Review: By Your Side

By Your Side

 

Oh Kasie West. You could write a grocery list and I would buy a copy of it to read. I had such high, high hopes for your newest contemp. Two teenagers that get locked in a library! Think of the things that could happen! Sadly this book felt like a huge let down and the more I got into it, the more I did not enjoy it.

The story starts with the protagonist, Autumn, getting locked in a library over a long holiday weekend. Autumn quickly discovers that she is not in the library alone, a boy named Dax is locked in with her. Autumn quickly discovers that nobody is going to come looking for her. Autumn does not handle this well as she has an anxiety disorder. It takes Dax coming out of his shell to help keep her calm. Dax isn’t a stranger to Autumn, she knows him from school but they move in different social circles. She has heard the rumors about Dax but now she has the chance to get to know him, if she wants. Dax has had a rough childhood and his teenage years aren’t much better. His mother is a druggie that chose drugs over her child and his dad is not in the picture. Not that anyone knows that much about him because he chooses to keep his private life private. He feels he can open to Autumn and he finally lets someone in. They become friends while stuck in the library and Autumn starts to develop feelings for him, but she keeps them secret because she doesn’t want to upset anyone. She really likes the popular boy, Jeff, but also likes Dax. Can Autumn and Dax’s friendship survive outside of the library weekend?

That sounds great and all but here’s a list of issues I had with this book:

  • NO PHONE OR ALARM IN THE LIBRARY?! What? How could there not be some sort of landline or alarm system? AND! Why did nobody at the library make a sweep of the rooms first before locking up and leaving? They have TV but no phone?
  • Autumn and Dax were stuck in a library but Autumn chooses to ignore the books? I’m sorry but that’s hurtful to book dragons, book worms, book nerds everywhere.
  • The way Autumn’s anxiety disorder was handled was not believable.
  • The connection between Autumn and Dax did not feel real.
  • Autumn’s friends are flat out rude jerks that needs to be slapped.

Let me expand on a couple of items. We’ll start with the library. I still find it incredibly hard to believe that two people will be locked in a library over a three day weekend during cold weather. How are there not closing procedures in place? No alarm or land line phone either? I find that hard to believe. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to be locked in a library! *heart eye emoji* It felt like a wasted opportunity for these characters. I did not feel like Autumn and Dax truly bonded during their couple of days locked in. Autumn spent a good majority of her time admitting she was spoiled and rich with awful friends. Dax angrily admitted he had a horrid childhood and the foster family he was living with were not much better. These two could not be more different but that’s the trope, right? Opposites attract?

A huge theme within the story is Autumn’s anxiety disorder. She admits to having it, seeing a therapist, and taking medication. Her parents are aware but nobody else is. How can her anxiety be that extreme and her school not even know? Her teachers don’t know and she has not ever told her friends. Why? Because she wants to fit in. She wants people to like her. That’s doesn’t sound like anxiety, it sounds like an inferiority complex. She is constantly worried about the bad stuff that may happen when these friends do something stupid and she hates feeling out of control, and that I get. That sounds more like anxiety. But if she has her anxiety under control, she should be able to talk to her therapist about it. Does she? Not once during the story. I have a feeling she had been seeing her therapist for years to help her deal and cope with this. I did not find it believable that spending such little time with Dax suddenly helped her realize that her friends were jerks and she needed to take better care of herself. Autumn’s mom asks her one time if she was doing okay and Autumn admitted to feeling out of control. What does her mom do? Not call the doctor. She lets her daughter stay home sick from school for a week. That just did not feel what a responsible parent would do. I do relate since I have  an anxiety disorder and that is why I feel it could have / should have been handled differently.

I never connected to any of the characters in this story. Every single one of them felt flat and shallow. Autumn doesn’t seem to know much of the world outside of her rich friend circle. That is why it felt a little cliche when she found herself stuck with the loner badboy. I never felt they connected at any point in the story. They felt more like friends than romantically attracted to each other. That leads me to Autumn’s friends. Those raging jerks need to hard dose of reality. Jeff was such a stereotypical popular jock that can do no wrong. Autumn felt she was supposed to date him because he was popular. Oh, High School. How I do not miss you. Throughout the book, these characters became worse. They really were all self-centered and worried only about the next party they would be throwing. Then again, the characters were never really expanded on in any way so we only ever get to see them in this horrid light.

When I say this story felt like a disappointment, I mean a huge disappointment. Kasie West is known for super sweet, sometimes gooey swoony romantic type reads. So many opportunities were missed in this story! Autumn and Dax should have had so much sexual tension between them in the library that they didn’t need anything else to keep them warm. Instead, they rooted around for spare change for the vending machine, watched TV, and played card games. They didn’t even share the sleeping bag! It was one person had it at all times. So many missed opportunities within this story! I wanted so much more. I felt like the story was left unfinished. I will still always buy Kasie West books but I may tread lighter with them. This did not read like the earlier West stories that hooked me. Proceed with caution if you pick up this book. Do not expect a hot and steamy roll between the book stacks because that will never happen in this story.

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ARC Review: One of Us is Lying

One of Us Is Lying

 

I have been on a thriller kick lately so this was right up my alley. The blurb sounds amazing! Five kids go into detention, yet only four come out. WHAT? Sign me up! This was a wild and crazy ride with insane truths coming out and secrets revealed. Sadly, the ending felt like a let down and a cop out. I originally rated this book 4.5 stars but after letting it settle and really thinking about it, I may drop that rating a bit. **NOTE: I will not give anything away so please don’t freak out. I will try to be as vague as possible.**

Five teenagers walk into detention after school one day, only four leave alive. Simon was not liked by a lot of people as he was the mastermind behind the school’s gossip app. Simon somehow was able to get the latest and greatest gossip on everyone and it was almost always true. The deepest darkest secrets the students of this school tried to keep hidden were not off limits for the great Simon. That clearly meant he was on everyone’s radar. That also meant everyone could be a suspect after Simon suddenly died one day while in detention. Yet the other four students had their own reasons for wanting Simon dead and they also had the means. But who really did it?

This really was a roller coaster of a story. Who murdered Simon? Was it the bubbly cheerleader that is treated like an airhead? Or perhaps the brainy bright student that had Ivy League schools in her future and a ticket out of the small town? What about the jock? Would he have secrets that he was trying to hide that Simon found out about? Or, maybe, just maybe, it was the bad boy that has a history of breaking the law and being the known criminal? This seems like a random cast of characters but all of their lives intersect and it isn’t just because of Simon. Ignore for a moment these are stereotypical characters. The secrets that they are all hiding range from predictable to unbelievable (not in a good way). I will say that the characters themselves do develop and change as the story moves on but not all end up the way you think they will or want them to.

The thing that kept me hooked throughout this entire book was who killed Simon? Who would have been able to get away with that? That’s the intrigue that kept me turning pages as quickly as possible. What actually caused me to stop and wonder what was going on was the ending. The ending felt like an easy way out. When I was about 60% done with the book, it hit me that I knew what would happen and I was right. I really wish I hadn’t been right. It felt like it took the wind out of my sails. I really felt let down because  it was almost just too easy.

I don’t want to discourage anyone from reading this book. Please, pick this up and let me know what you think. I really hope I am alone with my thoughts. This was a good thriller to race to find out who dunnit, but for me the ending just felt lack luster.

 

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Waiting on Wednesday: Bad Blood

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share a book that we are eagerly anticipating!

This week’s pre-publication “can’t-wait-to-read” selection is:

 

Bad Blood by Demitria Lunetta

Bad Blood

 

 

From Goodreads:

“A girl discovers a family secret and a past full of magic that could both save her and put her in mortal danger in this suspenseful novel that’s perfect for fans of Katie Alender and Natasha Preston.

All sixteen-year-old Heather MacNair wants is to feel normal, to shed the intense paranoia she’s worn all year like a scratchy sweater. After her compulsion to self-harm came to light, Heather was kept under her doctor’s watchful eye. Her family thinks she’s better—and there’s nothing she wants more than for that to be true. She still can’t believe she’s allowed to spend her summer vacation as she always does: at her aunt’s home in Scotland, where she has lots of happy memories. Far away from all her problems save one: she can’t stop carving the Celtic knot that haunts her dreams into her skin.

Good friends and boys with Scottish accents can cure almost anything…except nightmares. Heather can’t stop dreaming about two sisters from centuries ago, twins Prudence and Primrose, who somehow seem tied to her own life. Their presence lurks just beneath the surface of her consciousness, sending ripples through what should be a peaceful summer. The twins might hold the key to putting Heather’s soul at rest…or they could slice her future deeper than any knife.”

I am excited to read the new story by Demitria Lunetta. Is this on your TBR?

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Enjoyed Less Than Everyone Else

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every week they have a different theme for bloggers to post their top tens about, and this week I’m listing…

Top Ten Books I Enjoyed Less Than Everyone Else

 

 

Windwitch

Windwitch (The Witchlands, #2)

 

 

Heartless

Heartless

 

 

The Lovely Reckless

The Lovely Reckless

 

 

Love & Gelato

Love & Gelato

 

 

Diabolic

The Diabolic

 

 

Before I Fall

Before I Fall

 

 

Slammed

Slammed (Slammed, #1)

 

 

The Night Circus

The Night Circus

 

Magnus Chase

The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, #1)

 

 

The Treatment

The Program (The Program, #1)

 

 

I felt it was difficult for me to put only 10 books I did not like as much as everyone else. I felt I was the black sheep on a lot of popular books… Have you read a book that you did not like as much as everyone else? Let me know!

 

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Review: Vanishing Girls

Vanishing Girls

 

It is official. I adore Lauren Oliver in person but just cannot enjoy her books. What I have noticed in all of them is they start out down one path, then something causes them to swerve sharply to the left and make a turn that nobody sees coming. I don’t mean that in a positive way either. They venture off into lala land (not the movie) and never make sense.

From Goodreads:

“Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before the accident that left Dara’s beautiful face scarred and the two sisters totally estranged. When Dara vanishes on her birthday, Nick thinks Dara is just playing around. But another girl, nine-year-old Madeline Snow, has vanished, too, and Nick becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances are linked. Now Nick has to find her sister, before it’s too late.”

I had to borrow the blurb of the story from Goodreads because for the life of me I couldn’t remember or tell you what this book was supposed to be about. I can tell you about half way through it went bizarre. Like that weird part of YouTube that you never tell anyone about but you still wonder how you got there. You know what I’m talking about. Oliver started this story about teenagers that were trying to get their lives back in order (or some what order) after a bad car accident. Dara, the friend of Nick, disappeared and suddenly Nick decided that she had to be the one person to find out what happened to her dear friend. Throughout the entire story, Nick made it clear that she didn’t trust anyone. She wouldn’t even leave it to the police and authorities to locate her missing friend. OH NO. It had to be Nick and only Nick. This story took a turn for BizarroWorld when Nick swears that the disappearance of a random child is linked to the disappearance of her best friend. Um.. what? HOW. That makes no sense! There was nothing similar between the two cases! but Nick swears they are. As Nick continued to throw herself into finding out what happened, it felt like magic happened because she suddenly found the missing link!! It was not something obvious or out in the open. It felt like it was just included in the story to help move it along. So it was apparently obvious for a random teenager to figure out, but not seasoned and trained law officials. Sure. Okay. We’ll go with that. I just could not believe the plot of the story so my care factor did not exist.

It is no secret that I did not enjoy this book. The characters were not relatable at all. Instead, they were selfish, immature, and grossly underdeveloped. I was not cheering Nick on her quest to discover what happened. Why? I was not invested in either of their characters. They were so stand offish that it made me not want to like them, so I didn’t. The overall story took a long time to get where it was going. How can a reader cheer for a character that is awful over the duration of a boring story? Answer: They cannot.

I took a chance with this story. Given my history of Oliver books, I should have known what I was in for. Part of me was prepared for the strange and possibly unbelievable but this blew it out of the water. I will still kick myself for not DNFing this story.

 

 

Books Left Unread #64

Wallpaper-Books

Books Left Unread

Welcome to my blog post where I talk about the books I have been meaning to read, but just have not yet. You know what I am talking about – the books that have remained unread for various reasons yet when you see them you think, “You know, I really need to read that.” Instead you get distracted by another book, series, or something in your TBR pile. It happens to the best of us. I want to spotlight those books in the hope that I can persuade myself to move them up on my TBR list.

This week’s post is dedicated to:

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Under the Never Sky (Under the Never Sky, #1)

 

 

I have come so close to borrowing the audio from the library but just haven’t done it yet. Why? Hype. There is a high rating on Goodreads which worries me that I won’t like it as much. Also, fantasy books sometimes lose me. 😦 Have you read this one?

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Caraval Book Tour: Meet and Greet with Stephanie Garber

I had plans to be in New Orleans for a work conference and was not really looking forward to being in the city with so much downtime (I didn’t plan to hang out with coworkers after the meeting was over). I wasn’t sure what to do so I reached out to the Twitter community and asked if anyone wanted to meet up. The amazing Kristina (@gone_pecan) told me that Stephanie Garber would be at Octavia Books signing her debut Caraval on Valentine’s Day!  I cannot properly put into words how excited I was because the bookshop was only a 20 minute car ride away!! As soon as my meeting let out for the day I could not change and get over there fast enough. There was a severe storm that was just hitting the city but that was not going to stop me (it turns out it wasn’t nearly as bad as weathermen predicted it to be…). Octavia Books wass adorable. What an amazing indie bookshop! I wish I had more time to wander and lose myself in the shelves.

The area where Stephanie would be speaking was quaint and perfect. The seats filled up quickly. You could feel the excitement in the air because Caraval is nothing short of amazing and a breath-taking adventure. Everyone wanted to hear Stephanie talk to us about her inspiration for the story, her struggles getting published early on, how many books she actually wrote before her first one sold, and so much more!

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Here Stephanie is reading a section of Caraval:

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She is so outgoing and full of energy that I just wanted to hang out with her and chat. The signing line was easy going and we all were there to have a good time. Nobody was in a rush and that left time to chat with others. I ended up chatting with the shop owner who was the sweetest, most outgoing person! She makes me love indie bookstores even more. 🙂 I was also able to chat with a fellow book lover. We shared stories of books, book subscription services, and bloggers at conventions (like BEA). These events are usually so much more than meeting an author. Don’t get me wrong! Being able to meet a favorite author is always over the moon amazing but so is socializing with fellow booklovers. ❤

When I tell you Stephanie was adorable, I mean… just look.

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And to make my night EVEN BETTER – I won the Caraval goodie bag! I must have had all of the book fairies using their luck to help me win. This bag is just awesome. There is the branded Caraval bag, Caraval map (!!), Caraval map pencils (!!!), a necklace, and a notepad.

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Now here is a fun (or creepy?) story that happened during this event. When I sat down with the crowd, I noticed the lady beside me was someone I had seen before. She was someone I had met before but I couldn’t remember exactly who she was. But no matter what – I knew she was an author. We talked about our Hogwarts Houses (we are both Gryffindor!), if we were doing anything for Valentine’s Day, good books we have read, just being casual and friendly. I struggled to put a name to her face so I did what any good book lover would do – I went to Twitter.

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I wasn’t good with describing what the author looked like so what did I do? I was that creeper person who tried to sneak photos…. Guys, I am usually pretty ninja with my photo abilities but this time I was not. I am so very sure I was painfully obvious. Want proof?

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TOLD YOU. Look at that side eye.

I found out after the event that I was sitting next to CLAUDIA GRAY. THAT’S RIGHT. THE Claudia Gray.

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Claudia, I am so very sorry for creeping. I am really a pretty cool person. I’m not weird or someone to be concerned about. Please don’t hold this against me.

Have you had an embarrassing encounter with an author? Share with me so I don’t feel so bad about what I did.

 

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