Mini Reviews #3

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Well, it has certainly been awhile. I have been reading like crazy but certainly not blogging. I wish I could say it was because I was working in something cool, but honestly, I just couldn't be bothered with anything that smacks of effort. Hopefully, I will be able to pull myself out of this writing funk and be more regular about posting.

All the Crooked Saints

All the Crooked Saints
by Maggie Stiefvater 

Goodreads | Amazon | Audible
Series: none
Published: October 10th 2017
Rating: all the pretty writing
Times read: 1
Recommended by: auto buy author

I was looking for a miracle, but I got a story instead, and sometimes those are the same thing.

 I love Maggie Stiefvater's writing, and I think that it lends itself well to the genre of magical realism. However, character and plot-wise this book does not stand up to her other books. Phrasing wise it does. If you like your prose to carelessly jump back and forth over the line to purple and back again (*raises hand forever) this book is for you. If this does not sound like you stay clear forever because you will spend 456 pages asking yourself what the actual fuck is going on. It is important to note that while most of the main characters are Mexican-American, this is not an #ownvoives book. Nothing jumped out at me as problematic, but I am not sensitized and could very well have overlooked it. YMMV so this is something to consider. Can I tell you what happens in this book? Not really but it was pretty, and I shipped all the things.

Take Me There

Take Me There
by Carolee Dean 

Goodreads | Amazon
Series: none
Published: July 20th 2010
Rating: sad
Times read: 2
Recommended by: I think that Goodreads threw this at me

Words are like people, I think. Put too many of them too close together and they cause trouble

What I loved about this book was this it took the "bad boy" trope and stood it on its head. Dylan is the protagonist rather than the mysterious boy seen from afar. We see his frustrations, his fears, and his loyalty. It is interesting that Dylan doesn't actually make that many bad choices and yet his life and control over it continues to crumble around him in spite of that. I found his illiteracy and yearning for poetry a painful metaphor for all the boys caught up in the criminal justice system. There is a romantic element but although it didn't annoy me it also wasn't the strongest part of the book. It also asks some interesting questions about fate, self-fulfilling prophecies, and the eternal debate of nature vs. nurture. 

The Distance Between Us

The Distance Between Us
by Kasie West

Goodreads | Amazon | Audible
Series: none
Published: July 2nd 2013
Rating: cute enough
Times read: 2
Recommended by: Again I think that I first saw this on Goodreads.

I’ve missed my hot chocolate. I just think of you as the guy who brings it to me. Sometimes I forget your name and call you hot chocolate guy.

This was a reread. Seventeen-year-old Cayman has always been told to stay away from rich boys, but a chance meeting at her mother's doll shop with Xander makes her question everything. I like Cayman's sense of humor; I love the fact that they bond while trying to figure out what they want their futures to hold. Cayman doesn't let Xander get away with his nonsense behavior. I think that the real reason that this couple would work is that they genuinely bring out the best in one another. This is YA at it's best and by far my favorite book by Kasie West. 

The Inevitable Victorian Thing

That Inevitable Victorian Thing
by E.K. Johnston 

Goodreads | Amazon | Audible
Series: none
Published: October 3rd 2017
Rating: DNF
Times read: 1
Recommended by: I can’t even rememer

I hate to be sanctimonious about it, but it turns out that good conversation solves a great many problems.

 I will be honest I bought this for the cover and for the title. The premise was very cool, but the writing was distractingly underwhelming. The characters are beautifully diverse, but it felt as if the diversity was a costume rather than part of who they were. My main complaint is that we are in at least four characters heads and I was not able to tell one voice from another. Which made it almost impossible to differentiate one character from another. This of course made the book very confusing and frustrating to the point where I had to ask myself why I was spending a Saturday afternoon fighting with a book. Thus I had to DNF this one. Looking at the reviews on Goodreads I take it that this is a love it or hate it kind of a book.

The Art of French Kissing

The Art of French Kissing
by Brianna R. Shrum

Goodreads | Amazon
Series: none
Published: June 5th 2018
Rating: Moar food
Times read: 1
Recommended by: me as I was searching for food books

I, on the other hand, am wound so tight that I can do nothing but scrunch. My skin is scrunched, my muscles are scrunched, my bones are scrunched; I am an ode to the nineties hair accessory.

 Gaze upon this cover and try to tell me you don't want to buy it. For a book about food and cooking, there was not enough time spent describing the food. Seriously, I could have done with about a hundred pages more of food description. There is a discussion about consent and one point that I both really appreciated and that stood out from the book as "The author thinks that a discussion of consent goes here" rather than feeling like a naturalistic conversation. The biggest problem with this book is actually the fact that Carter, the main character, is kind of terrible. Mean, overly dramatic, and way too easily angered. I ended up reading on in spite of her rather than because of her. On the pro side, this book has beautifully represented diversity, and Reid is adorable and infuriating. More about him please.


Book Review: By Your Side by Kasie West

By Your Side By Kasie West cover

By Your Side
By Kasie West
Goodreads | Amazon
Series: no
Published: January 31st 2017
Rating: meh

“Books, bringing people together.' That would make a good slogan for the library.”

By your side was my favorite Kasie West book since The Distance Between US or On the Fence.  I think that it has to do with the fact that West returned to an introverted MC. I think I am just more lenient about the general plot and writing when the MC isn't trying to be the center of attention ALL THE TIME. *cough P.S. I Like You and The Fill-In BoyFriend *cough. 

By Your Side is the story of Autumn Collins who is accidentally locked in a library with a strange boy instead of heading off to the mountains for a weekend with friends.   Including a different boy she actually likes. This is what comes from drinking Dr. Pepper, people. I just hope we can learn something from this.

Autumn is pretty generic. She isn't outgoing, but she also isn't a reader.  She doesn't seem to be particularly interested in much.  Photography is mentioned a few times but she never really thinks about it or takes any photos.  She is also a people pleaser to an unhealthy extent.  Throughout the book, she bends over backward to make other people happy even while those actions hurt her. Autumn has anxiety.  It wasn't portrayed in a disrespectful manner, but I do wish that instead of talking about her anxiety that we could have seen her anxiety.  She has a couple of panic attacks, but they didn't have the impact that I was hoping for.  I also think that there was a confusion between emotions and anxiety.  The representation in this book is not terrible but could have been much better. Reminder that I don't have anxiety so my opinion doesn't count for much.

I liked Dax. He is mysterious and cool and has that wounded bad boy thing that I am a sucker for as a reader.  Is anyone else like that? Bad boys in fiction- all the yes. Bad boys in real life- I do not think so. It is time for a restraining order. To be fair Dax was more a victim of malicious gossip than a bad boy. This is the Bad Boy that I like the best. A bad boy of misunderstanding. Question: Is any character in YA ever in a decent foster home?  Every single one that I can think of off the top of my head is terrible and abusive.  I know that the foster system has enormous problems, but I also hope that not every foster home is horrifically abusive.  

A good portion of the book takes place with our two lovebirds locked in a library for the weekend.  This is an excellent premise for a novel and also happens to be one of my secret desires. Sadly, there is not much reading.  Why that is I cannot fathom.  Autumn sits there for hours surrounded by the books whining internally about how bored she is.  What is this strange creature?   Just READ something, already! I am also confused as to how two people get locked inside a library accidentally.  I used to work at a library.  You do a sweep through, including the restrooms, before you lock up for the night. 

By Your Side was cute, light, and romantic.  It isn't going to stay with me much past finishing this review, but it also didn't viscerally anger me.  I liked this book more than some other of West's books, but maybe she just isn't the author for me.  I say this, but I just saw the cover of Lucky in Love, and you know I am going to be reading it.


From Goodreads:

In this irresistible story, Kasie West explores the timeless question of what to do when you fall for the person you least expect. Witty and romantic, this paperback original from a fan favorite is perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Morgan Matson.

When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.

Only he doesn’t come. No one does.

Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?