Book Review: Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz

22456945Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Genre:Contemporary and Young Adult

Release Date: March 3, 2015

Pages: 304 (Hardcover)

good good

Etta is tired of dealing with all of the labels and categories that seem so important to everyone else in her small Nebraska hometown.

Everywhere she turns, someone feels she’s too fringe for the fringe. Not gay enough for the Dykes, her ex-clique, thanks to a recent relationship with a boy; not tiny and white enough for ballet, her first passion; and not sick enough to look anorexic (partially thanks to recovery). Etta doesn’t fit anywhere— until she meets Bianca, the straight, white, Christian, and seriously sick girl in Etta’s therapy group. Both girls are auditioning for Brentwood, a prestigious New York theater academy that is so not Nebraska. Bianca seems like Etta’s salvation, but how can Etta be saved by a girl who needs saving herself?

opinion

I’m in love with Hannah Moskowitz. I love her writing, her characters, the way that I feel like I personally know her solely from reading her books. I feel like she puts a lot of herself into her stories. Not Otherwise Specified isn’t… a bad book by any means. But it is a what the fuck just happened ? kind of book. From the setting to the dialogue, all the way to the fucking cover I just…

I don’t think I ever encountered a book by an author I loved that has had info-dumping, but Not Otherwise Specified has it to the max. I’m not even kidding. Sure there are a lot of witty comments that make some of the several info-dumping parts bearable but just barely. Also, the dialogue is really bad. It’s all cookie cutter edge with ‘he says’ or ‘I say’ ‘she says’. They say a lot of shit, I get it. Now make it interesting by adding actions. And I don’t know if it’s just me but all anyone talks about are eating disorders and theater and a dash of the LGBT community thus making the characters not as fleshed out as I would have liked. I got bored quite easily reading this one because I was waiting for something out of the ordinary. It didn’t really come. Anyway, the relationship between Bianca and Etta is so crazy and unbelievable that I had a hard time taking to it. Bianca barely talks and somehow, she’s clinging to Etta for dear life after like a month? Of course these scenarios happen, but I’m sorry there’s just so much planning that could have made it seem realistic. Bianca has too much to lose (I think) to just allow Etta into her life instantly.

Still, this is Hannah Moskowitz and after a while, the random-all-over-the-place-but-not-really-I-don’t-know writing didn’t stand out so much to me. In addition to this, Etta is such a handful, not only for the secondary characters but for readers as well but I liked her for the most part. She’s loud, confused, happy, and pissed off. I liked her because of how strong she is and how strong she makes the other characters. The struggle that goes on in the story is so true.  She tries so hard to work on herself, so hard to get her old friends back, to get healthy, to get in really that I felt for her. It’s so hard to really ‘fit’ in somewhere and I felt as if Etta is the memory for all of us, because I’m sure that everyone has felt like a sore thumb at least once in their life.

Let me say it again: I love Hannah Moskowitz and I believe that this love for her has made me second guess my thoughts on the book. I really want to believe that I got a faulty copy because it just didn’t work for me. Especially the cover, just looking at it makes me mad not because of the person on it, but just the fact that the publisher probably paid a lot of money for something that looks thrown together in ten minutes. It’s poorly photoshoped, poorly lighted, and just all around, poor colour choices. I know for a fact, they could have done better. But anyway, yes, I think I would still recommend it solely because it is Hannah Moskowitz and she’s awesome but Not Otherwise Specified is not that great. It’s a solid, ‘meh’ book with ‘meh’ characters and a ‘meh’ setting.

3 Mediocre Clouds

3 Mediocre Clouds

Book Review: Bleed Like Me by Christa Desir

19532890Bleed Like Me by Christa Desir

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Genre: Contemporary and Young Adult

Release Date: October 7, 2014

Pages: 278 (Hardcover)

good good

Seventeen-year-old Amelia Gannon (just “Gannon” to her friends) is invisible to almost everyone in her life. To her parents, to her teachers-even her best friend, who is more interested in bumming cigarettes than bonding. Some days the only way Gannon knows she is real is by carving bloody lines into the flesh of her stomach.

Then she meets Michael Brooks, and for the first time, she feels like she is being seen to the core of her being. Obnoxious, controlling, damaged, and addictive, he inserts himself into her life until all her scars are exposed. Each moment together is a passionate, painful relief.

But as the relationship deepens, Gannon starts to feel as if she’s standing at the foot of a dam about to burst. She’s given up everything and everyone in her life for him, but somehow nothing is enough for Brooks-until he poses the ultimate test.

First of all, I would like to thank the publisher, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers for giving me an ARC of this book to review. Thank you so much! Really appreciate it! All right, now for my review.

opinion

I believe that Desir can write. However, I’m not sure if she can write a young adult novel that’s more than ‘okay’. The relationships are great, as well as the tension and the ending however, the writing and the middle, it’s all bad. And although I had a few problems with this novel, I didn’t find it to be horrible, I still liked it for the most part.

The problem with the writing style is it’s all telling rather than showing and makes the story dull because of it. The story itself is pretty typical: the bad boy and the broken girl with the characters feeling very off. I couldn’t connect with either of them or the way Gannon feels invisible towards almost everyone because it felt false to me instead of a genuine kind of thing.

Yet somehow, it seemed like Gannon actually had a brain and I liked that about her. The tension and build-up between Gannon and Brooks is all right, not the best because it’s done in a way that almost like a movie rather than real life. Still, I loved the way Desir builds up Brooks controlling personality. At first using little hints and then letting it all loose once readers got deep into the book. I loved how intense and scary it got at times and how dependant they get on each other. The ending is realistic, and I liked that. I liked how I could see and understand Gannon however, it was too late in the book to care enough.

Bleed Like Me isn’t a book that I would recommend to someone looking for a straightforward story because this book has a lot of highs and lows and boring parts. However, it is one that I would recommend for people who don’t mind lacking characters and waiting for the good parts because Bleed Like Me does have a few of them.

2.5 Mess Up Clouds

2.5 Mess Up Clouds

Book Review: Servants of the Storm by Delilah S. Dawson

18632219Servants of the Storm by Delilah S. Dawson

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Genre: Fantasy and Young Adult

Release Date: August 5, 2014

Pages: 384 (Hardcover)

good good

A year ago Hurricane Josephine swept through Savannah, Georgia, leaving behind nothing but death and destruction — and taking the life of Dovey’s best friend, Carly. Since that night, Dovey has been in a medicated haze, numb to everything around her.

But recently she’s started to believe she’s seeing things that can’t be real … including Carly at their favorite cafe. Determined to learn the truth, Dovey stops taking her pills. And the world that opens up to her is unlike anything she could have imagined.

As Dovey slips deeper into the shadowy corners of Savannah — where the dark and horrifying secrets lurk — she learns that the storm that destroyed her city and stole her friend was much more than a force of nature. And now the sinister beings truly responsible are out to finish what they started.

Dovey’s running out of time and torn between two paths. Will she trust her childhood friend Baker, who can’t see the threatening darkness but promises to never give up on Dovey and Carly? Or will she plot with the sexy stranger, Isaac, who offers all the answers — for a price? Soon Dovey realizes that the danger closing in has little to do with Carly … and everything to do with Dovey herself.

First of all, I would like to thank the publisher, Simon Pulse for giving me an ARC of this book to review. Thank you so much! Really appreciate it! All right, now for my review.

opinion

When I see reviews for Servants of the Storm that use these words or ones like them, I always tilt my head and mentally say,

Because Servants of the Storm is a lot of things but amazing isn’t one them. Instead I would it’s more…confusing and lacking than anything. I went in excited but finished it with, well actually, I liked the ending but for the most part, I was half asleep.

After the initial few chapters, I was expecting the excitement to keep going and for a little bit, it did with Dovey seeing things and everyone telling her to ‘just take the pills’. I got really excited. I was expecting some classic southern mystery with curses and spell and dolls and creepy ass people! It quickly became clear that my wishes would not come true once the love interest goes all gooey-eyed for Dovey. Yes, believe what you will, but there is insta-love in this book. The guy owes her nothing, yet helps her even though he knows he’ll be in major shit and can’t stop staring into her eyes. Actually they can’t stop staring into each others eyes because it’s ‘just too hard to look away’. With that being said, I was not a fan of the romance because it’s really useless. It’s all staring into eyes and Dovey saying every fucking page, “Isaac’s hot” or “He’s so gorgeous I can’t look away,” or even fucking, “He’s so mysterious with the way he looks.” Every. Fucking. Page. Moreover, the characters are just plain bad. They’re forgettable and aside from their annoying phrases, I couldn’t relate to anything about them and found myself indifferent to their fates. Especially Isaac. When first introduced to him, he seems legit, mysterious and odd yet he loses all coolness once he jumps at the chance to help Dovey and tells her everything as well as helps her. The more he talked, the more I wanted to slap him. Another problem I had is with the relationship between Carly and Dovey because it felt contrived and fake to me. There’s hardly any examples or flashbacks to the good times, only small remarks about Carly’s sassy attitude and that’s it. I had a hard time believing that they were ever close. Furthermore, once Dovey is told about this mystical world of demons, she takes it all in stride and doesn’t seem to care. At all. I know that a lot of people believe in this stuff but the fact that Dovey never believed in those things in the first place but doesn’t seem to care or even react or really question all of it annoyed me and I just couldn’t believe it.

Nonetheless, I did like the first few chapters. Settling into this book and its atmosphere, I was expecting something that will leave me with goosebumps and if Dawson kept up the same way with the first few chapters, I think she would have reached there. I also, shockingly, liked the ending even though it’s not the most original, I did like it because it really did fit with the story. But it also fit in Insidious soooo…..

Servants of the Storm starts off pretty great. It’s intense and creepy but quickly falls on its ass and ends up not getting back on its feet. The characters are typical as well as the stupid romance that is completely useless and forced. I was either bored and angry reading most of it. The unrealistic approach to everything left me far beyond disappointed and I don’t recommend this book to anyone unless you’re in the mood for something that’s a bit southern black magic but the tiniest bit of it and don’t mind crappy, pointless things.

1.5 Odd Clouds

1.5 Odd Clouds

Book Review: Through to You by Lauren Barnholdt

18629799Through to You by Lauren Barnholdt

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Genre: contemporary and Young Adult

Release Date: July 8, 2014

Pages: 256 (Hardcover)

good good

It starts with a scribbled note in class: I like your sparkle. Harper had casually threaded a piece of blue and silver tinsel through her ponytail in honor of school spirit day. And that carefree, corny gesture is what grabs Penn Mattingly’s eye. Penn—resident heartbreaker of the senior class. Reliably unreliable. Trouble with a capital “T.” And okay, smolderingly sexy.

Harper’s surprised by Penn’s attention—and so is Penn. The last thing he needs is a girlfriend. Or even a friend-with-benefits. The note is not supposed to lead to anything.

Oh, but it does. They hang out. They have fun. They talk. They make out. And after a while, it seems like they just click. But Penn and Harper have very different ideas about what relationships look like, in no small part because of their very different family backgrounds. Of course they could talk about these differences—if Penn knew how to talk about feelings.

Harper and Penn understand their attraction is illogical, yet something keeps pulling them together. It’s like a crazy roller coaster—exhilarating, terrifying, and amazing all at once. And neither knows how to stop the ride…

First of all, I would like to thank the publisher, Simon Pulse for giving me an ARC of this book to review. Thank you so much! Really appreciate it! All right, now for my review.

opinion

Quite frankly, I’ve never been a fan of Lauren Barnholdt nor have I ever really enjoyed her books and I’ve read like three or four of them. Her books lack that realistic, raw feel that a teenager has during a relationship and in a romance. Her books are mostly fluff and toned down which infuriates me to no end. I’m not a fucking child. The audience for her stories are not fucking toddlers so I don’t understand why she makes everything fluffy and light and boring. Through to You is the exact same as all of the others with the same problems. Barnholdt tries to make this one a bit more edgier with one of the main character’s being very broken. Sadly, it doesn’t work in her favour and by the end of the story, I felt disappointed and tired.

This story tries too hard, it really does. The story is typical-the good girl with a million phobias of anything fun falls for the bad boy who’s biggest fan is trouble. It’s annoying because the story is fluff, and the characters are underdeveloped.  The main characters have rough problems, sure, but neither of them feel realistic and are mentioned off-handedly during the book which makes this book try to be important and moving. It’s not. Furthermore, Harper is flat-out annoying, I had a very hard time caring for her and her problems. Adding on to that, the relationship between these two is odd. I found it hard to believe that after never feeling anything for a girl, (that wasn’t sexual) Penn is flipping out over Harper and when they break up three weeks later, he’s still obsessing over her and her every move in their shared class. Plus, there’s close to nothing about Harper that seemed it would make Penn care about her even weeks after they break up. I’m sorry, but no.

Well, at least the cover matches the characters more. Also, the writing is all right in the middle of the story, the descriptions are mediocre but didn’t bother me. I wasn’t furious while reading this one like I was while reading The Thing About the Truth.

Through to You isn’t as bad as some of Barnholdt’s other novels, believe it or not. The beginning is confusing and dual perspectives isn’t properly done, but I didn’t feel overly angry while reading this one. However, I still wouldn’t recommend it to anyone since the characters are not developed, the romance is forced and close to pointless, and the whole story is extremely predictable that I’m getting sleepy just thinking about it.

One Lonely Cloud

One Lonely Cloud

Book Review: Blazed by Jason Myers

18668474Blazed by Jason Myers

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Genre: contemporary and Young Adult

Release Date: June 17, 2014

Pages: 528 (Hardcover)

good good

 Jamie uncovers life-changing secrets from his past when he’s sent to live with a father he’s never met in this gritty novel from the author of Exit Here. and Run the Game.

Jamie is invincible when he is high. His anger, his isolation, his mom’s manic mood swings—nothing can shatter his glass castle. But one brutal night upends everything, leaving his mom broken and Jamie betrayed.

Sent to live with a father he’s never met, Jamie is determined to hate the man he blames for his mother’s ruin. And he blocks out the pain with drugs, fierce music, and sweet, sweet Dominique. Except the more time Jamie spends at his dad’s, the more his mother’s scathing stories start to unravel. Who is he supposed to believe? And how much will he have to sacrifice to uncover the truth?

First of all, I would like to thank the publisher, Simon Pulse for giving me an ARC of this book to review. Thank you so much! Really appreciate it! All right, now for my review.

opinion

If you take away the shitty parents, all of the drugs, the romance and made the protagonist older, have siblings, less talented, and changed the setting, Blazed would pretty much be The Catcher in the Rye. Jaime is told to be this insanely smart and talented person and while he is mostly talented, I don’t think he’s that intelligent. If anything, he’s judgemental and a complete douchebag despite his circumstances. He calls everyone who doesn’t listen to indie bands and alternative rock, ‘phonies’ and ‘fakes’ (sound familiar?). He discriminates against women, saying that ‘we’re all just the same. stupid bitches that are out to destroy everything. Cold hearted whores, all of them’ (I’m paraphrasing but he says something along the lines.”   I’m sorry, but I can’t believe this book. It’s annoying in almost every way and half the book is completely useless.

First off, the writing style is choppy and confusing with nothing properly explained. There aren’t enough flashbacks to make the relationship between Jaime and his mother seem realistic and caring. Another problem are the characters and how lacking they are. Sure, they have some cool traits sometimes but for the most part, they’re underdeveloped and forgettable with close to no redeeming qualities just like the book itself. Everyone listens only to rap and indie bands, do a shit ton of drugs and then complain about how phony the world is. What’s even worse is how Myers sets the world up. San Francisco is a huge place, it’s not possible for every character to know and love every single band and every single book that’s mentioned here. It’s just not.

There is very little that I liked about this book. I spent so much time reading it, I had to find something that made up for the many days that I had lost. The chapters are very short. I also liked the bands that are mentioned, I have found a few new bands that I like. That’s all. Nothing else makes this novel a good read.

Blazed was such a wild card for me. I went in excited, the setting is wild and confusing. I would have been fine if it was only the writing that was that way. Unfortunately, it’s the whole book and I had very little patience for it but I somehow finished it. I hated it and I don’t recommend this book to anyone.

1.5 Odd Clouds

1.5 Odd Clouds

Book Review: In Deep by Terra Elan McVoy

18689736In Deep by Terra Elan McVoy

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Genre: Contemporary and Young Adult

Release Date: July 8, 2014

Pages: 304 (Hardcover)

goodgood
Swim.
Push.
Breathe.
Swim.

Nothing else matters to Brynn as she trains her body and mind to win. Not her mediocre grades and lack of real friends at school. Not the gnawing grief over her fallen hero father. Not the strained relationship with her absent mother and clueless stepdad. In the turquoise water, swimming is an escape and her ticket to somewhere—anywhere—else. And nothing will get in her way of claiming victory.

But when the competitive streak follows Brynn out of the pool in a wickedly seductive cat-and-mouse game between herself, her wild best friend, and a hot new college swimmer, Brynn’s single-mindedness gets her in over her head, with much more than a trophy to lose.

First of all, I would like to thank the publisher, Simon Pulse for giving me an ARC of this book to review. Thank you so much! Really appreciate it! All right, now for my review.

opinion

I’ve been on the swim team. My school is the official swimming pool in Toronto so I know how insane it can get with everyone needing to win and swim and shit like that. In Deep had me excited. I rarely read books about swimming and whenever I do, I usually want it to be light and funny but with McVoy, I expected insanity, betrayal, love, and above all, victory. Can you believe what I got?

Crap. If anything at all. There are contrived and stupid moments between Brynn and Gavin. Same with the betrayal between Brynn and Grier. All of it is fake and forced and stupid. Almost none of it makes sense and it tries so hard to be bold and thoughtful. Unfortunately it’s not.

The beginning of the story is just one huge info-dump about useless crap. Brynn only cares about swimming but Terra McVoy doesn’t explain her swimming or how she pushes off the wall, how she pushes herself further and all that stuff that would come along with something so meaningful. Instead, it’s all, “Van made us do 4 250 of free, freestyle, breast, and butterfly. I did them all really well, I’m the best.” It doesn’t say or explain how she felt about it. Readers are forced to assume that she loves swimming with all of her life even though it feels fake. The characters are also underdeveloped and very forgettable. I didn’t care about any of them, especially for their relationships between one another. With Brynn and Grier, their friendship is so fake, they have close to nothing in common except for swimming which Grier isn’t even that thrilled about. And as far as the relationship between Brynn and Gavin goes…

It’s worse than two toddlers playing house for the first time. Nothing. It might be the worst romantic relationship I have ever read about. Not only are they shoved together with nothing in common except swimming, but it’s done in a way that makes me feel absolutely nothing for them. They suck, their affair sucks, and their emotionless behaviours suck even more.

In Deep is a poorly written novel with close to nothing properly explained, weak characters and even weaker relationships. I don’t recommend this book to anyone because it’s too awful with no redeeming qualities.

One Lonely Cloud

One Lonely Cloud

Book Review: This Side of Salvation by Jeri Smith-Ready

18038539This Side of Salvation by Jeri Smith-Ready

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Genre: Contemporary and Young Adult

Release Date: April 1, 2014

Pages: 384 (Hardcover)

good good

Everyone mourns differently. When his older brother was killed, David got angry. As in, fist-meets-someone-else’s-face furious. But his parents? They got religious. David’s still figuring out his relationship with a higher power, but there’s one thing he does know for sure: The closer he gets to new-girl Bailey, the better, brighter, happier, more he feels.

Then his parents start cutting all their worldly ties in to prepare for the Rush, the divine moment when the faithful will be whisked off to Heaven…and they want David to do the same. David’s torn. There’s a big difference between living in the moment and giving up his best friend, varsity baseball, and Bailey—especially Bailey—in hope of salvation.

But when he comes home late from prom, and late for the Rush, to find that his parents have vanished, David is in more trouble than he ever could have imagined…

First of all, I would like to thank the publisher, Simon Pulse for giving me an ARC of this book to review. Thank you so much! Really appreciate it! All right, now for my review.

opinion

I’m not a religious person and I highly doubt I will ever become one. I think that this is one of the reasons why cults interest me so much, they explore different kinds of religions, mashing them up and manipulating people to believe complete nonsense and stealing their hope and faith, some of the last things they have to offer. The idea of cults in this story is a lot different from the ones seen in documentaries and that’s what first interested me. I was looking for something different and well explained however,  This Side of Salvation isn’t that novel, it lacks depth and a solid back story but I liked it enough. It also doesn’t hurt that the cover is fucking beautiful.

The Rush pretty much takes up the whole story and although I loved reading about it, it makes everything else suck. All of the relationships between David and a family member is floppy and not well done. What makes it all worse is the relationship they all had with John is barely discussed until the very end. There’s no story there, there’s no emotion, and I felt like he was just shoved into the story to get the book to go in the direction of grief. Moreover, I didn’t like the style this book is written in with the past/present tense. Not a fuck was given about the past because all it told me was how the romance between David and Bailey came to be and odd David’s family started acting after John’s death.

This Side of Salvation has a really great idea. I’ve only read one other cult like novel and I didn’t enjoy it at all. I liked how Smith-Ready went with this and made it as mellow as possible but still keeping the parts after the Rush really interesting. It’s not the typical cult where people are completely cut off from the world, there’s a  few children brides, and some gore/abuse. David, for the most part, is a strong character because he’s really flawed yet he tries his hardest to be a good person and readers get to see him grow as a person. I loved how willing he is to give up everything he’s worked so hard for to become closer to something he believes in even if it’s just for the sake of his parents. The religion is really kept to a minimum throughout This Side of Salvation, I didn’t feel overwhelmed by it and I actually learned a few things about it.

Anyway you look at this, it’s still disappointing how This Side of Salvation is executed. I mean, I’m glad that it’s not the typical cult like stuff and the first chapter is really well done, it’s exciting and gritty and had my attention instantly but the story has huge holes in some crucial places like the characters themselves and their relationships. Nonetheless, I would still recommend this, mostly to anyone who’s looking for something a bit different to read about and don’t mind some boring characters.

2.5 Mess Up Clouds

2.5 Mess Up Clouds

 

For quotes from this book, click here.