : Beautiful, Carrie Pilby, It Started with a Dare

Sometimes there are books that, without being bad reads, I don’t have much to say about. So mini-reviews are the way to go!

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Beautiful by Amy Reed
Pages : 232
Genre : YA, Fiction
Stand Alone
My Rating :

What it’s about, from the back of the book : 

When Cassie moves from the tiny town where she has always lived to a suburb of Seattle, she is determined to leave her boring, good-girl existence behind. This is Cassie’s chance to stop being invisible and become the kind of girl who’s worth noticing. Stepping into her new identity turns out to be easier than Cassie could have ever imagined…one moment, one choice, will change everything.

Cassie is trapped in a swift downward spiral tinged with violence and abuse, and no one—not even the one person she thought she could trust—can help her now.

My Thoughts : 

First, I really liked Amy Reed’s writing. It flowed naturally and really captured Cassie and her story. I couldn’t let the book go until I reached its ending. I was impressed by how real Reed made the story through few words. On that part, I found Beautiful to be a really strong novel. On the other hand, the story and the characters were all a little bland to me. Maybe because it felt similar to other stories I had read in the past, I found it to be a little forgettable, and I had a hard time getting a sense of who Cassie really was.

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Carrie Pilby by Caren Lissner
Pages : 336
Genre : YA, Fiction
Stand Alone
My Rating :

What it’s about, from Goodreads

Carrie would rather stay in bed than deal with the immoral, sex-obsessed hypocrites who seem to overrun her hometown, New York City. She’s sick of trying to be like everybody else. She isn’t! But when her own therapist gives her a five-point plan to change her social-outcast status, Carrie takes a hard look at herself—and agrees to try.

Suddenly the world doesn’t seem so bad. But is prodigy Carrie really going to dumb things down just to fit in?

My Thoughts :

Carrie Pilby was an interesting read. I think I might have enjoyed it more if I had approached it in a more serious way, rather than a fun and light way. I don’t know if it’s the cover, or the synopsis, but I really thought it would be lighter. While it wasn’t without humor, this was more of an exploration of Carrie’s character. It didn’t help that I had a hard time sympathizing with her. I do think other readers might enjoy her sarcasm more, and find more humor in her story.

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It Started with a Dare by Lindsay Faith Rech
Pages : 312
Genre : YA, Fiction
Stand Alone
My Rating :

What it’s about, from Goodreads

Self-proclaimed nobody CG Silverman sees her move to an upscale new school as her chance to be somebody different. Her devil-may-care attitude attracts the in-clique, and before CG realizes it, a routine game of truth or dare launches her to iconic status.

My Thoughts : 

This one was just a bad match of book and reader. It reminded me a little of A Match Made in HighSchool, which I enjoyed okay. But I had a hard time going through that one. I honestly believe that readers looking for something funny, light and with a lot of comedy will enjoy this one. The book doesn’t take itself seriously, in a good way, and while it wasn’t my cup of tea, I still appreciated the author’s writing.

3 Reviews : The Secret Year, Sixteenth Summer and Girl Parts

Sometimes there are books that, without being bad reads, I don’t have much to say about. So mini-reviews are the way to go!

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The Secret Year by Jennifer R. Hubbard
Pages : 192
Genre : YA, Fiction
Stand Alone
My Rating :

What it’s about : 

For a year, Colt and Julia had a secret relationship. When Julia dies in a car crash, Colt doesn’t know how to deal with this secret grief. Then Colt receives a notebook written by Julia, for him. Reading it, Colt hopes he can find answers to his questions and finally move on.

My Thoughts : 

I know this has been a popular among readers of contemporary YA fiction, but it just didn’t work for me. The story line reminded me a little of Looking for Alaska, without John Green’s wittiness or his likable characters. I didn’t like Colt, or Julia, or anyone in their friends and family. It’s a short read that felt long since I didn’t care for any of them, especially since Colt didn’t seem to give much thought about anything else but his own grief – which I never felt. So the idea was interesting but all in all, it left me cold and close to bored, constantly waiting for something to happen.

Also, this is something some readers might want to know beforehand, but the book has a lot of teens having casual sex, drinking, slashing tires and fighting. The author mostly doesn’t go into details, but this type of events occur again and again along the story.

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Sixteenth Summer by Michelle Dalton
Pages : 283
Genre : YA, Fiction, Romance
Stand Alone
My Rating :

What it’s about : 

For Anna, a summer at the beach is simple routine. Having lived on the island all of her life, the summer only means more beach, tourists, and days spent working at her parents’ ice cream shop. But then she meets Will, and for the first time, she hopes this sixteenth summer might be a special one…

My Thoughts :

Sixteenth Summer was a nice and quick read. It’s a simple romance under the sun, filled with cute moments, ice cream, beach and the sea. I think it could have used some more tension : everything goes so perfectly all along, it’s really cute but there’s no wondering what will happen next. They get together really early in the story, and there’s a hiccup or two, but it’s pretty much all rainbows and sunshine (and ice cream: I’ll give credit to the author for making me hungry all along!) It would certainly please readers who want a predictable, cute and happy love story. 🙂

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Girl Parts by John M. Cusick
Pages : 218
Genre : YA, Fiction, a bit Futuristic
Stand Alone
My Rating :

What it’s about : 

After David witnesses a girl killing herself live on the internet, his parents provide him a Companion, a robot who looks like a young teenage girl, but who will shock him (literally) if he tries to touch her too early in their relationship. Then Rose, David’s Companion, crosses paths with Charlie, an outsider with a good heart, and all their three lives become tangled together.

My Thoughts : 

Girl Parts was a short and funny story, which despite some advanced technologies pretty much took place right now. There’s character development, an interesting idea, and a bit of humor that presents itself like a satire of the present times – while still being realistic enough. Ironically, I found Rose, the Companion, to be the most likable and human character, but I still had fun following the guys around. The writing was good, I was intrigued by the technology, but sadly the story wasn’t as memorable as I would have liked it to.

3 Reviews : The Duff, Secret Society and A Match Made in High School

I never feel like spending too much time on those books I didn’t really enjoy, so once again, it’s time for mini-reviews!

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The Duff by Kody Keplinger
Pages : 288
Genre : YA, Fiction
Stand Alone
My Rating :

What it’s about : When charming Wesley nicknames Bianca “The Duff” (Designated Ugly Fat Friend), she hates him as much as she ever did. Yet she ends up kissing him, and soon she finds herself in a friends-with-benefits relationship with him. All she wants is to keep things simple, physical, but the more she spends time with Wesley, the more she learns to like him.

My Thoughts : I had been looking forward to this one : written by a high-school girl about high-school girls and boys, I thought the novel would offer a really close insight into these characters’ life. Yet, this book didn’t work for me : instead, being so young, I felt the author lacked the distance necessary to think the story through clearly. Some events or actions happening in the book could have a major impact on the characters’ life on the long term, yet there’s very little thought given to this aspect. I’m thinking of an event in particular, involving Bianca’s father : in my opinion, it’s an important issue, but the author missed the mark there, writing it a bit lightly. There’s also not enough thought given to how self-destructive Bianca’s relationship with Wesley is.

Don’t Trust me! These readers liked it : Steph Su Reads, Debbie’s World of Books, Jessica Lawlor

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A Match Made in High School by Kristin Walker
Pages : 277
Genre : YA, Fiction
Stand Alone
My Rating :

What it’s about : Fiona’s school has come up with a horrible plan for her senior year : students will be matched in pairs for a program in Marriage education, and there’s no way out. Fiona’s crush gets paired with Amanda, her nemesis, while she gets paired with Amada’s boyfriend Todd, who isn’t happier than she is with the result.

My Thoughts : The idea was certainly fun, the execution, a little less. The book was presented like a comedy, a little on the silly side but filled with misunderstandings and pranks; it had all that and more, with maybe just a tad too much silliness for me. It’s really just a matter of taste here, since I enjoyed Walker’s writing, just not the pranks and characters who felt a bit juvenile. I still would recommend it for something light and fun that can be read in an evening.

Don’t Trust me! These readers liked it : Write Meg, Fantastic Book Review, Chick Loves Lit

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Secret Society by Tom Dolby
Pages : 353
Genre : YA, Fiction
Series : Secret Society, Book 1
My Rating :

What it’s about : In New York City, three teens from a private school are chosen to be part of an exclusive Secret Society, but what was supposed to be a fun adventure might be hiding some unpleasant secrets.

My Thoughts : I’m struggling to find some positive about this book; the cover is pretty, I liked that there was some interest in art, I liked the setting, and that’s about it. The characters felt bland, flat as paper, and it was completely predictable. This wasn’t even balanced by interesting twists, humor, steamy romance or brilliant writing. I struggled to get through it, and I’ll admit that I skimmed a lot when I read it at night and I was tired; it just didn’t hold my interest. If you’re interested in reading a novel of secret societies, I highly recommend Secret Society Girl by Diana Peterfreund.

Don’t Trust me! These readers liked it : Bewitched Bookworms, My Reading Room, Wondrous Reads

3 Reviews : Empty, The Returners, Watch Me

It’s time for mini-reviews again! Because I don’t have much time for blogging right now and also because I don’t have much to say about these books, I thought it would be a fun way to share my feelings on these, mostly, disappointing novels.

Empty by Suzanne Weyn
Pages :183
Genre : YA, Fiction
Stand Alone
My Rating :

What it’s about : In a future really close to ours, when fossil fuels run out, a group of teens realize that their lives are now forever changed.

My thoughts : Empty wasn’t a bad book : it was a short read with lots of great ideas, that sadly felt under-developed. The characters felt flat, unidimensional, and the writing lacked a bit of subtlety : too much was explained for the benefit of the reader. The setting was really interesting, close to reality and I would have loved to learn more about it. While some books are too long for no reason, I felt this one could have benefit another 50 pages : this would probably have been enough to flesh out the characters better and give us a wider view of this changed world. I like the conclusion though, which was realistic and not cheesy.

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TheReturners by Gemma Malley
Pages : 252
Genre : Ya
Stand Alone
My Rating :

What it’s about : Will is having a hard time : on top of having nightmares and getting involved in a murder trial, he is being followed by strangers who pretend knowing him. But what if these strangers were right? What if they knew the horrible secrets of his past?

My thoughts : I was slightly disappointed whit this one. The book is fairly well written, but it moves so slowly I had a hard time keeping my interest up. I didn’t care much for Will, either, which means that the only thing keeping me reading was the mystery of the strangers following him. Even then, I found the scenes a bit repetitive without ever pushing the story in a clear direction. It really lacked some movement! I liked the writing though, so I would definitely read more of Malley, an author who had been highly recommended to me. It’s just too bad this one didn’t work for me.

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Watch Me by Lauren Barnholdt
Pages :
270
Genre :
YA, Fiction
Stand Alone
My Rating :

What it’s about : When she starts college,  Ally decided to do it the big way, by joining a reality show that will follow her through her first year of college. Ally will have to live in a house with people she has never met, while her boyfriend is miles aways studying at another college.

My thoughts : Okay, so this book was kind of bad. Not that I was hoping for something sensational, but I thought it would at least be something cute and funny. It wasn’t. The story was extremely predictable, the characters flat as paper, I was indifferent to Ally’s personality, but most importantly, I felt the whole “reality tv” aspect didn’t take enough place. It should have been at the center of the story, create so many incidents, and yet, it was most often than not forgotten. Bleh. On the plus side, it was a quick, easy read, that I’m sure other readers would find entertaining for a light afternoon.

3 reviews : TMI, Don’t Touch Me, Gravity

I mentioned in my August recap that my August reading had been kind of “meh”; this is mostly due (but not entirely, of course), to 3 of the 4 books I borrowed from the library. Let’s just say I’m glad I borrowed, not bought these books! So to spare the pain of writing many not-so-positive reviews, I decided to rip the band-aid off at once.

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TMI by Sarah Quigley
Pages : 302
Genre : YA, Fiction
Stand Alone
My Rating :

What it’s about : Becca has a tendency to overshare, a fact she always knew but never cared to change. When her over-sharing drives her boyfriend away, Becca decides she needs to stop saying everything that crosses her mind; instead, she starts an anonymous blog where she can say as much as she wants without getting in trouble.

My thoughts : TMI was a cute story and there’s not much more I can say about it. I enjoyed it enough, but I felt it wasn’t really memorable. I expected Becca’s blog to be about gossips and episodes of her life, but instead it was more about putting her daydreaming in words. Her blog was the least interesting part of the book for me, but the author did managed to make Becca entertaining and likable enough. Also, I felt the book really was directed to a younger crowd than the YA fiction I usually enjoy, so I can’t really blame the book or the author for my lack of excitement.

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Here’s the Deal, Don’t Touch Me by Howie Mandel
Pages : 218
Genre : Non fiction, Memoir,
Stand Alone
My Rating :

What it’s about : Howie Mandel, comic and host of Deal or no Deal, shares about his struggles with ADD and OCD.

My thoughts : Prior to reading this book, I didn’t know about Mandel’s brand of humor or about his career, really. He was just this guy I saw once in a while in a publicity for his show. I went into this book only interested in learning about how he dealt with his OCD (he’s a germaphobe) and how this affected his life. Sadly, this book was mostly a huge apology to friends and family for the troubles his disorders caused. He shares what happened, but we don’t really get to know what were the consequences, what he did to fix it, etc. Also, I didn’t get his sense of humor, so most of his jokes fell flat for me.

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Gravity by Leanne Lieberman
Pages : 239
Genre : YA, GLBT, Fiction
Stand Alone
My Rating :

What it’s about : Elli is an orthodox Jew, but she also has a thing for girls. It’s the summer, it’s the eighties, and Elli is spending a month at her grand-mother’s house by the lake. There she falls for a girl like no other, and her life will never be the same.

My thoughts : I don’t even know where to start with this one. First of all, Elli had the most boring summer I have ever read in a YA novel, so boring that I almost stopped reading many times (so boring, she loses track of time herself). Fortunately, the pace gets better when her month at the lake is over, but the books doesn’t improve much. I guess the author had a great idea, but very poorly executed. Her views on being a lesbian or an orthodox Jew seemed stereotyped to me, and borderline offensive when it came to explaining how it was to be a Jew. Now, I’m not going to write a defense for being a Jew or not and all that, but her view felt limited and therefore, not respectful. Plus, there were so many inconsistencies (her parents are strict, but still let her spend a month with her grand-mother, who’s everything but orthodox?) that it drove me crazy. Also, the numerous references to “breasts” and how they were “squeezed” in a too tight shirt felt a bit ridiculous. Of course, if you’re into girls you’ll be into their physical attributes, but I do wish there’s more to it than that. Sigh.

Review : Libyrinth

Libyrinth by Pearl North
Pages : 332
Genre : YA, Fantasy
Series : Libyrinth, Book 1
My Rating :

What it’s about, in my words :

In a very distant future, Haly is a clerk in the Libyrinth, a gigantic library built like a labyrinth, so much so that people actually get lost in it. Haly also has a secret : she can hear the words from the books, as if they were spoken aloud. When the Eradicants, who want the Libyrinth destroyed, capture her in their hunt for a particular book, Haly’s life takes a turn she never expected.

I wanted to love this book so much : the premise was interesting, the cover pretty and it looked like the plot had a lot going on. Sadly, Libyrinth fell short of my expectations.

While the world building was complex and engaging, the characters weren’t. I didn’t know enough about Haly to care about her, or about her friends Selene and Clauda. I found them to be mostly one-dimensional, and we didn’t learn much about them that didn’t relate to the story. I knew what they were, but not who they were. This made it very difficult to care for the book at all.

As for the writing and the story, it fell in that dangerous zone of “okay” : it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good, either. I kept being distracted from my reading because I couldn’t get into it. The execution lacked some fluidity, too, as the events from the story seemed to unfold one after the other like an enumeration.

As a whole, Libyrinth failed to entertain me and at this point, I don’t think I’ll read the second book coming this September, The Boy from Ilysies. But don’t take my word on this : other readers have enjoyed Libyrinth more than I did and will happily recommend it!

Series Reading Order

  1. Libyrinth
  2. The Boy from Ilysies