Tag: Young Adult

Book Review: If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say by Leila Sales

Posted April 18, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 4 Comments

Book Review: If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say by Leila SalesIf You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say by Leila Sales
Published by Macmillan, Farrar Straus and Giroux on May 1, 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Point of View: First Person
Pages: 288
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Add It: Goodreads
one-star

Before we go any further, I want you to understand this: I am not a good person.

We all want to be seen. We all want to be heard. But what happens when we’re seen and heard saying or doing the wrong things? What then?

When Winter Halperin—former spelling bee champion, aspiring writer, and daughter of a parenting expert—gets caught saying the wrong thing online, her life explodes. All across the world, people knows what she’s done, and none of them will forgive her.

With her friends gone, her future plans cut short, and her identity in shambles, Winter is just trying to pick up the pieces without hurting anyone else. She knows she messed up, but does that mean it’s okay for people to send her hate mail and death threats? Does she deserve to lose all that she’s lost? And is “I’m sorry” ever good enough?

First and foremost a novel about public shaming in the internet age, If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say is also an exploration of the power of words, the cumulative destructiveness of microaggressions, and the pressing need for empathy.

I’ve been reading Leila Sales for a few years now and I’ve really enjoyed some of her books and didn’t enjoy one of the books that I’ve read by her. After reading this one, I have not enjoyed another one of her books. This was almost a DNF but I needed to know that things turned around for the main character, needed to know that she learned her lesson and I was really interested in seeing how it all ended.

I feel I should warn you guys that there will be hella spoilers in this review because I’ve got shit to say and I’m going to say it all here…so this is your warning.

***BEWARE: MARJOR SPOILERS AHEAD***

*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*

So this book follows Winter Halperin, a former spelling bee champion who made a racist remark online and pays the price for that remark. Her past is blasted and made fun of online and needless to say, she’s devastated. She didn’t mean the remark the way that everyone took it but it was still a shitty thing to say and she is remorseful but in my opinion, she wasn’t remorseful for the right reasons. As I was explaining to my daughter while talking about this book with her, Winter didn’t deserve a lot of the shitty comments that were thrown her way (you know all of the, you should go ahead and kill yourself now because you’re stupid cow and the you should be raped for what you said – those comments) but she 100% deserved to be educated on just how privileged her way of thinking was.

I’m sorry but if your apology includes the word “but” in it, you ain’t sorry for shit and Jason, Winter’s black best friend wasn’t here for that kind of apology. He was hurt by her words and he had every right to be pissed at her. They were close friends and she said a shitty thing online that hurt his feelings but she didn’t get why her comment was so bad. Jason explains why he was so mad at her and she was adamant that she’s not like that. Her defense was, “I have black friends, I can’t be racist!” She really didn’t get why Jason was so mad at her. This part of the book had so much promise and it could have gone down in a way that taught Winter a really good lesson but what actually happens had me all…

Because no she didn’t make the white girl say a racist thing and then make the white girl the victim and then make her black best friend the bad guy by doing some shady shit. Jason deserved better than that and I almost stopped reading the book because I was getting mad but I needed to know that Winter turned her ass around and that she learned some important life lessons from all of this. I needed to see this happen with my own eyes and you guys…that didn’t happen. Or actually, it happens but it came with a whole lot of shit on shit on shit that kept knocking me on my ass.

So Winter went to a sort of rehab clinic and it was a safe space for her to finally take a long look at her way of thinking, to learn and grow from her past mistakes. That was probably the best thing for her because by the end of the book, Winter learns her lesson. She does eventually get where Jason was coming from, she learns to be genuinely remorseful for her actions and she does learn just how different her life is from Jason’s, how different her life is from the black girl in rehab but holy cow, the delivery sucked huge donkey balls for me.

Winter really comes into her own over the course of the story and when she finally gets it, I breathed a sigh of relief because, freaking finally, right? I was satisfied that the main character finally saw the light but one of the last things to happen in the book left me speechless, left a really bad taste in my mouth because I honestly didn’t think it was necessary. It took a huge shit on the message of the book.

So Winter learns her lesson, she’s back at home and she’s not googling herself twenty times an hour, she’s evolved as a person and genuinely wants to be a better, more enlightened person. She’s at peace. One of the things that she hasn’t given up is googling others that are going through what she went through. The latest victim? A happily married white man in his thirties who set up a dating profile on a gay dating app for the sole purpose of outing the men he met on there who work in politics in D.C. He’s a reporter and was doing all of this for the story. Needless to say, the online social media justice department went in on this guy and our newly enlightened and evolved protagonist wrote this asshat a letter that basically said, “I feel for you man. Just know that you’ll get through this and I’ll see you on the other side.”

I can’t imagine why that needed to be included in this book. What lesson was being pushed here? It doesn’t matter what your actions are, nobody deserves death threats? People don’t deserve to lose their livelihood after doing shitty things that hurt others? That lesson could have been taught without victimizing the asshole who violated so many people, willingly.

I closed this book and was so very angry that I don’t think I can ever come back from it. There aren’t too many books that have angered me as much as this book did and I honestly don’t think I’ll be reading anything by Leila Sales again. I would be too scared that I’d get another one of these and no. Just hell fucking no.

Grade: 1 out of 5

one-star


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Buddy Review: When It’s Real by Erin Watt

Posted July 25, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Buddy Review: When It’s Real by Erin WattWhen It's Real by Erin Watt
Published by Harlequin, Harlequin Teen on May 30th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Point of View: First Person
Pages: 413
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Add It: Goodreads
four-stars

From #1 New York Times bestselling author duo Erin Watt comes the addictive contemporary tale of a teen rock star in need of an image makeover and the teen girl hired to be his fake girlfriend.

Meet Oakley Ford-teen celebrity, renowned pop star, child of famous movie stars, hottie with millions of fangirls… and restless troublemaker. On the surface he has it all, but with his home life disintegrating, his music well suddenly running dry, and the tabloids having a field day over his outrageous exploits, Oakley's team decides it's time for an intervention. The result: an image overhaul, complete with a fake girlfriend meant to show the world he's settled down.

Enter seventeen-year-old Vaughn Bennett-devoted sister, part-time waitress, the definition of "normal." Under ordinary circumstances she'd never have taken this gig, but with her family strapped for cash, she doesn't have much of a choice. And for the money Oakley's team is paying her, she figures she can put up with outlandish Hollywood parties and a team of publicists watching her every move. So what if she thinks Oakley's a shallow, self-centered jerk? It's not like they're going to fall for each other in real life…right?

Ames: Rowena and I were originally going to read Cora Carmack’s July new release, All Closed Off. But we had a little discussion about this book as it had already been delayed so we chose a back-up book, When It’s Real. Although it wasn’t released during July, it was a newish book that neither of us had read yet. I’m glad we decided on a back up book because All Closed Off was delayed again.

When It’s Real features the fake celebrity relationship trope. Vaughn is hired as the everyday girlfriend for young pop star Oakley Ford. Oakley needs a girlfriend for reasons. The only reason Vaughn goes along with this crazy scheme is to help her family out. They’re orphans after their parents died in an accident and they’ve been making ends meet but barely. Vaughn actually graduated from high school early so she could take some time off before heading to college. Oakley is only going along with the scheme to ingratiate himself with a producer he really wants to work with. He is not keen on this arrangement and at first he acts like a real ass with Vaughn. But Vaughn is not impressed with his fame or his attitude and Oakley comes around to acting like a human being. As they get to know each other, their fake relationship starts to feel real. But is it?

Okay Wena, what did you think of When It’s Real? I read this book right after I read another fake relationship book (with older adults) and let me tell you, this book was hands down the better read. I loved Vaughn and Oakley’s dynamic. I like that they didn’t like each other at first but then Vaughn slowly started to humanize Oakley. I really liked Vaughn. And to be honest, I pictured Harry Styles for Oakley. LOL That may not be where the authors were intending to go with his character, but that’s who I saw. And I may have listened to Sign of the Times a time or ten…million. haha

Rowena: What did I think? I adored this book and when I finished, I was bummed because I didn’t want the book to end. I thought Oakley and Vaughn were awesome characters and an adorable couple. I really liked how their relationship turned from hate to friendship then finally, to love.

I really like Jen Frederick and Elle Kennedy’s writing style. They write books together really well. I don’t think I’ve read a book that I haven’t been utterly obsessed with (whether I’ve been pissed off or in freaking love) and that wasn’t any different with this book. The flow of the story worked for me and the dialogue, man I loved the dialogue. You can always count on Frederick and Kennedy to pack on the drama and we got plenty of that here, lots and lots of drama that I could not get enough of.

Harry Styles is a great Oakley…well, without his accent but still, I could totally see it. I love Harry.

I’m really happy about our choice of buddy review book this month. It was so freaking good. It took the sting out of yet another delay for All Closed Off.

Ames: I didn’t want the book to end either! And it wasn’t just the main characters. I loved the secondary characters too, like Oak’s bodyguard buddy and Vaughn’s family. I like how Oak was with her younger brothers. And thought the secondary romance was very cute too.

My only complaint (and its a small one) is how the issue at the end of was dealt with, with the meddling into their relationship. Like it was kind of brushed aside (I’ll deal with you later!” kind of thing) but I wanted to see those people deal with the repercussions of what they did. It was so unprofessional, you know?

Rowena: Yeah. I really liked that the secondary characters held their own with my attention. There have been quite a few books where I couldn’t tell you much about the secondary characters but that wasn’t the case with Vaughn’s family and even Oakley’s. I liked seeing Oakley’s Mom trying to make things right with him and I liked seeing Oakley handle the situation with his Dad. I also liked seeing how he made a family for himself with his bodyguards.

Ugh, I wanted to punch Luke, the bassist so many times because he was such a terrible human being. I was glad when Oakley finally tossed his ass to the curb. The whole misunderstanding at the end should have had bigger consequences, considering who he was but it did make me wonder if that ever happened in real life. Do you think? Also, how did it end? Do we find out if they were punished, fired, or whatever?

Ames: Luke was the worst! And so was Oakley’s dad. I did like that his mom was redeemable.

And no, I don’t think we ever found out what happened! Do we know if there’s going to be a series or was this a stand-alone? I ask because maybe there would be some follow up in another book? I don’t know.

So I loved When It’s Real and really enjoyed it. So I’m giving this a 4.25 out of 5. I highly recommend this one.

Rowena: Yes!!! He totally was. It was nice that Oakley’s Mom actually wanted to fix their relationship and wasn’t as we thought she’d be after hearing about her from Oakley.

I don’t think there’s going to be another book or a series. I thought this was a standalone book.

This was a fun book that I really enjoyed and I’m so glad that we chose it. I adored Oakley and I loved Vaughn. I also loved that Vaughn was from El Segundo since that’s about 15 minutes from where I live and the day that I started this book, I was having dinner on Main Street in El Segundo so I had a little dorky moment while looking out the restaurant window, thinking about Oakley and Vaughn. Ha!

I give this book a 4.25 out of 5 as well. Such a great book!

four-stars


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Buddy Review: Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

Posted May 31, 2017 by Rowena & Bookish Ames in Reviews | 0 Comments

Buddy Review: Alex, Approximately by Jenn BennettAlex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
Published by Simon & Schuster, Simon Pulse on April 4th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Point of View: First Person
Pages: 388
Format: eBook
Source: Gifted
Add It: Goodreads
four-stars

The one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.

Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new archnemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.

Ames: Rowena and I decided to read Alex, Approximately for our May buddy review.

Bailey Rydell has moved to California from DC to live with her father. She has an online friend who lives in the same small town but since she’s an Artful Dodger (she avoids confrontation and awkward situations), she wants to scope out her online friend before introducing herself. But first she has to figure out who he is since they’ve never shared pictures. Over the course of their online friendship, he has revealed clues about where he works, so Bailey’s summer project is discovering Alex, her friend. Things get complicated when she meets Porter at her new summer job. They do not get off to a good start. But what started off with animosity slowly changes as they get to know each other.

Ames: All right Wena! It’s time to break this baby down. I have to say, I really enjoyed the set up for Alex, Approximately. There was so much room for error with this type of plot but I thought the author pulled it off.

What do you think?

Rowena: Yesss! I was pretty nervous going into the story because there is a lot of room for error but I thought Bennett did a great job with Porter and Bailey’s story. I enjoyed them both individually and together.

So many times, I’m annoyed with the protagonist in contemporary YA’s because they make such stupid decisions at one point or another but I wasn’t ever annoyed with Bailey in this book. I thought Bennett explained and made sure that the readers knew and understood Bailey’s motivations and I really connected with her character.

This book was fun and Porter was great fun to get to know. I really liked the friend that Bailey made at work (what’s her name again?) and loved how she called Bailey on her shit the way good friends should.

What about you?

Ames: Grace, her new friend at work. And yes, I liked her too. Her friendship with Grace was refreshing because her character growth wasn’t based solely on a boy. It was about all her relationships. Like even her dad and her had to work on some stuff and I really liked how well rounded that made this story.

I agree about YA heroines having the potential to be annoying. I liked Bailey a lot and understood her motivations. I thought she was being a bit dense at the end but I still like how it all came together. My only gripe about Bailey was her making a big deal out of hiding her relationship with Porter from her dad and then her reveal made it such a non issue. But that’s just a minor gripe. And oh man I laughed over the hickeys! Remember she tells her dad she was wrestling with Grace in the grass? haha

Okay – Porter and Bailey. I LOVED how their relationship developed. I liked their antagonistic beginning and how as they got to know each other their feelings changed. *sigh* So good.

Rowena: What an easy name to remember and I didn’t remember. Gah. Yes, I adored Grace and loved that this book was about more than just a relationship between a boy and a girl. I loved that Bailey dealt with all sorts of different relationships over the course of this book and each relationship was fleshed out and not breezed over to move other things along. Every character in this book was well rounded and I really enjoyed them all, even her Dad. His relationship with the new girlfriend was another cute addition. I loved that each relationship played a part in helping Bailey grow into the girl she was in the end.

The hickeys cracked me up! Porter was a little monster but I loved it. Haha. I also loved when he beat the shit out of Davy because Davy was an all around asshole.

Overall, this was a great coming of age story with a charming romance on the side. I really enjoyed how the whole Alex thing was put to rest and even though they both drove me crazy with that, in the end, I still enjoyed the book as a whole. It was good stuff. Great pick this month, right?

My grade for this book would be a 4 out of 5. You?

Ames: Oh man, yes! The end, with the figuring out of things, kind of drove me batty. I felt like Bailey was being just a bit too obtuse. LOL But I was happy with how it was all resolved so I wasn’t too miffed about it.

Okay, I have never had a churro. So that’s going to go on my summer bucket list. I like how the food was part of the story too. Did you notice that?

Like you I am giving Alex, Approximately 4 out of 5. I’m so glad you suggested this book for our May review. 😛

four-stars


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,