My thoughts on the books I read this July were definitely a mixed variety. One second I was ‘feeling all the feels’ for a story, and the next rolling my eyes at the plight of fictional people. What is this life? However, after last months high of two five star reads, I have another strong contender to add to the ‘favorite book 2k16’ shortlist. Exciting I know. On the agenda for discussion in this post is a thriller, a horror/supernatural, a fantasy, and a contemporary. I wasn’t particularly in the mood for a light and fluffy summer read this time around, and instead opted to broaden my horizons. Gotta start getting in that fall reading mood. So without further introduction, let’s cut to the books!
Please Don’t Tell by Laura Tims- 2 stars
This book was…hard to rate, saying the very least. On the one hand, I absolutely flew through it. I HAD to unravel the mystery, and there was never a time I didn’t feel compelled to pick the story back up. I credit this to the duel first person narration, which helped to break up monotony and keep the pace going. However, it’s very apparent that Laura Tims is unsure of the book she wants her debut to be. Please Don’t Tell is really two stories in one: a cat/mouse game of blackmail, and the relationship between sisters. Separately both had the potential to be very fleshed out, very strong pieces of fiction. Together readers were left with two halves that never fused to become one. I quickly put the pieces of the puzzle together, and spent the rest of the time muddling through details that were so transparent it became laughable. This only served to exacerbate the inconsistencies surrounding characterization, as I was painfully aware of Joy, Grace, and companies shortcomings. None of them ever felt like true people, simply caricatures to be maneuvered around the gameboard. Supporting characters drop off when they’re no longer convenient, and I was constantly annoyed by MC’s Joy and Grace. Perhaps worth picking up if you’re new to YA (for the entertainment factor), but for all else it’s a thinly plotted piece worth skipping over.
The Leaving by Tara Altebrando- 1 star
In the interest of full transparency: this book was horrible. As an extremely critical reader, it’s hardly unheard of for me to rate a story 1 star. However not all 1 stars are created equal. The Leaving represents the lowest of the low, of which I can’t begin to say anything positive about. With that out of the way, I’ll cut to the chase; beginning with the characters. There’s three different perspectives and they all read the same; boring as dried paint. Between Lucas, Scarlett, and Avery there’s exactly as much personality as I possess in my thumbnail…so as to say, not much. They spend the whole book meandering around Florida; having the most anticlimatic discussions ever on life, and working out the angles of fictions worst love triangle. Yep, I give it that distinction. I cared about none of the three, and my feelings for them varied from indifference at best to loathing at worst. However, this happens to me all the time (see above) and the vast majority of reads are still given at least 2 stars. But they also don’t have a craptastic ending such as this special circumstance. Tara Altebrando’s conclusion to all these threads she’s unraveled is so elementary, so simplistic, that I almost have to give her props. Almost, being the key word. It answered absolutely none of my questions; except one. And that one answer is such a crapshoot you’ll never see it coming, it’s just too stupid. Bottom line: avoid at all costs. Abort from your TBR, burn from your shelf, go near it with a biohazard suit if necessary.
The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye- 2 stars
I really enjoyed The Crown’s Game…until I didn’t anymore. The first 100-200 pages were excellent, with vivid descriptions and the makings for a very fleshed out setting, characters, plot, etc. I was transported to this fictional Russia in a way I hadn’t expected, and lapped up every second of it. Meanwhile I was falling in love with this eclectic cast, from MC’s Vika and Nikolai to the supporting members; each given a few pages of narration to show their perspective. When it came down to it though, Evelyn Skye’s debut could not hold my interest to the end. Despite being the perfect length (exactly 400 pages) I feel the content Skye chose to fill her story with was often pointless. This definitely caused an aura of negligence to the actual emotion behind climatic situations, and left me feeling that certain aspects (the romance in particular) were cardboard. Sure you can tell me two people are in love, but until I understand why, until I can feel that powerful emotion; I can’t buy what you’re selling. Not only that, but the focus on arbitrary details (like one subplot that shall not be mentioned) caused the story line itself to be bogged down. Little to no focus is given to the magic system, leaving me to wonder what Skye will be left with when plotting her sequel. That being said, I am likely to check out The Crown’s Heir come spring 2017, as I think this is a series that has potential to go in a radically different direction. Worth checking out if you don’t mind a few inconsistencies in your fantasy, and enjoy an added dose of romance.
Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley- 4 stars
I finally took the plunge, crossing off a major point on my bookish TBR: read a John Corey Whaley book. And I must say, despite all the hype surrounding Whaley, a better story could not have been found as the basis of our relationship. Highly Illogical Behavior (clocking in at only 250 pages) is humorous, and thought provoking, and all the positive adjectives out there. It blew my mind away, solidifying Whaley’s author prowess as my #writergoals. There are several strengths of this book, from the quirky dialogue to the impact each scene punches, but (as in all good stories) the characters reign supreme. Duel narrators Sol and Lisa are each incredibly distinct voices, with palpable feeling lurking in all of their monologues. From the get go I understood both in a superficial way, and relished in the opportunity to pull back their layers to a deeper comprehension. Whaley knows few people can relate (on the surface) to a sixteen year old agoraphobe. So he forces readers to find that little nugget of truth in all of us, and connect that in a major way. It’s no easy feat, but that step from sympathy to empathy makes all the difference. The only thing holding this back from a 5 star rating is the length of the book. Our ending is extremely rushed, and though I appreciate it’s open interpretation, it really felt condensed into half the necessary length. I would have liked to see certain events unfold more organically, and get to spend more time with other MC Clark. He’s a huge piece of the puzzle, yet I felt we only uncovered a glimpse of him. All around though, an amazing book! I highly recommend for all contemporary lovers out there, as well as those who can appreciate some ample Star Trek references.
What did you read this July? Have you checked out any of the books I mentioned? Let me know in the comments!