2017 Reading Challenge

2017 Reading Challenge

Tina has read 2 books toward her goal of 40 books.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

REVIEW for Epic Fail by Christy Watson

Thank you to the wonderful publishing company LORIMER for sending me an electronic copy of this book to read and review.

TITLE:                      Epic Fail

AUTHOR:                Cristy Watson

GENRE:                    YA

RATING:                  3 Stars

I like this series of books because they are not afraid to tackle the hard subjects.

Epic Fail is about date rape and what it does to not only the victim but the people around her.

While the story was compelling, the characters needed to be a lot more developed. Kenzie, the victim and Jared, her friend who feels guilty about what happened are the two most developed characters and yet, I still haven't figured out much about them. Bree and Seth, two more important players in this story are mentioned on occasion, but absolutely nothing is said about them other than they are bad.

I do like that the author chose to make Kenzie work on getting better with a combination of therapy, friendship and self-esteem. The message, while hard to hear, is, in the end a positive one.

Having said all of this, there were some incredibly important moments that were completely missing in this book. ALL the parents are written as either non caring, clueless or self involved.

Jared was a good character, other than the fact that he went back and forth between being strong and extremely weak, which I would not have minded so much, if he didn't seem to spend all of his time second guessing himself on everything. But, I like that he was there for Kenzie when it mattered most and that he never judged her for what happened.

This is an interesting read, but there are some elements missing here.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Review for Being Ana by Shani Raviv

TITLE:                Being Ana

AUTHOR:          Shani Raviv

GENRE:             Memoir


I have read many, many books on addiction and I normally enjoy reading the "recovery" part more than the "disease" part.

However, with this book, it was the contrary. This book was okay until about 3/4 through and then it just got weird and boring.

For sure, I didn't particularly like the author (and the main character) at any point in this story, but that's okay. What i struggled with is the lack of emotion in this story. Even she is describing a disturbing or hard event, you get the impression she is like a robot, which I suppose is part of the story but it makes this story strangely distant.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

REVIEW for The Pumpkin Cookbook by DeeDee Stovel

TITLE:           The Pumpkin Cookbook

AUTHOR:       DeeDee Stovel

GENRE:          Cooking


Pumpkins are magical to me, not sure why, but they are.

I am not a great baker/cook so I was a little intimidated by this cookbook. Fortunately, it is extremely well structured and written and the recipes are extremely easy to follow. I especially like the muffin section!

I have made 4 of the recipes so far and they have all been amazing.

Some pumpkin information at the beginning of the book serves as the "help" section of the book.

My only negative? Where are the pictures? There are barely any pictures of the completed meals and absolutely none of the "this is how you do it" type of pictures.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

REVIEW for The Revenge by Hannah Jayne

Thank you to Sourcebooks for sending me an electronic version of this book.

TITLE:            The Revenge

AUTHOR:      Hannah Jayne

GENRE:          YA


If you can suspend your disbelief, then this book is actually quite entertaining and shines a light on an interesting subject matter, at least to me, which is the self entitled attitude that seems to be so prevalent in teens and YA.

Of course, this book is more about "suspense" then a look at today's generation, but it says a lot about how many YA's think today.

Having said that, I doubt the author was really thinking about this while crafting this story.  She did manage to create two very different main characters - neither are particularly likable and I especially did not like Tony who was, let's just say it, a dumb character.  What would you do if you found your ex girlfriend's cell, on the night she disappears?  of course, stash it in your car (dumb move number 1) and keep calling it in the hopes that Hope will answer (really???? dumb move number 2) and then spend the entire time walking around like a zombie, pretending that life has not changed and make sure to never actually finish one sentence you start and I mean NEVER finish a thought or a sentence.  This guy was making so many dumb moves that I doubt anyone would feel bad for him.

On the other hand, he had a point about Hope and HER motivation, which involves being a self entitled brat, who doesn't think further than her nose (maybe people might be pissed at your dumb move?).....

There are a few interesting turns in this story and those are what actually made this book interesting and a fun read for me.  The writing is fine and while I would have loved  a more in depth look at the "whys" in this book (or at least a better understanding of the main characters), I finished this one in a few days and was happy to have read it.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

REVIEW for Size Zero by VIctoire Dauxerre

TITLE:        Size Zero

AUTHOR:   Victoire Dauxerre

GENRE:      Memoir


I have mixed opinions about this book, but ultimately I rated it a 4 stars because I enjoyed the read immensely. Victoire writes her memoir - her life as a model and focuses most of her book on the world of modelling -vs- food (or lack of it). This was a very honest book, with a direct correlation between what the world wants to see in women and what the reality truly is.

As much as Victoire wants (and becomes) a "it" model, she ends up reducing the amount of food she eats more and more, while the world of modelling never questions why she fits in a size 0, or rather why they don't care that she does.

Victoire does a good job of describing her anorexia like behavior, intertwined with periods of binge eating and then purging through laxatives. What she does not describe all that well are the feelings she experiences. Other than boredom and anger - there never seems to be anything in between.

 Also, Victoire comes across as very immature in many instances, while being beyond her years in others. I wonder how her parents could let her go to NYC, with a man they barely know, so perhaps there are parts of the story that are missing.

Also, Victoire was in the business for a very short amount of time. I do like that she gives us a glimpse of the world of modelling, but it is very limited.

Some good and some not so good in this book. Still, very entertaining, if hard to read because of the subject matter.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

REVIEW for Lucky Girl by Amanda Maciel

Thank you to HarperCollins Children for sending me an electronic copy of this book to read and review.

TITLE:              Lucky Girl

AUTHOR:         Amanda Maciel

GENRE:            YA

RATING:           2 STARS

I adored this author's last book - Tease, in fact, re-read twice (something I rarely do).  So, I was so excited to read this one.

However, after literally pushing myself to finish (I kept counting the number of remaining pages - never a good sign) I feel as though the author committed the ultimate sin (in my eyes), she wrote an incredibly boring book.

Once again, Maciel does a good job of clearly defining her characters and I had a love/hate relationship with Rosie throughout.  As well, I love Maciel's writing, she can detail a scene extremely well, without putting too much or too little detail. 

But the story was simply soooooo slow.  At one point, when I got to the party/storm section of the book I thought "okay, this is where its going to get good" - but it didn't.  Then when I got to the "assessing the storm damage and the flipped car" I thought "now, it will get good"  - but it didn't.

It just never "got" good.  I am so disappointed.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Review of Runnin' with the Devil by Noel Monk

A huge thank you to Dey Street Books for allowing me to read this electronic ARC.

Title:               Runnin' with the Devil

Author:           Noel Monk

Genre:             Biography


I am a bit fascinated with Van Halen. I am not even sure why, I only like a few of their songs, but I guess the fact that a band can have it all and then literally implode amazes me - hoisted by their own petards has always been the saying that comes to mind when I think of them.

Noel Monk does an excellent job of describing the hectic, crazy and debauched life on the road, which is no small feat considering he was talking about Van Halen AND that he managed to never get too crude about the details.

I could not help but think how crazy people can get over show business and the "stars', be it, rock stars or tv and movie stars. When you read this type of book, you get an ideal perspective, that of looking in from the outside, which makes it easy to see just how corrupted one gets once that sacred "inner circle" is being sought. I have never been much of a follower, even in high school and anytime I have been in any kind of proximity to a "star", I have always found myself walking away, instead of to them - the whole thing is just too ridiculous, which, in short, is sort of Monk's overall attitude and take away on most of what he experienced.

Someone once told me "if you admire someone, just pray you never meet them" and I believe it.

Monk's writing style (or his ghostwriter?) was very engaging and acted as the only adult voice in a world of whinny babies. While he does not shy from telling it like it is, I suspect he also stayed away from a lot of stories, which in some ways, was apparent by the generality of most of what was written. I would have liked a little more in-depth comments, as much of what he writes is more of a generalization of the group, than specific events and people. Although he does not go easy on David Lee Roth or Alex Van Halen by any stretch.

But what is most incredible to me is that these four guys of varying talent, could not see that they were "best" together - that without each other, they would not be as successful. As predicted, large egos and even larger drug habits separated them, turning them all into crying, drooling babies. The way they imploded is fascinating and it appears as though nobody was stopping the slide into total destruction, not Monk, none of the wives - NOBODY - mind you, I am not sure that the members of Van Halen would have listened anyways......I get the feeling that nobody wanted to be on their bad side, with everyone pushing it under the rug.

The amount of drugs these guys took is staggering (and I am sure we did not even hear the half of it) oh and the sex? they should all be on their knees thanking God that they were not doing this in the age of AIDS. How are these guys still alive I will never know.

This story was powerful and extremely macabre and Monk was excellent at giving us that feeling....he knows show business and he knows Van Halen and I thoroughly enjoyed this book, even if I found myself shaking my head at every page.

Oh and for those who want to know - Valerie Bertinelli is barely mentioned in this book although there are two scenarios that made me cringe - she should have been running the other way - you know AWAY from Eddie Van halen.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

REVIEW for Touch the Earth by Julian Lennon

TITLE:   Touch the Earth

AUTHOR:  Julian Lennon

GENRE:     Picture book


Julian Lennon (son of John Lennon) is well known for his artistic abilities - music wise.  However, he has also, over the years, been an activist creating The White Feather Foundation  which mobilizes when it comes to different humanitarian causes.

Lennon has created this wonderful book for children called Touch the Earth.  

It is such a sweet, whimsical book with lovely illustrations and a deeper message that hopefully will touch the children who read it, if not now, then in the future. 

This book is about hope, love and togetherness and points towards peace and love - not violence and horror.

What a great little gem.

REVIEW for Run the Risk by Allison Van Diepen

Thank you to HarperCollins Children for approving me for an electronic copy of this book.

TITLE:                    Run the Risk

AUTHOR:               Allison Van Diepen

GENRE:                   YA

RATING:                  5 STARS

I have read ALL of this author's books and love all of them.

I immediately hooked onto this one, Mateo and Grace are wonderful characters and I like that Grace is smart and responsible and Mateo is - well - basically Grace, but with a darker past.
The writing is engaging, the story moves along at lightning speed and before I knew it, I was done.

Feeling frustration for Grace and a father who is not present and leaves it all on her, to a brother who struggles but can't see the path he is taking will kill him and to Grace herself who doesn't seem to know how to set boundaries.

Feeling frustration for Mateo who seems to have a purpose in life, is kind but can't seem to be "without" a gang.

Feeling admiration for both as they try to rise above all of it, while being kind, loving and responsible.

I loved, loved this book BUT I am starting to feel two things:

1)  That I need to start suspending my disbelief a little bit (some of the scenarios are a bit unrealistic) and
2)   This author use to write edgier stuff - StreetPharm comes to mind (like I said, I have been reading her stuff from day 1)
She needs to get back to more gritty - where NOT everything turns out perfectly.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

REVIEW for VIGILANTE by Kady Cross

Thank you to Harlequin Teen for giving me an electronic advance reading copy of this book.

TITLE:                    Vigilante

AUTHOR:               Kady Cross

GENRE:                  YA

RATING:                5 STARS

Okay, this book is terrific! but it only works if you can suspend your disbelief.

While this book is not a fantasy, I have to be honest and say that, in the *real* world this story would simply not stand up.  Having said that, however, the story was entertaining, at times sad and always, always a treat to read.

Magda is at the center of this storyline, but she rarely makes an appearance as the story is set after her death.  What propelled her death is what makes this such a compelling read and while the author sometimes goes "way out there", her take on rape and the rape mentality, especially from young men (and their parents it seems) is spot on and deserves to be pointed out.

At times, this book makes me teary eyed, but for most of it, I find myself voting and encouraging Harley with her crazy revenge scheme.  There are some seriously terrifying moments here when she gets the "heck" kicked out of her by the guys she is trying to get revenge on -and I love, love the message of female empowering throughout - there are not victims here.

The writing style is perfect, just down to earth and no flowery prose that goes on forever.

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