13 Reasons Why – and My Own Reasons

CONTENT WARNING: This post talks about sensitive material in a generalized manner. While I do not think it’s a trigger, it might be. I mention sexual assault in passing, bullying, and suicide. If you are uncomfortable with these topics, please skip this post or message me for a rundown of what I discuss here. I will try to sanitize it for you. AT THE END OF THIS POST there is a list of suicide prevention resources, both national (USA) and international. If you need help, please, don’t be afraid to seek it out. If you need to, feel free to message me. I’m busy a lot, but not too busy to help someone out.

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YA Tropes – The Virginal Heroine?

WARNING: Before continuing, please be advised that this post shall contain content which some may fine inappropriate. There will be some discussion of sex, though not explicit, which you may find uncomfortable. It is provided purely in the context of defining terms and explaining social constructs. Please do not read further should you think this discussion might be offensive to you. At this time I do not offer a “sanitized” version, but would be happy to explain briefly what my main points were if you are interested. Please message me/comment on a post to request this information. Thank you.

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Book Haul – November

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Okay, okay, I know. It’s already DECEMBER and I’m still posting about November? But whatever. I’ve been a little down lately, so November was hard to do much of anything. But better late than never! I’ll get some other posts up, too, when I get the chance, including my new formatting plan for the coming year! (We’ll see how that goes…) For now, here’s my book haul!

I’ve been lucky enough to get NINE BOOKS this month (three came in two different subscription boxes and two were impulse splurges, so it’s been on the high side this month)! They’re in several different genres (though all are YA), and I wanted to take a moment to mention them.

First, contemporary YA:

Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor | Reality Boy by A.S. King

Second, paranormal YA:

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Ex-Library edition, Hardcover

Trial by Fire by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Third, horror YA:

Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting | The Last Echo by Kimberly Derting | Dead Silence by Kimberly Derting | Fear the Drowning Deep by Sarah Glenn Marsh

Fourth, sci-fi YA:

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Poor quality binding, to be honest. The cover didn’t actually cover the whole book… there’s this little strip where the pages are longer. I don’t think it’ll really matter in the end, but it annoyed me a little.

The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Strutskie

Fourth, Wonderland YA:

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I got a special edition of this! I’ll show some pictures of what I got in my box a little later, but this one was pretty awesome. 🙂

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

(Sorry, Goodreads was down! I’ll try to update that link later.)

As many of you know, for my Halloween Read-a-Thon (which was a terrible, terrible bust…) I had a whole spooky TBR list. On it happened to be The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting. I’d been on the fence about getting it, but decided to give it a try. Well, I ended up loving it so much that I went hunting for the rest of the series. I figured it was going to cost me a small fortune, but I found all three of them as ex-library copies from the same place for free shipping at $3.97 each! What a steal. And as a bonus, since I bought three, I received a fourth book for free. Since I’d already found the whole Body Finder series and I had to buy from this store to get the discount, I went digging through their stock to find another book I wanted.

I couldn’t find some of the ones I was hoping for (the second book in the Unleashed series was the one I was looking for most), I settled on the second book in the Raised by Wolves series by Barnes. I’d read the first book a while ago and decided I liked it more than I had originally expected. Since I had the chance and found the book here (and it was free), I went ahead and followed through with that one!

I’ve mentioned Fear The Drowning Deep several times now in posts, so I’m sure you’re all aware of how I’ve been absolutely dying to get my hands on it! (I know a couple of people have RAR copies, but I know some of those aren’t supposed to be shared… and I really wanted a physical copy, too.) I found it for a slightly reduced price – regular price is listed as $16.99 and I found it at only $14 – plus free shipping, so I jumped on it. I’m sure if I waited a little longer for it, I’d have found it for a better price, but I was feeling impatient (and a little on the sad side… buying books helps). So splurge it is!

The Abyss Surrounds Us was just sort of an impulse buy. It wasn’t on any of me “need to read this as soon as humanly possible” lists and quite honestly hadn’t shown up on my radar at all until I was dinking around looking for books I needed in my life. They had me sold with pirates, lesbians, and sea monsters. I mean, come. On. How can you not want to read that? So I’m really hoping it’s as good as it sounds.

I’ve already mentioned the books I’ve gotten from my BookCase.Club subscription box this month – Maybe One Day and Reality Boy – so no need for an in depth explanation there. They were both completely random.

The other book subscription box was OwlCrate and it had a wonderland theme. The book was Heartless by Marissa Meyer! I’m actually super excited about this one, because I’ve been eyeing it for a while. In addition to that, it’s a special edition! You can’t find it anywhere else! Woo-hoo! All that aside, I am pretty excited for the book and it’s super pretty. I’ll post pictures of it once I get them off my phone. I’ll show the other neat stuff I got there, too. It was an expensive box, but I think ultimately I enjoyed it more than BookCase.Club and despite the deal, I think I’m going to just forgo the boxes altogether…

Hate to say it, but I’ve spent a LOT of money on books this month. Like, more than I should have… But I make the money, I do the budget, and I want my books. They make me happy. And more to the point, my significant other and I accept that there are just certain things the other needs in their life. Books are mine. Yes, they are expensive. But they are also wonderful – and sort of important to my job, right? Justifications aside, sometimes you just have to splurge.

I won’t have the same chance next month, and probably not the month after, but at least I’ve got some good stuff to tide me over until then.

If I get the chance, I’ll try to take a group picture of everything sometime and put it up on here.

sincerely3

E.C. Orr

Read for Review – And Honesty?

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Recently, I’ve heard that certain reviews being posted on Amazon are being pulled. Curious as to why, I looked around a bit and found a whole discussion on it there in the Amazon forums. It detailed that it seemed as though certain Amazon reviews were being pulled because they were coming from readers who received ARC and RAR copies (which means Advanced Reader Copy and Read and Review copy). In other words, people who received free books in exchange for reviews. Namely, HONEST reviews. Like, you get the book and you leave a review, regardless of your opinion of the book, the publisher (or author or whoever gave you the book) wants the review. The real one.

At least, that’s the gist of it.

Here, apparently, is Amazon’s concern: books in exchange for reviews is the equivalent of paying for a review. Which, okay, I think that’s sort of a stretch, but fine. You’re giving someone an incentive for leaving a review. That incentive is, theoretically, something you (the reader/reviewer) wants, right? And that translates to some form of payment, right? That’s, like, giving money for a review!

(Did you know there are paid reviewers out there? Literally, it is their job to read a book, watch a movie, try out a restaurant – all of it gratis – and then proceed to post a review and get paid for it. No joke.)

Now, I understand where Amazon’s concern might lie.

Oh, what if being paid (in money, books, or free pizza…) might sway the opinion of the reviewer? And, oh, what if this means there will be NOTHING BUT FIVE STAR REVIEWS FOR TERRIBLE BOOKS?

Oh, wait, that already happens… Seriously, it makes me angry, and I’ll just tell you, those reviews weren’t the result of free copies. Nope. Just uninvolved, easily amused readers who will gobble up any cotton-brain-candy out there… Okay, and a *little* bit of a difference of opinion via genre and whatever else, but that’s like 2% of a star discrepancy.

But my mini-rant aside, I understand that you might be worried that these “paid” reviewers aren’t being fully honest. I mean, I like getting free books, don’t I? Why, of course I do! I love to read and I’m going to write a review anyway… Why not get a free book out of the deal? And I’ll be honest, I was really concerned when I first started asking for ARCs and RARs. I thought, “If I leave a bad review… will no one give me a free book again?”

But here’s the thing. I still get free books and I tend to leave poor reviews more often than not. Why? Because I’m not going to let a free book sway my opinion. And that’s for three reasons.

One.

I have some friggin’ integrity, thank you very much. My reputation is valuable to me, but more importantly, my own opinion of myself is important. I wouldn’t feel right giving a high review to someone that didn’t deserve it because it invalidates and cheapens all the high reviews I gave for people that honestly deserved them! And I’m just not okay with that. Better to get an angry author, publisher, or even fan, than to feel as though I’m offering a fake smile to the world while simultaneously spitting on those that deserve true, honest recognition.

Two.

Why would I want to encourage more bad boosk?!?! Seriously, leaving a good review for a bad book is just poor planning. Because it means the author is going to write another book, just like the first, not bothering to change anything because all the reviews said IT WAS SO AWESOMESAUCE! So now we have a Craptastic Book Two! And when we have to review that book the same way we reviewed the first one, now we have a whole Craptastic, The Series!

Why would I want to encourage more bad writing? From both a writer’s and a reader’s standpoint, this seems counterproductive to my end goal: To find more books to fall in love with.

Three.

Why would I want another bad book from an author I didn’t enjoy? Why would I want another free book if I just feel as though every free book I read I must lie about in order to get another free book? That I will ultimately hate?

So ultimately I’m left with the feeling that leaving anything other than an honest review is just… not right.

And I have to believe that I’m not the only person who feels this way. Don’t readers and reviewers take pride in themselves? Yes, they must. I believe that they must! And they want quality, too, right? Yes, of course they do. They have to!

I will make one more point: I get not wanting to hurt someone’s feelers about it. Authors are sensitive. Trust me, I totally know. My least favorite thing is having someone come in, read what I’ve written, then hand it back to me and tell me how I’ve just “gotten it all wrong”. Pfft. Like they could do it better. But at the same time, if I let myself step back for a minute and really look at the criticism constructively, sometimes the negative reviews teach us the most. And that means I can grow as an author.

And, yes, it still hurts.

I guess my point is not telling it like it is just to spare someone’s feelings isn’t doing anyone any good. I’m not saying you have to be a jerk or be mean or just rip their life’s work to shreds, but you should be honest and you should make an effort to lay out why you didn’t enjoy something. It could go so far as to make them better authors in the end, so that maybe you actually will enjoy the next book.

Really, just don’t leave a five and four star review for something that you hated. That’s just silly and doesn’t help you, the author, or other readers.

Which brings me back around to Amazon removing reviews.

The idea that saying “I got an ARC” means “I’m lying through my teeth about the quality of this book!” is utterly stupid. Yes, there will be some less than honest people out there, but they are not the majority. Instead, I think we should give the reviewer the benefit of the doubt and say that they are honest. Even if we don’t agree with their opinion – or even if they’ve left a good review for a bad book. Because sometimes, people just do that. I think that has to do with a little on the personal taste side and a lot of “I wasn’t really paying attention to this while I was reading” side.

It happens. That’s fine.

I just think that Amazon is being fairly ridiculous about this whole concept of ARCs and RARs. These are the things that can help break-out authors (and especially self-publishers) get their works out there. People might never even look at their books, not because they’re bad, but because they don’t get the same kind of publicity. And because Amazon gives more advertising, featuring, etc. for books with more reviews and more purchases – which go hand in hand. Which means that the more books that have been reviewed, the more they’ll be purchased, the more featuring they’ll get, the more reviews they’ll get…

But how do you break into that cycle if NO ONE KNOWS ABOUT YOUR BOOK? Yes, you have to advertise, but part of that is getting your book into the hands of people that might otherwise not read it – usually because they don’t have the money for it.

So I say that Amazon is being silly and the ARCs and RARs should continue.

What’s your opinion on this crazy Amazon policy? Do you agree with me that reviewers are mostly honest?

sincerely3

E.C. Orr

P.S. – The main reason I decided to do a post on this (and why it mostly focused on the honesty of ARC/RAR reviews) is that in the forum, there was a poster who didn’t trust “free book” reviews. Why? Because she felt they were all basically liars who were giving higher ratings because they were essentially “paid” for their services. And I was offended. Especially since she then proceeded to say that she automatically went to 3 star reviews – which mine are usually that or below – because she felt they were more “honest”. So, what, my review doesn’t count EVEN THOUGH I RATE LOWER THAN MOST DESPITE FREE COPIES, just because I put in the effort to get a free book? Wow, that makes that person a real jerk, a little judgy, and seriously misinformed.

Monthly Subscription Boxes – yay or nay?

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Recently I visited one of your lovely blogs (I can’t remember which one, but I’ll look for it!) and saw that it had a post about a monthly book subscription. And I was like, “what is this magic?!” So I started digging…

A monthly subscription box is just what it sounds like. Once a month, you receive a box. Within this box are magical contents having to do with literary genius… (Or whatever other monthly box you get – makeup, superhero paraphernalia, etc.)

Fascinated by these magical boxes, I went in search of one of my very own! I decided on two different subscriptions to try out and after this month (November), I’ll go ahead and pick one to stick with.

The first subscription that I signed up for was the one that started it all. It was the one received by the blog post I stumbled upon and I was so taken with it that, despite it’s rather steep price (I thought, anyway), I would give it a try. The second was a more affordable option that seems far more reasonable for my meager income and will likely be the one I stick with.

OwlCrate.

So the first subscription is OwlCrate. This is the one featured on the blog post and the reason I fell in love with it is that it contains so much stuff. The contents include the obligatory book (because, really, why else would I get it given my search parameters?), but additional items as well. Book marks, teas, nick-nacks, jewelry, post cards – you name it! Each box has a theme and, oh gosh, you don’t understand how much I love themes. All of the items within the box center around this theme.

This month is Wonderland and I’m pretty darn psyched for it. It hasn’t arrived yet as they tend to arrive towards the end of the month (from what I understand) while the other subscription arrives early on in the month (I’ve already received it and I’ll get to that in a moment). As soon as it gets here, I’ll do an additional post on that.

Until then, here’s a complete “contents” list for the items in the OwlCrate box:

  • Brand spankin’ new YA novel
  • 3-5 bookish items (jewelry, bookmarks, stickers, prints, toys, accessories, etc.)
  • Exclusive items from the author

All of this comes out to $29.99 + shipping (which came out to $6.99 for me).

Um, wow. That’s a lot. I know it’s not a lot, a lot, but it’s a lot, you know? Especially since you only get ONE BOOK.

Yes, true, you get all those nifty other things, too! And I love those other things. But that’s still a big chunk of change to be throwing down for something that… well, just might not have that much reading enjoyment. I mean, for that price, I could get two, maybe three books, and if I do it on Amazon, I’ll get free shipping, too.

And that’s if they’re all new.

So is it really worth it?

I don’t know yet. I haven’t received the box, so it’s hard to say whether or not I’ll find it worth the price. On some level, I hope that it is, because I want my money’s worth. On the other hand, I kind of hope not. Why? Because then I won’t be tempted to do it every month. Because I don’t have the sort of money to just spend on this monthly and it’ll sort of make me sad if I have to be a grown up and put this little whim aside when I like it so much.

So here’s hoping that I do like it – and that I don’t!

BookCase.Club.

The second, more affordable option that I decided to try is a little thing called BookCase.Club. They have no frills, but what they do have are TWO books. Every month. You can choose your genre to receive (obviously mine was Teenage Dream, so all YA books) and the box arrives around a week or so into the month. Pretty nifty.

The downside is this: You only get the books.

The upside is: It’s only $14.99 including shipping.

I mean, even if you purchased two used books, you’d probably be spending that PLUS five bucks in shipping (unless you’re lucky enough to have a bookstore near to you that carries anything other than nonfiction and adult romance…). So looking at it like that, it’s still a steal. Of course, you don’t get to pick the books (I’ll get to this in a moment) which can be a little scary, but it’s also a treat because you might end up with something you wouldn’t normally try on your own!

Additionally, for every subscription (and subscription renewal), a book is donated! That’s a charity I can definitely get behind – and it’s for something I’m going to do anyway. I’m all for that, so the price and the charity definitely make this one a great option. Yes, it sucks a little that you don’t get all the trinkets with it, but I don’t think they’re enough to make up the price difference – not when I’m as broke as I am. (Responsibility is calling; it wants your books back…)

As I mentioned, I already received my package from BookCase.Club. It arrived just the other day (the 6th, I think) and as promised contained two books. One was hardcover, the other soft.

Softcover:

reality-boy
I didn’t like the cover at first… but it grows on me every time I see it.

Reality Boy by A.S. King

Hardcover:

maybe-one-day
This one may be more my speed…

Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor

I hadn’t heard of either of them before and to be honest I was a little… disappointed. There’s a really good chance that these are both awesome books, but they aren’t ones I would have picked out for myself. Like, ever. Or if I did, they would be *way* down on the list.

This makes me a little upset, because we go back to the “I paid money for this” and now I’ve got two books that maybe I won’t like at all.

HOWEVER.

I will say this: I will give these books a chance. If I don’t like them, I’ll give them away or sell them or donate them. Whatever. Someone else will very likely enjoy them, even if I don’t. And you know what? I’ll have branched out. I’ll have tried something new. And maybe next month I’ll get something more my speed. Because for fifteen dollars a month, two books delivered right to my doorstep isn’t so bad.

What do you guys think?

Yes, there are definitely more subscription boxes out there. I looked through a bunch of them and picked these two because they seemed to be the best of the quality options for the prices they were, but at opposing ends of the spectrum. But do you have a subscription that you prefer? Do you think maybe this is all a little silly, risky even to pay for books you may or may not like?

Let me know in the comments below!

sincerely3

E.C. Orr

Review: The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

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Check out the Halloween Read-a-Thon here!

My TBR list here!

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**Originally, I was going to use Mary: The Summoning for this one, but I thought The Body Finder actually made more sense and fit the description better.**


First, the two main reasons that people are going to have issues with this book: The almost annoying focus on young love amidst a killing spree and the third person POV.

Second, the reason they didn’t negatively impact my rating: The story was pretty original (the body finding part anyway) and very well written.

Third, the moment I fell in love with this story:

“She waited only a few moments longer than she needed to, silently thanking Brooke for sharing this time with her… for sharing her heartbreakingly beautiful echo.”

How many stars do I give this? I’m going to surprise myself by giving this FIVE FREAKING STARS.

I didn’t expect to fall in love with this story. In fact, I was on the fence about buying this one in the first place, but now I’ve definitely got to check out the rest of the series AND add Kimberly Derting on my Authors To Read list.

Halloween Horror Rating:

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Two out of five bats. I hate to say it, because this is such an awesome novel, but ultimately it just wasn’t all that scary. There were a couple of moments where it had some good suspense or thrill to it, but I just wasn’t buying the concept of “terrifying” here. Would it have been scary in real life? Absolutely. Was it scary as a novel? Maybe not so much.

Even so, I’d read it a thousand more times.

But let’s begin with The Engaging And Overtaking Writing.

What I enjoyed personally:

That this was easy to get into. This is a combination of story and writing, but even if the story is good, the writing is what seals the deal and that’s what happened here. It was easy to fall into the story. By the end of the prologue I couldn’t wait to read the rest of the book (and I did so in under 24 hours, so there!). The writing was sort of long, if you know what I mean. The sentences didn’t rely on being short and choppy to be easy to process, but rather were well built. They varied to keep the writing interesting, not afraid to have those quick, jarring statements, or the long rambling ones. Italics were used freely and without judgement. They were mostly well placed and added some good emphasis, as italics should. Overall, I found the formatting and style pleasing and that goes a long way for me.

What I felt was a little questionable:

I’m not a huge fan of third person for YA (though it tends to work better for Adult novels and sometimes Middlegrade) and sort of feel like this could have been a little bit better of a novel in first, however, I don’t think it destroyed the novel to be in third. I think it’s going to bother a lot of readers, however, who maybe feel like a third POV is going to put too much distance between Violet and the reader when there’s the potential for so much emotional charge. It wasn’t a problem for me, but for some I think it will be.

Moving on to The Addicting Like True Book-Crack Story.

What I liked:

Everything. Well, just about anyway.

I loved the romance and while I think it might be off putting to some people who really want the grittiness of the serial-killer slash psychic portion of the story, it was ultimately a very successful story. I even think, in a little role reversal, the romance was the vehicle for the supernatural/killer portion! It was great to see them struggling against their feelings, but also once opening up to them, how they still interacted with each other basically the same. They were still friends, despite all the touchy feely things that had sprouted up between them.

I felt like it was interesting to have the short chapters from the killer’s POV and it helped to add a little bit to the end when we finally realize who it is. And I liked that it wasn’t cut and dry. There was a tiny twist that you almost kinda saw coming, but I think you were distracted enough by the romance that it wasn’t obvious. I also liked that the Epilogue had your heart pounding. Awesome.
I love, love, love the body finder stuff. I mean, seriously. The echoes? Freaky and awesome. The drive to find dead things? Totally weird. I mean, I was really sold on Violet’s ability and I loved that only the people closest to her knew about it—including her family. It made an already good story that much better. I was really impressed.

What I didn’t like:

I think maybe the romance developed a little too quickly. Like, head over heels before book two too quickly. However, even that isn’t a huge unlike. Because they were BFFs from the getgo, so I can see the romance moving rapidly as a result.

Other than that… I didn’t like the scene at the part. The end of it, yes, that was awesome, but the part with Grady? Just too typical. Too “Every YA Book Has This Scene” (which I’ll go over later). I think it might be the only thing I truly didn’t like in this book. Really. And as I mentioned, I loved the end of it.

Next, Le Characters.

What was good:

I loved that Violet wasn’t just a goody-two-shoes girl who was like “oh, woe is me!” She’s abrasive and at times aggressive, moody and very occasionally manipulative. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t have her insecurities. She doesn’t look like everyone else, she doesn’t feel like she’s “changed” enough or “grown” enough as some of her friends have. She doesn’t think she’s good enough to get the guy, etc. HOWEVER, I will say that her self-deprecating attitude was mild, making it, in my humble opinion, far more authentic. She was just this normal teen who, as a result of hormones and crazy things going on, had insecurities that she dealt with in the best way she could.

I also loved that Jay was… self-aware. He wasn’t just some cocky jerk, but he could be at times and I felt that was pretty genuine, too. He was gorgeous, but his personality allowed that to be an incidental trait that carried his character a little farther.

Also, he’s my new Book Boyfriend. *Sigh*

I liked that the parents HAD A ROLE IN THE STORY. Like, a legitimate one. Sure, at times they were lax—like with the open/closed door policy—but mostly they were struggling like real parents between protecting their daughter and letting her develop into a real, live person. Go figure. They didn’t have to be the Absentee Parents to make the story believable. Her family was involved without hindering the overall flow of the story and I appreciated that.

What was bad:

Grady.

Seriously, even Lissie Queen of the Bees was an acceptable stereotype for me, because she didn’t play that big of a role. But Grady? He was supposed to be one of their good friends and then he goes all slobbering mangy rabid boy dog on Violet? No, too convenient. Not to say it doesn’t happen, but that whole Incident felt too… tropey. It was staged to the point where, while I appreciated the Good Save and all, I had a hard time not rolling my eyes. It was just this excuse to bring things together, a means to an end, and that really bugged me. Because everything else flowed really well and then you have Grady. And we never really resolve Grady, we just have to live with him.

Finally, a section for Tropes and Other Much Hated Things:

Ah, alas, there are tropes and stereotypes here. Even in the best of books a little rain must fall… I don’t think that’s how that quote goes. Regardless.

Tropes:

A) Girl Is Attacked For Being Foolish… But It’s Okay, Love Of Her Life Miraculously Saves Her!
B) The Fated High School Dance… Like OMG
C) I’m In Love With My BFF, But I’m Not Admitting It

Stereotypes:

A) Pretty People Are Mean… Except For My BFF/Boyfriend Because He’s Super-Hot AND Nice
B) I Have Curly Hair So I’m Not Pretty… Except I Totally Am and Just Don’t Know It (okay, also a trope, but you get me)
C) The Sporty One, The Pretty One, The Dumb One, and The Main Girl

Would I recommend this? Hell. Yes.—If you like reading YA at all and care even a little for suspense. I mean, jeez. Awesome.

sincerely3

E.C. Orr

Book Information:

the-body-finderTitle: The Body Finder (The Body Finder #1)
Author: Kimberly Derting
ISBN: 0061779814
Language: English
Approximate Length: 327 pages
Stars: ★★★★★
I have a used softcover copy.

Review: Ouija by Katharine Turner

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Check out the Halloween Read-a-Thon here!

My TBR list here!

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First, the two main reasons that people are going to have issues with this book: The way this reads like a Middlegrade book and the complete lack of suspense/horror/or anything remotely terrifying.
Second, the reason they absolutely did negatively impact my rating: Because the writing was third-grade status. So simple I could have done this just by watching the movie with absolutely no writing skills whatsoever.
Third, the moment I knew this was going to be bad:

“‘Hey.’ Trevor appeared in the doorway.
‘Oh my god!’ Laine gripped the board tightly. ‘You almost gave me a heart attack.’”

Because, um, why? Nothing happened. Absolutely NOTHING HAPPENED to build up to this “surprise, heart attack inducing” moment.
How many stars do I give this? Sadly, only 2. Maybe a 2.1, but probably not. (Lets be honest, I’m already being generous.)
I went into this book really wanting to like it, but I just couldn’t. This is possibly the first and probably only time I will ever say this but, THE MOVIE IS BETTER.
I feel like I should be stoned now…
Halloween Horror Rating:

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One out of five bats. It was pathetically un-terrifying to the point where I was bored and more interested in the grief of the characters, than the supposedly scary stuff happening.

A total disappointment.
But let’s begin with The Bland And Pathetically Boring Writing.

What I enjoyed personally:

Not much of anything, really. I found that this was one of those moments where the writing was TOO simplistic. It made it difficult to read, because it was so easy I felt like I was reading See Spot Run. I mean, why not include pictures, too?

Oh, wait, they did…

Seriously though. I’ve been trying to find something that I really enjoyed in the writing style itself, and I can’t find anything. I felt it was boring, stilted, lacked suspense, and felt more like it was meant to be read by 10-year-olds.

What I felt was a little questionable:

Um, everything.

First, the writer didn’t seem to understand that as a novel, not a movie the writing needed more meat. There needed to be at least a hundred more pages, all of which should have been descriptors. Okay, maybe not *all* but a damn lot of ‘em. There needed to be more “her heart thumped wildly in her chest as she felt the hairs on the back of her neck rise. She couldn’t see it, but she sensed it there, lurking, looming—coming towards her. She couldn’t force herself to turn, her body frozen in irrational fear, but in the mirror she caught the reflection. It should have been nothing, but that shadow—” Instead, we get the characters running around doing… well, we don’t really know what they’re doing because they’re suddenly downstairs in the dead girl’s room when a second ago they were in the living room. And they’re dying left and right, but they only seem mildly affected by this.
Where’s the drama? Where’s the suspense? Where are the friggin’ ghosts already?! Seriously, even they didn’t manage to be effective in this novel—which is bad, given that it’s basically a ghost story.

Moving on to The Rather Hobble-Cobble Story.

What I liked:

The relationship between Debbie and Laine. It was the closest thing to a really functioning storyline that we could grasp on to and it was the only thing that was convincing as a motivator for the unfolding events. Unfortunately, it didn’t have the sort of depth that it needed to be really *great* or effective and it left everyone feeling sort of… well, maybe like Debbie and Laine should have been dating and the two guys should have been thrown to the wolves.

Regardless, the best part (in the sense of storytelling) was Debbie’s apparent suicide. There was the promise of real depth there when her friends are initially grieving. They attempt to deal with her death in their own ways, wondering how they “missed the signs”. This was the most genuine part of the whole story—and it was only there as a backdrop to the rest of what was going on. Really disappointing.

What I didn’t like:

Most of what happened.

The Ouija Board has the potential to bring some real creep factor to any story—and yet it utterly failed here. There was no sense of foreboding, there was no feeling that they were playing with fire. Instead it was all this “oh, and by the way, a serial killer ghost is after you, kay, bye now”. I mean, that was the feeling I got from this novel and it really left me wishing that more had happened in the story. I think this is more a result of the writing than the actual plot, though I think there are holes there, too, and I think if we’d been offered a little more time to explore what was going on and given a few more details, I would have enjoyed the story more.

Next, Le Characters.

What was good:

The relationship between Debbie and Laine. And the relationship between Laine and Sarah. Both of these bonds were very brief, because the whole story was brief, but they offered the most development and tangible feeling in the whole novel. I also would have liked to explore the Laine/Pete dynamic, because it was, strangely enough, stronger than most here. More compelling. At least, it had the potential to be. But again, it was wholly underdeveloped, leaving it more like this weird “did I imagine a connection there?” thing.

What was bad:

There was almost no character development. No one really changed—or even had the chance to. We actually got the most change from Trevor, I think, and not in a good way. He shifted from the loving boyfriend to aggressive and unstable. But we only get a glimpse of that and the next moment he’s all “but I love Laine so much! Even though I think she’s nuts!” It was really disappointing.

The friendships between each of the characters had so much room for development, but instead they fell flat. I was left thinking that these characters were just cardboard cutouts of people, stand ins for the real things that had yet to arrive.

Finally, a section for Tropes and Other Much Hated Things:

There’s the Missing Parents trope. I think this novel counts as YA and falls into the same My Teenager’s Running Rampant, But I Really Can’t Be Bothered As A Parent trope. There’s also the My Boyfriend Takes Over My Life trope, though in a very small capacity. There’s the I Had To Grow Up Too Fast To Take The Place Of My Absentee Parent trope, always a fun one.

There weren’t a lot of Horror Tropes here, though fans of the genre will notice some. The Final Girl(s) being the main one, but also some “playing with something we shouldn’t” and “it’s just a game”.

Would I recommend this? No—there just isn’t enough here to be bothered with, sadly enough.

sincerely3

E.C. Orr

Book Information:

ouijaTitle: Ouija
Author: Katharine Turner
ISBN: 0316296325
Language: English
Approximate Length: 224 pages
Stars: ★★☆☆☆
I have a used softcover copy.

Review: What Doesn’t Kill Us by Stephanie Henry

dear-reader3

First, the two main reasons that people are going to have issues with this book: The mega insta-love and the “he’s so perfect, omg” characters.
Second, the reason they did negatively impact my rating: Because this story relied so heavily on the characters and the story and neither were executed well enough for that.

Third, the moment I knew how I was going to feel about this story:

“Why does the sound of him saying my name make my insides melt?”

Because this quote is like all of the quotes. This quote shows what the writing is like and it shows how the rest of the novel is going to work—an instantly, for no apparent reason love sick girl is won over… with absolutely no effort on the young man’s part. Why did I pick this quote? Because there was absolutely nothing leading up to it. She just suddenly feels jiggly in her insides because he’s cute. I mean, jeez.

How many stars do I give this? 2.6 because it’s got holes and only so-so writing.
It has a wicked hook and there is potential… but the writing just wasn’t up to standard and in the end, there was too much rushing in a story that should have been twice as long.

But let’s begin with The Bland And So-So Writing.

What I enjoyed personally:

The fast-paced nature of it. As I mentioned, it’s got a hell of a hook and that helps a lot with a story like this. The first chapter really sets the stage for the story—for Drew anyway. And that helped a lot with getting through the rest of the story. I’ll also mention that I didn’t mind the switching POV. For this story, I found it helpful and with only one perspective, the story probably wouldn’t have been even this good.

What I felt was a little questionable:

The fast-paced nature of it. I know, I just mentioned this as something I liked, but let me explain. The story started off fast, which is good, but then it got bogged down by things like “Craig Morgan”. Is there a reason we have to say his full name every time? It started to feel like you were saying He-Who-Must-Be-Named-Every-Time… Like, give it a rest. But that aside, I’m actually talking about how Drew’s life is now. By chapter two it’s all “and no one likes me and I’m the bad boy and I don’t expect anyone to care…” All of which was important, but the author sped through it like lightning and I was just left scratching my head thinking, “Why do I care?” Because I didn’t. The stuff with his family was horrible—but I’m not really sure how it spilled out into his high school career. Was it just a result of gossip? Did his father spread the rumors? We don’t know. Because there’s nothing to let us know. Instead, we get a rapid fire break down of what’s going on and it just needed more… development. The start of something was there, but the author seemed so hellbent on getting through that she didn’t much care whether we were following or not. I needed longer scenes, or at least more developed ones. What are the characters thinking? Why are they thinking that? Why are they so hooked on each other? She tried to tell us, but I just didn’t buy it—and that’s a flaw in the writing, not necessarily (though additionally) the plot.

Moving on to The Too-Fast, Too-Insistently-Intense Story.

What I liked:

That the story is about hope and overcoming the bad things. I don’t necessarily think that reading has to teach us anything, but I think when it does and it’s not overly preachy, that can be really beneficial and add something to the story. In this case, I think it did. It’s about forgiveness and love despite differences and, ultimately, about finding hope. I’m not sure it’s really enough to save the story, but I appreciated it all the same.

I liked that Hailey was blaming her initial attraction on mystery. Oh, he’s the bad boy, so I just want to know, not that I’m really into him! It’s maybe not written well enough or followed through on later to be truly believable, but I thought that was a better way of tackling the otherwise overwhelming insta-love found here. I wish the author had stuck with it a little longer and dealt with Hailey’s drive to not have feelings for Drew.

What I didn’t like:

A lot.

I didn’t like the insta-love, as I’ve mentioned. It was excessive and that’s dangerous in a story that is literally about that love. Because it’s all about the getting together, not the being together in a story. It’s about the fighting to be with one another that lends enough drama for a story to really exist. That’s why we end up with love triangles and parental disapproval and wrong side of the tracks stories. Because there has to be a struggle and if we don’t get one, the story is, unfortunately, boring. We need the drama, and there was a lot lacking here—even when it wasn’t.

Additionally, why the heck didn’t she have more reservations about him? She was all, “he’s demented!” and then “I want to jump his bones”? How do you get from one to the other in a straight line? I don’t know, but Hailey did.

And that’s how we end up with this gem:

“I haven’t heard why he’s a supposed murderer. What did he do to get that reputation?”

Um, I don’t know, like, MURDER SOMEONE? I hear that killing is the leading cause of murder-related deaths these days…

The whole party scene. From the moment with her dad to the next morning, I was rolling my eyes. And that’s a lot of eye rolling. I didn’t buy that Hailey was just suddenly super comfortable getting tossed—because the author didn’t sell it to me. She told me, “Yep, Hailey’s on a bender!” which seems so out of character for her, despite the circumstances. Not that that is necessarily an unwarranted reaction, but Hailey just seemed so… natural about it that I found it unbelievable. And the whole “Oh, Drew is here! Now I’m feeling super sober—despite the, like, six shots of tequila”? No. Just no. Have you heard of alcohol poisoning? Have you heard of drunk the next day? Have you heard of puking in the bushes?

None of that happened and that seemed… unlikely. It just made everything else that happened lacking it realism to the point where I was just shaking my head.
Honestly, there’s more. The whole dad thing. How can we have the characters not freaking out about this? Yeah, they get a little upset, but then it’s like “oh, but if you see it from his point of view…” No. He does not get a point of view. Because a-holes do not get point of views. Ever. Because they are, in fact, a-holes. And he was. The most selfish jerk ever… and no one called him on it. It was just like “oh, Hailey, you just need to learn to forgive him.” Um, no. At all, no.

I thought the Val-Craig thing was useless. I thought the father thing was… poorly executed. I thought the mom thing was sort of out of left field and didn’t add anything really to the story other than a “and they all lived happily ever after!”

I know there’s a lot I didn’t like and I wish it weren’t so, but when the writing isn’t great, we need the story to carry us and vice versa. We had neither of these things here and it shows.

Next, Le Characters.

What was good:

Drew being a good guy and supportive of Hailey. Perhaps a little cliché? But I appreciated that he wasn’t just some bad boy that she was trying to change. He was legitimately a good person.

Hailey being able to look past the wage differences of their families. I don’t think it was shown enough, though they mentioned it several times, but it was nice that the money really didn’t matter to her.

The mom freaking out after what happened with Hailey’s dad. It was probably the most realistic reaction of everyone in the book and while it was annoying on some level, I appreciated that it was genuine. We didn’t get enough genuine in this, I think, and I’m grateful that it showed up here at least.

What was bad:

The fact that there was really only one “bad guy” (two if you count the party, but that was all so surreal…). Everyone else wasn’t a bad guy, even when they seemed like they were a bad guy—or really should have been. Did it help the story that Craig was a decent guy despite his reputation? No, not at all. It would have been more beneficial if he played a larger actual role, but he’s so peripheral until the party that it’s moot point. And what’s the point of forgiving the dad? He broke so much trust, wrecked a lot of lives, and didn’t even think he did something wrong! Staying with a child in a loveless marriage is the dumbest thing a parent can do and doing it for the sake of the child is just an excuse. Especially in this circumstance.

Finally, a section for Tropes and Other Much Hated Things:
I’m just going to list them here, because… yeah.

• The Poetically Deep Kid In Bad Boy Clothing
• The Preppy Popular Cheerleading Rich Girl With A Heart Of Gold
• The Shallow Best Friend Who Only Loves Shopping And Boys

And that’s not even dealing with the assumptions the characters make about each other—everyone seems to buy the stereotypes in this book until otherwise proven. Like “Craig Morgan Reads a Book” time or the “Cheerleader Listens to Country” or the “Bad Boy Likes Poetry”. All of it makes these huge assumptions about people they don’t even know, and everyone gets offended even as they turn around and do it to each other…

Would I recommend this? Sadly, no—but if you can get past the bad writing and the poorly developed plot and the really bad insta-love, you might enjoy this. But I wouldn’t suggest it to anyone.

sincerely3

E.C. Orr

Book Information:

what-doesnt-kill-usTitle: What Doesn’t Kill Us
Author: Stephanie Henry
ASIN: B00E5Z7PWM
Language: English
Approximate Length: 259 pages
Stars: ★★★☆☆
I received a free ebook version in exchange for an honest review.

 

Review: Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout

**Hey guys! Let me know what you think of my new reviewing format! I’m going to be using this template in an effort to make more accurate and unbiased – or at least informative – reviews!**

dear-reader3

First, the two main reasons that people are going to have issues with this book: The excessively hateable hot and cold of Daemon and blame it on the ‘mones (hormones) mentality.

Second, the reason they didn’t relatively impact my rating: The writing was freakin’ good, even when the characters were being stupid/annoying/generally unbearable.

Third, the moment I fell in love with this story:

“I hated Daemon Black—if that was even his real name—with the vengeance that equaled the solar power of a thousand suns … The son of a bitch blew up my laptop.”

How many stars do I give this? A solid 3.98. Because my god the writing is addicting! Even when I thought people were being dumb or I was having a WTF Mate moment! It’s that good.

Let’s begin with The Butterfly Inducing Writing.

What I enjoyed personally:

That Armentrout has once more brought me into this fairly fantastical and slightly unrealistic story with no qualms. Aliens? No problem. Crazy dark shadows coming to get you? Sure thing. Sexy boy next door who is so ‘effing mean you have to like him? Yep, still there with you. Really, it didn’t matter what was going on, I still bought it because Armentrout successfully drew me in with her writing. Katy was consistent, even when she felt like she was all over the place. Being in her head effectively made me feel like I was her—both loving and hating Daemon right along with her. It was great. Armentrout is very effective with the first person and puts you right smack dab in the middle of what our MC is feeling.

What I felt was a little questionable:

There were mistakes. Spots where the story seemed to jump forward—weren’t they just on her porch? How are they now walking in the forest? I wasn’t sure if these scenes were maybe forgotten/meant to be added to before the final product or if it was a transition issue, but I noticed it a couple of times and felt it was a little jarring. These were the only moments that really took me out of the story and I didn’t appreciate that. Thankfully, they were few and far between.

Moving on to The Twilight With Aliens Story.

What I liked:

That there was no insta-love. Yes, there is no denying that Katy was instantaneously drooling over Daemon—and really, can you blame her?—but as soon as he speaks, she hates his guts. It’s really quite refreshing. They both try so hard to hate one another, to not let the other get under their skin, that it moves the story along mostly through romance (once more, the “genre” of the piece is merely a vehicle for romance) without making you want to gag about how goo-goo they are over each other. I really appreciated that.

I also liked the “other form” of the Luxen. I won’t get into specifics here, because I’m trying to stay spoiler free, but I will mention that their other form is humanoid but with some noticeable differences. It’s a little weird, but I liked that they weren’t just basically humans from another planet. They are intrinsically different and I think that adds more credence to the whole love story. It’s real love if you can overlook such a large difference, yeah?

What I didn’t like:

How much of a jerk Daemon is.

Okay, let me clarify, I hated that he was such a jerk to Katy—and that she still liked him/spends time with him regardless. Now, it’s not so simplistic as all of that. There are reasons which sort of justify it all, but in the end, Daemon is such a jerk to her—whether he actually cares or not is besides the point—that it’s really hard to think “hm, I can totally see myself overcoming this small personality flaw to see the inner beauty”. Because, really, when a guy’s a jerk, he’s a jerk. Period. Chances are, you’re not going to change him. And there are reasons/explanations, blah blah blah, but it made it really hard to see why Katy was so hung up on him (I don’t care how sexy he is) until really late in the book. That’s slightly problematic for me.

Additionally, I kept feeling like this was Twilight while I was reading it. Not in that horrid, bad fanfiction kind of way, but rather this is what Twilight *should* have been. Well-written, charged with danger and emotion, full of things actually *happening* not just “Oh, Edward looks like a Greek God!” But the similarities remain. The outcast characters who are… different. The bubbly sister who just loves and cuddles you, insisting her brother is your long lost love. Not to mention the whole “I hate you, but not really” hot cold thing with Daemon… I mean, this reads so much better, but I just couldn’t shake the feeling, no matter how I tried.

And finally, the Whole. Damn. Thing. With. Simon. Seriously? Everyone told you not to be an idiot. I’m not saying it was Katy’s fault, because Simon was the a-hole, but I wish she had listened to the instincts that everyone else seemed to have. Especially since she didn’t even like him. Again, not her fault. Never her fault. But I did want to shake my head at her a little. I couldn’t help it.

Next, Le Characters.

What was good:

The snark. Oh my god, the snark. It was all over the place and it was beautiful. I want all of my characters to be jerks to each other now. They need to have witty, scathing comebacks and they need to make comedic, totally inappropriate, I like to make you made hilarity. Like, all the time. Seriously, I really enjoyed the dialogue in this and that is because Armentrout made some wicked lovely characters here. Screw the romance, them verbally sparring with one another made me want to get a flag, throw on a foam finger, and paint my face like Braveheart. It was awesome.

It made me like Daemon even when I hated him, and that’s pretty darn impressive. Additionally, I actually did like Katy. She wasn’t just a “oh, I’m so plain” Jane. Instead, she was a self-aware, struggling to find herself teen. She didn’t want to be Jane. Instead, she wanted to be Joan. As in badass Joan Jett. I appreciated that she tried to go against her initial, shy instincts and fight back. I think it showed us some struggle and growth.

What was bad:

Um, I hate to say it, but Dee. See, I liked her. A lot. She was fun and bubbly and the kind of BFF everyone wants. Beautiful and fun, but so over the moon for you that she forgets all that and slums it with us poor mortals.

But that’s sort of the issue. She’s known Katy for 2.436 seconds and there’s our insta-love… She just has to be Katy’s friend. Nevermind the danger or the problems it causes. She has to. Even though she doesn’t know a darn thing about this girl. Nope, nada. Just that she’s the new neighbor. It felt too much like a means of introducing the romance and giving us a reason why Katy and Daemon would ever hang out despite their mutual hatred. I just couldn’t buy it, even with the reasons Armentrout supplied to convince us of why she would do this.

Also, is it just me, or is Dee basically Alice from Twilight? Serious.

Finally, a section for Tropes and Other Much Hated Things:

Paranormal As A Vehicle For YA Romance – or SciFi in this case. A bit of But Why Would He Want Me? And a smidgeon of It’s Dangerous For You To Be With Me – But I Want You Anyway.

Really, other than some of the typical teenage romance stuff and some Must Have scenes in YA (the dance, Halloween night, a moment in the woods/at the beach/otherwise outdoorsy smoldering hottimes), I didn’t feel this was excessively tropey. Yes, Katy was sort of Plain Jane. Yes, Daemon was a wee bit Greek God of Hotness. Yes, Dee did embody the Pretty Best Friend. But I feel like most of them moved past these molds also, or at least made an effort to.

Also, Katy was saved a lot by Daemon—but she did some saving, too! It was pretty awesome considering she’s only human.

Would I recommend this? Yes—if you enjoy teen romance, love-hate relationships, a little bit of paranormal (because it reads more like paranormal than SciFi), and you appreciate some snarky characters.

sincerely3

E.C. Orr

Book Information:

obsidianTitle: Obsidian (Lux #1)
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
ISBN: 1620610078
Language: English
Approximate Length: 335 pages
Stars: ★★★★☆
I have an ebook mobi format.

Sex in YA – Appropriate?

WARNING: Before continuing, please be advised that this post shall contain certain terms that may not be appropriate for younger readers or might make some readers uncomfortable. These terms will be used for the purposes of properly defining terms such as erotica and will be centered on sexual euphemisms for genitalia. If you are uncomfortable with these terms, please read no further. If you would like to read the gist of this post, but are thoroughly offended by the terms, please leave a comment or contact me on another page/post/email and I will be happy to provide you with a summary minus the terms. Thank you.

dear-reader3

Continue reading “Sex in YA – Appropriate?”