Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1) by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1)Illuminae by Amie Kaufman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I didn’t think I was going to like this because the formatting is BIZARRE and it’s 599 pages. But have you seen this book, guys? It’s gorgeous! So I bought it anyway (only $12 on Amazon!)!

The book is written as if it’s a collection of documents regarding the incident that took place on Kady’s planet and the ships the survivors evacuate on. There’s very little traditional book going on. It’s transcripts of instant messages, emails, computer files, and memos. I’ve never read anything like it… And I loved it.

The only thing that kept me from giving this 5 stars was AIDAN. AIDAN was annoying as all get out. It rambled on and waxed poetic about the meaning of life and other dumb shit. It was painful. Amie Kaufman must have written him. The Starbound Trilogy was equally trite.

Anyway, order this or run to your local bookstore now. This book is phenomenal and despite it’s almost 600 pages, you won’t be able to put it down.

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Adulthood Is a Myth: A “Sarah’s Scribbles” Collection by Sarah Andersen

Adulthood Is a Myth: A Adulthood Is a Myth: A “Sarah’s Scribbles” Collection by Sarah Andersen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I really enjoyed this. I thought it was relatable, funny, and well done. I laughed several times. I thought OMG. That’s so true several times. However, I’m just not sure why this is a book. It’s extremely short and took me less than 10 minutes to read. It was very unsatisfying as well. I didn’t feel like the comics were super cohesive or really had all that much to do with each other other than having the same theme. It didn’t feel like a story was being told.

It seems like this book would be better as a serial or individual blog posts. While, I really enjoyed the comics, it seems like a lot of their “weight” was lost by reading one in 15 seconds, laughing, and immediately turning the same thing to repeat the process.

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The Mother Road by Meghan Quinn

The Mother RoadThe Mother Road by Meghan Quinn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was raised to be a Southern Lady. My mom taught me manners, how to sew, how to cook, how to be a good hostess, etc. I wasn’t quite a debutante, but I got a pretty good “education.” To my mom’s dismay I’m also somewhat crass and enjoy a good dirty joke, but you know what I don’t like? TOILET HUMOR. We NEVER EVER talked about bodily functions in my family growing up and it’s something I’m still uncomfortable talking about with ANYONE. This book is absolutely hilarious, but full of jokes about things that I can’t even type. Things that boys do and think are funny. Those things. Gross. BUT… I loved this story and these characters so much, but the excess toilet humor didn’t piss me off enough to put this down.

I loved Marley and her evolution from tom boy to beauty blogger. I loved her dedication to her career and her love for her family. I loved Bernie and his presidential cursing. I loved Diva Paul and his drama. I definitely loved Porter and his quiet determination and love for Marley and the rest of the McManns. Thee characters’ relationships with one another were so heartwarming and funny.

This book was so funny and so lovely. I wish I could Eternal Sunshine it from my mind and read it again.

Also hot sex and road trips. Obviously.

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Did I Mention I Need You? (The DIMILY Trilogy, #2) Read My rating: 1 of 5 stars [ 2 of 5 stars ] 3 of 5 stars 4 of 5 stars 5 of 5 stars Preview Did I Mention I Need You? (The DIMILY Trilogy #2) by Estelle Maskame

Did I Mention I Need You? (The DIMILY Trilogy, #2)Did I Mention I Need You? by Estelle Maskame
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Minor spoilers ahead… I guess. To be honest, there’s not really much of a plot here at all so I’m not sure how much can be spoiled, but anyway, you’ve been warned.

So the book opens a year later and we (the readers) have missed all of the good stuff. Eden has been dating Dean for the duration of her and Tyler’s separation and Tyler has been on his tour/living in New York. We are never given any insight into how these events transpired- which sucks. Eden is just all of a sudden in love with Dean, though still trying to get over Tyler. Tyler is revealed to have all of a sudden snapped out of his teenage angst and developed a sunny disposition over the course of the year, but we’re never let in on how this happens.

Eden spends the entire book alternating between being a total asshole by cheating on Dean and overreacting to every little thing that is or could threaten her burgeoning relationship with Tyler. Tyler spends the entire book either being an asshole by sleeping with his best friend’s girl or obsessing over Eden to the point where he films himself talking about her and how great she is for 4 hours. Literally. As in that is the number of hours of tape he uses according to the book. It’s not a number I made up to exaggerate how obsessed with Eden he is. FOUR HOURS.

There’s not a lot going on here. Eden meets Tyler’s roommate, Snake, who we are never really given any backstory on except that he’s from Boston. Then, Tyler’s friend, Emily, from the tour shows up and needs a place to stay. Eden is, of course, very threatened by Emily despite Tyler and Emily both swearing up and that they’re just friends with a super strong bond. This bond is created by some event that occurred on tour that is never revealed in the book. The book does a lot of alluding and implying, but never really gets around to actually giving the reader any idea what brought the events that are transpiring to fruition. It makes everything seem thin. I never fully fell into the world because I felt excluded. There was so much I wasn’t in on- so much withheld information.

The end of this book is utterly infuriating, but not unexpected. Obviously since it’s a trilogy it was going to have a cliffhanger. And obviously since this author seems to consistently pull conflict out of thin air, the cliffhanger was going to be a fight and decision completely out of nowhere and inconsistent with the actions of the characters for the entirety of the novel.

This book sucks, but I gave it 2 stars because something about it makes me want to see it through. I guess I would say this book is like toast. It’s fine, and everyone kind of likes it. You eat a couple bites of it when it’s included with your omelet or bacon and hash browns at breakfast just because it’s on your plate, but it’s nothing to get excited about. No one gets out of bed for toast.

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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith, Jane Austen, Roberto Parada

Pride and Prejudice and ZombiesPride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m not sure why, but I was expecting this to be something other than a rewrite of Pride and Prejudice with zombies added. So I was a tad disappointed when I found myself reading the same book I’ve read 30 times over again with minor differences.

This book was fine for what it is. It’s incredibly kitsch, so I don’t expect people who aren’t fans of the original to like it. I had a good time reading it.

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The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre

The Queen of Bright and Shiny ThingsThe Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My favorite thing about this was the teenagers acting like teenagers without acting like what adults think teenagers act like. These teenagers had been abused, neglected, and had suffered major trauma, but were trying to be better. They overreacted, they made poor choices, but it wasn’t because they were stupid or weren’t taking things seriously. It was because they’re teenagers. I remember being 16 vividly. I remember how important everything was and how I felt everything as if it was magnified a thousand times. I had my first boyfriend and fell madly in love with him for no reason. Then I got my heart broken as was more sad than I had any real right to be. This book conjured a lot of those feelings for me. I felt like the author did a pretty authentic job of recreating what it feels like to be 16 (at least in my experience). Maybe it’s that I live in a small town too (it’s called “Niceville,” for goodness sake), but I could relate to being able to bike every where and walking around town with friends.

Sage’s thing with cars was so silly that it would have made me want to stab my eyeballs out if not for my brief experimentation with veganism for absolutely no reason when I was 16. When I say no reason, I mean no reason. I had no moral objection to anything. I just thought being a vegan was cool. So I could see why 16 year old Sage would decide cars = bad. Especially with her past negative experiences with them. Sage had several reasons to avoid cars. I had zero reasons to justify being a vegan. I mean, besides being an unbearable idiot.

Additionally, I really liked how fully the author developed her characters. I felt like I had a good idea of who each person was. She really took the time to develop everyone and their relationships with each other. I loved this. The last book I read did an extremely poor job of drawing me into the book’s world so I was very ready to be fully absorbed in the book characters’ lives.

The book was, at times, super cheesy. Shane says himself that he doesn’t know how to be a boyfriend and the romantic things he does for Sage seem to be ripped out of an after school special. The rest of the book was so well done that I could get past it. And to be honest, the cheese sort of fit in with the rest of the book. Teenagers doing what they thing they should be doing because everything is so important and momentous and real to them.

I had 2 main complaints though:
1. Ryan. WTF was the point of this character. He seemed to exist only to be the catalyst to Sage’s transformation. As soon as she meets Shane it’s like the author was like “oh man. I better get this other dude out of the way so he doesn’t cause any drama between Shange.” I get that a lot of the consequences of Ryan’s quasi-removal from the story were essential to the plot and were super interesting to read, but I wish he would have been better incorporated back into the story. They’re BFF’s at the beginning and then all of a sudden (due to something super shitty Ryan does) he’s pretty much exiled from Sage’s life and only allowed back in as a very minor supporting character. I think a lot more could have been done with Ryan in the story. It seemed like a waste.

2. (view spoiler)

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The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver

<a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24688278-the-secrets-we-keep” style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img border=”0″ alt=”The Secrets We Keep” src=”https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1435860959m/24688278.jpg” /></a><a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24688278-the-secrets-we-keep”>The Secrets We Keep</a> by <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7029937.Trisha_Leaver”>Trisha Leaver</a><br/>
My rating: <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1259124771″>1 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
For such a short book, this took me forever to read. Partly because it was just so two dimensional in every single way. Great idea for a novel, but very poor execution. <br><br>I didn’t connect with any of it. I didn’t feel sad when Maddy and Ella get into the accident. I didn’t feel sad when Maddy dies and Ella decides to take over her identity. I didn’t feel anything at all when Ella struggles with her decision. I didn’t hate any of the bad guys. I wasn’t overly absorbed in the story. Nothin’. The author failed to draw me in and make me care. <br><br>The novel basically has no plot. The plot is: Ella and Maddy get into accident. Ella takes over Maddy’s identity. Maddy did something bad. Ella doesn’t want to be Maddy anymore. Even the mystery surrounding the bad thing Maddy did before she died is painfully boring. There’s no giant conspiracy. Ella basically just asks someone what happened and is told. I was expecting this book to at some point have some interesting sub plots- Ella starts dating her old best friend as Maddy and has to come clean OR the bad thing Maddy did before dying has major consequences for Ella OR Maddy’s relationship with her boyfriend was actually abusive or SOMETHING. But it was just Ella grieving in self-destructive ways and nothing exciting ever coming from it. <br><br>I was bored the entire novel. So incredibly bored.
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Sugar Scars by Travis Norwood

Sugar ScarsSugar Scars by Travis Norwood
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Received via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

OY VEY! OK, here’s the takeaway: this is a great idea for a story. I actually enjoyed reading it. The pacing is great. It’s totally original. The world building is superb. Yet, it made me feel kind of icky.

The premise definitely something I haven’t encountered before. I have to give the author props for that. Sugar is in her early twenties and one of the few people who are immune to a virus that has killed all but 1 in 9600 people. The problem is she’s diabetic and has to figure out how to make her own insulin or die after what she’s stockpiled expires.

I’m giving this 2.5 stars (and not rounding up) because of the author’s originality and my overall enjoyment of the story, but I am having to shove a ton of dust and grime under the rug to do so. There are two big things wrong with this book and one of them is gigantic.

1. The character development is somewhat inconsistent and sometimes lacking.

a) Sugar’s voice seemed to shift at about 10% into the book. She all of a sudden goes from authentic young woman to old lady. Examples: “Don’t judge me. I don’t know what kind of society will have formed years from now, if the world is able to recover, or what kind of morals you’ll have when reading this.” and “We made love on the lounge chair out in the open. […] We were utterly, deliciously alone.” All of a sudden Sugar’s narration sounded like things my southern Methodist mom would write if she was trying to write a romance novel.

b) Kyle is way underdeveloped. We’re told Sugar loves him, but we’re never exposed to this process. We don’t know much about Kyle or their relationship. I was annoyed that I wasn’t in on why Sugar liked him.

2. The overall tone of this novel is ignorant and prejudiced. I felt like I was watching Fox News.

a)There is a stupid amount of talk of religion and God. Do I think the question of God’s existence belongs in a post-apocalyptic novel? Absolutely. That’s why I wasn’t super put off by it until it came up for the 10,000th time. I believe in God and I was irritated. I can’t imagine how put off any non-religious readers will be.

b) The author’s views on women and what they think about sex and men are prehistoric. He seemed to have no earthly idea what the average young women actually thinks about sex. I’m just going to leave some quotes here for you to see for yourself.

i) “If I had a future, if there could ever be a future with a man in my life, I wondered how he would react to seeing [my scars] the first time. Men want their women smooth under their touch.” Ok, well there are like 5 women left in Florida so men probably aren’t that picky any more. And that’s not even remotely true anyway. Prior to 1950’s belief, men care about more than a woman’s naked body- not that this book would do anything to convince you of that.
ii) “I wasn’t taking any birth control, and I thought it was the fertile time in my cycle. God or nature had arranged woman’s desire to be strongest when she was primed for making babies, and the night before, I had been very willing.” Just, ick.
iii) “The nakedness of a man to a woman is completely different than a woman’s to a man.” Naked men are just kind of gross, right ladies? Who would ever want to look at a naked man?????? Amiright? *eye roll*
iv) “I decided to play along and lull him into a false sense of security. Men were at their weakest when desire took over.” Men are so dumb. Show a little skin and maybe we can even earn the right to vote!
v) “John had seen all of me, but sometimes getting close to seeing everything was more tantalizing.” Nah.

I’m just going to stop there. I think you get it.

c) Without giving too much away I want to address one more thing. There’s a point in the novel where the protagonist encounters Brazilians. 99% of the Brazilian men (there is literally one man excluded) have rounded up all of the women and children, are raping them, and using them as currency. Because of course everything is A-OK in Tallahassee, FL, AMERICUH. The Americans live in peace and harmony with only one bad guy, but foreigners are evil.

So that’s pretty much it, y’all. I want to reiterate that this book would be a 5-star read without all of the bullshit I pointed out above. It truly is a good story, but there’s a lot of ignorant garbage you have to wade through to be able to enjoy it. If you’re going to read while female or feminist, you really need to strap in because it’s tough to get through. I mean, it’s not overtly homophobic. So I guess that’s something?

I also just want to leave this excerpt from the acknowledgements page here. FOR REASONS.

I am deeply grateful to Orson Scott Card for his patience and guidance. Reading his stories for the past three decades showed me what I wanted to be as a writer. His advice over the past year took my craft to the next level.

Oh.

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Roommates (Roommates, #1) by Erin Leigh, Tara Brown

Roommates (Roommates, #1)Roommates by Erin Leigh
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

There were so many things off about this book. It wasn’t bad, really, but it definitely wasn’t good.

1. SO. MUCH. SLUT-SHAMING. All of the girls who like sex in this book are sluts and whores. To be fair, Brady is called a slut too, but why can’t everyone just like sex? Why do they have to be sluts?

2. Transphobia and homophobia. This was perplexing to me, because there’s a point in the book where the characters are discussing whether someone is gay and one of the minor characters says “not to break up bigot hour.” So apparently the author knew she was writing in these scenes of transphobia and homophobia and chose to do it anyway. Why? I understand trying to write your characters a certain way- you want Brady and his friends to be assholes, but there are so many other ways to make someone an asshole that I don’t think it’s necessary to use something that we’re still struggling with as a society.

3. This book employs my least favorite trope. The “not like other girls” trope.

“Her name is Natalie Banks and we don’t mock her or treat her like a PF, ever. She’s best friends with Sami Ford, obviously, but she’s way cooler than just that. While she’s crazy hot and super fun, she’s also a ninja. She can play NHL 16 better than any of us. She laughs at dirty shit, eats pizza, and not just one slice, drinks beer, and yeah-she’s perfect. If I were you I’d just marry her and end it there. Get it over with. There’s no denying she’s the best chick in the world. She even works and has a degree and takes care of herself. There’s just no fault.”

This is what I want to know: what is so wrong with other women that being “not like other women” has become a good thing? What’s the alternative? Being like a man. OK, that’s fine too. It’s fine to like video games and pizza and to swear, but it’s also fine to like makeup and the color pink and romantic movies. I don’t get why this is a cool, popular, thing. There’s nothing wrong with women. It’s OK to be like other women.

4. This book need an editor. Badly. This book uses the phrase “sew your oats” 6 times. Sew. SEW.

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A Brit on the Side RELEASE DAY BLITZ!!

Ah!!! Good morning, guys! I am SO incredibly excited about Brenda St. John Brown’s newest novel that dropped today! The novel is called a Brit on the Side and it’s ah-maz-ing! If you haven’t already, you can read my full review here or on Goodreads! It’s only $.99 so do yourself a favor and get to one-clicking!

A Brit on the Side_final cover_AMZCover Design: Sarah Hansen/Okay Creations

Release Date: August 15, 2016

 

Synopsis

Bea’s English escape plan:
• Work in a real British castle
• Quality time with bestie
• Figure out what spotted dick really is
• Fall for bestie’s older brother. Hard.

Bea Gillespie would rather do anything than teach summer school math two classrooms down from her ex-fiancé. So when her best friend, Scarlett, invites her to England for the summer to work in her family’s castle-turned-hotel, she jumps at the chance.

Now Bea’s an ocean away from her problems at home, but she’s got a bigger one. A British one. Scarlett’s older brother, Jasper, is at Castle Calder for the summer, too. And he’s as sexy and smart as Bea remembers. Two years ago Jasper came stateside, and he and Bea shared a hot weekend. But that’s all it was — a weekend. One she purposely didn’t tell Scarlett about.

It didn’t feel like much of a secret until now. As Bea falls for Jasper, what started off as a fling begins feeling more and more like the kind of thing you’d gush about to your best friend. If you hadn’t been lying to her all along.

 

Goodreads

 

Purchase Links
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2aOLVSK

 

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Giveaway

$20 Amazon Gift Card

 

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Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/0cba4250292/?

 

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About the Author

I’m a displaced New Yorker living in the UK. I lived in London for nearly six years, but now I’m living in The North, in a tiny English village. There are sheep everywhere! Sheep!! (This is so strange to me I always have to say it twice. With multiple exclamation points.)

My novels are about teens and twenty-somethings kissing. I especially love writing sweet moments that end with a sizzle. For more info on all of my books (including one you can read for FREE), visit my website at http://brendastjohnbrown.com.

I like running and Doritos, not necessarily in that order. I also like libraries, old churches and Paris. One day I’m going to write a novel set in Paris, which will necessitate lots of trips for “research.”

 

Connect with Brenda

Newsletter Link: http://hyperurl.co/bsjb_newsletter

Facebook Author Page: http://bit.ly/29Cvwhx

Facebook Reader Group: http://bit.ly/2agyR6Q

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Twitter: http://bit.ly/29NDAzp

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Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/29KkvNu

 

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