Ten

Ten by Gretchen McNeil
Published: 9-18-12 by Balzer + Bray
Get the book: Amazon, The Book Depository

It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives—an exclusive house party on Henry Island. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their reasons for being there (which involve T.J., the school’s most eligible bachelor) and look forward to three glorious days of boys, booze and fun-filled luxury.

But what they expect is definitely not what they get, and what starts out as fun turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine.

Suddenly people are dying, and with a storm raging, the teens are cut off from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn’t scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?

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Design – Ray Shappell       Rating – 4/5

I really, really like this cover. It’s the perfect amount of eerie, and the color scheme is perfect for the creepy atmosphere of the book. I love how simple this cover is, with the title taking up more than half of it. The title going from red to a darker, blood color at the bottom is probably my favorite part – narrowly beating the gloomy color scheme. The ominous stormy sky and the dark water are ideal for a horror story on an island. I don’t really care for the tagline (I generally dislike taglines anyway), but I do appreciate how the third part is in red.

 

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I have been wanting to read Ten ever since I saw this cover. I enjoy mysteries and this sounded like a book I read in middle school called The Name of the Game Was Murder, which I loved. Not that I remember it well, but I still have it, which means I really loved it. Anyhow, I’m glad I got the ebook of Ten on sale because I very nearly returned it. It was that bad. The characters – all 10 of them – are each shallower than the last. The situation is intense, but not likely due to the age of the teens. I disliked this book so much from the very start that I almost quit before the first murder even happened. That’s a bad sign, but I kept reading.

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  • murderer – The one redeeming thing about this book is that I didn’t know who the murderer was until the big reveal. Even the last-minute fake-out had me convinced for a few pages. And what I consider to be the big twist in the plot is great. Not mind-blowing, but truly brilliant in a whoa, why didn’t I see that one coming kind of way. Meg had her suspicions throughout the story, and I was mostly right there with her because all of the suspects made sense. But when it came to who actually did it, I had no idea. I thought I did until it was revealed. That is the most important thing to me in a mystery story. 

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  • expendable characters – There are (surprise!) ten characters in this story. So, I had a lot of trouble keeping everyone straight, especially since most of them were introduced in the space of two pages or what felt like two pages. On top of that, about half the characters went to a different school than Meg. This sounds fine, but caused me tons of confusion in how everyone knew each other. Not that it really matters who all these people are because most of them are merely there to be killed off horrifically, but it’s difficult to keep being interested in the fact that these people are being murdered if you have no clue who they are. 
  • Meg + Minnie – Talk about a dysfunctional friendship. Minnie is portrayed as a needy mental case who is completely bitchy to her BFF, Meg. I really don’t have any knowledge or experience with bipolar disorder, but Meg is only shown as really unappreciative and awful to meg, as well as a bit paranoid when she can’t find her medication. I don’t think that mental disorders need any help being stigmatized and thought of as strange. I wish that, if the author wanted to include a character with a mental disorder (which is great to do), that this character had been on of the more “normal” ones. Or at least kinder. Meg seems to spend she and Minnie’s entire friendship apologizing to others when Minnie’s done something rude.
  • the party – Where is this island with only two houses on it? I don’t remember the hostess being described as rich enough to own one of two houses on an island. Why was the hostess of the party not the first one there? How did these people get in this house without her? What 17 or 18-year-old’s parents let them go to a party on an island in the middle of nowhere? Why would you want to go to a party where you only know two or three other people? I would get it if it was a huge party, but with ten people total it seems odd and awkward. Also, did no one check the weather before going to an abandoned island only accessible by ferry?
  • Meg/TJ/Minnie triangle – This love triangle is awful. TJ is a football player and is lacking in personality except for doing things to assert himself as the Alpha male. TJ is pushy. Meg’s totally gonna like me if I constantly force her to question the foundation of her friendship with Minnie! Minnie is slightly obsessive about being with TJ, and would much rather just be a jerk to Meg about Meg’s own interest in TJ instead of having a heart-to-heart about it. Meg, rather than standing up to her supposed BFF about their mutual crush, would rather turn TJ down for a date and then proceed to avoid talking to him for…well, forever I guess.
  • motivation – During the murderer’s whole rant about his/her motives, he/she goes on and on about how the murders are for vengeance. Now, pointing out the fact that you’re a villain revealing your entire plan doesn’t keep you from continuing your clichéd rant. This person has been killing these teens for revenge. That’s fine, except that most of them died before this whole revenge thing was revealed. So, you punished them by killing them, but is it still revenge if they have no idea why you’re killing them? It sure did seem important to you that Meg get the full story before she got murdered/survived your attack.

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There’d been a sense of comfort, however distant, in the idea that there was another house party going on her, just across the isthmus from White Rock House. Kind of like long-distance chaperones in case anything really bad happened. Only apparently the whole thing was a sham. The party, the people, the sense of warmth and safety. All of it was gone in an instant. It was all an illusion.             – pg. 186

“Oh, you know. What’s not to smile about? A bunch of my friends are dead and you shot me.”     – pg. 291

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2 Robots

Acquired: Bought (ebook)

Perfect Fifths

Perfect Fifths by Megan McCafferty
(Jessica Darling #5)
Published: 4-14-09 by Crown
Get the book: Amazon, The Book Depository

Now a young professional in her mid-twenties, Jess is off to a Caribbean wedding. As she rushes to her gate at the airport, she literally runs into her former boyfriend, Marcus Flutie. It’s the first time she’s seen him since she reluctantly turned down his marriage proposal three years earlier–and emotions run high.

Marcus and Jessica have both changed dramatically, yet their connection feels as familiar as ever. Is their reunion just a fluke or has fate orchestrated this collision of their lives once again?

Told partly from Marcus’s point of view, Perfect Fifths finally lets readers inside the mind of the one person who’s both troubled and titillated Jessica Darling for years.

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Design – Jennifer O’Connor       Photo – John-Francis Bourke       Rating – 3/5

This cover is ok. I don’t really feel that it’s true to Jessica’s personality, but it does show that she’s a young professional in a big city. The wing patch is much more indicative of the book’s contents and setting. Overall, the cover fits well with the rest in the series but is a bit dull for my liking.

 

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Perfect Fifths is, in every way, a completely lackluster conclusion to the relationship between Jessica and Marcus. This series finale throws out most if not all, of the series’ characters who are not Jessica and Marcus out the window, leaving the two of them in a sort of strange limbo. This story is the shortest time span of all – a single day to sum up everything that has happened between Marcus and Jessica. Although the big draws of this book are the peek into Marcus’ head and the conclusion of the story, I found both of these things lacking and disappointing.

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  • Marcus – Marcus is a much more interesting character than Jessica sometimes. While Jessica remains confused about her life and Marcus, Marcus is sure of what he wants – and that’s Jessica. He seems to have grown as a person a bit more than Jessica. He’s gone from a druggie who just liked to tease Jess to a college grad who’s focused on getting her back.
  • uncertainty – I really like that Jessica and Marcus are shown as confused and unsure rather than having everything put together. They’re young and still trying to measure how well they’re doing based on what they’re friends have accomplished. Jessica still doesn’t really know what she wants from Marcus, and she feels like a fraud because her friend got her a job. 

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  • Marcus’ head – The small window into Marcus’ mind after all this time is underwhelming to say the least. The constantly enigmatic Marcus Flutie comes off completely different from the character that has been established. Marcus is, in this book, shown as little more than, for lack of a better word, a whipped young man. The mysteries surrounding Marcus seem completely swept aside. He thinks just like Jessica does. The only satisfying thing about Marcus’ point of view is his unwavering devotion to Jessica.
  • sex – Alright, look. I know this is far from the 1st time Marcus and Jessica have slept together. I have been waiting for four books for them to both finally decide to be together permanently. I know that they are both consenting adults in their early/mid twenties. I have entered this story knowing all of these things. I do not want some pages littered with nonsensical sentence fragments instead of actual description. I’m not asking for smut here, just some sort of actual scene. It’s like the whole book was building up to something and then we got left out of that something. Why?! Anyone picking up this book will know and expect that there will be some adult content in a book about adults.
  • secondary characters – Marcus and Jessica are the only characters physically and emotionally present in this book. Fitting, I suppose, since they are both quite self-centered. Anyone else in their lives is an afterthought here – a story of something far away that’s already happened and is only addressed so Marcus and Jessica can put off feeling any actual emotions that linger between them. The long-awaited conversation between these two is reduced to little more than Marcus asking about the people in Jess’ life and Jess telling him anything about anyone else to avoid saying something about herself.
  • plot – I’m not sure if I can call it a plot. Marcus and Jessica run into each other, Jess hides among Barry Manilow fans, Jess and Marcus talk about anything besides their relationship, sexual tension, corny Barry Manilow ending. The entire book is one ridiculously drawn out conversation – a series reduced to a 200 page will they/won’t they dance. After all Jess and Marcus have gone through, I wanted them to have a better ending than Barry Manilow karaoke. 

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“No, this is not a security issue.” Jessica clutches a hand to her throat, clears it. “Yes, I know him,” she says more firmly. “His name is Marcus Armstrong Flutie.” She then turns to the first officer, switches on a smile. “And he’s with me.” She pivots toward Marcus, puts her hands on her hips, and says in perfect exasperation, “Where have you been? I’ve been waiting for you forever.”
“I was waiting for you,” Marcus says. “The whole time.”      – pg. 69-70  Jessica + Marcus

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2 Robots

Acquired: Bought

Unmaking Hunter Kennedy

Unmaking Hunter Kennedy by Anne Eliot
Published: 10-17-12 by Butterfly Books
Get the book: AmazonThe Book Depository

After a car accident–an event he considers a prank gone bad–pop star, Hunter Kennedy is forced to hide out with his aunt in small-town Colorado. He’s supposed to rest, heal his scars and attend high school in disguise until the press dies down. But he only wants to get back to work.

Worse, the girl who’s been assigned to make him over into a geek is a major geek herself. Vere Roth is a chattering pixie, a blushing tornado and a complete social disaster. He’s never met a girl who’s never-been-kissed, believes in romance and thinks Hunter’s a ‘nice’ guy.

Funny thing is…Hunter is nice around Vere because she’s his first real friend. He also can’t seem to stop sharing his secrets or keep her out of his heart. Knowing he’d never deserve a girl as sweet as Vere, he resigns himself to the friend zone, and helps his new bestie with her own makeover.

She tortures him daily for ridiculous guy advice on how to snag her life-long crush. A guy Hunter thinks is totally wrong for Vere, and sadly, one who has taken note of Vere’s transformation.

When Vere asks her best friend for some kissing advice, Hunter can’t resist…

And that’s when things get out of control…

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Design – Peter Freedman + Chiara MacFarlane       Rating – 2/5

This cover is kind of a mess. I’m not a fan of people kissing on book covers – it’s awkward and not creative. This girl looks like she’s kissing the guy’s chin, which makes the cover even stranger. I am emphatically not a fan of the title treatment here. I can understand wanting to be creative with your font choice, but this looks like a Valentine’s Day ransom note. Blah. Just blah. I would have loved a simpler cover, maybe an illustration.

 

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Unmaking Hunter Kennedy is a bit of a confused jumble. It’s never quite as deep as Hunter’s initial problems suggest it could be. On the other hand, it’s not as fluffy as Vere’s innocent lifestyle and attitude. Instead, it falls somewhere in between, bouncing from cutesy love story to Hunter’s angst about his life and where it’s headed.

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  • Hunter + Vere – Hunter and Vere have a fair amount of deep, meaningful conversations as they get to know each other. The two of them are adorable together and also have plenty of conversations sparkling with chemistry. Hunter and Vere balance each other out well and are so much fun to read about. There aren’t many kissing scenes, but the few that do happen are well worth waiting for. 

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  • blushing – It feels like every time Vere is mentioned, it’s also said that she is blushing. The blushing things is constant and completely annoying. At one point, I made a note that if I had to read about Vere blushing one more time, then I would completely freak out. It seems that Vere is incapable of feeling any hint of emotion without her face becoming a ball of flame.
  • Vere – Everything about Vere makes her sound like a five year old. Her dialogue is simple and riddled with exclamation points, and even her chosen nickname for Guinevere is a little childish. At one point, Vere says her “tummy” hurts from laughing – her tummy. Vere is so innocent that it’s ridiculous. She refuses to believe that her classmates would be drinking underage at a party and she can barely even form sentences around her crush.
  • hiding Hunter – The plan to hide Hunter is questionable. Hiding a major pop star in plain sight of an entire high school rather than putting him under house arrest somewhere seems like a high risk plan. There must be some way for someone, especially a rich and connected someone, to do school online if that’s the problem. Of course Hunter does benefit from being around normal people.
  • Curtis – Vere’s crush seems fine at first, but turns out to be a major jerk. Curtis is her brother’s best friend who hasn’t paid much attention to Vere since they shared a disastrous kiss years ago. Suddenly, Curtis decides he wants to be with Vere, which is great for about a minute. Once Curtis shows his true colors, he turns out to be possessive, jealous, and wants to move too fast for Vere. It’s as if he never really knew who Vere is as a person – like he only wanted the idea of Vere he had in his mind. 

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Dustin grimaced and shook his head, glancing at Charlie. “Is she trying to torture me on purpose? GuardeRobe sold ten million albums last year, and she only recognizes me two days later for her love of a cereal that might be toxic.”            – Dustin   pg. 141

He’d sworn to stay away from Vere, but here he was. Undoing all of the hard work he’d done to try and get over her.
Vere’s cheeks were bright red. He could tell she knew it was an utterly insane request, but her gaze held his.     – Dustin + Vere   pg. 344

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2 Robots

Acquired: bought (ebook)

The Beginning of Everything

BeginningOfEverythingThe Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider
(this book is also known as Severed Heads, Broken Hearts)
Published: 8-27-13 by Katherine Tegen
Get the book: Amazon, The Book Depository 

Golden boy Ezra Faulkner believes everyone has a tragedy waiting for them—a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen. His particular tragedy waited until he was primed to lose it all: in one spectacular night, a reckless driver shatters Ezra’s knee, his athletic career, and his social life.

No longer a front-runner for Homecoming King, Ezra finds himself at the table of misfits, where he encounters new girl Cassidy Thorpe. Cassidy is unlike anyone Ezra’s ever met, achingly effortless, fiercely intelligent, and determined to bring Ezra along on her endless adventures.

But as Ezra dives into his new studies, new friendships, and new love, he learns that some people, like books, are easy to misread. And now he must consider: if one’s singular tragedy has already hit and everything after it has mattered quite a bit, what happens when more misfortune strikes?

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Art + design – M80 Design/Wes Youssi       Rating – 4/5

I love the minimalism and flow of this cover. The roller-coaster and the variations in the hand-lettering make it feel a bit chaotic, even with the simplicity of the illustration and the color scheme. I love the lettering and how it follows the lines of the coaster. The composition is really nice, with the upper 3rd of the cover set apart by the line of the coaster. The simple 3 colors are really nice and go well together. I even like the little tagline, and I usually hate taglines on covers. The most commonly used cover for this book is now the yellow/orange version with green writing, but I think this is the best variation.

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The Beginning of Everything is a story that’s a bit hard to define, but I’d say it’s like a dramedy. It’s definitely full of dramatic happenings and complicated feelings, but it’s funny in the way everyday life can be. Ezra is struggling to decide where he fits in after his accident and realizing that maybe his old friends aren’t the people he wants to spend his time with. He and his new friends are all trying to figure out what they want to be while facing pressure to be a certain way. Ezra also navigates a relationship with the confusing new girl/debate star Cassidy. Overall I found this book to be an alright way to pass time, but it’s forgettable.

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  • Toby – Ezra’s friend Toby is one of the best parts of this book. Instead of becoming an egotistical jerk like Ezra, Toby became debate team captain. He seems like the stereotypical nerd character, but he’s a nice guy and he’s a good friend to Ezra despite Ezra ditching him. He’s secure in who he is, even though I wanted him to tell Ezra to mind his own business when Ezra asked if Toby was gay.
  • entertaining – This book is pretty good entertainment. The dialogue is often funny, in a way that no one actually talks of course. The underlying story of discovering yourself is universal, and I like that Ezra is the one who acts and thinks differently about himself, rather than his friends shunning him and pushing him away.  

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  • Cassidy – Cassidy runs hot and cold with Ezra, and the way she deals with her problems is by pushing people away. One day Cassidy is cruel to Ezra, then she’s acting like it never happened. It’s clear that there’s a tragedy in Cassidy’s recent past, even though she refuses to talk about it with anyone. I still don’t understand Cassidy’s aversion to debate team competitions, or why she felt that switching matches would help anything. For much of this book I felt impatient to find out what had happened to Cassidy so I could understand why she acted the way she did.Cassidy tries to say she’s not a manic pixie dream girl, but she doesn’t have enough of a personality to be a real character. Why was Ezra even attracted to Cassidy? Is it just because he perceives himself as broken and thinks that her mood swings are a sign that she needs fixing too?  
  • Ezra – I found everything about Ezra, down to the name Ezra Faulkner, to be utterly pretentious. He pretends his dog is Jay Gatsby and his self-discovery merely amounts to him deciding he was too smart for his old jock friends. Ezra is extremely concerned with what everybody thinks about him; and he’s certain that everybody thinks about him. He’s a former tennis star, homecoming king, parties and popularity kind of guy. He finds it completely surprising that not every student at his high school loves him, that there are lives and activities that go on without him and without him knowing about them. Ezra’s got a huge chip on his shoulder now that he’s damaged goods in his own eyes and he’s drawn to Cassidy because she’s a puzzle. Everything’s always been easy for Ezra, but she’s challenging.
  • Ezra + Cassidy – These two have no chemistry together. It didn’t really seem like Cassidy was interested in being in a relationship, maybe because she was dealing with other things, and then she was in one. Neither Ezra nor Cassidy really adjusted their behavior when they decided they were dating. Ezra still acted like he was a movie star trying not the be noticed, and Cassidy didn’t open up about any of the things that were obviously bothering her. To me, it just didn’t feel like these two chose each other. Ezra wanted Cassidy because she was a puzzle – the polar opposite of his ex, and Cassidy was portrayed as an ice queen, with Ezra being the only straight single guy she ever spoke to. When all is said and done, I just don’t care about these characters. They’re both overly fond of themselves, quoting classic literature in their personal conversations and studying random facts to boost their debate skills. They have this air of being too good, too smart, too uniquely strange for any despicable normal people to understand, and when they’re together it’s like their egos feed off each other.
  • plot – I’m not sure what the plot of this book is exactly. Ezra mopes around because his leg is busted and to him this signifies that he’s not popular anymore. Much of his funk is of his own invention. Yes, his friends are shallow and no one visits him in the hospital…but Ezra could have chosen to confront them about it, plus he’s the one who became friends with them in the first place. Then Ezra joins the debate team and gets new friends, including his old friend Toby who Ezra essentially ditched when he got cool, and wonders about Toby’s sexuality. And then he tries to figure out what Cassidy’s problem is and still manages to be prom king even though he’s spent the entire book bemoaning his fall from grace. So he’s still popular and the only thing that changed about him was his leg.

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“Rosewood’s the section across the park, isn’t it?” she asked.

“Yeah. My bedroom looks out over it.”

“So does mine.” Cassidy grinned. “Maybe we can see into each other’s bedrooms.”

“I’ll remember to close the blinds next week when I commit a double homicide,” I promised, flashing my brights on the blind curve out of the foothills.              – Cassidy + Ezra   pg. 65

 

We practiced until four thirty, when Austin had SAT prep and I had to get out of there for PT, only I said it was the dentist. I know physical therapy’s nothing to be embarrassed about, but it still sounded bad: “therapy,” as thought I needed professional help to function.      – Ezra pg. 138

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2 Robots

Acquired: bought (ebook)

Eternal Starling

EternalStarlingEternal Starling by Angela Corbett
Published: 12-6-11 by Pendrell Publishing
Get the book: Amazon

A love so strong, even eternity can’t separate them. Evie Starling has lived a relatively uneventful life hanging out with friends, gossiping about boys, and driving her 1966 Mustang.

All of that changes when she moves to Gunnison, Colorado, to start college and meets two mysterious men. For centuries, Alex Night and Emil Stone have yearned for Evie but they each have their own reasons for wanting to be with her. When both men claim to be her soul mate and tell her about an unbelievable past, Evie learns that she s not the person she thought she was. Soon, Evie finds herself in the middle of an age-old battle between the Amaranthine Society the soul protectors, and the Daevos Resistance the soul destroyers. With a past she doesn t understand, and a future rife with danger, Evie has to decide who she can trust. But Alex and Emil aren’t the only ones who want Evie, and her soul is about to become the rope in an eternal tug-of-war.

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Design – Alma Tait     Photo – Laini Woodland     Model – Adrie Buchanan      Rating – 2/5

This cover is not good. It screams self-published. The photo is nice enough – the girl is pretty and I do really like the colors. The title font is awful though – much too busy and hard to read, and doesn’t work well with the simplicity of the photo. the flower’s odd as well. I think it’s meant to be a tattoo, but it’s large, with the extra two flowers in an odd grey/green color. The author’s name is almost too hard to see, with the letters much too spread out across the bottom.

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Eternal Starling is one of those YA paranormal books where you roll your eyes at the dialogue. There are 2 guys, of course, but they know Evie from her past lives – lives that she, of course, can’t remember at all. I got this book because it was free, but it has so many problems that are hard to get past. The hints at Evie’s past lives are so much more interesting than the rest of the book, and most of it is just blah.

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  • past lives – I’m a sucker for stories about people who have already loved each other in past lives. The problem is that I thought Eternal Starling would be more about Evie’s past lives and not just the boys she’s eternally struggling to choose between. I’d love if there was more about Evie’s actual past lives and how she first met Alex and Emil, whenever that was.

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  • Evie – Eternal Starling is constantly saying that Evie is a strong person who can take care of herself, yet all Evie does is rush into situations that either Alex, Emil, or both rescue her from. Stop telling me your heroine is strong when almost every event in your story says otherwise. Evie is not good at thinking anything through and she’s very quick to trust. Most people would react with outrage if a total stranger kissed them, but Evie doesn’t – he’s hot so she’s into it. She’s always telling Alex and Emil that she doesn’t need them to take care of her, but she’s strangely accepting of their presence whenever they show up anyway.
  • dialogue – There are many info dumps – multipage speeches about groups of people who live forever and guard eternal souls. There are also grand declarations of undying devotion to Evie. There was even what was possibly the worst dramatic love confession I’ve ever read. People don’t want us together. But why? Because I’m your soul mate. Dramatic exit. Gag me.
  • Alex vs. Emil – Hey, let’s both show up in this girl’s life demanding that she choose one of us because of a centuries-long feud she has no recollection of! Sounds great. Emil especially takes a lot of liberties based on him knowing Evie in a previous life as a different person. He just decides to start making out with her before even introducing himself. Alex and Emil both claim to love Evie, but they don’t even know her, and she certainly doesn’t know them – no matter what they say about her previous lives. It’s all a bit creepy. They also seem to love her because of traits she once possessed, yet conveniently ignore how different she is in the present day. It’s like seeing two cats fight over a laser pointer dot – it’s kind of there, but not really, and you wonder why they want it so much.
  • plot – Oh, no! There’s a group of soul stealers fighting the group of soul protectors and it’s just so Dramatic with a capital D. I don’t think anyone talks about saving the world, but I’d imagine that it’s the general direction the series will go in. It’s just silly that all of these supposedly powerful people are showing up in town because Evie is special in some way, because all Evie does that is special is have some kind of power that basically just bursts out of her. The focus of the plot is just about how someone is trying to find her for some reason, while all Evie herself thinks about is which boy to choose. Then, at the end, Evie all of a sudden has some sort of power. I also have an issue with all the big dramatic reveals and Evie’s reactions to them. Every single time something is revealed, Evie is shocked and amazed by it, but many of the things she could have guessed if she’d just given it a minute or two of thought and connected the dots herself. And the boys’ dialogue when telling her anything from her past is just ridiculous, and although Evie is certainly clueless, I wish they’d treat her as if she were smarter.

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“For clarification purposes: you think that because a new guy at school paid attention to me, the apocalypse is about to take place?” I was seething, mad at Alex, Emil – and the whole situation.

Alex rolled his eyes. “Don’t overreact. You know I didn’t mean it like that.”       – Evie + Alex   Loc. 2001

 

“Why are you being so defensive of Emil all of a sudden?”

I could get whiplash from Alex’s mood swings. “Telling you my parents don’t have a preference for either guy who decided to crash our camping trip is not being defensive.”     – Alex + Evie   Loc. 3144

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2 Robots

Acquired: free (ebook)

We Are the Goldens

WeAreTheGoldensWe Are the Goldens by Dana Reinhardt
Published: 5-1-14 by Wendy Lamb Books
Get the book: Amazon, The Book Depository

Nell knows a secret about her perfect, beautiful sister Layla. If she tells, it could blow their world apart.

When Nell and Layla were little, Nell used to call them Nellayla. Because to Nell, there was no difference between where she started and her adored big sister ended. They’re a unit; divorce made them rely on each other early on, so when one pulls away, what is the other to do? But now, Nell’s a freshman in high school and Layla is changing, secretive. And then Nell discovers why. Layla is involved with one of their teachers. And even though Nell tries to support Layla, to understand that she’s happy and in love, Nell struggles with her true feelings: it’s wrong, and she must do something about it.

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Design – ?      Rating – 2/5

I like the harsh lighting of the photo on the cover. The lighting and the way the girls aren’t making eye contact with the reader, or each other, hint at the lack of connection between the sisters. Aside from the photo, the cover is alright. Overall I feel that nothing about it is memorable, but with a different font it could potentially be much more interesting.

 

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We Are the Goldens is a book I found forgettable. Told completely through Nell’s letters to older sister Layla, with past tense verbs and little interaction between the sisters, I think it’s strange that this is billed as a story about how close the girls are. The letters recount the sisters’ relationship as Nell tries to deal with her discovery that Layla is in a relationship with her teacher. It’s dull hearing about this through Nell’s viewpoint.

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  • siblings + secrets – What I like about this book is the overall idea of it. We often feel that we have to keep our family’s secrets, and siblings are a special case because they can be your built-in BFF or the person you’re sick of, depending on the day. I think this idea that we have to protect family, even from other family sometimes, is something this book could have explored more, rather than focusing on how Nell had her sister up on a pedestal.

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  • plot – The plot of this book is insubstantial at best. Everything has already happened. Nell’s letters to her sister are lengthy and filled with things that Layla probably recalls better than her sister. Nell is struggling with the fact that her sister isn’t stuck to her side like glue. It comes off as obsessive, while the only potential twist or secret in the story is given away in the summary.
  • Nell + Layla – Nell is the younger sister, following in Layla’s footsteps and worshipping her sister. Nell is writing a letter to express her disappointment to Layla that Layla would be in a relationship with a teacher rumored to sleep with students. Layla is far from the perfect role model – she comes off as a selfish love-sick child. Nell is almost worse because of how boring she is. I find it hard to remember a single thing about her. At least Layla was a character who was doing something interesting; no matter how wrong. I would much rather hear her story than Nell whining about how her sister let her down.
  • ending – So, after slogging your way through Nell’s thoughts about her sister’s illicit relationship, the ending leaves you hanging. The big wrap-up only amounts to Nell telling Layla, like a 5 year old, that she’s telling their parents what Layla has been doing. So…what comes next? I think the fallout of this tattling would be more interesting than this story.

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Yeah, well, those movies always seemed pretty fake to me. The villains and the heroes too simple and obvious when there’s probably a little of both in every one of us. And also: none of the kids in those movies had an older sister like you.   – Loc. 85/2245

 

But you trusted me, calmly telling me you’d gone off with Mr. B. It was a test balloon of sorts – to say out loud that you spent the afternoon alone with a teacher who has a reputation.

And I shot that balloon right out of the sky.   – Loc. 518

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2 Robots

Acquired: NetGalley (ebook)

Please Ignore Vera Dietz

VeraDietzPlease Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
Published: 10-12-10 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Get the book:  Amazon, The Book Depository

Vera’s spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie Kahn. And over the years she’s kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything.

So when Charlie dies in dark circumstances, Vera knows a lot more than anyone—the kids at school, his family, even the police. But will she emerge to clear his name? Does she even want to?

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Design – ?      Rating – 4/5

This cover is bold and simple. I really like that it’s asymmetrical, with the lighter way over to the right. It manages to be bright and ominous at the same time. The title lettering is eye-catching and interesting. Overall, just a great cover for this book.

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I found this book to be very gloomy. Please Ignore Vera Dietz deals with Vera’s life following the death of her once best friend, Charlie, but I didn’t really care about Charlie. I was much more interested in Vera’s relationship with her dad, her struggle to form her own ideas about life. Her stupid decisions were much more interesting than Charlie’s stupid decisions.

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  • Vera + her dad – I like that Vera and her dad both struggle to relate to each other. Living with only one other person is hard sometimes, no matter how close the two people are. Vera’s dad pushes her to work work work and she’s learned that he doesn’t listen to her input on the situation, so she deals with it on her own terms. Vera has always questioned her dad’s reaction to Charlie’s home issues. I appreciated the fact that Vera and her dad went to therapy to begin to work things out with each other.
  • POVs – Even though the POV switches seem pretty random, I like them. Most of all, I like that the pagoda had its own little sections. It was nice to hear from Vera’s dad and get his take on things. Charlie was sometimes helpful. The pagoda really wasn’t. I just liked seeing what was going on from different angles.

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  • Charlie – Vera spends much of the book haunted by her past with Charlie and the things she thinks Charlie would say to her now, but I think Charlie’s kind of a jerk based on the things we learn about him. Yes, I feel bad for Charlie because his home life is awful, but I don’t think it excuses his behavior. Charlie chose to turn his back on Vera, someone who was always there for him. He chose to believe what Jenny Flick told him, and when Vera was in danger because he asked her for help, Charlie wasn’t even there. Charlie made stupid decisions and I wish we learned more about Vera instead of Charlie.
  • mood – Please Ignore Vera Dietz is very gloomy. The more that’s revealed about Vera’s childhood friendship with Charlie, the more I felt like things were going to end badly. Obviously something bad happened because Charlie’s dead, but it’s like the toxic relationship between Charlie’s parents leaked out of his house and poisoned everything around it. It certainly poisoned Charlie’s life, and Vera’s, both through him and through her house’s proximity to Charlie’s. The atmosphere of this book just feels dark, like the story is happening in a foggy forest with dead trees everywhere. The more I think about this book, the more the details fade, but the thing that sticks in my mind is the gloomy, somewhat hopeless feel.
  • bad things – I don’t know what else to call it. Vera’s job is delivering pizzas, which isn’t bad in itself – it’s that she’s under pressure from her dad to work whenever she’s not at school, which is way too much. Vera drinks and drives regularly. She puts herself in dangerous situations with people she barely knows. She keeps her mouth shut about Charlie’s death even though she’s known the circumstances all along. I know bad things have to happen for Vera to grow as a person, but it’s depressing to read about.

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Ignore. Ignore. Ignore. Mind your own business. Don’t make waves. Fly under the radar. ‘It’s just one of those things, Vera.’
I’m sorry, but I don’t get it. If we’re supposed to ignore everything that’s wrong in our lives, then I can’t see how we’ll ever make things right.      – pg. 44

I miss him so much, but it’s confusing, because I missed him long before he was dead, and that’s the bitch of it all. I missed him long before he was dead.     – pg. 88

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Acquired: bought