Review: This Side of Home by Renee Watson

Book Title: This Side of Home
Author: Renee Watson
Published Date: February 3rd, 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s
Genre: YA Contemporary
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Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Identical twins Nikki and Maya have been on the same page for everything—friends, school, boys and starting off their adult lives at a historically African-American college. But as their neighborhood goes from rough-and-tumble to up-and-coming, suddenly filled with pretty coffee shops and boutiques, Nikki is thrilled while Maya feels like their home is slipping away. Suddenly, the sisters who had always shared everything must confront their dissenting feelings on the importance of their ethnic and cultural identities and, in the process, learn to separate themselves from the long shadow of their identity as twins.

In her inspired YA debut, Renée Watson explores the experience of young African-American women navigating the traditions and expectations of their culture.

Disclaimer: I received this ARC from Bloomsbury in exchange for my honest review.

Review:
I truly think that this book was just one of those books that wasn’t bad at all, but it was one that I couldn’t get into, no matter how hard I tried. I think this book had the misfortune to be read at all the wrong times. Either during a book slump or right after I finished an amazing book. I tried to read this book multiple times, and I finally just pushed myself to finish it, even though I wasn’t feeling it.

I couldn’t connect with the characters at all. I usually love stories about sisters, but I found myself bored with Nikki and Maya. I didn’t feel like I cared about them and the struggles that they were going through. I wanted to care about them and what was changing in their lives, but I just didn’t.

The pacing was incredibly slow which is probably my biggest disappointment with this book. I mean it’s a contemporary book, so I didn’t expect it to be action packed, but there were many times that I would just read a bunch and not a whole lot would happen in those pages that I read. There was a lack of feelsy moments as well. If there are good feelsy moments, that can sometimes save a slow pacing book, but not with this one.

I will be giving this one two stars. I just was bored throughout the book, the pacing was too slow and I couldn’t connect with the sisters or any of the other secondary characters. Despite me not enjoying this book, I will still recommend it to others. I seem to be the black sheep with this one, so give it a shot. Who knows, you may love it.

Review: The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

Book Title: The Truth About Forever
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Penguin Group
Published Date: May 11th, 2004
Genre: YA Contemporary
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Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & Noble
Synopsis from Goodreads:
A long, hot summer…

That’s what Macy has to look forward to while her boyfriend, Jason, is away at Brain Camp. Days will be spent at a boring job in the library, evenings will be filled with vocabulary drills for the SATs, and spare time will be passed with her mother, the two of them sharing a silent grief at the traumatic loss of Macy’s father.

But sometimes, unexpected things can happen—things such as the catering job at Wish, with its fun-loving, chaotic crew. Or her sister’s project of renovating the neglected beach house, awakening long-buried memories. Things such as meeting Wes, a boy with a past, a taste for Truth-telling, and an amazing artistic talent, the kind of boy who could turn any girl’s world upside down. As Macy ventures out of her shell, she begins to wonder, Is it really better to be safe than sorry?

Disclaimer: This book is a library book.

Review:
What a huge disappointment this book turned out to be for me. I know I am definitely in the minority with this book, but I could not get into it at all. I struggled pretty much the whole way through. Macy is considered a “good girl” she is smart, spends her summer evenings prepping for the SAT’s and has a “perfect” boyfriend who expects her to be perfect as well. See, right there I would have had an issue. 

Macy’s boyfriend Jason was awful. When she tried to express her feelings for him, he called her clingy and didn’t want anything to do with her. Plus he was BORING. Holy moly, he acted like a 40 year old businessman instead of a kind teenager with a good heart. Macy hasn’t known any different and it takes her several weeks after Jason departs for Brain Camp, for her to realize that Jason never made her feel good about herself. 

In fact, he was constantly critical of her. In the letters he sent her in the beginning, he criticized her for not being devoted enough to a library job, the letters he wrote to her included reminders of things she needed to keep on top of at the library. He basically treated her like crap and Macy simply thought “I know how he feels about me.” She was brainwashed into thinking that this relationship and the way Jason was treating her, was okay.

The parts about the catering were at least mildly interesting, but the character development definitely lacked. No one really grew, there wasn’t any intriguing story arcs. Wes, was boring too, but at least he was a decent individual whose goals didn’t stop him from being a good person and a friend to those who needed him.

I think a lot more could have been done with Macy’s grief and how she dealt with it. I felt that storyline wasn’t as present as I was hoping it was. It could have made for a very emotional book, and that would have vastly improved the book. I don’t think the author went for it as well as she could have.

The book itself was very slow and I am really not a fan of books that are this slow. That coupled with the lackluster character development and the boring-ness of Macy & Wes’ relationship forces me to give the book 2 stars. I am really bummed about it, but this book just didn’t work for me. I definitely seem to be in the minority, so definitely give it a try.

Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Book Title: We Were Liars
Author: E. Lockhart
Release Date: May 13th, 2014
Publisher: Delecorte Press
Genre: YA/Contemporary
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Book Link: Goodreads
Pre-Order Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleBook Depository
Synopsis from Goodreads:
A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.
 
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart. 

Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.
Disclaimer: I received this e-ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Review:
This book has been very highly regarded among my fellow bloggers so when I was granted access to this title, I was excited. I had very high hopes for this book. Upon finishing it, I felt let down in a big way.It wasn’t this amazing book that had reduced me to tears. It was a pretty “meh” book for me overall.
From the beginning, I knew that this book was going to be different. I hated the writing style. It was lyrical and it bored me. I thought the male love interest was a colossal jerk and I couldn’t understand what Cady saw in him. Also I really didn’t like Cady all that much. At times, I felt sympathy for her, but I never really warmed up to her the way I wanted to.
Through the first 70% of the book, I was bored. It seemed like the book was too long for not much to happen. Maybe it had to do with the insanely slow moving plot that only picked up in the last 30% of the book. Maybe it had to do with the characters. There seemed to be too many of them and not enough time was devoted to really developing them the way I would have liked.
Now the last 30% was like someone completely different wrote the book. The writing was less lyrical and more straightforward and the feels were there in a way that they hadn’t been in the first seventy percent. It was like it was a totally new book. That was really disconcerting to me.This book lacked fluidity throughout.
I’ll admit that in the last 30% I teared up. I didn’t full on sob like a baby, but tears were produced. In the interest of not spoiling things, that’s all I’ll say about the ending. Oh and that things aren’t always how they seem.
If I was rating just the first seventy percent of the book, it would get only one star. If I was rating just the last 30% of the book, it would be getting 4.5 stars. I’ll average it out to three stars. I hated the first seven-tenths of the book but I loved the last three-tenths of the book.Overall I didn’t hate the book, but I didn’t love it either.However, I know many other people loved it, so some of you may as well.

Review: The Moment Before by Suzy Vitello

Title: The Moment Before
Author: Suzy Vitello
Release Date: January 14th, 2014
Publisher: Diversion Books
Genre: YA Contemporary
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
“Don’t get me wrong. I loved my sister. I never, not once, wished her dead.”

Brady and Sabine Wilson are sisters born eleven months apart, but they couldn’t be more different. Popular Sabine, the head cheerleader dating the high school hunk, seems to have all the luck, while her younger, artsy sister “Brady Brooder” is a loner who prefers the sidelines to the limelight.

After Sabine dies in a horrific cheerleading accident, grief unravels Brady and her family. Once recognized for her artistic talent, 17-year-old Brady finds herself questioning the value of everything she once held dear. Her best friend betrays her. Her parents’ marriage is crumbling. And the boy everyone blames for the accident seems to be her only ally in the search for answers in the wake of her sister’s death. As an unlikely friendship emerges, Brady learns more about Sabine – and love – than she bargained for.

Disclaimer: I received this e-ARC from Diversion Books via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Review:
Recently, I told a fellow book blogger friend that there are a lot of criteria that goes into rating a book for me. Character development is a big one for me. It’s probably number 2 on my list of criteria. Unfortunately this book failed on this criteria. The characters all bored me and I found myself not caring about anything. The only character I seemed to like was Sabine and she was dead. Readers can forget about character development in this book as it was sorely lacking.

The pacing was so slow. Reading this book felt like pulling teeth because it seemed like nothing really happened. At least until the end when it got just a bit more exciting. I think if the events in the book were a bit more spaced out, it would have been much better. The writing, oh geez, I really hated the writing. It could have been something amazing but I didn’t feel like the author committed to writing this book.

Brady and Connor bored me. I mean really I didn’t see the attraction at all. It felt like she was just with him to get her parents to notice her. Which of course was akin to playing games which was something that was alluded to. It was like out of nowhere she was kissing this guy.Who she didn’t even really know. So the romance definitely felt forced.

Martha was a terrible, horrible friend. I couldn’t understand that dynamic at all. The only thing I could think of was that she had lost some brain cells recently. She seemed more interested in taking over Sabine’s reign as Queen Bee, than being there for Brady and Brady’s family who she claimed to love.

Up until about 80% in I was going to give this book one star, but the last 20% brought a bit more feeling into it. Unfortunately despite the effort to greatly improve this book in the end, it was too little, too late. So I have to give this book 2 stars.