February 23, 2017

Piper Perish - Kayla Cagan

Title: Piper Perish
Author: Kayla Cagan
Pages: 416
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads rating: DNF
About: Now is the time for fearlessness.

Piper Perish inhales air and exhales art. The sooner she and her best friends can get out of Houston and get to New York City, the better. Art school has been Piper’s dream her whole life, and now that senior year is halfway over, she’s never felt more ready. But in the final months before graduation, things are weird with her friends and stressful with three different guys, and Piper’s sister’s tyrannical mental state seems to thwart every attempt at happiness for the close-knit Perish family. Piper’s art just might be enough to get her out. But is she brave enough to seize that power, even if it means giving up what she’s always known?

Brutal honesty time: I DNF-ed this book.  I've never done that for a book on this blog before.  I just...I don't know, I cut down my Goodreads goal to 80 books this year (which I said I would NEVER do).  I'm just so tired of scrambling to hit 100 at the end of every year.  It's not doing anything to help my reading.  So I'm also trying to get better at letting go of books that don't do anything for me.

You tell 'em Emily.  

But I do want to share my feelings about the book because I read the first 100 pages, so here we go.

First of all, I liked that there was art included in the book.  It makes sense, Piper is an artist (and a great one, according to her teachers) and it was nice that it was included on the page so we get a feel for her as an artist.  I'd be curious to see it in the finished copy because on my 1st edition Nook (I'm a dinosaur, I know) it was in black & white.

- - - Spoilers ahead - - -

The biggest stumbling block I had with Piper Perish is that Piper is written as if she is very young.  She is supposed to be a senior in high school.  You know, ready to leave her Texas roots for New York City, to go to art school and start living her pretentious fantasy life she's been dreaming of all these years.  But she reads like a 13 year old.  She's brattily freaking out all the time.  First about her boyfriend, who's just broken up with her for another boy.  Which very quickly becomes her wondering if she turned him gay, if she had dressed differently, etc. etc.  Is it just me or does it feel like we should be past that (like it's a storyline from a 90s sitcom, not a 2017 book)?  Then about her older sister, who is about to take some time off of college and move home because she's pregnant.  And literally all Piper cares about is that now she can't turn her sister's room into her art studio.  Insensitive much?

The other big problem I had was Piper's obsession with Andy Warhol.  I get being obsessed with things, trust me, I do.  But this was so over the top annoying.  Like constantly being like what would Andy think?  Quoting him all the time, dressing like him, dreaming about him, only going to the dance because they could pretend it was like being at the Silver Factory.  It was really pretentious and annoying and I couldn't get past it.  

I'm sure some people will love this one, but it just wasn't for me.  The characters, especially Piper, were too annoying for me to power through 400+ pages.  If you like quirkycharacters or are really into art, maybe give Piper Perish a shot.

February 21, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday (109)

This week's topic is top ten books I loved less that I thought I would.  It is my least favorite thing when I get super hyped for a book only to have it disappoint me.  Here's a list of some of my worst offenders.

Ruby Circle - The biggest disappointment tbh.  Sydney and Adrian are definitely one of my fav YA couples ever, but I really wasn't pleased with the last 1/3 of their story.

Phantom Limbs - This one wound up on so many best of lists last year and I'm so confused because I did not love it at all.

After the Fall - Again, I saw so much good buzz about this book online, but I hated it.

Wild Swans - It sounded like the aunts from Practical Magic!  My high expectations are probably to blame for this one.

Enders - Back when the whole YA section was a dystopian nightmare I loved a book called Starters and had to wait a super long time for the sequel.  Unfortunately it turned out to be a huge disappointment.

The Hating Game - Every post I've ever seen about this book raves, but I've read better fanfic with the same premise.

Labyrinth Lost - I didn't love the first Zoraida Córdova book I read (The Vicious Deep), but I saw her speak about this one and was totally sold.  I should have listened to my earlier self.

What Light - Another one that should've been right up my alley (Have I mentioned how much I love Christmas and will literally read ANYTHING Christmas themed?  No?)  I just don't think Jay Asher's writing is for me.

How to Hang a Witch - Weak witches aren't for me.

Ten - This should have been my dream YA slasher book, it's just that every damn character was completely unlikable.

What are some books that have disappointed you lately?

February 16, 2017

Open Road Summer - Emery Lord

Title: Open Road Summer
Author: Emery Lord
Pages: 352
Publisher: Walker Children's
Source: Borrowed
Goodreads rating: 

About: After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. 
 Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. 
 This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking.

(Full disclosure - this review is from the archives.  I think I read this book in 2014 and I found this written in my notebook, but never posted.  I stand by it and it makes me want to read this book again so I'm posting it.)

I had been hearing good things about this one from many different corners of the internet, so when my sister offered it up to me I jumped right on it.  So, Reagan is best friends with Dee - who you probably know better as Lilah Montgomery, country music's little darling.  It's very easy to make the Taylor Swift comparisons with Lilah - diary like songs, J.Crew wardrobe, etc etc.  Anyway, Reagan hops on Dee's summer tour to get away from some bad stuff going on in her own life and spend some much needed time with her bestie.  Then Matt Finch joins the tour and Reagan finds herself unwilling to keep her distance.  The best thing is that these kids are actually kids.  Even though 2/3 of them are famous pop stars.  They have parents!  They have curfew!  And rules!

Parenting dammit!

There is very little I love more in this world than fictional kids who are actually constrained by the things real kids are.

Reagan and Matt are awesome.  Slow burn actual lead up to a relationship awesome.  They're just done so well.  He is the boy next door who isn't a doormat.  He has his own shit that he's going though and, oh, wait...he's also a popstar?  Perfect.  And Reagan doesn't want to get hurt.  She is prickly and has walls up and armor on and anything else she can think of to throw in between her and other people so she doesn't get invested.  She prefers tiny outfits and and tall shoes because she knows the kind of attention that'll get her and it's easier than anything real.  But you also see her with her best friend who has this giant heart, so you know she must have a softer side too.  I totally loved her.

I felt like this book was made for me.  It had so many of my favorite things - pop stars, an insanely well written romance, a great set of best friends, and kids being actual kids.  I will definitely be looking for more from Emery Lord in the future.

February 9, 2017

Lois Lane: Fallout - Gwenda Bond

Title: Lois Lane: Fallout
Author: Gwenda Bond
Pages: 304
Publisher: Switch Press
Source: BEA 15
Goodreads rating: 

About: Lois Lane is starting a new life in Metropolis. An Army brat, Lois has lived all over—and seen all kinds of things. (Some of them defy explanation, like the near-disaster she witnessed in Kansas in the middle of one night.) But now her family is putting down roots in the big city, and Lois is determined to fit in. Stay quiet. Fly straight. As soon as she steps into her new high school, though, she can see it won’t be that easy. A group known as the Warheads is making life miserable for another girl at school. They’re messing with her mind, somehow, via the high-tech immersive videogame they all play. Not cool. Armed with her wit and her new snazzy job as a reporter, Lois has her sights set on solving this mystery. But sometimes it’s all a bit much. Thank goodness for her maybe-more-than-a friend, a guy she knows only by his screenname, SmallvilleGuy. 

I was so excited when I got this book at BEA 15, but then I put off reading it for a super long time.  I think it's probably because I'm so over the superhero thing.  It's such a bummer, because I used to really enjoy superhero movies and now I want nothing to do with them.  They've over-saturated the market and ruined my life /dramatics over.  However, I am totally here for awesome ladies, and with this book being about Lois Lane, I was pretty sure it would fit the bill.

First of all I was so impressed by how the Superman stuff was updated and changed for a YA story:
  • SmallvilleGuy - obviously Clark, very skittish about letting Lois know who he really is.  You can't help but hope these two kids get it together
  • The Daily Scoop - a student run offshoot of the Daily Planet that Perry White is in charge of.  Speaking of Perry White, was anyone else picturing him as the hot teacher from the new 90210?  Just me then?
  • The Warheads - totally reminded me of the villains in the old Superman movies that I used to watch with my dad when I was little.  (I think I'm thinking of Superman II, General Zod and all them?)
So Lois is an army brat.  She never really makes any friends because she's not in one place long enough to put down roots, only long enough to get in a little bit of trouble.  The only exception to this being her online friend SmallvilleGuy (lol),  They met on an unusual occurrence website that she frequents and they've kept in contact over the years, even though he's hellbent on keeping his identity a secret.

This time her dad's been relocated to Metropolis and Lois is set on making some friends and staying out of trouble.  On her first day at her new school Lois has a run in with Anavi, who is being bullied by a group of kids (the Warheads), the principal (who is ignoring Anavi's complaints), and Perry White, who is there to talk to the principal about the student run newspaper project the Daily Planet is sponsoring.  This chance meeting sets her up for what's to come.  After seeing her step in on Anavi's behalf and take the principal to task for ignoring bullying, Perry offers her a chance to work at the Planet.  While working on the paper, she meets new friends Devin, Maddy, and James (well, kind of).

The thing about Lois is that she's just trying to do the right thing, which, of course, is the same thing that's going to get her in trouble.  She wants to save Anavi from these hive-minded jerks and, in her investigative pursuits, skips a few classes and, you know, borrows some military grade surveillance equipment, and is constantly crossing paths with the principal in a bad way.  I loved everything about Lois and I can't wait to get my hands on the next book!

February 2, 2017

How to Break a Boy - Laurie Devore

Title: How to Break a Boy
Author: Laurie Devore
Pages: 352
Publisher: Imprint
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads rating: 

About: Keep your enemies close, but your friends closer. 
Olivia Clayton has mastered the art of tearing others down to stay on top. She and her best friend, Adrienne, rule their small southern town like all good mean girls do--through intimidation and manipulation. 
 After Olivia suffers a family tragedy and catches Adrienne sleeping with her boyfriend, Olivia is over it. She decides to make a change--but it's impossible to resist taking Adrienne down one last time. Up to her old tricks, Olivia convinces golden boy Whit DuRant to be her SAT tutor and her fake boyfriend. But when it starts to feel real, Whit gets caught up in Olivia and Adrienne's war. 
Olivia may ruin everything she touches, but this time she won't go down without a fight--not if it means losing Whit. 
And definitely not if it means losing what's left of herself.

Nothing gets me to pick something up faster than the words 'fake dating.'  I don't know what it is, but it's seriously my book kryptonite.  I am powerless in the face of a good fake relationship.  There's feelings and misunderstandings and then even more feelings...sigh.  I just love it so much.  So anyway, I would describe How to Break a Boy as Some Girls Are mixed with John Tucker Must Die.  It takes on serious issues, while not taking itself too seriously.  There's toxic friendships, grief-induced bad decisions, a fake relationship, real feelings - all the makings of a great story.

I have mixed feelings about this book.  At the onset, I was not totally on board.  I just wanted Olivia to get away from Adrienne.  She treats Liv horribly and Liv can't make herself stay away, even though Adrienne's a terrible person.  She excuses it by telling herself that she's trying to play Ade, but really she doesn't know who she is without her best friend.  In the middle I found myself enjoying it more, and here I am at the end and I...liked it, I think?  Whit helped a lot.  I like that he wasn't afraid to go up against Liv, to challenge her.  He was a good guy without being a complete goody two shoes.  I wish we spent more time on their relationship.

I also wish Liv was more committed to what she wanted, or at least more willing to commit.  I understand not being totally sold on her own crazy plan in the beginning, but towards the middle I just wanted her to tell Ade to fuck off and be with Whit.  And I know she wanted that, but she can't break out of the horrific shit her and Ade used to pull.  She does this all this absolutely heinous stuff to him - like future ruining stuff.  And she doesn't even feel completely bad about it!  I mean, I guess this makes her a more real character.  She didn't just change her spots at the drop of a hat, but it's frustrating for me because I'm over here yelling JUST LET THEM BE IN LOVE like a crazy person.  I also wanted her to commit more to destroying Ade, if that's what she wanted.  Idk, define your goals and work to achieve them girl.

How to Break a Boy was a solid contemporary read for me.  Liv had a lot of stuff going on - taking on the meanest of mean girls (who's also her best friend), grieving the loss of her brother, faking dating Whit, sort of really dating Whit, destroying and rebuilding friendships.  I wish we could have spent more time with Whit and Liv together, but I get why we couldn't.  Olivia's journey from mean girl to slightly less mean girl was a bumpy road, but it's one I'm glad I went on.