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review 2014-03-11 18:44
Strange Sweet Song
Strange Sweet Song - Adi Rule

Oh man. You guys have no idea how disappointed I am that Strange Sweet Song was such a letdown for me.  I featured this as a Waiting on Wednesday pick back when we were still doing them, and that was a while ago. I hate that I didn't really like it, but there were just so many missed opportunities. I think I'll just list them off and then go into further detail after that is done. 

1. The protagonist is HORRID, from the beginning to the end. 

2. The narrative is stilted, disjointed, and in some places VERY hard to follow.
(Though some of this may be due to poor formatting. I am not sure.)

3. This is almost purely a romance. I would have liked the music element to be stronger. I would have liked there to be more of a focus on the paranormal. It doesn't help that the characters are cardboard and I couldn't care less about any of them. 

Okay, so let's start with #1. The protagonist. Her name is Sing, you guys. I should have known based on the naming of the main character that this book was not going to be a good one. I thought I could get past it, but her stupid name yanked me out of the narrative on multiple occasions. 

She's also a HUGE jerk. The author tries to redeem her in the end, but I just spent 300 pages hating this girl and wanting to strangle her. I am not going to be that forgiving. She is a snob. She is stuck on herself and arrogant. She is mean to everyone around her for no good reason. I brought some quotes with me today to show you what I mean.

Here is the setup. Sing is in a classroom learning about birdsongs. (I wish I was kidding.) The teacher is asking where baby birds learn how to sing.

"Listen to their parents?" Goatee says.
"Exactly! Most songbirds learn their songs from their parents, the way you and I learn language--and, for many of us here, music."
Was that a glance in Sing's direction? It better not have been.
So she has a complete lack of respect for her teachers. CHECK.
"Sing, aren't you taking that? I thought I saw you head over to Durand after drama."
Sing shrugs. Was that a dig, because she's not taking The Artist's Life? At least she doesn't have to take functional piano!
She's also nasty to her friends. Demeaning and condescending too. Lovely.
Ryan laughs, reaches across the table to pat her hand--thank goodness she --had her hand resting there!--and says, "It's not bad, really. You don't have to do anything if you don't want to. You could just say, 'My cheeseburger was really good,' or something. He won't pick you early, since you're new, so just watch everyone else and decide."
And there is inspired writing like that. First of all, she is so incredibly happy this douchey guy (and I mean douchey) just touched her with his hand. OMG let me piss myself with excitement. Secondly, that writing is awful. We are just getting started.
Oh, this one is good. About the same douchey guy too.
Remain calm, Sing thinks. A gorgeous rehearsal pianist has his arm around you and is protecting you from the weather with his own umbrella. Don't screw this up!
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Isn't her inner voice just charming? I would prefer Anastasia Steele, to be honest. And it's obvious that it's his OWN umbrella. You didn't need to include that word. One too many pronouns there since you already said HIS!! I can't with this writing and this nauseating grossmance.
If he were in Hud with the other students, he probably would have walked her all the way to her room. It doesn't matter that Lori might have seen them. He definitely wasn't trying to hide their new relationship from Lori. Definitely.

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Sweetie. Honey, no. You are not seriously that desperate, pathetic, and naive all rolled into one. Ugh.
I have other examples of just how bad the writing is, but I will spare you the agony. There are also lots of passages early on that showcase just how awful Sing is. I am not kidding you, she is probably one of the nastiest protagonists I have read in years. She hates and judges all the girls around her, including her friends. She disrespects all her elders. The girl is just miserable. She pines over guys that were not worth pining over and obsesses about them until I wanted to vomit. She even takes a very important role from another girl to get herself ahead. And her main reason for doing this is because the girl is her rival. For singing and douchey guy, who's named Ryan. But Sing doesn't even like Ryan that much so it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. 
I could go on forever, but this book to me, is not worth your time. I finished it because it was so hilariously bad that I couldn't NOT finish. Plus, you know, the book had an interesting concept. I wanted to see how it ended up being executed. Not well, I might add. I don't even want to go into details about that because the rest is just so horrifying that it's not worth pushing yourself through to a payoff that is not even close to worth it.
Remember way back when when I reviewed Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black? 

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This is just about as bad as that. In short? I do not recommend it. 
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review 2014-01-22 06:44
The Vanishing
The Vanishing - Wendy Webb


The Vanishing is the type of book you read when you want to escape into another world and another time. Though it is set in the present, most times it certainly doesn't feel like it. It's gothic, it's creepy, and I think it's the perfect book for fans of Rebecca and Jane Eyre. There's a large crumbling mansion, ghosts, a swoonworthy love interest, a mystery to be solved, you name it, it's there. In many ways it is the quintessential gothic novel, and it was a joy to read. The characters were well-developed, the tone creepy and a bit scary, and I flipped through and finished this book quicker than most I read.

But it wasn't a perfect book for me, and I think the main issue I had was the writing style and that started from the get go. It felt forced and pretentious. As I read further, I began to get into the story and most of my troubles with the writing became desensitized as I got used to the prose. There was a point in the book where I felt completely hooked and into the story. I read most of this book overnight (I have pretty odd sleeping patterns), and I felt VERY isolated in the dead of the night when the rest of the world was asleep. It was the perfect book for that moment. Past the halfway point though, I began to have issues again. I'm not sure what it was, but the book seemed to lose me. I know I can pinpoint some of the problems I had on the protagonist. I just didn't think she had a whole lot of common sense. Some of her decisions felt ignorant to me and I don't think she made the right ones. I found myself thinking, OUT LOUD even, how I would have gone for help. I would have left. I would have done things differently. 

Aside from that, I found the book got a bit repetitive towards the middle as well. I felt that characters were withholding information from Julia just to keep the plot from progressing more quickly. There is nothing that irritates me more than plot devices I can see coming from a mile away. And when the ending finally came, though it surprised me, I found it abrupt and rushed. If you are going to drag the rest of the book out for the sake of building tension, why rush the ending? It didn't make sense to me. 

But here's the thing. I read it all and I liked most of it. I enjoyed the usage of giant dogs and I LOVEEED the atmosphere. I thought the author captured the feeling of a gothic novel through her words and setting brilliantly. I never thought I would have been able to find the Great Lakes creepy, but I did. I loved Amaris Sinclair, and I almost wish she had been the protagonist instead of Julia. I have a feeling she would have made smarter decisions. I don't think this book was a waste of time, by any means, and I really look forward to trying the author's other book, The Fate of Mercy Alban, because I think I might like it more. 

I think if you are looking for a read to escape for a day, this is the perfect book for that. I can imagine someone reading it in front of a fire, cuddled under an afghan with a large dog at their feet, and a cup of cocoa in hand. If you are looking for the perfect book for THAT situation, this is the one. 

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review 2014-01-18 04:52
Being Sloane Jacobs
Being Sloane Jacobs - Lauren Morrill

How I looked forward to Being Sloane Jacobs. How I looked forward to reading a book by this author! But this book was simply not what I thought it was going to be, and perhaps Meant to be is her better book and I am STILL looking forward to reading that. Before I get to the complaining and ranting, I want to talk about the good things first...which there are not a lot of. Sorry.


The writing was not bad. It wasn't good either, but it was passable and that's pretty much the reason this book gets two stars instead of one. I felt detached from all the characters and I don't think they really stood out or had much personality, unfortunately, so to me this book was just words on a page that I really could not wait to be finished with. That said, I do think the author can write, just maybe not this particular subject. There is no one more sad about that than me. I know I say that a lot, but in this case I really mean it, because FIGURE SKATING!!


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No. Do not read this for the figure skating. You will be disappointed. Especially if you are educated on the sport like I am. There is nothing that pisses me off more than a book that is poorly researched, or what I feel in this case feels like ZERO research at all.


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There were so many inconsistencies and things that would never have happened. There were so many times I was tempted to DNF. But I stuck it out because I thought it might get better. I thought the payoff would be worth it in the end. Honestly, it wasn't. Not worth my time. For those wondering, the sport of figure skating does NOT work the way it's portrayed in this book. You cannot learn the jumps this girl does after only a summer of figure skating camp. The way the competition works at the end? Would never happen. That is not how the scoring system works. Everything has a point value , and a simple routine like the one they did would not get them enough points for second place. Pairs teams rarely, if EVER, attempt side by side triple axles. Most female skaters will NEVER be able to do a triple axle. Heck, some men can't do one. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. It's very irritating to have to read a book written by someone who didn't even bother to research the sport they were writing about. It leaves a REALLY poor taste in my mouth.


So you have poor research, flat characters, and then on top of that, just a really predictable and unoriginal plot line. It was pretty much exactly like The Parent Trap which was cute and not what I had an issue with. What I had an issue with was that nothing was a surprise. I saw everything coming and it felt all very amateurish. The romances were cliche and too cutesy for me. Everything just let me down. I was sooo disappointed with this book, you guys. You don't even know. I really want to give it one star because it was pretty bad but it wasn't awful. Like there is a line or something it was so close to crossing but it didn't.


This book was just a fail on almost every level for me.

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review 2014-01-16 00:54
Evertrue - Brodi Ashton

I didn't review Everbound, and I most likely will not be, but I do feel it was a stronger book than Evertrue, so I will just state right off that I am a little disappointed in the way this series wrapped up. It was not a bad book, by any means, but I expected more OOMPH, more power behind the words I was reading.

One thing that has always been an issue for me with this series is suspension of disbelief. I just don't believe in an Everneath. I don't believe in Hades, and I certainly don't believe that Hell exists. Now I know that none of these are the same thing, but the concept is similar and I am an atheist who pretty much only believes in facts and what she can see. So for an author to convince me that something like the Everneath exists, it needs to be fantastic. Let's just say that Everbound ALMOST convinced me. Evertrue? Not as much as its predecessor. 

The story was still there and so were the characters, which I enjoyed. Unlike most of my friends, I have always been a fan of Jack so the way he was being portrayed and developed didn't bother me. Cole has always been self-serving and I could see through him. I am happy that his story ARC takes a different turn in this novel but I wasn't happy about how he was just brushed aside and his personality completely changed in what I felt was an unrealistic way. 

My brain always does this really weird thing while reading this series. In my head I am always saying, "Well isn't the convenient?" Somehow Nikki can always conjure the exact thing she needs when she needs it. Or they are able to escape from the Everneath at exactly the right moment. This happened to me a lot in this book, and way more than it happened in the other two novels.

But ultimately, Evertrue is not a bad book. It just didn't seem to be as strong as the first books in the series were. And talking about the ending without spoiling it, oddly enough, what I wanted to happen happened. And I predicted it all from the very beginning of the book. I saw it coming, and it was what I wanted, but it let me down anyway. It just felt anticlimactic and didn't do much to bring out the emotions that I thought it would pull out of me. This was sad because it SHOULD have done that, and I don't know why it did. Brodi Ashton's writing style is fine but I've never emotionally connected to it, and I think that might be the reason. 

And you know, I know I am in the minority when it comes to this series. I know most people love it and I am a bit black sheepy, and I am fine with that. I can't say I'm not glad I didn't finish it, because I am. I stuck it out and completed it and now I have finally finished something that is loved in the book blogger community (I rarely do this). This series ends up being just average for me, but I did enjoy the experience and I will read this author again. I just hope she steps out of writing about the afterlife because I always have trouble.


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review 2014-01-08 03:10
Racing Savannah
Racing Savannah - Miranda Kenneally

Racing Savannah is a cute and cuddly contemporary that touches on some serious issues like poverty, class differences, pregnancy, and animal abuse. Miranda Kenneally's stories have an easy to relate to quality that I love and have a hard time finding elsewhere, but somehow I expected more from this one. I'm not even sure I am going to be able to explain why, exactly, this book didn't blow me away like it did so many of my friends, but you should know that I read it all in one sitting so there IS a lot of good here. But.


It's something about the writing. I don't know what it is, but it doesn't flow right. Most of the sentences are choppy, simple, and there is a lack of imagery in the writing which is something that I prefer. It's hard to explain because I don't believe I had this issue with Catching Jordan, but with this one I feel like there was too much summarizing and telling but not enough storytelling. Clearly I am one of the few that feel this way, and the writing is not nearly bad enough for me to not read this author again, but it was enough for me to get a bit frustrated from time to time. It's also a bit predictable and some of the dialogue is super cheesy. 


What we have here is a story about a girl that grows up with a dad who is a horse groom and he doesn't make very much. Her mom died from cancer at a very young age and the family is still struggling to pay her medical bills and make ends meet. Her dad takes a better job at a horse farm in Tennessee and brings Savannah and his pregnant girlfriend (soon to be wife) along. Savannah gets a job as an exercise rider, but is soon found out to be the only person who can relate to a very difficult horse. (Note: This is the part of the story I enjoyed most, because the romance was overly sappy for me some of the time.) She also meets Jack, the owner's son, and obviously he is very rich and comes from a privileged background. 


It's a decent story and the characterizations are pretty well done. There are also some cute cameos from past characters which I found SUPER cheesy but I also kind of loved. This is definitely fluff fiction at its heart, which is not a bad thing, and it made me smile, but there's also not a lot of depth. If you are looking for a book to make you feel good and let you escape from the mundanity of life for a few hours, this is definitely the book for you. But if you are looking for fiction excellence, this is not the book I would personally recommend. 


So to recap: mediocre writing, decent storytelling and characterization, predictable, but also big on heart. It's your call whether or not it's the perfect book for you. For me, I look for a little bit more. 


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