Books Left Unread #36

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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.

 

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

 

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin, #1)

 

Have you read this book? I have all three books but I have yet to actually pick them off of my shelf yet. So tell me, why should I read this?

 

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ARC Review: Three Truths and A Lie (truth – skip this book)

Three Truths and a Lie

 

Four teenagers go into a spooky forest to spend the weekend in a cabin in the middle of nowhere without any adults around… what could go wrong?! Liam, Rob, Maia, and Galen are trying to have a good time and end up playing the game Three Truths and a Lie. This should be a harmless game until one of them says that they may have committed a murder many years ago. Is this a lie? Is this truth? Immediately after, strange and scary things keep happening. Items are disappearing from the cabin, noises keep coming from outside, and at one point a fire starts near the cabin. The game Three Truths and a Lie plays a big part in everything odd that is happening because Rob swears Maia is hiding something and ultimately may be behind what is going on. Sadly, not everyone will live through the weekend to find out who was telling the truth.

This is my ultimate reaction to this book:

 

This story was painful to get through. It is a very short book but so much about the story made me shake my head. Let’s start with the characters.

Rob is the main character and the narrating voice. Rob is a giant wuss with the inner monologue of a 5 year old girl who is wondering why people don’t like her. He is so whiny and self absorbed that I wanted to slap him myself and leave him in the forest. I didn’t like him nor did I connect with him in any way. Actually, I didn’t connect with any character. Rob was so much more concerned about having a lot of sexy time with his boyfriend of a few months, Liam. Rob swears that Maia is the mastermind behind everything going wrong with the trip and never. lets. this. go. It is maddening how he cannot prove anything but chooses to mope and whine about it all to Liam without actually being able to prove she’s behind it all. He also loved to talk about everything in percentages. “I’m eighty percent sure this is what happened….” and “I am sixty five percent sure Maia is behind this…” and “I am seventy percent sure….” Holy crow, just stop already.

Liam is Maia’s best friend and token boyfriend to Rob. He and Rob had just started dating but that’s all you ever really find out about him. He defended Maia’s honor no matter what and it was too over the top. He’s there to support Maia and someone for Rob to screw. I don’t mean to be so cold but his character had no depth and I couldn’t figure out why else he was in this story.

I’ll be frank: Maia is a bitch. There are no redeeming qualities to her. She silently waged a war against Rob while dating the disgusting person that is Galen. She had something against Rob but never came out and said what it was. She didn’t trust him and openly admitted that she didn’t, but never said exactly why she was so mean to him. She tried too hard to be the alpha of the group, as if she had something to prove amongst a group of men. She is the one that started the Three Truths and a Lie game, which (obviously) is the running theme of the book. None of it tied together very well, it all felt forced.None of these characters would be friends in real life. They are horrid to each other and have ugly personalities.

Galen is the overly manly guy that is trying to prove he is super manly. His character is over the top rude and disgusting. I did not connect with any of these characters. There was nothing believable about them. I found myself not caring what happened to any of them.

The story line itself was laughable. Hartinger wanted me to believe that the parents of these teens have no problem letting them spend the weekend in a deserted cabin alone? HA! Actually, there are no adults in this story whatsoever, except for the “neighbor” that Hartinger tried to make you think is behind everything. These kids really are left to their own devices. He also wanted me to believe that after playing the “Three Truths and a Lie” game that one of them just happens to admit they probably possibly committed a murder?! *facepalm* Give me a freaking break.  What happened to them in the woods came across as obvious and unbelievable. More like random occurances than anything else. I didn’t care who ended up being the one to blame because eighty-five percent of the book was Rob’s inner monologue as he whined to himself. The other fifteen percent was stupid stuff that happened. (See what I did there??)

Here is the big problem I have with this book: all of the sexual references. This book feels wildly inapproperiate for the average YA reader. Galen is overly rude to Rob and Liam when he “waggles his junk” at the others while skinny dipping and just the gross comments he makes towards them. Also, there are two scenes where Rob and Liam have hot and heavy sex, not leaving anything to the imagination. I mean, it is stuff that should be in adult books, not YA books.

I openly admit I skimmed the last 50 pages of the book because I wanted it to be over. There is a “twist” at the end but it doesn’t help clear anything up and it is not a huge reveal. If nothing else, it is stupid and doesn’t make any sense at all. It left me shaking my head wondering how a murder/mystery could take place in 260-ish pages. Stop trying to force a story where there is no story, Hartinger. This entire story felt rushed and forced. I would not recommend this to anyone as I don’t want anyone to kick themselves for reading it.

 

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Review: Panic

Panic

 

Oh, Lauren Oliver, I beg you with every ounce of my being to stop using the narrator of this book for every audiobook that you have out. She is not the right fit and almost ruins the entire book. Authors needs to realize that the narrator will make or break a reader liking/loving a story.

Summary from Goodreads:

“Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.

Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.

Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn’t know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.

For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.”

I am still unsure of what story I listened to. It was great idea for a story but I don’t know if it was properly executed. I can tell you this – I really wanted more out of this story. I wanted more action and suspense. Instead, I was given very long winded (and sometimes pointless) backstories. I know that it all comes together in the end, but this story took a long way around their elbow to get to their thumb. Sorry, that’s one of my country phrases meaning, “It is just the long way around for no reason.”  I had a hard time sinking my teeth into the idea that Carp is a broke, tiny, one horse town where everyone just wants to get out, yet every single student is required to contribute every single day to the the Panic prize pot. How am I supposed to believe that? Not going to happen. Unrealistic in my mind. And you want me to believe that with teens dying while playing Panic doesn’t make the adults and law enforcment to want to take a closer look at things? It feels like these deaths and serious injuries were just shrugged off. “Meh. Kids being kids.” We won’t talk about how the very end of the book was sort of rushed, facts contradicted one another, and certain events were glazed over. Authors need to stop doing this. Take your time and explain!

I never connected with any character in this story. I felt bad for Heather, sure, but I believe she did everything as a knee-jerk reaction without thinking of how it might end or who it might hurt. Her homelife is horrible, but why couldn’t she have called Social Services or the cops? Instead, when things hit an all time low, she chooses to live out of her car with her eleven year old sister. Are you kidding me? It didn’t seem very realistic to me. Also, the one major thing that almost caused me to stop reading this book was Heather working on the farm and tigers. That’s right… farm and tigers. I won’t give it all away but if you chose to read this book, you will know what I mean.

Dodge is the other main character and he was nearly just as bad as Heather. Dodge wanted the readers to believe that he was in the game to win, but he really was it in for revenge. That is all he thought about for years after his sister’s accident. Uh… why isn’t this addressed more? Why has no parent or adult noticed that he is a bit obsessed with his need for revenge?

One thing I did enjoy about this story was the setting.  I did like how Oliver was not afraid to tackle some tough topics, like poverty, neglect, drugs, and violence. These are sometimes much more frequent in small towns and it is not normally the kind of place teens would find good opportunity. Oliver’s writing style is still amazing, the ideas just seem to start going down weird rabbit holes and paths into the second half of the book. That doesn’t always make for a good story.

When I started this review, I made mention of the narrator. The voice for this book was not a good match at all. The voice sounded too animated, young, naive, and immature. To me, it was not the right fit. I don’t know how much say so the authors have in who narrates their books but I wish the book publishers would understand just how much a voice can make or break a reader. I nearly DNFd this one due to the voice alone. I had to keep asking myself it was the voice or the actual story that was causing me so much discomfort. In the end, it was the narrator.

Overall, I’m not upset that I read this book but I was expecting something completely different. I wanted suspence and action, not 60% backstory and crazy unbelievable story lines. I am still a fan of Oliver, I will just need to be more selective of which stories I read of hers. I’m not sure I can really recommend this to anyone but I will tell you this: read the reviews of those friends you trust and see what they have to say. I may again be the black sheep with this book but I do know that it did not work for me.

 

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Waiting on Wednesday: Kids of Appetite

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:

 

Kids of Appetite by David Arnold

 

Kids of Appetite

 

From Goodreads:

“The bestselling author of Mosquitoland brings us another batch of unforgettable characters in this tragicomedy about first love and devastating loss.

Victor Benucci and Madeline Falco have a story to tell.
It begins with the death of Vic’s father.
It ends with the murder of Mad’s uncle.
The Hackensack Police Department would very much like to hear it.
But in order to tell their story, Vic and Mad must focus on all the chapters in between.

This is a story about:

1. A coded mission to scatter ashes across New Jersey.
2. The momentous nature of the Palisades in winter.
3. One dormant submarine.
4. Two songs about flowers.
5. Being cool in the traditional sense.
6. Sunsets & ice cream & orchards & graveyards.
7. Simultaneous extreme opposites.
8. A narrow escape from a war-torn country.
9. A story collector.
10. How to listen to someone who does not talk.
11. Falling in love with a painting.
12. Falling in love with a song.
13. Falling in love.”

I don’t know about you, but I am super excited to read Arnold’s next book!

 

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Review: Hotel Ruby (*groan*)

Hotel Ruby

 

Guys. GUYS. I wanted to love this book, I really did but it just did not happen. I did not like Suzanne Young’s other book, The Program, so I was scared to start this book. But not one to not cross a book off of my TBR this year, I dove in and gave it a try. My ultimate feeling was less than lackluster. Disappointed is a better word.

From Goodreads:

“Stay tonight. Stay forever.

When Audrey Casella arrives for an unplanned stay at the grand Hotel Ruby, she’s grateful for the detour. Just months after their mother’s death, Audrey and her brother, Daniel, are on their way to live with their grandmother, dumped on the doorstep of a DNA-matched stranger because their father is drowning in his grief.

Audrey and her family only plan to stay the night, but life in the Ruby can be intoxicating, extending their stay as it provides endless distractions—including handsome guest Elias Lange, who sends Audrey’s pulse racing. However, the hotel proves to be as strange as it is beautiful. Nightly fancy affairs in the ballroom are invitation only, and Audrey seems to be the one guest who doesn’t have an invite. Instead, she joins the hotel staff on the rooftop, catching whispers about the hotel’s dark past.

The more Audrey learns about the new people she’s met, the more her curiosity grows. She’s torn in different directions—the pull of her past with its overwhelming loss, the promise of a future that holds little joy, and an in-between life in a place that is so much more than it seems…

Welcome to the Ruby.”

Have you heard of a little book/movie called The Shining? No? Not really? Oh, okay then. You should be able to read this book without comparing it to the book/movie. This is probably supposed to be the YA version of the Stephen King novel, only not as horrific.  If so, it felt a little lackluster to me. I was not drawn or attracted to any character in this story. The protagonist, Audrey, comes across rather annoying and melodramatic. I do appreciate that she loves her family so much she is willing to sacrifice for them but nothing else she does is memorable. She appears to be the only character that questions everything going on. How cliche.

The Hotel Ruby should have been the protagonist, not Audrey. The rest of the cast of characters felt like fillers. They did not do anything original or suspenseful. Don’t get me wrong, there was the necessary cast of people in this story: alpha girl that is so beautiful that she is untouchable; dreamy boy that all the girls want; rebellious girl that wants to let people know she hates following rules; typical bully guy that is a huge jerk. Nothing new about that group at all. Again, I felt nothing for any of these people.

I was curious how the romance would play out in the story since it is a hotel full of ghosts, after all. It started out sweet and innocently, but far too quickly Audrey and Eli are professing their undying (see what I did there??) love for each other. *gag* Calm down. No need to rush things so quickly! But the way these two pined for each other made me want to slap them myself. I was ready to douse both with some holy water and say a prayer for them in the hopes they would move on.

Here is one thing I will compliment Young on – she can world build. I really enjoyed the descriptions of the Hotel Ruby and the atmosphere of the place. The creepy vibe of the hotel was very well done. I was just waiting for the blood to rush from the elevators (oh wait, that’s related to the movie I mentioned earlier…)

Overall, I was underwhelmed by this story. Especially the end! Audrey gives up her chance at life to stay at the hotel with her (now) eternal love? *gross* She met the guy a few days before and already she wants to spend forever with him stuck in a hotel that they can never leave?! Give me a break. Insta loves bother me so much. Sorry, I’ll get off of my soapbox now. I actually finished this book of Young’s so that must say something. The story wasn’t excellent, but it was tolerable. It felt predictable and cliche to me.

 

 

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Review: The Program (The Program #1) – Did not jive with this one

The Program (The Program, #1)

 

I went back and forth for a long time before finally telling myself to try this book. I did not know I could be so disappointed with a story. I’m so upset with the lack of depth or development in the story The Program. My head hurts from rolling my eyes so much throughout this entire story. I know I am the black sheep with this book, like so many other books loved by others.

Quick recap: The premise of this book is that suicide is an epidemic among teenagers, claiming one in every three teens. If teens start to show signs of depression and suicide (which is considered one in the same), they are immediately removed from society and put into The Program, a governement program that will remove the depression causing memories. The teens come back from The Program brainwashed and a shell of their former self, but they will magically be better, stop being depressed, and stop wanting to kill themself.

I had so many issues with this story. So. Many. First, the story never once actually tells the reader exactly what causes the teens to develop depression and then the urge to kill themselves. I’m the type of reader that needs facts, I need to know why things are happening. This is a dystopian so why couldn’t Young give it more of a dystopian feel and tell us something. Maybe the vaccines from years ago were bad and lead to a chemical imbalance?  Or maybe there was a chemical released into the air that triggered this need to kill yourself in those with teens hormones? I don’t know, just something other than what we were given in this story – nothing. There are adults in this story that went through hell and back, yet they were not depressed. And the governement felt the best way to deal with suicidal teens is brainwahsing instead of proper treatment? No meds, no therapy, nothing? Help me understand exactly why the teenagers are targeted in the story and braingwashing is the cure because I am still clueless.

Second, Sloane. Holy batshit dramatic, Batman. I hated Sloane so much. I don’t hate a lot of things in life but Sloane actually made my list. She was a pathetic, whiny, bitchy, and weak protagonist. Sloane’s character reminded me exactly of the horrific character, Bella from Twilight. Sloane was so badly written and overly dramatic that I wanted to give her a bottle of Quick Death myself. Sloane decided to give up on everything in her life when her boyfriend, James, returned from The Program, and didn’t recognize her. Give. Me. A. Break. Put on your big girl panties and get over it. Instead, Sloane chooses to whine, cry, and try to kill herself. Honey, no boy is ever worth that.

Third, this story couldn’t stop being awful with suicide as an epidemic in teens and a weak protagonist… it had to continue by stating that you could “catch” depression. That’s right! You could catch it like a cold or the flu. If you knew someone that became depressed, then you were “at risk” for catching the same feelings. Being an adult that has been suffering with depression for a long time, I find this theory appauling. I am actually insulted by this. Yes, I know this book is a work of fiction and teen readers will be able to tell the difference between fiction and reality, but to have such a serious mental illness portrayed in such a way makes it seem like those with depression have a form of cooties that can be passed around. It is maddening to me.

Fourth, nothing really happened in this story. Nothing. Here is what took place in-between suicides/kids being taken away to The Program: lots of making out, incredibly creepy adults that would be arrested in today’s society, a lot of teens having sex, stupid decisions, a useless love triangle, a serious lack of concerned adults, and more sex. That’s it. It was very clear that adults did not care how “active” the teenagers were. I guess as long as they were not showing signs of depression then everything was peachy.

I’m sure you’ve picked up that I did not jive with this book. I wish I had DNFd it early on but I had to be stubborn and keep going. I really hoped it would redeem itself at some point but that clearly did not happen. If you read and loved this book, then all the best to you. I just know that this book was not for me and I will not be continuing on with the series.

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Books Left Unread #35

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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 The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

 

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer, #1)

 

I have heard mixed reviews on this book but I do know a majority of readers have at least finished the book. Have you read it? If so, what did you think of it? Should I read this soon?

 

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