Saturday, March 22, 2014

Mini reviews, my catch up list of books (ps- it is sooo much longer than this post!)

I am currently some astounding number of books behind on reviews (like 23 or something, I refuse to count then it won't seem quite as heinous), so it seems like a good time to dive into some mini reviews for books I either read so long ago that my thoughts are a bit stagnant, or for which I didn't have sweeping opinions on.

Pilgrims Don't Wear Pink, by Stephanie Kate Strohm
From Goodreads:
Libby Kelting had always felt herself born out of time. No wonder the historical romance-reading, Jane Austen-adaptation-watching, all-around history nerd jumped at the chance to intern at Camden Harbor, Maine’s Oldest Living History Museum. But at Camden Harbor Libby’s just plain out of place, no matter how cute she looks in a corset. Her cat-loving coworker wants her dead, the too-smart-for-his-own-good local reporter keeps pushing her buttons, her gorgeous sailor may be more shipwreck than dreamboat — plus Camden Harbor’s haunted. Over the course of one unforgettable summer, Libby learns that boys, like ghosts, aren’t always what they seem.

A very fun, short read, Pilgrims Don't Wear Pink appealed both to my love of history and a nice light read.  Libby is somewhat flaky, but in a charming legally blond type way, her friends are a handful and her enemies are a combination of ridiculous and downright nutty.  I liked how Strohm mixed some truly outrageous story lines with a believable summer job at a historical village.  I've worked for a summer camp and for a historical house at different points, and I can say she hit both things on the nose with Camden Harbor.  

The story was both fun, and funny, the epitome of a nice light read.  Also, a contemporary YA to appeal to those who don't necessarily enjoy contemps, what with the historical/paranormal elements.

Pilgrims Don't Wear Pink, by Stephanie Kate Strohm
Published by Graphia, May 2012
My copy kindly provided by the publisher

Confederates Don't Wear Couture, by Stephanie Kate Strohm
From Goodreads:
Libby's best friend and fabulous fashion designer, Dev, hatches a plan to jet down South and hawk his period gowns to the wives and girlfriends of Civil War re-enactors. With a pang, Libby abandons her plan to visit her boyfriend, Garrett, in Boston and jumps at the chance to help run "Confederate Couture," and let her inner history nerd loose in a 19th century playground. But Libby and Dev aren't whistling Dixie for long. Between the constant travel from battle ground to dusty battle ground (with no Starbucks in sight, mind you), blistering heat, and a violent ghost set on romantic revenge, they quickly realize Alabama's no sweet home. And the boys. . . well, let's just say Libby's got the North and the South fighting for her attention.

A worthy sequel to Pilgrims Don't Wear Pink, book the second has one thing that makes it even better than the first. More Dev. In fact, in many ways, Dev makes this story, he can't help himself, he just has one of those personalities.

Strohm has found another fun way to unleash Libby's love of history, and this time I only knew fleeting bits about the die-hard civil war re-enactors, so it was fun to read more about this crazy hobby.  A whole other world, which is likely mostly unknown to anyone other than those who live in the southern United States, it brings a great deal of the flavour to her story.  

The love triangle was a smidge contrived, and became a bit of a north versus south battle which was a little lost on me since I only know the very basics about American civil war history (I'm more of a European history girl and also not something Canadian schools get into), but I can forgive it because I really liked Beau.  All in all it was another fun, fluffy read.  Excellent distraction while stuck somewhere annoying and/or boring.

Confederates Don't Wear Couture, by Stephanie Kate Strohm
Published by Graphia, June 2013
My copy kindly provided by the publisher
The Kissing Booth, by Beth Reekles
From Goodreads:
Meet Rochelle Evans: pretty, popular--and never been kissed. Meet Noah Flynn: badass, volatile--and a total player. And also Elle's best friend's older brother...

When Elle decides to run a kissing booth for the school's Spring Carnival, she locks lips with Noah and her life is turned upside down. Her head says to keep away, but her heart wants to draw closer--this romance seems far from fairy tale and headed for heartbreak.


There is a place for everything in reading. You don't have to like it all, but someone will.  And there is decidedly a place for that whole forbidden romance silliness in YA.  However, there's the well written kind (the DUFF comes to mind) and there's the truly bad kind, like the Kissing Booth.  I'm well rounded enough I can enjoy the good kind, but too snooty to do anything but complain bitterly about the bad kind.  If you're not snooty about a rotten romance then don't read further, I promise I will totally infuriate you.

I requested this book from the publisher after the big fuss about it's sale (it was a 17 year old in the UK who sold it to Random House after posting it on Wattpad.  She has been referred to as the YA E.L James because of her backwards publishing success, meaning from online to print), I suspected it wouldn't be super high quality, but The Duff was written by a teenager too, so you never know!

For starters, the premise is ridiculous: the pretty popular girl in school has zero self esteem about herself, so she's never been kissed, however she is 100% comfortable getting undressed in front of her best friend, a super good looking guy, and gets drunk and has to be dragged off to be stopped from skinny dipping in front of a bunch of guys at a party? Or the hottie, Noah, is considered far and wide a player but he isn't really and that's his super big secret? That the school carnival would allow students to run a kissing booth, or that all the girls are dying to kiss Noah until he walks up and then they all chicken out, although they've been kissing dozens of other guys all day? But what's worse is the drama that was inflicted on every possible situation. Everything was either humiliating or heart stopping, there was very little actual story, and almost no down time where you actually got some feel for the characters, other than they were all super concerned about dates, clothes and who was making out with whom.

Anyhoots, it gets worse, there is much, much more I could complain about, but this is supposed to be a mini review after all.  Suffice it to say it was equal parts unbelievable in pretext, and sloppily written.  To be fair it's a full on romance with all sorts of secrets, sneaking around and lip action with little thought to how it goes together story wise, and for some readers, that's all they need.  To which I say, enjoy!  And also, would you like my copy?

The Kissing Booth, by Beth Reekles
Published by Ember, April 2013
My copy kindly provided by the publisher
Buy The Kissing Booth on Amazon (I promise not to judge you)

The Wrap Up List, by Steven Arnston
From Goodreads:
In this modern-day suburban town, one percent of all fatalities come about in the most peculiar way. Deaths—eight-foot-tall, silver-gray creatures—send a letter (“Dear So-and-So, your days are numbered”) to whomever is chosen for a departure, telling them to wrap up their lives and do the things they always wanted to do before they have to “depart.” When sixteen-year-old Gabriela receives her notice, she is, of course devastated. Will she kiss her crush Sylvester before it’s too late?
There were several things I loved about this book.  It had an incredibly quirky premise, it took an unexpected turn, managed to surprise me even though I had no expectations, and finally, it was uplifting.

Lets start with the premise, it's pretty out there, and it gets more so as you get deeper into the story, but Arntson is a clever storyteller and deftly walks you through all his complicated twists without ever confusing the reader.  Everything holds together so nicely I never had reason to question any of his decidedly unusual world building. But more to the point he fleshed out his characters, including the mysterious deaths, so nicely that I didn't care to question anything, I was far too enamoured of these people to ever consider that what they were doing was a bit nutty.

Unusual premise, world building and surprising twists aside though, this story had both a lot of heart and a glowingly positive vibe for a book about death. Especially the death of someone so young. It was a joy to read and certainly has become one of my more treasured books because of it. Reading is all about stumbling upon books like these, and you do yourself a great disservice if you don't give this one a chance, obscure though it might seem.

The Wrap-Up List, By Steven Arnston
Published by Houghton Mifflin , January 8th, 2013
My copy kindly provided by the publisher
Buy The Wrap-Up List on Amazon

Unremembered, by Jessica Brody

From Goodreads:
When Freedom Airlines flight 121 went down over the Pacific Ocean, no one ever expected to find survivors. Which is why the sixteen-year-old girl discovered floating among the wreckage—alive—is making headlines across the globe.

Even more strange is that her body is miraculously unharmed and she has no memories of boarding the plane. She has no memories of her life before the crash. She has no memories period. No one knows how she survived. No one knows why she wasn’t on the passenger manifest. And no one can explain why her DNA and fingerprints can’t be found in a single database in the world.

Crippled by a world she doesn’t know, plagued by abilities she doesn’t understand, and haunted by a looming threat she can’t remember, Seraphina struggles to piece together her forgotten past and discover who she really is. But with every clue only comes more questions. And she’s running out of time to answer them.

Her only hope is a strangely alluring boy who claims to know her from before the crash. Who claims they were in love. But can she really trust him? And will he be able to protect her from the people who have been making her forget?

Ugh, totally forgettable beyond remembering that I really didn't like the girl, and that the premise seemed stilted and stale.  Screwed up memories, who can you trust, mystery girl who is stunningly beautiful and mysterious. Please tell me you don't think this has been done to death already, because that's how I felt through the whole read. Obviously if this was going to be a fair review I would go into depth all the reasons I found it boring or ridiculously contrived. Alas, it was too long ago for me to give it that justice and really, I can 100% guarantee you I would have just ranted. It was just that kind of read for me. 

This book was 100% not for me though, I remember that vividly!

UNREMEBERED, by Jessica Brody
Published by Farrar Straus Giroux, March 5th, 2013
My copy kindly provided by the publisher

5 comments:

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  2. I've heard a lot of mediocre things about Unremembered so I just took it off my TBR. But the Wrap Up List intrigues me.

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    1. Yay! It is truly charming, you should try it!

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  4. +JMJ+

    I love your mini-reviews! =) The Stephanie Kate Strohm stories sound interesting, because I'm a huge history buff . . . but I'm really not crazy about love triangles. So I'll have to see . . .

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