Review: Letters to the Lost

Letters to the Lost

 

I was not prepared for this book. I thought I was but it caught me off guard. It surprised me and shattered my heart.

Short recap: Juliet writes letters to her mother that recently passed away. Declan tends the cemetery where Juliet’s mother is buried. He discovers the letters and starts writing back – but neither knows who the other is. The most beautiful friendship blossoms from writing to a mysterious person and they turn out to be exactly what the other person needs.

What stood out to me the most about this novel were the characters. They were both terribly flawed and that made them feel more real. They were both grieving for someone they lost and they were handling it differently. One acted out in rebellious ways while the other chose to internalize the pain. Who knew all it would take to help someone deal with the pain was a mysterious friend that shared the same pain and someone to talk to. Now it is no surprise that both characters hated each other in real life but connected over anonymous letters and emails. I did not like Juliet in the beginning because she came across like a spoiled snot. She was rude to nearly everyone she felt was beneath her. That made it very difficult to like her. Thankfully that was short lived after she and Declan started talking. Declan had a rather rough home life so I immediately felt bad for him. How could I not?! His step-dad was a massive POS that needed to go away. Declan was trying to deal with his emotions the best way he could and was getting no help from his family. All of these things and more made these character so much more relatable.

I know some people would say that a story where two people met through a random letter in a cemetery is farfetched, but I believe it could happen. Why not? People have met from wrong dialed phone calls and incorrect email addresses. Anything is possible nowadays and I like the idea of believing something good coming from grief. Kemmerer’s writing style was just beautiful and the words flowed off of the pages. Everything about the plot worked. The pacing was on point along with the ending of the story. It was not rushed or unresolved. It just… worked.  My heartstrings were tugged and my emotions were overflowing by the time I finished this one. Man, I’m even tearing up now as I write this review.

I was hesitant to start this as I had not had a good run of luck with books recently. They all let me down within the first 50 pages so I went in with low expectations. Boy was I wrong! I felt all of the feels with this. If it hasn’t already been placed on your TBR, please add it now. It is a powerful story that is more than a YA contemporary read. It deals with heavy, serious topics but does so in a way that feels organic. Please, give this book a chance. Your heart will thank you.

 

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DNF Review: I See London, I See France

I See London, I See France (I See London, I See France, #1)

 

Starting a DNF review is never easy. I want to express my thoughts, concerns, feelings, and disappointments in the most constructive way possible. Sadly, the first things that go through my mind are never pleasant when I have to quit a book. What reader quits a book and says, “I cannot wait to write this positive review on why I stopped this awful story!” Nobody ever, that’s who says that. This is how I felt right before I made my decision to DNF:

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Short recap: Sydney embarks on the trip of a lifetime to Europe with her best friend, Leela.

Whew. That was direct and to the point, right? That is actually the basis of the entire story. I won’t say, “OMG! Hilarity ensues and crazy adventures are had!” because that isn’t true and that isn’t how I read this story. The number one thing that made me quit this story at 30% was the characters. There is no gentle way to say that – the characters made me strongly dislike this story. The protagonist, Syndey, needed to grow a backbone like the entire story needed to be revamped. She is a 19 year old girl who is put in the worst family situation because her mother refuses to leave the house and Sydney enables her. She gives in to her demands and gives up her life to take care of her. I’m not say she shouldn’t take care of her mother, I’m saying she needed to ask for help. Sydney’s best friend, Leela, was an all around awful friend. I think in my GR short review I called her a bitch. I don’t feel that is a strong enough word but it will work. Leela basically guilted Sydney into going on the 4.5 week trip. She had zero care for what Sydney had going on in her life, she just wanted her to “loosen up and have fun”. Sweetheart, the girl is living paycheck to paycheck and is the soul support for her family. You know nothing about that because your parents pay for everything. GROW UP. Leela actually gets worse as the story continues. She is only concerned about hooking up with her ex-boyfriend and following him around Europe. (That’s called stalking, btw. There are laws against it.) It felt like Leela’s character took over the story with her vapid comments on needing to own every shade of lipstick and taking a billion selfies. She didn’t care about Sydney or what she wanted to do during the trip. It had to be all about Leela. What a bitch. I wish someone had just dropped a house on her and been done with it.

It was difficult to figure out what the overall plot was supposed to be about because it focused on Leela and her needs/wants. I knew Sydney was supposed to be having a memorable trip but it was hard to see that with the way she kept focusing on what was going on back home at the same time she was caving in to whatever temper tantrum Leela was having. I just wish the author would have spent more time discussing the mental illness Sydney’s mom suffered from – severe agoraphobia. That never happened and it felt like an afterthought for the story to be classified as dealing with mental illness. I know that sound harsh but it was brushed over when it was mentioned. Also, it felt like Sydney simply used her mom’s condition as a scapegoat to get out of whatever situation she wanted. What a letdown.

I know there are a ton of positive reviews and feedback for this story and for that I say yay! I wish I could have read it with your eyes and enjoyed it like you did. Sadly, I just did not read it that way. I did not enjoy this and I opted to listen to music instead of finishing this story. I am now upset at myself that I had this book on hold with my library for so long because I had high hopes for it. What a disappointment it turned out to be. I’m also floored to hear there is a sequel to this book. Bet your last dollar I won’t be picking that up.

 

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Review: Gem & Dixie

Gem & Dixie

 

Holy crow my heart hurt with this story. I knew it was about sisters but this felt deeper and more powerful than just that.

Short recap: Gem and her sister, Dixie, have not had an easy life. Their father left when they were young and their mother all but gave up on them. Gem does the best she can to take care of herself and Dixie, even if that means doing what is not right.

From the very start, I was cheering for Gem. This girl had been dealt a crappy hand by the universe. Her mother is practically worthless and blames Gem for everything. Dixie, the youngest daughter, could do no wrong. Gem is the one fighting, working, and sacrificing to keep the family together. Their dad left years ago for the next million dollar idea and easy girlfriend, leaving behind the family he shattered. How can I not have my heart tore to shreds after a premise like that? Gem was such a strong character and I adored that. She pulled herself up by her bootstraps and did what needed to be done, even when she didn’t want to. She felt responsible for keeping what was left of her family together. She was constantly met with a disapproving mother and sister that thought she was overreacting. As for Dixie, I did not like her. She walked around oblivious to their reality. Dixie always thought her dad would come home and everything would go back to the way things were. She was living in a fantasy and it wore on my nerves. I wanted to slap her so hard. She was a bitch to Gem every chance she got and always took her mother’s side. She even bought her mother pain pills from kids at school so she could get high. What daughter does that?! The girl had a subscription to her issues. Their parents (I use this term loosely) were just as bad. Mom was in denial and blamed Gem for everything, whereas Dixie could do no wrong. Their dad comes back but only talks to Dixie because he is a con artist and knows how to pick his victims.

The plot of the story was a pretty good one. I was intrigued by the idea of their deadbeat dad leaving a backpack with thousands of dollars in cash under Gem’s bed. Gem wants to take the money and run but Dixie, being the brain dead twat that she is, wants to tell her parents. Are you mental, Dixie?! What a stupid idea. They should have just made a run while they could. Instead, Gem treats Dixie to a night away from home. They go to a hotel, order room service, watch movies, and just have fun. The entire time Dixie has a massive guilt complex and keeps wanting to “check in” to let her mom know she’s okay. Traitor. Idiot. Judas. She was the weakest point of this entire story. Everything she did went against what Gem was doing. It felt like she was pulling the entire story down with her, “*sobs* I just want things to go back to the way they used to be! *sobs*” bullshit. That got old fast. I kept wanting and hoping that Gem would drop her sister like a bad habit and move on. Did she? … I won’t ruin the surprise for you. But when you read this, or if you have already, come back and talk to me. We’ll trade frustrations. The ending did feel a bit rushed. The last 15% of the book was a whirlwind as Zarr tried to wrap everything up. I’m not the biggest fan of when authors do this.

I will leave you with this: this was a heartbreaking story and a hard reality for the way some families live. I believe this story needed to be told. There was a harsh realism to the struggle of kids today trying to find money for one meal a day thanks to less than interested parent(s). The reality that sometimes one meal a day is all kids will get. Or that they are forced to grow up far too quickly in order to save themselves. This story will kick you right in the feels so don’t go into this thinking it is a feel good story. I do hope people will give this a chance because it is a heck of a powerful reality check.

 

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Review: Follow Me Back

 

Follow Me Back (Follow Me Back, #1)

 

Me while reading this:

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Short recap: Eric Thorn, music superstar, only wants to push back on his fans via Twitter. He does not understand why his fans are so obsessed with him and wants to try to dispel some of the admiration. In the midst of doing so, he befriends a lonely fan named Tessa. They strike up the most unlikely friendship and their lives will never be the same.

Awww… sounds romantic in a You’ve Got Mail sort of way, right? Well, it is not all sunshine and rainbows. This story has some super dark, creepy, terrifying, and WTF?! moments. All of which work brilliantly together for one hell of a story that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Even the ending will have you screaming (I know it had me yelling!) The main majority of the story really is endearing and will tug at your heartstrings. Two random people find each other on Twitter and start a friendship. Okay, not entirely true. Tessa started the #EricThornObsessed hashtag, which was linked to her Eric Thorn fanfic. That linked her to many other media outlets and so on. She has a huge following on social media because she is just that good with her writing. Eric Thorn just wants to be left alone and live a somewhat normal life, ignoring the fact he is a music superstar. Eric starts a fake account to trash himself but befriends Tessa. BOOM. Unlikely friendship. 🙂

The characters felt so sincere and unique that I couldn’t help but adore them. Tessa is such a relatable protagonist that I wanted to be friends with her in real life. She was kind, intelligent, and genuine. Tessa is suffering from agoraphobia but is receiving treatment. She copes with being inside by writing fanfiction and being on social media. I had not read a story with a character suffering from agoraphobia before so this was even more interesting. But that’s not Tessa’s only issue, she is hiding something terrible that happened to her months before. She won’t talk about it and it wasn’t revealed until the end what was going on. Holy creepers, Batman! Being able to read from her POV made the story that much more intense. When we are finally told what happened to her, it put a new spin on the story and added depth.

Eric’s POV was just as amazing to read. Being able to read his thoughts, emotions, and Tweets about stardom was pretty awesome. He just wants to share the ugly side of the music industry with someone. He wants someone to know that not everything in his life is puppy dogs, unicorns, and ice cream cones. There is a dark and nasty side to his fame., like crazy stalker fans and back stabbing music labels.

The main thing that had me biting my nails were the plot twists! Just when I thought I had it all figured out, Geiger would throw another curve ball and knock  me for a loop. Well done, Geiger! Well done. This is an action packed emotional roller coaster. I promise that once you start this book, you will have to finish in one sitting. There is no way you will be able to only read a little at a time (unless life gets in the way, then you are given a pass). I will warn you again – the ending had me yelling. I was not expecting that to happen! AAAAAAAAAHHHHHH! In one short chapter the entire story will be flipped upside down and you will lose it. Come back and talk to me about ending. I’ll be here waiting to hear from you.

I need the second book yesterday. It burns me up to know I have to wait an entire year to find out what happens but that is the sign of a damn good author. Geiger has a forever reader right here because damn. This book got me in a way that hasn’t happened before. Please, add this to your TBR if you have not already. Borrow from a friend or library because you need this book. Seriously. Go read it and come back to let me know your thoughts. I want to hear them.

 

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Review: Riders (Riders #1)

Riders (Riders, #1)

 

I blame myself for having high hopes for this story. It’s about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse! How can this go wrong? Oh, it went wrong. It went all kinds of wrong.

I am not even going to do a recap of this because I know what it was supposed to be about, but that’s not what was written.

There is not much in way of a plot so don’t hold your breathe that it will make an appearance. I spent a good majority of the story waiting for something to happen. It never did. It opens with Gideon being held in a room. He ends up spilling his guts on how Daryn (a girl known as a “Seeker”) found him and told him he was War, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Yep. The story is told in reverse. GASP. It doesn’t help anything, I promise you. The story gets weird and confusing after that because it is never revealed why the Horseman have been summoned. Here is the big thing to remember because it is repeated a million times: although we don’t know jack about anything happening with these characters, we are told that it’s absolutely definitely important to go hunt down the other three horsemen. WHO CARES WHY, RIGHT?! No reader wants to know why something is happening. PFFT. O_O In a nutshell, that is the entire book. BOOM. Daryn finds these four specific teenagers that are all over the world, drops a bombshell on them and tells them not to question just do…. AND THEY OBEY. Sorry, but if some random girl came up to me on the street and told me I was War, one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, I would have some serious hesitations, doubts, questions, and disbeliefs. That’s just me though.

Don’t expect any details to be given on the characters. None. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Instead of being given any backstory or characterization, we are given guys trying to out-guy the others. They spend most of their time doing manly posturing, having a lot of physical fights, and – brace yourself – bragging about who has the best horse. NO LIE. This is where I roll my eyes and groan. Talk about dumbing down characters to make them stereotypical. They had no personalities and I found myself struggling to care what happened to them. Alright, let’s be real, I didn’t care what happened to them. How can I when I know nothing about them.

I went into this with expectations. If there is a story about the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, I expect it to blow me away. This left me with far more questions than answers. I never found out why any of it was happening. What was the point of this story? I didn’t care for Gideon’s narration, I couldn’t stand the instalove that took place between Daryn & Gideon, I couldn’t stand the lack of development (or explanation) for the characters, or the story being told in reverse. None of it worked.

 

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Review: The Savage Dawn (The Girl at Midnight #3)

The Savage Dawn (The Girl at Midnight, #3)

 

I can now happily mark this series off of my TBR list. I feel proud of myself as this final book was pushing 500 pages. I still do not believe it should have been that long of a book and I’ll get into that. Was it good? MEH. I’m underwhelmed when it came to the final book. It went on much, much longer than it should have.

Short recap: Echo, the Firebird, is in a race to save the world from Tanith, who is the vessel for the shadows.

My overall feelings towards this entire series are MEH at best. The first book blew me away, while the second was alright, and the third was struggling. I kept feeling more and more like I was reading another version of Daughter of Smoke and Bone. That’s awful, I know but the similarities between the two are just so strong. That being said, the story felt as if it wasn’t sure what it wanted to be. It didn’t feel very flushed out or developed. There are chapters and chapters where nothing happens. Not a thing. There are pointless conversations about food or long-winded descriptions of buildings. Two things should have been put in place of these gaps: 1) Nothing. Delete those suckers and move on. 2) Character development! *GASP* Who would have thought?! There are times that fighting or training stops so the characters can figure out their feelings for each other. WHAT? What is happening?! Good question! Why stuff 500 pages into this book with pointless similes and love triangles if you aren’t going to have these characters do anything worthwhile?! Oh yes, multiple love triangles. They are all annoying and will cause you to groan.

Here is the other very large thing that annoyed the snot out of me: this book is one giant simile. I would bet my book collection that if you took those pointless similes out, the final page number would shrink to almost half of its current size. Bet. Grey had to have spent a considerable amount of time thinking of phrases to use to compare everything to something else. “He jumped back from a ghost, like he was being scared at a Halloween haunted house.” Insert eye roll here. Give me a break. Pointless, unnecessary, and it certainly does not add anything to the story.

Let’s talk about the severe lack of character development. There was none. BOOM. These characters were the exact same as they were in book 2, which was disappointing. Echo has been through so much yet she was still the same petulant child from the start of the series. OH WAIT. MY BAD. There’s now a LOVE TRIANGLE that she’s in the middle of! Who does she love? Answer: Who cares. It’s a watered down romance at best. No gushy feels, no swoony moments, nothing to write home about. Remember the now bad person Tanith? Well, she is left alone a good majority of this story. She’s doing her thing with no effort on Echo or her team to find her. Jasper and Dorian kiss a couple of times, are angsty about it, then kiss some more. I have nothing to say about the rest of the characters because nothing happens. We do not ever find out what happens to the other characters – Ivy, Helios, the Ala, or anyone else – because they aren’t talked about. Don’t expect a resolution because it won’t happen.

I’m sure there is no need for me to talk about the (lack of a) plot within this story. The action scenes are far too few so it draws the story out to the point of near boredom. I wanted to DNF several times but forced myself to finish. Why? Just so I could say I did finish. I almost regret this. There are so many topics that were introduced, talked about a couple of times, then never mentioned again. It all made me confused and angry. Why give me so much information that had a lot of potential, only to not do anything with it? Was it all just for page fillers? I hope not but that is how it came across. The ending was practically a joke. It was completely predictable and very unfulfilling. I waited a long time to finish this series after such a strong start and I feel so let down. I will probably continue to read Grey’s books but I will be very hesitant. If you enjoyed this, I am happy for you and wish I could share in your excitement. This series proved that not every book is for every reader.

 

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Review: The Detour

The Detour

 

I went into this book expecting some sort of thriller/mystery/horror book. Is that what I go? NOT EVEN CLOSE. This was a lame attempt at a thriller. It read like a rough draft idea, not a finished novel. The only saving grace is that the story is short.

(Very) short recap: Olivia (or Livvy) is a very successful teenager – she is a NYT published author and her readers love her. She is in an accident on a way to a writing retreat when her life changes forever after an accident.

Olivia’s character is the main reason I could not stand this story. She was the most stuck up, self absorbed, entitled, bitchy character I have read in a long time. I kept wishing bad things happened to her just because of how awful she was to people. Even after her backstory came out, I still felt nothing for her. So what, she was picked on in school – who isn’t? That does not mean she needed to grow up and become successful only to rub it in the faces of the people she went to school with. Tell you what, Livvy, here is a solid plan for you: Go to Home Depot, buy some wood, build a bridge, and get over it. Let that shit go. There is no reason to let those trolls live rent free in your mind. What happened to her started in Kindergarten and she never let it go. Who hangs on to stuff (or even remember stuff) that happened to them in kindergarten? Sadly Livvy (that’s such a stupid nickname that she gave herself, tbh) never let it go. She made it her life’s goal to prove to her school friends that she was better than they would ever be. Uh… okay, shallow and bitch much? It is no surprise that I didn’t like her character and I kept rooting for something or someone to take her out. She was just nasty inside and out.

The rest of the characters were just as bad if not worse. They all spoke in riddles and half-truths so how was I supposed to care about anything that happened to anyone? It was not suspenseful or even thrilling, it was downright predictable. It was completely obvious who kidnapped her and who her boyfriend was. C’mon Bodeen, at least try to confuse the reader a little bit. I thought for a story to work there had to be at least one likeable character? This did not have one. I disliked Livvy’s book agent (he was a snake), her parents (they kept secrets), and the people at the house where Livvy was kept. Wait.. maybe the cop was the good guy. He had such a small role that it was hard to dislike him but he was cheating on his wife so I guess I can’t like him too much. SEE! No likeable characters.

The plot of this story was weak at best. Think of Stephen King’s Misery and you know this story. This story focuses on plagiarism. Yep, you read that correctly. Nothing original with this one as several times in the story Livvy kept saying how it felt like she was living something out of a novel. Well, go figure. You’re in a YA version of Misery. Funny how it would appear to be the same…

If I have said this once, I have said it a hundred times: Don’t get lazy with the descriptions of items within the stories. Don’t drop name brands and expect every reader to know what you’re talking about. AUTHORS! I’m speaking directly to you. Don’t just tell me over and over that the MC drives a red Audi convertible car. DESCRIBE IT TO ME. What if I don’t know cars? What if I don’t know what an Audi convertible looks like? HELP ME. I need imagery not sloppy literal descriptions. This story was packed full of crap like this. If I had to hear the MC moan and whine about her $300 Italian leather flats one more time I was going to lock her in a room of bees myself. This was supposed to be a thriller, not an add for an upscale department store.

I honestly felt like I wasted my time reading this and I don’t say that about many books. I have DNFd my fair share and not liked more, but never actually said, “I want my hours back”. This book makes me want those hours of my life back. What a waste. Please, don’t go into this expecting thrilling and creepy because you won’t find it. If you did like it, I wish we could trade places because I didn’t like one minute of this story.

 

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