Reviewing BooksForAri -Laura Thalassa’s “The Queen of All that Dies”

The Queen of All that Dies (The Fallen World, #1)The Queen of All that Dies by Laura Thalassa

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

For an enemies-to-lovers story, this one is fairly gruesome and unpropitious. Severe emotions and deeply dark motifs left me aghast nearly every chapter.

And by the gods, I enjoyed this book so much! SO FREAKING MUCH!

Imagine a future, post-apocalyptic reality weakened by war and shattered as a symptom of one man’s jockey for world-wide control. Now imagine being a young woman practically raised in the flames of his destruction. And after imagining ALL that, what kind of creature would you be when you collide with the fire-starter: a phoenix of new beginnings or a hellhound of revenge?

The story is fast-paced and saturated with thought-provoking scenarios. The author twirls around cliches, like a professional dancer, determined to give YA (MAYBE NEW ADULT – I FEEL LIKE THE SEXY SCENES MAKE THIS NEW ADULT) readers the wonderful thrill of being swept up by the music of her words, and skillfully leading her audience through ominous pathways. I was so taken with the storyline. As I followed along with Serenity’s version of events (a majority of the story is told from her POV), I couldn’t help but feel like her future was constantly shifting with every decision made. I feel like she knew that too. We were stepping into the unknown together, in a world that no longer had rules, made up of inhumane people and comprised of an amoral society constantly shifting to meet the whims of their new king forcing young, ferocious Serenity to build herself in a place that cannot bare to maintain her foundation.

I think people that want fluff and hidden perfection should stay away from this book. There’s nothing wrong with loving bad boys that have secretly been good the whole time. Shooooooot, I happen to love the fallen angel characterization that YA authors seem to favor lately. But the nefarious creature that lives inside me absolutely needed a book like this. It’s a twisted plot with complex characters, and what makes it even better is the dystopian setting. I’ve heard that a villain is the hero of their own story, and that truth is extremely applicable here.

Clever, original and heart-breaking, I just couldn’t stop myself from devouring this book and immediately starting the next one.

Browse my blog
Scroll through my tumblr
View all my goodreads reviews

Advertisements

Reviewing BooksForAri – Vic James’ “Gilded Cage”

Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts, #1)Gilded Cage by Vic James

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: A free advanced digital copy of this book was received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Wow.

Just.

Wow.

This is my attempt at making this review as spoiler free as possible, please bear with me during this brave endeavor.

Okay… *deep breath* So, when I read the synopsis, my expectation of the book was completely skewed. Because the romance was the plot mentioned first and then the revolutionary and then the ambiguous wild-card character, I automatically assumed that this would be the hierarchy for the amount of time spent on each character in relation to the plot and, subsequently, that it would be a clear indication of each of their significance. Add on the fact that the prologue tainted my perception from the beginning, and bam – I went through the first portion of the book expecting things that weren’t going to happen.

Well, color me pink with pleasure! Shame on me for going into a story with presumptions. There’s romance, but it’s not the main artery in this network of plots – so it’s a bonus, not the focus. There’s revolution, but it’s so nuanced and ubiquitous that your blood thrums along with the growing dissention. And then, of course, there’s Mr. I-could-be-destruction-or-salvation-but-who-knows that throws ALL OF YOUR THOUGHTS INTO DISARRAY. *heavy breathing*

I am so freaking happy with this book. I am ecstatic that I got to read it before it was released because I know I want a physical copy in my personal library so I can re-read and annotate it. Every few chapters brought to light new information that slightly altered the reader’s scope. The concepts introduced took on a broader, and more heady, tone as I digested the author’s words. Each storyline was a slow, slow burn that got me to feel for the characters and their circumstance before engulfing everything in flames. While I didn’t particularly like a few of the characters, I understood each of them and I fully appreciate the author’s dedication to character growth and three-dimensionality. It made for a compelling and wretched story of privilege, inequality and strife.

Most of my favorite books took me less than a day to finish, but this one took me a little over a month. Why? This actually correlates with some of the points I made above. The author packed so much information into the each part of the story. The setting, the people, the world… It was… a bit too much at times, for me. The story is set in England (a place I’m not familiar with) with modern details (I was constantly trying to pinpoint an exact time) and there wasn’t any clear divide on who was ‘good’ or ‘evil’ (which drove me absolutely crazy). Throw in the common excuses of work and daily chores, and you have a recipe for delayed literary completion.

Is the book perfect? No. Does that matter? No. BECAUSE IT’S NEW, REFRESHING, UNRUSHED, AND DIVINE. I absolutely love social hierarchy drama. I can’t wait to see where this is all going. Will it be a happily ever after? Will it be just death and destruction? Can a world change at the hands of the oppressed or must it be destroyed before it can be reborn again? I don’t know and I don’t think any of the characters know either but I will follow them every freaking step of the way.

Also, side note, I love Silyen. Please give me more Silyen, forever and ever. Vic James, if you’re reading this, please know – he is the most interesting megalomaniac I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading and no matter where his life takes me, I don’t believe I will be disappointed with its direction. Thank you.

Browse my blog
Scroll through my tumblr
View all my goodreads reviews

Reviewing BooksForAri – Jennifer Weiner’s “Good in Bed”

Good in Bed (Cannie Shapiro, #1)Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: A free digital copy of this book was received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


QUICK REVIEW DONE AT THE TIME I FINISHED THE BOOK

I loved the beginning of this book! I had high hopes and was completely enthralled with this witty, sexual female that just saw happened to be heavier than average… then this woman failed me. I think that I was more disappointed in the character than the writing style. Honestly, I like the way the book was written but I just hate what it was written about. Three things that bugged me: there was a severe lack of diversity, there were scenes that were placed for shock value but weren’t given a realistic portrayal, and there was a lot of prejudice and judgmental undertones set in the writing (for example, the main characters feelings towards non-hetero sexuality). Because of these things, I wouldn’t recommend it to my friends or family, but I do see why other people may have liked it.


PROCEED FOR FULL, MORE IN DEPTH REVIEW

First things first, this is not the typical type of novel I look for when I’m browsing the aisles of Barnes & Noble or scrolling through the daily specials on ThriftBooks, but I simply couldn’t resist a tale surrounding a fat girl and her sex life. As many of you do not know, I am a woman of above-average weight and slightly average height, so, of course, Baxter (my mind) leapt with joy at the sight of such a relatable read! Step aside supernatural YA lit – Arielle is delving into the world of bonafide adult fiction (or maybe slightly adult fiction)!

Cannie

The Writing:
I read this ebook in a day. And that statement, in itself, is a declaration in the name of all that is holy in literature. I have no complaints about the author. I believe the writing was done very well and in line with the type of story that was being told. The one-liners, the sarcastic set ups, the portrayal of being a food lover, were all things I genuinely enjoyed. It was an easy read and flowed nicely without too much flowery text which I thought was perfect.

The Characters:
Our main female lead, Cannie (short for Candace), had a really believable and vibrant personality. She was quick-witted and completely unfiltered. Whether she was dealing with nosy co-workers or unflappable friends, she most definitely had a response to every tidbit and had no qualms about offering her opinion on the subjects at hand. I knew I liked her from the moment she pronounced (not too subtly, I might add) that she was going to commit a murder and needed to know the Pennsylvania penal laws in the middle of the day while at work.

Bruce. *sigh* Bruce is… I, honestly, do not know. He did some really atrocious things, but he did some really sweet things, too. Mainly, I found him immature and appealingly opportunistic, but overall, I just don’t think I got much of a feel for his raw character, as everything about this man was provided through the lense of the main character and completely unreliable.

The friends… while great people, weren’t really there with enough backstory or plot to develop much of an opinion.

The love interest! I love him. Make me one of him. I like him a lot and I wish there was more build up of his character or maybe some backstory and insight into his thoughts, because even though he has such a large role, I don’t feel like I got to bond with his character as much as I would’ve liked to.

The Themes:
Alas, dear readers. This is where my decreased ratings start to make sense. The themes in this book really irked me to the point where I would physically cringe and shut my eyes just so I wouldn’t have to read the end of what I knew was going to be a very disappointing sentence. The indirect homophobia, lack of cultural diversity, and plethora of dependency motifs made me severely uncomfortable. I wish I could reach through the page and try to talk to the character. It made me curious if these traits were directly related to where the character was from or if it was a trickle down from the author’s own feelings – which again, made me uncomfortable… These things may not make another person uncomfortable and I don’t think that it affected the writing too much, which is why I included my negative comments towards the end of my review. I look for strong female characters, cultural diversity and non-prejudice premises which is probably why I spotted these things right away. It may not be something that bothers other people, and these may be points that another reader and gloss over – which is fine but I could not finish my review without highlighting the reason for a 3-star review and why I will not be continuing the series.

Browse my blog
Scroll through my tumblr
View all my goodreads reviews

Reviewing BooksForAri – Jodi Picoult’s “Small Great Things”

Small Great ThingsSmall Great Things by Jodi Picoult

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: A free advanced digital copy of this book was received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I was originally hesitant to read this book because, although I love nearly everything Jodi Picoult, I don’t feel like a white woman had any right to discuss a POC topic. On another note, I also didn’t want to read a narrative that neither the author nor I was able to properly engage without disrespecting the voice of another. I am not Black; Jodi Picoult isn’t either. Reading particular narratives of peoples that the author isn’t directly related to or associated with is a dangerous game because you cannot depend on the author to be a reliable source of information. The author more likely than not formulates the character(s) and situation(s) based on stereotypes or information that they’ve heard about but haven’t experienced. As the reader, you find yourself absorbing these fictional characteristics, whether they be racially-motivated or culturally stereotyped, in a way that makes you (perhaps, subconsciously) apply it to reality and real people. Because the relationship between a writer and reader is interdependent, a black narrative orchestrated by a white person has the potential to be a perpetuation of racism and prejudice, and I personally did not want to participate.

What changed my mind? Jodi Picoult has always dealt with challenging topics. I remembered her always having a way of changing the perspective and disrupting my understanding of what is commonly accepted as true. More so, she brings to the forefront society’s widely-accepted truths solely for the purpose of challenging it. I remembered, and thought to myself, this can either be really good or really bad, but why not give it a chance?

“White people don’t mean half the offensive things that come out of their mouths, and so I try not to let myself get rubbed the wrong way.”

As a POC, I usually encourage others to read more POC authors and books with diversity, but I’ve never really given white authors the chance to also be inclusive. I just automatically assume that they’ll do a poor job of representation and fuck it up somehow. But I took a chance… And it’s led me to a 4.5-star review. (WHY DOESN’T GOODREADS LET US GIVE HALF STARS?!)

By exploiting a racially-charged murder trial where race cannot be mentioned in the courtroom, this novel carefully illustrates the nuances of racism in the modern world. In true Jodi Picoult fashion, the storyline is presented from 3 different POVs: the White supremacist accuser, the Black Nurse defendant, and the well-intentioned-but-ignorant White Lawyer. What is shown is that racism does not only exist explicitly. It taints everything from the hospital to the courthouse, from the nursery to the classroom, from the home to the streets. And even though it is present in everyday life, it is not something that’s up for discussion. It’s a reality that is ignored by those who pledge to be ”color-blind” and gets glazed over by people who aren’t affected; however, racism is engrained in the minds of all POC and taught to us from birth. Moreover, being Black is a separate experience – specific and significant – that can only be explained by a voice that society has silenced.

“You don’t go to school with a stain on your shirt, because if you do, people aren’t going to judge you for being sloppy. They’re going to judge you for being Black.”

Small Great Things isn’t just an account of a Black person being racially targeted, it is an exploration of a White person becoming aware of all the different versions of racism. It’s a book that is needed – not for those that are affected by racism but – for those that don’t believe that they’re contributing to it. Jodi Picoult portrays what is means to participate in racism without believing oneself to be a racist and attempts to give voice to what it means to be a bullseye for racism. Emotional and aggressive, Picoult’s words will make any reader think twice about just how progressive one might believe oneself to be and about all those times a blind eye was turned.

Small Great Things is a very good start to highlighting and uprooting the racist foundation of modern society while also providing a bit of hope for a better future. It’s a conversation we cannot be afraid to have. There are voices that should be heard, and some people need to learn to lend their microphones. This book was a valiant – and, in my person opinion, successful – effort in emphasizing racism and all the things that stem from racism that society does not talk about. I do not regret reading this book, and have since, recommended to so many peers to pre-order it. I hope other readers that might also be a bit skeptical give this book a chance, as it has the potential to change the way we view and speak about race.

“…Equality is treating everyone the same. But equity is taking differences into account, so everyone has a chance to succeed…”

Browse my blog
Scroll through my tumblr
View all my goodreads reviews

Reviewing BooksForAri – Elizabeth O’Roark’s “Waking Olivia”

Waking OliviaWaking Olivia by Elizabeth O’Roark

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: A free digital copy of this book was received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sooo… I’ve been in a book funk. *sigh* I know, I know. We’ve all been there. There are those off us that have been there so many times, that we don’t even worry about it anymore and just ride this funky wave until our hand steers us right back into Literary Land. There are times that seem like we’re in a book funk more often than we get into a book frenzy and it concerns us so much that we contemplate our identity as book lovers. Alas, I found instant cure in this cute novel on my kindle.

Sometimes, all it takes is a fluff book to do the trick. You know those kinds of books, the ones that are a bit mindless, somewhat predictable and traditionally YA romance? It’s the books that are enough of a quick read that you’re not mentally drained when you’re finished but you’ve engaged enough with the content to get the juices flowing? It’s the book that takes you less than half a day to get through and you’re not even guilty about the empty calories because it was a fun read. THIS BOOK was exactly that – and precisely what I needed.

Though the author handles a couple of heavy topics, including but not limited to, child abuse, mental illness, familial issues, doomed romance and rape, the book did not delve deep enough into those particular topics to bring the reader down with the character. It was very much centered around the romance and bringing the characters’ issues to light so that they can deal with them. I like the fact that both of the characters had issues, and it wasn’t just the guys “saving” the girl. I like that the romance played out a bit more rocky than usual.

What I didn’t like was the lack of diversity. Additionally, I would have liked to see more development with the friendships and some more writing dedicated to explaining (view spoiler) I liked the fact that Olivia was equally fierce and vulnerable; I not-so-secretly wanted to see more equally obvious vulnerability in Will. And, I enjoyed that Olivia’s mental struggles didn’t just miraculously disappear when she fell in love.

Overall, it was a sweet book and I don’t really have many bad things to say. I think readers will know what they’re getting into when they’ve read the description and when they decide to read it, they won’t be disappointed. The chapters are relatively short – quick and to the point, which is just how I like these kinds of books. The plotline continues consistently and the twists are fluid and interesting. I would definitely recommend this quick-read to anyone in a book funk or that need a good fluff book between two intense novels.

Browse my blog
Scroll through my tumblr
View all my goodreads reviews

Reviewing BooksForAri -Britt Holewinski’s “Schism”

SchismSchism by Britt Holewinski

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: A free digital copy of this book was received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Anyone that knows me knows that I’m a complete groupie when it comes to utopian/dystopian novels and anything ethically or morally questionable. So when I saw “[kids rule the world because all the adults are dead]” I thought to myself, YESSSS, TINY HUMANS ARE JUST UNTRAINED PEOPLE WITH MINIMAL MORALS. If there are no adults or societies to train them, what would they make of the world?! I didn’t exactly get what I… expected? I guess, it was a lot more traditional dystopian than I originally anticipated.

Hmmm… My feelings on this book were fairly divided… The summary was intriguing enough to request on NetGalley, and the story line was very Lord of the Flies meets The Walking Dead which kept me interested enough to finish; yet, I felt like the writing was somewhat lacking.

Every character is white, except for a secondary character that plays the role of Maria, the daughter of a Hispanic drug lord. *eye roll* The lack of diversity is something that I’m used to. And because it’s such a commonality, I don’t usually let it affect my rating of a book, but I always feel like it’s something worth mentioning in my reviews. (Not going to lie, the whole drug and slut trope constantly being applied to Hispanic/Latinx/Spanish-speaking/South American characters really irks me, but that’s an issue to be addressed at a later time.)

The author also makes an effort to point out that everyone involved in the story is beautiful and skilled things they’ve obtained via osmosis from all the dead adults lol. Andy is damn-near a surgeon before she’s 20. Charlie is a certified genius and youngest. Ben and Jim have military physique and mental capabilities without any prior training. There is no gray characters; it’s all black and white. Everyone fits a kind of purpose and specific criteria for the stereotypical good or bad qualities. They lack that sort of depth that usually accompanies dystopian novels, which are constantly filled with characters that toe the line of benevolence and malevolence. Where are the ugly people? Where are the kind-of-decent-looking characters that struggle in this new world because they literally only know the Pythagorean Theorem? Where are the ones that can’t even tell the difference between good and evil anymore?

Granted, there’s a huge gap of time missing, given that the story jumps forward 5 years, but I would have liked to see the cultivation of this new world and how the children established their hierarchy after they’ve fully exhausted anarchy. I wanted to see more dimensionality with the characters. I felt like they were too perfect. And so dry. The writing made each of them seem unintentionally straight forward and very much no-non-sense, which could be a result of the new post-virus world, but if that’s the case, then where’s the internal monologues? The explanatory chapters flashing back to the instances hopefully from the 5-year gap that led up to these stoic moments? WHERE IS THE PASSION?! THE THRILLS?! SUSPENSE?!

FYI: the suspense in this book never lasted long, which kind of boggled me. Every issue that arose was solved before the next issue arose, instead of being suggested and weaved across plot. Maybe I’m just missing the interwoven plotlines because this is only the first book? But there wasn’t really much of a build up and because the characters were so direct, the reader always knew where the story line was headed…

… It wasn’t… bad? I think the author lays down all these beautiful ideas that were itching to be explored, which I think is as equally a positive as it is a negative one. Positive, because it gives the reader the opportunity to fill in the blanks and take it upon themselves to explore possible outcomes and what-if situations that result from the post- apocalyptic virus world that the author has created. Negative because there just wasn’t enough information for the implied ideas to be thoroughly appreciated. Though the writing is as simplistic and thought-provoking as a book like The Giver, the target audience doesn’t share the same age group which and the expectations for each are different. The content of Schism seemed for an older crowd. Because of the author’s background, there was an almost-personal feel to the ideas of government conspiracies and terrorism, but that same effort wasn’t put into other aspects of the book, like setting, history, and character development.

Overall, it wasn’t a waste of my time. I relatively enjoyed it, but I wouldn’t recommend it to my friends. I would, however, recommend it to my philosophy partners just to get their take on such situations.

Browse my blog
Scroll through my tumblr
View all my goodreads reviews

Reviewing BooksForAri – Bryn Greenwood’s “All the Ugly and Wonderful Things”

All the Ugly and Wonderful ThingsAll the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: A free advanced digital copy of this book was received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I did NOT want to love this book.

I did NOT want to sympathize with the situation.

I did NOT want to give this such a good review.

But alas, what’s done is done and I have no urge to further overanalyze myself. This book was truly filled with everything “Ugly” and “Wonderful” about the exploration of a devloping romantic relationship between an underaged female, younger than the age of consent, and a fully adult male, over 10 years older than her. It isn’t the type of content that’s meant for the faint-hearted or for those individuals with rigid moralistic values. It paints broad strokes of grey in a situation that is conventionally viewed as strictly black and white, but (I have to admit) the sheer audacity of the theme is what drew me in the first place.

I was completely captivated from beginning to end. The author places the reader right in the thicket of a severely taboo subject – not frequently explored as a love story – while still maintaining the dignity of the main characters and the brutal honesty of the topic. No one was ideally perfect; no decision made completely right. What made the novel fall on the side of beautiful (instead of disgusting) was the raw portrayal of each and every character and the unbridled emotional output poured into the pages. Those glimpses into personal thoughts and unfiltered commentary given built this story just as much as the action and setting.

Pity is not the author’s purpose. Sympathy was not being funneled towards a singular character. What was slowly teased out of me was a kind of despaired understanding and reluctant approval that had me wanting to simultaneously stop and continue reading. Morals are a fluid thing, laws do not always mean justice; and though both systems serve their purpose, this book does a fantastic job of questioning moralistic and legal principles in a unique way that places this subject of love and rape through a lens I’ve never read before.

That being said, I know there will be a lot of comparisons between All the Ugly and Wonderful Things and Lolita because of the similarly disturbing premise, but I’d have to strongly disagree with anyone that makes that comparison. Nabokov wrote Lolita from the perspective of an unreliable narrator with various hints that begged the reader to be appalled by the hidden truth of rape. Greenwood, on the other hand, changes the POV of the story to avoid this. Both main characters play their respective parts in cultivating the relationship and, even though it is categorized as rape, there is much more involved in the romance than just the sexual features.

I originally knocked this title down from a 5-star to a 4-star rating. My reasoning was very much influenced by the amount of times I felt utterly uncomfortable with the content and how often I was forced to re-evaluate my opinion of the circumstances. Additionally, my desire for the novel to be a bit longer was also a factor in my decision. I would have liked to see more delicately detailed descriptions of the main characters towards the end; I felt like the later-portion of the book was lacking the fulfilling explanations presented in the earlier-portion and deserved more pages. However, I still do not feel like any of the negative aspects of my reading experience even compared to all of the positive ones. After writing all of this, I have to bump it back up to a 5-star rating because I realize how strongly I reacted and, consequently, how good of a think-piece it can be. All the Ugly and Wonderful Things was a beautifully tragic romance that has the power to shock and awe the masses, if given the chance. Original. Vexing. Enthralling. I’d recommend this book to any daring reader who can handle the ethical crisis awaiting you upon completion. I cannot wait to see what this author does next.

Browse my blog
Scroll through my tumblr

View all my goodreads reviews

Reviewing BooksForAri – Erin Morgenstern’s “The Night Circus”

The Night CircusThe Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow. This is the kind of novel you will love or hate. I felt as if every chapter was weaving me slowly but surely into the Circus itself and there was nothing to stop it from happening. My emotions were stimulated gently through vague impressions and almost-moments, leaving me a bit confused but entirely sensitive, which was very different from the head-on emotional crashes I’m used to reading through. I honestly don’t know how to describe this book (without doing it justice), but I do know that it isn’t for everyone. When I fell in love with the story, it was so slow and seamless that I didn’t even know I was enraptured until I tried to pull myself away. It wasn’t something that I could binge in a few hours or read so rapidly that I’d skip over a sentence or so… I’m pretty sure I was thoroughly confused through at least a third of it, but that was part of the fun and definitely a characteristic I’d attribute to building the FEELING of The Night Circus as, simultaneously, a story and an entity. Intriguing. Beautiful. Different. I enjoyed this experience immensely.

View all my goodreads reviews

Check out my booklr

Reviewing BooksForAri – Molly McAdam’s “Taking Chances”

Taking Chances (Taking Chances, #1)Taking Chances by Molly McAdams
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Honestly, I don’t even know why or how I finished this book. I guess I should start by indicating why I found this title attractive. Yes, love triangles are an exhausting and tedious subject at this point in YA fiction, but I have to admit I’m still drawn to it (probably because I gamble with myself on who will get chosen & I secretly hope everyone just stops being jealous and loves one another – yay polyfidelity!) So, inside my head, Baxter (that’s the name of my noggin) says to me, ‘Hey Arielle, it’s over 400 pages with a 3.9 overall rating and nearly 40K people voted on that rating. It shouldn’t be so bad…’ Boy, was he wrong.

If you’re not annoyed with the characters and plotline within the first two chapters, then by all means, continue reading. Perhaps, it just wasn’t my type of writing style or maybe the target audience is for an age group much younger than me. I’m a 24 year old NY college graduate with a tendency to be sleep-deprived and, though this aspect hasn’t really affected me before in determining whether or not I enjoy a particular book, I think it’s worth it to acknowledge the possibility that these parts of myself could be the cause for my dislike. Also, let me make it known, I am an amateur book reviewer – still wet behind the ears – AND I have an affinity for peculiar books… but now that I’ve proclaimed to be no professional and admitted to my flaws, let me get to the four main things that bothered me:

The Dialogue
Every. Freaking. Line. Was sooooooooooooooooo dry. It was like reading a playwright for what parents think kids are doing when they’re not around, and not what is actually happening. I couldn’t connect with the friendship between Bree and Harper. Their conversations and interactions felt completely superficial and the friendship happened way too quick for my liking – probably even quicker than the romance. Any kind of relationship, even platonic ones, need development and dimensionality. And with that said, I definitely could not get on board with the love at first sight infatuation that had Chase and Brandon duking it out from the first few pages. Though this phenomenon is common with books that are centered around a specific romantic relationship(s), I feel like there are way to make it feel less… cheap. They just looooooved Harper and everything that came out of their mouth was so zero to sixty that I nearly puked from the momentum. But stepping back for a second, the playwright-like conversations just seemed entirely too strained – kind of like when you’re playing Sims and you set your person up to do a whole bunch of tasks and your Sim is just like in robot-mode because you’ve already decided its future… That’s what it was like reading the conversations in this book; every word was predetermined.

The Descriptions
Though setting isn’t always a make-or-break for me, the lack of really substantial dialogue made me search for descriptions, which were (surprise, surprise) also very lacking. Baxter, my brain, struggled to get any real solid picture while I was reading. Any type of description I came across was very generic and supremely unfulfilling. I don’t know about any one else who read this book, but this was honestly grounds for abandonment. Alas, I persevered like the warrior that I am, and developed quite an issue with…

The Plot Line
It was like the author took every single YA fiction cliché and threw it in at any available chance – kind of like when my best friend went on a juicing diet and didn’t know any recipes so she just chucked random vegetables in the blender. Yup. It was disgusting. But, oh my gods. I could’ve made this book into a drinking game called Guess The Next Plot Twist using a fill-in-the-blank method of standard YA clichés, and I would have been sufficiently plastered by the time I got to the middle of the book. There wasn’t any development of the issues and the issues were so obvious that I kind of just rolled my eyes when they finally played out. No wonder the book was over 400 pages.

The Characters
Alright, so the crux of my dislike for this novel definitely falls in this category. I found myself hating the main character, which is always a negative sign. Harper was always f*cking harping (haha, I made a funny). Pun completely intended. She was so judgmental of others (especially females) and haughty just because she grew up on a military base. I don’t understand why everyone was falling over themselves trying to please the virginal princess like she was this almighty perfect seductress. Her character wasn’t even that interesting. Harper wasn’t the only one though, everyone in this book was two-dimensional. Even the peripheral family members lacked any real substance. There was no diversity, severely strict archetypes, and no progression of character. I gave up on hoping for change once Harper called someone a slut for the 3rd time.

Goodness. This was a long review. I’m sorry guys. I definitely ranted. I guess I felt way more passionately about this book than I thought, but hey, here’s the end of my review.

View all my goodreads reviews
Check out my book themed tumblr