Friday, May 19, 2017

The Super-Long Mini-Review Post

As you've probably been able to tell, I've been bad at keeping up my blog lately. I've also been pretty bad at keeping up with ARC reviews. I've been writing my thoughts down, but with one exception, I haven't actually posted reviews. Which is bad, since I got these as review copies. So this is going to be one giant post where I write mini-reviews of ALL of them.


BLOOD ROSE REBELLION by Rosalyn Eves
Knopf Books for Young Readers; March 28, 2017
416 pages
DNF, no rating
I DNFed this one at the beginning of chapter 19. I'm not exactly sure how far that is - I think around the half-way point? Anyway, this had a really interesting premise, and I liked the first few chapters, but it started going downhill really, really quickly after that. The main character was totally clueless, which was getting more and more annoying. The Romani supporting characters were really not treated well. It might have improved in the second half - the main character seemed to be putting in some effort to get past her many problematic views, but I just was not interested enough to see. I'm also not even sure what the plot was - the point that the book was heading towards seemed to change so many times that I wasn't sure who wanted what or what anyone was aiming for anymore. I just decided that it wasn't worth my time. (For those of you who don't know my reading habits: I've DNFed ten books in my entire life. I have to have pretty strong feelings to do it.)
Goodreads summary:
The thrilling first book in a YA fantasy trilogy for fans of Red Queen. In a world where social prestige derives from a trifecta of blood, money, and magic, one girl has the ability to break the spell that holds the social order in place.

Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.

Her life might well be over.

In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.

As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romanies, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.
 

LETTERS TO THE LOST by Brigid Kemmerer
Bloomsbury USA Children's; April 4, 2017
400 pages

I definitely wasn't expecting to get as invested in this book as I did. I was kind of indifferent for the first chunk of it, but I'm really glad I stuck with it. By the end, I couldn't put it down! The relationship between Juliet and Declan was so interesting to explore, even though it started off in kind of a weird place - I like the idea of anonymous letters as a form of communication, but I still found Declan replying to Juliet's first letter to her mom kind of weird. The cast of characters was definitely the strong point of the novel - so many interesting personalities and good character arcs, and I really liked the ways they intersected. I especially liked Rev, and I was really happy to find out that he's going to be getting his own companion book next year! I'll definitely be reading that. The other amazing part of this book is something I can't really talk about because spoilers, but it has to do with the way everything comes together at the end in a way I never saw coming. 
Goodreads summary:
Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother's death, she leaves letters at her grave. It's the only way Juliet can cope.

Declan Murphy isn't the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he's trying to escape the demons of his past.

When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can't resist writing back. Soon, he's opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they're not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.

DUELS AND DECEPTION by Cindy Anstey
Swoon Reads; April 11, 2017
368 pages

This was a really cute book! Yes, it god a bit predictable at times, and no, it didn't really leave any lasting impression on me, but sometimes that's what you want in a book. After reading the Goodreads summary, I was a bit surprised by the actual book - I thought that the kidnapping was going to be a much bigger part of it, but that was actually resolved fairly quickly. I thought the romance between Lydia and Robert was really cute. It does come across as a bit insta-love-y, but it's really more of insta-infatuation than anything. Not one of those weird "I just met you and I'll die for you" relationships. I was invested enough in the two of them that I didn't really care that most of the rest of the characters were pretty forgettable. My one problem with the book is a bit of a spoiler, but I can say that it has to do with not understanding why a certain character did something. The motivations were explained, but I can't really think how the action taken would have helped anything.


Goodreads summary:
Miss Lydia Whitfield, heiress to the family fortune, has her future entirely planned out. She will run the family estate until she marries the man of her late father's choosing, and then she will spend the rest of her days as a devoted wife. Confident in those arrangements, Lydia has tasked her young law clerk, Mr. Robert Newton, to begin drawing up the marriage contracts. Everything is going according to plan.
Until Lydia—and Robert along with her—is kidnapped. Someone is after her fortune and won't hesitate to destroy her reputation to get it. With Robert's help, Lydia strives to keep her family's good name intact and expose whoever is behind the devious plot. But as their investigation delves deeper and their affections for each other grow, Lydia starts to wonder whether her carefully planned future is in fact what she truly wants…

NOTEWORTHY by Riley Redgate
Amulet Books; May 2, 2017
400 pages

I LOVED this book! It's exactly what I never knew I wanted so much. I'm really sad I'm not getting to write a more detailed (and on-time) review, but don't let that make you think I didn't swallow this book whole. It's incredibly diverse, it's hilarious (I can't even begin to count the number of times I laughed out loud), the premise is so unique, and Jordan is an instantly likable character. It's a pretty light contemporary, but it also doesn't shy away from bigger topics and a few darker elements. I also really liked that it was set at an arts high school - I went to an arts school for middle and high school (not a boarding school like Kensington-Blaine, though), so a lot of the things in this book were more familiar to me than the typical high school setting of your average YA contemporary. It's one of those books where I don't really have the words to express how much I loved the book, so I just want to shove a copy into your hands and say: "Trust me. You want this book."
Goodreads summary:
A cappella just got a makeover.

Jordan Sun is embarking on her junior year at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts, hopeful that this will be her time: the year she finally gets cast in the school musical. But when her low Alto 2 voice gets her shut out for the third straight year—threatening her future at Kensington-Blaine and jeopardizing her college applications—she’s forced to consider nontraditional options.

In Jordan’s case, really nontraditional. A spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s elite a cappella octet. Worshipped…revered…all male. Desperate to prove herself, Jordan auditions in her most convincing drag, and it turns out that Jordan Sun, Tenor 1, is exactly what the Sharps are looking for.

Jordan finds herself enmeshed in a precarious juggling act: making friends, alienating friends, crushing on a guy, crushing on a girl, and navigating decades-old rivalries. With her secret growing heavier every day, Jordan pushes beyond gender norms to confront what it means to be a girl (and a guy) in a male-dominated society, and—most importantly—what it means to be herself.


SOMEONE ELSE'S SUMMER by Rachel Bateman
Running Press Kids; May 9, 2017
320 pages

This is a really good example of how a book can give you nearly everything you thought you could want, all at once, and that doesn't make it instantly amazing. This book had so many tropes that I loved - road trip and adventuresome to-do list are the first that come to mind - but I just didn't love this. The beginning was especially tough to get through. It was a really long setup, a lot of which was completely unnecessary for the rest of the book. I think the problem was that I never really got attached to the characters, and I never had a great sense of their personalities. I could tell you a few random facts about each one, but they didn't seem like whole people to me at all, and so it was harder for me to care about what they were going through. The good news is once I got past the beginning, I didn't have any strong negative feelings about the book. I guess it just wasn't really for me.
Goodreads summary:
Anna's always idolized her older sister, Storm. So when Storm dies in a tragic car accident on the night of her high school graduation, Anna is completely lost and her family is torn apart. That is, until she finds Storm's summer bucket list and decides to honor her sister by having the best summer ever—which includes taking an epic road trip to the coast from her sleepy Iowa town. Setting out to do everything on Storm's list along with her sisters best friend Cameron—the boy next door—who knew that Storm's dream summer would eventually lead to Anna's own self-discovery? 

SEEKING MANSFIELD by Kate Watson
Flux; May 16, 2017
300 pages

I love Jane Austen, and while Mansfield Park isn't my favorite of her books, I was still really excited to see a retelling of it. Some things worked for me, some things didn't. I liked the way in which it was modernized - there are certain things in Mansfield Park that definitely wouldn't work with a more direct adaptation, and I thought the added background details really worked. I liked the representation of Finley's PTSD - I'm not the person to say whether it was well done or not, but I can't think of another YA book I've read with that kind of representation. I didn't really like Harlan and Finley's relationship. I know the point is that it's not supposed to be good, and that you're not always supposed to be able to tell what's real with him and what isn't, but that meant that certain developments just felt like they were coming out of the blue. I also didn't especially like how Finley's character arc was done. I liked the direction it was going, but everything just seemed so sudden at the end that she was almost a different person. Character arcs can make characters totally different, but you're supposed to be able to see that change happening. I didn't.
Goodreads summary:
Sixteen-year-old Finley Price has perfected two things: how to direct a world-class production, and how to fly way, way under the radar. The only person who ever seems to notice Finley is her best friend, the Bertram's son Oliver. If she could just take Oliver's constant encouragement to heart and step out of the shadows, she'd finally chase her dream of joining the prestigious Mansfield Theater.

When teen movie stars Emma and Harlan Crawford move next door to the Bertram's, they immediately set their sights on Oliver and his cunning sister, Juliette, shaking up Finley and Oliver's stable friendship. As Emma and Oliver grow closer, Harlan finds his attention shifting from Juliette to the quiet, enigmatic, and thoroughly unimpressed Finley. Out of boredom, Harlan decides to make her fall in love with him. Problem is, the harder he seeks to win her, the harder he falls for her.

But Finley doesn't want to be won, and she doesn't want to see Oliver with anyone else. To claim Oliver's heart—and keep her own—she'll have to find the courage to do what she fears most: step into the spotlight.
 
Have you read any of these? Are you planning to? What are some good books you've read recently? Tell me in the comments!

8 comments:

  1. I haven't read any of this, but Noteworthy is definitely on my radar! I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it. I'll definitely keep Blood Rose Rebellion off my TBR if you thought it was worth DNF-ing!

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    1. I LOVED Noteworthy! I hope you get to it soon! I'm trying to get a lot of people to read it. And yeah, I thought Blood Rose Rebellion was pretty bad. I'm usually of the "I didn't like this, but other people should form their own opinions if they want" view, but I feel no guilt about actively discouraging people from reading this one.

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  2. AHH I LOVED THESE!! And I SO want to read Noteworthy. I nearly bought it but then decided I hadn't seen enough reviews so I wasn't sure yet. Obviously a big mistake. I love laughing out loud while reading!!😂 And oafdsjafkdla I loved Letters to the Lost so so much. It completely blindsided me with how beautiful and perfect it was. <3 And I also don't even want to try Blood Rose Rebellion even though I've had the eARC sitting on my kindle for forever. *sobs*

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    1. Thanks! Noteworthy was SO GOOD! The humor was definitely one of the best parts. And Letters to the Lost was a great surprise for me, too! It started out good enough to keep my attention, and then suddenly I couldn't put it down. I would strongly advise against Blood Rose Rebellion. I'm not actually sure I've run across any good reviews of it.

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  3. Some good books on here. I wasn't overly eager to read Noteworthy but I've seen a few good reviews out there for it so I feel like I should give it a chance. And Letter to the Lost was such a good read. I got so invested in it, way more than expected and am thrilled to know Rev's getting his own book. That should be good.

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    1. I highly recommend Noteworthy! I hope a lot of people read it - I haven't heard a lot about it, and I think it deserves more hype. And I'm so excited for Rev's book, too!

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  4. I read all of those, except Blood Rose Rebellion. I passed the ARC on because it was not getting great buzz. I feel I made a good decision. I actually liked all the others, with Letters to the Lost being my fave of the bunch. **Oh yeah, can't wait for Rev's book.
    Sam @ WLABB

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    1. I hadn't heard a lot about Blood Rose Rebellion when I requested the ARC, but the premise sounded intriguing. Now, though, I'm wishing I'd passed on it.

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