The Summer I Wasn't Me

The Summer I Wasn't Me - Jessica Verdi This gorgeous book is the first (and only) I won at a giveaway – courtesy of the lovely Lisa over at Bookshelf Fantasies, who went above and beyond and got me the book despite the fact that the publisher wouldn’t ship outside of the US (thankyouthankyouthankyou). It’s so pretty and looks so freaking good on my shelf, you guys!

I was excited to read this as the story sounded so interesting, and we definitely need more YA books handling tough subjects and shedding light on important issues (yeah, because “gay camps” are actually a thing, if you can believe it). And though the subject was handled well, I don’t know… This is one of those hard ones to review for me.

The thing is, I really liked this book. It kept me hooked, and entertained. I really liked the writing, it flowed really well. And though I liked how the author handled the central theme without a fuss and straight on, there were other aspects that needed a different layer of seriousness. In the end. it was written like a light read while handling really big topics. I don’t want to get into spoilers but there were certain aspects of the camp that could/should have brought the book to a whole new level – yet didn’t.

The story was good, original, important. The writing was very pleasant. But it was divided between light and dark without fully falling into either, and that, for me, didn’t work. It lacked depth. That being said, though it wasn’t all it could have been, it was still highly enjoyable and I will definitely be reading more by the author.

John Dreamer

John Dreamer - Elise Celine John Dreamer sounded and looked like a winner. I love when books toy with the surreal and the subconscious and dreams have always been one of my favorite topics. So although my expectations weren’t sky-high, I was hoping for something at the very least semi-good.


There is certainly a nugget of a good idea in it, but it’s very poorly executed. Simplistic, dumbed-down spelled-out writing. No nuance or subtlety. Preachy and eye-roll inducing. It boils down to a bunch of life lessons disguised as narrative, with a bit of romance thrown in for good measure. It’s a pity because it really could have been good, if it had been explored better. The characters were so formulaic, completely one-dimensional.

For some reason I feel like the author wrote this book with stupid readers in mind. So everything is clear as day, obvious, unimaginative. This saddens me more than any other flaw, and it is probably why it took me so long to power through the book and finish.

A major letdown in all aspects.

The Lost Boys: True Love Never Dies...

The Lost Boys: True Love Never Dies... - Lilian Carmine That tagline should have been my first warning. The crazily inaccurate comparison to Twilight the second.

Alas, what to say about this book. Not much good, that’s for sure. The plotline was weak at best and had crazy detours that added nothing but high school drama to the mix. The characters were one dimensional, not to mention that all of the Lost Boys were pretty much flawless, gorgeous male specimens. I could never even tell them apart. They mostly operated as a mass instead of individual beings – the were The Band, unfailingly supportive, uniformly bland.

Worst of all, the writing. It’s reflected in everything else how incredibly childish it is. And those exclamation marks! Were a little bit abused! OMG!

It wasn’t a total travesty. It was lightly entertaining, occasionally funny. Yet this was not enough to save it as a whole. It feels more like a rough first draft, unpolished. And quite frankly, I didn’t feel like it brought anything new.

There’s more, though: it’s a series.

Me Since You

Me Since You - Laura Wiess Me Since You handles grief in a very direct in-your-face kind of way. It is not the kind of book that moves with subtlety or grace, there are no half-words and hidden meanings. Everything is clear and all the hurt is right before you, spelled out all over the pages. I am not saying this is a bad thing.

I’m not sure how to talk about this one because it was so raw. So obvious. Sometimes, I felt, a little too obvious. A little too much. But isn’t the path of grief composed of that too? Rowan’s story, though uniquely her own, will resonate with anyone who has gone through the grieving process. I am not really equipped, fortunately, to say whether or not it is an accurate journey, but I believe Weiss did a good job of capturing the anguish.

I would say that the one thing I wasn’t so fond of was how one-dimensional it was, though I understand why. There was nothing beyond it, as when tragedy hits there is nothing beyond that for a while. And though it might make it more real, it also makes it a hard book to read.

Despite the fact that it didn’t have a big impact on me, I still managed to really enjoy this book. It is well written, simple and straightforward, honest and touching. It was well paced, with good characters, beautifully portraying the all-consuming sorrow of loss and the hopeful beginnings of healing.

Shooting Stars

Shooting Stars - Clayton Zane I don’t even quite know what to say about this book except for a big fat NO.

Clayton Zane is, in addition to being a writer, a filmmaker, and this novel started off sounding like an introductory movie voiceover – then continued to sound the same until the very end. I enjoyed it at first, despite this. The writing had a nice lyrical quality to it, though a little forced at times, and I kept waiting for the tone to change. It never did though and eventually the likability it held at first dissipated, turning into an endless loop of the same thing only in different scenes.

I wanted to like it. Music as a theme, and a rock ‘n’ roll band in particular, is something that appeals to me and was the reason I picked this up in the first place. But the same old song and dance of the tortured musical artist who indulges in drugs and alcohol didn’t have an ounce of uniqueness to make it stand out. The fact that both his salvation and his downfall come in the form of a girl did not help.

Which leads us to characters – the main character, whose name I don’t think we ever learn, ended up being an idiot. Idiot is not in fact the first thing that comes to mind, but let’s keep it civilized. His actions are moronic at best, his atrocious behavior and his awareness of this grated on my nerves until I wanted to slap him repeatedly (though, truthfully, I doubt it would have done any good). Carla is uninspired at best, James couldn’t be more formulaic, and the rest don’t even bear mentioning.

Overall it had some potential but quickly plummeted downhill. Disappointing, frustrating, and ultimately unremarkable.

Phoenix Island

Phoenix Island - John  Dixon I was so excited to read Phoenix Island, was so prepared to love it. This is why I am sad things went so badly.

Phoenix Island is built on an interesting premiss. It didn’t start off badly and you have this feeling that something cool is on the way. This feeling dissipates almost as soon as we actually get to the island.

This is a hard one for me to review because I can’t pinpoint all the reasons as to why I didn’t like it. Unlike The Maze Runner, which I hated with a passion, the writing flows well, there are no major flaws. My qualms with this one are mostly plot-based, and a little character-based.

Firstly, I cannot not say how deeply disturbing this book is. It is one of the most violent books I have ever read – and this from a YA novel that censors swear words. I can’t stress this enough – there is so much blood and gore that I had to pause for a second and reflect on how anesthetized society is to this kind of violence that kids are handed books where no one says fuck but where vicious fights are described in detail. I dislike violence, I have big qualms with it, so this was a big issue for me.

There were certain sequences of events that were about as likely to happen as the Pope flying to Mars on a Pegasus. The whole book had a feel of a bad action movie where the hero gets shot at with bazookas and miraculously always lives. There was no real depth to soften this, even relationships between characters mostly faded into nothing, just more pawns in the game.

If Carl was a tad off at times, Octavia was downright unsettling. Of all the many disturbing aspects of the novel, I think this character was the most mentally unbalanced and the creepiest factor in the equation. Her mental processes freaked me out. I felt no empathy for her, I just felt sickened.

I didn’t connect with the characters at all. I never cared about the outcome. There were a few moment that made me think something good might have come out of it – Stark had a few, and the Island Forcers. There were a few great angles that could have made it so much more interesting, instead of generic and whitewashed.

Overall it was disappointing, just a bad action movie with less explosions and more hand-to-hand combat. It was definitely a very bad fit for me.


Witchfinder - Ruth Warburton Pretty cover is pretty – we should all know better than to be swayed by this, and yet…

Ah, this book. Where to even begin. There was so much potential for this to be a true winner and not the formulaic, overdone and one-dimensional story it turned out to be. The storyline was straightforward and simple enough, even believable enough, if a little iffy on some details, but the execution fell short, making it a bland story about bland people who happily fit the roles they’d been assigned. There is no real depth or complexity to either the characters of the plot.

Which is sad, because it was enjoyable enough. I liked the idea of it. I liked the romance. There was nothing about it that was atrociously unforgivable. But it definitely does not reach its mark.

I had a real issue with Sebastian, your standard villain, archetypal in every way with not a drop of flavor. If you’re going to have an antagonist please make him a real person, not an evil robot (unless the story is, in fact, about robots gone bad). That ending also ticked me off immensely – not the ending itself, but the way it was done. Awkward and theatrical in setting, I was shaking my head the whole time. Rosa’s family was another example of done-by-the-book, typical and boring and old news.

Overall, it wasn’t bad, but lacked a little twist, a little zest of something different – instead it brought nothing new to the table. I would read the next one, but definitely won’t be waiting anxiously for it.

The Summer I Found You

The Summer I Found You - Jolene Perry First of all LOOK AT THAT COVER. LOOK AT IT. It was my reason for picking this book, I am so in love with it, it’s so gorgeous.

I only wish the inside matched the outside. There are so many things in this book that were less than perfect. I wanted to love it – the story sounded so good, like a little more than your typical YA fluff. I wanted to see these real characters with real problems, with depth and emotion and complexity.

Instead, we get Kate. Kate is one of the most immature characters I have ever come across in YA literature. She is self-centered and childish to the extreme, disregarding consequences as well as the feelings of those around her because she’s too busy whining to notice/care. Aidan is only a slight improvement – I felt like there was so much more that could have been done with his character and his story, instead of the superficial, one-dimensional, beaten track the author chose.

Still, it was a strangely compelling story. I am a sucker for romance, and did stay up late to finish it. Though many elements fail, it was still a pretty enjoyable read, the kind you just gobble down. I think that if the author had expanded, both in length and in depth, this could have been a real winner.

As it is, it’s a light and quick YA romance, cute enough to keep you reading but not memorable enough to stay with you afterwards.

Vampire Forensics: Uncovering the Origins of an Enduring Legend

Vampire Forensics: Uncovering the Origins of an Enduring Legend - Mark Collins Jenkins I’ve liked vampires for a long time – maybe it began with Twilight (yes, I like Twilight – the books, not the movies), or with the Argeneau novels or some other source too far back in the past to be properly remembered. I loved, loved, loved Dracula and it’s the older versions of vampire tales that really interest me, back when they indicated horror more than paranormal romance. So this book immediately caught my attention.

I loved the beginning – a sort of trip through the evolution of the vampire figure in culture, from film to literature and poetry. However, this was more of a brief introduction and not really in depth enough for my liking. It then moves backwards, tracing the origin of the myth, moving through different time periods, countries and traditions.

Though it’s an extremely interesting book, it is largely disorganized. It doesn’t maintain a clear timeline, or even follow a clear topic, instead it jumps back and forth constantly, moving between mythology and folklore a bit aimlessly. It ends up not exploring any of the themes satisfyingly, but providing a wide range of information sort of jumbled together.

Still, it was an easy read, though probably best seen as more of an appetizer. I did learn quite a bit, there were many fascinating facts and stories – overall, it was a highly entertaining book, though there was much room for improvement.

A Shade of Vampire

A Shade of Vampire - Bella Forrest A copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

I’m a bit conflicted. I liked it, but there were certain aspects of the book that could have ruined everything. Though it is slightly formulaic – tortured vampire, girl who doesn’t know her own worth – it still managed to bring something a little new to the equation, and make it spicy enough to keep reading.

However, there were still some basic problems with it: it was too short, could have use some more developing, a little more work in editing. I think both the story and the author have potential, even if a little rough around the edges. Certain things didn’t need to have been explicitly explained, the reader is smart enough to reach his/her own conclusions.

I am not a fan of the whole everyone-has-the-hots-for-the-main-character thing, but I liked Ben and how he fit into the story (even if it was unlikely). I don’t think the romance was too rushed, I like how they had plenty of time together, just being with each other, getting comfortable. I was pretty satisfied with this aspect of the book.

Overall, though I can pinpoint many things about the book that weren’t as good as they could be, it was a very positive read. If a little shaky at first, halfway through I could not put it down (always the highest praise a book can get). I liked the characters, the romance, and I’m looking forward to some of the action I believe is coming up. The ending, though a bit abrupt, had the desired effect – I wanted to read the next one right away.

A very easy and enjoyable read, I am looking forward to reading the second book.

The Rose Petal Beach

The Rose Petal Beach - Dorothy Koomson I can’t remember the last time I was ever this divided by a book. I don’t think any has ever offered such a ride, filled with more ups and downs than a rollercoaster. Not in a good way.

I started off loving it. I couldn’t put it down, I was hooked. But then it took a turn and I had to force myself to keep reading. Then it would change again – on and on and on until the very last page. The middle was the worst for me, it was a big struggle to read even a single page. The characters, and their actions, bothered me in a truly enormous way. I couldn’t stand them, felt no sympathy, disagreed with most of what they said, did, thought. And the way certain events were stringed together, to better play up the mystery, felt ridiculous to me. At a certain point, nothing surprised me, every plot twist had me rolling my eyes, feeling disappointed in how Koomson chose to spin it.

Full disclosure: I don’t like mystery. I don’t really enjoy it much. And this took a big turn towards mystery, more so than her previous books (the ones I’ve read, that is). But even taking that into account, the rest didn’t make up for it either.

Still. She writes beautifully, and towards the end I found myself liking the story more and more, thinking that the characters had finally turned real. Of course, on the next chapter everything was ruined again. I kept swinging from enjoying it and hearing a voice in my head going oh, come on, now!

This book exasperated me. Maybe it was the wrong time to read it, I just wasn’t in the proper mood for it, or maybe Dorothy Koomson's magic is just lost to me now. Whatever it was, I have never found one of hers so hard to read. It did not seem cohesive to me, in the sense that certain events and twists felt realistic but others just felt plain stupid. Like that ending.

I can’t say it was all bad, but I think I will give it some time before reading another Koomson book.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - Mark Haddon This book had been on my must-read list for a very long time. It won a number of prizes, had an interesting title, had been on the spotlight for quite some time and sounded really interesting.

I have enjoyed other books written from the perspective of a child – Room, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close come to mind – and the fact that it was someone with “behavioral difficulties” only made it more interesting. However, I couldn’t help but be disappointed.

The fact that the book is classified as a mystery irked me. The only mysteries were solved about half-way through and I didn’t even find them to be that mysterious. What was really saddening though, was how much potential the book had. I felt like it could have been a masterpiece, but there was simply something missing. I have no idea what, but I truly wanted to love it and found myself incapable of such. I enjoyed the writing, but it failed to grab me or move me. I am even ambivalent about the characters – I both liked and disliked them. Nothing about this book was as strong as love or hate for me – this is perhaps the greatest tragedy.

Maybe I read it at the wrong time, or maybe I just expected to much – or, more likely, I simply failed to connect with it.

Bedtime Eyes

Bedtime Eyes - Amy Yamada, Yumi Gunji, Marc Jardine Things were different now. But he would still keep playing the piano. That's all he ever did. Even when there was no piano in front of him.

The Lover's Dictionary

The Lover's Dictionary - David Levithan Some books are gifts. They hide between their pages exactly what you were looking for, unnamable feelings that touch your soul, give you back the words you wanted to say but couldn’t string together.

David Levithan co-wrote one of my favorite books, Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. For this reason alone, I became a fan. Something about the way he writes just conquered my heart right away. I knew this was going to be one of those beautiful voyages, the kind you take when you open a book that you know will speak to you. However, I was unprepared for just how much I was going to hear.

The Lover’s Dictionary tells a story through dictionary entries, where the main characters remain unnamed and each page holds profound meaning. It is a story of a relationship, a love that faces struggles, daily challenges, real things – two humans, loving each other, trying together. These words are love words, but also hurt words, hope words, dream words. There were times when I literally had to stop, hand above my heart, trying to hold whatever was spilling out. This book represents the best in writing – endless pictures of love, constantly trying to conjure up feelings that can’t be described.

I am in awe of this man’s talent, his ability to make real the dark corners of the soul and of the heart.

rest, v. and n.

Rest with me for the rest of this.

That’s it. Come closer.

We’re here.

The Lifeboat

The Lifeboat - Charlotte Rogan I am ambivalent about this book. I wanted to like it more than I did, and as it ended I enjoyed it a bit more than I had thus far. But the fact remains that it was not an easy book for me to get through – it did not grab me, despite being impeccably written. If I wasn’t so stubborn about seeing it through, I don’t think I’d have many qualms about putting it down.

It was the cover that did it, I admit. I fell in love with the cover in such a way that even as I was struggling to read it, I couldn’t not finish it.

The premise was interesting, the writing lyrical. I had a really hard time liking Grace, though. I felt no empathy for this character, and though I was happy with the ending, I was not exactly satisfied with her progress. I love that the author posed the kind of hard questions and moral struggles that don’t have any real good answer – but there were some many things happening in that boat that I opposed to so vehemently that it was hard not to judge.

I am glad I read it, but it wasn’t an entirely pleasant voyage.


Modelland - Tyra Banks Where to start. a whole mess of things. Incredibly silly, riddled with nonsense – not the good, Wonderland kind, either – and some just plain bizarre erm, stuff. Many, many times I wondered why I was still reading. In parts, it was so bad I wanted to put it down (or burn it) and never look at it again.
Yet, as ridiculous as it was, it did have its moments of entertainment. Okay, yes, it was terrible, but occasionally so-terrible-it’s-funny and I found myself actually smiling. Oh, it’s still some of the most atrocious writing I’ve ever seen and it was still painful to get through, but, possibly, for some reason unknown to me, I think I might just read the next one in the series. Although, I cringe to think of it – especially if it’s anything like the first: filled with supposedly heartwarming moments that are just so lame and cliché they made me want to barf. She also has the gift of ruining what could have been a decent scene with something really juvenile.
I just…don’t even know what to make of this one. I’ll get back to you after I find some really good brain bleach.

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