Featured Book Review: The Epic Crush of Genie Lo

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo

Featured Book of the Month: Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee

August 8, 2017 – Amulet Books

Purpose: Review

Source: Publisher, Netgalley

 5 stars

Goodreads Summary

I was given a digital copy of this title, free, in exchange for my honest opinion.

Genie Lo is your typical seventeen-year high school student. She studies extremely hard and is doing everything that she can to ensure that she can go to a top-tier school and get herself out of the Bay area. Then she meets, Quentin, a very strange new student who has set his eyes on her.  And the multitudes of demons that are trying to overtake her town. Quentin than begins to clue her in that there is more to her than meets the eye.

Okay, so the premise of a teen suddenly discovering that they have powers and are expected to become the savior of the world is not all that original. Do not let that deter you. Because this book is so much more than that. This book had me laughing out loud while reading this. Even if I was in public. Genie Lo is, by far, one of my favorite characters this year.  Her biting humor pulled me into her orbit, making me wish that she was a real person. Then there is Quentin, the monkey king has returned to Earth because of the increase of demon activity in the Bay Area and because he recognizes Genie Lo’s aura. This story is steeped in Chinese folklore and culture. Sometimes discussing the culture, or the stereotypes of the culture with humor.  Genie Lo bumbles around destroying demons as she re-discovers her powers. Quentin is awkward initially, but we soon see it’s just a ruse.  Genie’s interactions with Quentin were hilarious and warm, like joking around with a long -time friend. He’s an awful teacher, but a pretty decent friend. Even if he is a bit stalker-ish and creepy at times. It’s okay because it’s Quentin, and as you get to know him, this explanation makes sense.

In this story, the side characters had their own distinct personalities and added their own bits of humor.  They flow in and out of the story the same way that they flow in and out of Genie’s life. But they are no less important. They make this book, Genie’s purpose, a little more grounded.

This is one of the few books that impressed me and made me want to read it over immediately.  I wish that I had so many copies of this books so that I can hand it out to everyone I encounter. I am looking forward to this release so that I can add it to my own collection.

Since this is August’s featured book, there will be other posts inspired by and related to Genie Lo. So stay tuned for those.

Always Shine!

Review with Spoilers: Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon

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**Spoilers** Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon

September 1, 2015 – Delacorte Books for Young People

Source: Personal Collection

Purpose: #offmybookshelf

1.5 stars

There is so much that I want to say, and to explain what I am thinking this review will contain spoilers. But first off, I want to say that I think that this book is stupid. Reviewers often try to convey this very basic thought by providing constructive criticism. But, let’s be honest. This book has been out for 2 years, and while they went back and corrected a typo (Nurse sticky note I am looking at you), they are not going to rewrite this book based on anything that I say.  Because it’s just my opinion and obviously since it’s got a movie deal behind it an additional paperback release with a movie cover, and it’s a bestseller, my opinion is in the minority. Besides this is not a book I received for review, I purchased this book with my own money. And before anyone comments that it’s not okay to bash an author, let me make this clear I think that Yoon is a very good writer, she has a beautiful way with words. I believe that her writing skills has no place in this book, because they don’t match. But writers write the books that are in them, so I can’t really fault her for it.

Now on to my review. I picked this book up not because I had been meaning to, but I had been hearing more and more about this book and the movie was coming out. I wanted to see the movie, but it’s my habit to read the book first. And well, if I had not paid for this book I would not have finished it. But in a way I am glad that I did finish it.  In case you don’t know what this book is about let me tell you. Madeline, who is conveniently turning 18, has Severe Combined Immunodeficiency also known as SCID. This means that she is allergic to everything. She is completely happy with her life, has reached a mature level of acceptance of her fate.  And here is the first thing. If she was unhappy with her fate now would have been the time to see it. We are seeing the world through Maddy’s eyes, we are enlightened to her thoughts and feelings. And she has no signs of being unhappy.  Until Olly moves next door. They start talking via messages written on the window, email and then finally IM.

Second thing, Carla the nurse breaks all of the rules and possibly more by letting Olly in to visit with Maddy, as long as he stays as far away as possible.  As a nurse, are you really going to risk the health and possibly life of you patient over teenage hormones?  AND are you really going to trust these same hormone crazed teenagers to stay far apart and not touch each other? You trust them so much that they are allowed in a room by themselves with a closed door? And you, as a nurse who is already breaking the rules, don’t bother to check to make sure that they comply? And as a nurse, you encourage your patient to lie to her mother? Oh and the mom! The mom is your doctor and NO ONE questions this? I don’t believe you.

Then, and this is really the part where the story unraveled for me, at the first sign that Olly is being hurt Maddy runs outside to make sure he’s ok.  Let me put in this perspective. Maddy, who has been told all of her life that if she was going to outside she could die because she is allergic to everything, runs outside to check on a boy that her mom knows nothing about. She doesn’t think that she may make herself sick. She doesn’t think that she may get her nurse, her friend in trouble. She doesn’t think that the secret that she’s worked really hard to keep from her mom has just been revealed.  None of this goes through her mind. She just reacts. Again, I don’t believe you.

Because of this taste of freedom and the fact that she knows that she loves Olly, Maddy runs away and buys two plane tickets to Hawaii. Yep you heard me – Hawaii. I DON’T BELIEVE YOU!!!!!!!!

While in Hawaii, Maddy decides that she wants to experience everything, especially since she might die. So, with the first boy she’s gotten to know and has fallen in love with she sleeps with him.  She has amazing, true love romantic first time sex. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!!!!!!!!!!!

The whole time she is in Hawaii, she is feeling fine. She has not had an allergic reaction. But no one, not Olly, not Carla, and not Maddy.  No one stops to think that maybe she’s not sick. Even before she makes it to the airport to get to Hawaii, someone should have had this thought.

Then conveniently at the end of their stay, when her mom is due to arrive to take Maddy back home, she gets sick. She dies, well her heart stops.

Moving on to my next point. We will ignore the fact that she decides that she loves Olly so much that it hurts and there’s no way to go back to the way it was before so she cuts him off and out of her life. Yeah, we will ignore that because it’s stupid.

The doctor that treated Maddy in Hawaii emails her. How did she get Maddy’s email address? Why didn’t she email the mom? Tells her that she is not sick, that does not have and has never had SCID. Also tells her that doctors should not treat family.  This email, coupled with Carla’s comment that her mom has never gotten over her dad and brother’s death, alerts Maddy that something is not right. Finally!!!

The book quickly wraps up after this discovery. And in short, Maddy leaves to find Olly in New York, and even though she has ignored him since they have returned from Hawaii, they get a happily ever after. A happily ever after that is not earned or deserved.

You could very well accept this story as a sweet little romance, and settle for the ooey gooey ending. You could look at this as a glimpse into the world of someone with Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSBP) for this is what Maddy’s mother suffers from, though it is not named in the book. You go through the trouble of naming and explaining SCID but you can’t name or explain the cause/reason for the whole book? Lazy.

But I am not choosing to settle for any of this. I have read/ seen shows where the SCID disease is used as a plot point. Not only is it done respectfully, it is done believably. I have even seen shows/movies where MSBP is used as a plot point, and it blew my mind.

Everything Everything had potential to be a truly romantic story, or to go behind the curtains of a seldom discussed but all too common mental health issue. Instead, this book skirts around all of its potential and lands in a mire of yuck that treats the reader as an idiot by not posing any truly believable possibilities and fails to make the most of the author’s skills. Someone, somewhere along the line between critiquing, acquiring and publishing should have found these flaws and at least attempted to fix them. Maybe they did. Maybe they didn’t. Maybe, maybe not.

Would I recommend this book? I think that it is stupid, and layered with flaws and failure. If fixed or adjusted it does have the potential to be a decent YA Contemporary Romance. But as it is, I couldn’t recommend this book.  And while I know that this is a piece of fiction, and authors creates the situations for magic-whether dark or light- can happen. Since it is contemporary, my biggest complaint is that there is no way for this book to be believable. I wish that I had liked this book. I wasn’t even going to write this review, but it’s not just that I didn’t like this book. It’s that I didn’t like it so spectacularly.

Netgalley Review: One Was Lost

One Was Lost

Netgalley Review: One Was Lost by  Natalie D. Richards

October 6, 2016 – Sourcebooks Fire

Source: Netgalley

4 stars

I was given a copy of this title, free, in exchange for my honest opinion.

6 students and 2 teacher chaperones go into the forest for wilderness survival mandatory senior trip. After a flash flood the group is separated, 3 on one side and 5 on the other.  When Sera, Emily, Jude and Lucas wake up they find their chaperone, Mr. Walker, drugged and words etched on their wrists. Deceptive, damaged, dangerous and darling.  Each one has been labelled and no one knows what it means.

I’m  glad that I finally picked this book up. It kept popping up at bookstores and I was drawn to it. The mystery was very well developed and paced. As I tried to figure out who was behind everything, I found myself becoming more and more paranoid. Like the characters were.  The character growth that happened was believable, as well as relatable. Because there are some seriously twisted people in the world, the plot isn’t too far from being realistic. We watch as the characters begin to take on a new understanding of labels that they have put on one another. We also see them embrace and accept themselves, and one another, for who they are and not the labels that were applied to them (literally since they have been written on skin).

 

Always Shine!

*DNF* Young Adult Review: Stalking Jack the Ripper

Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper, #1)

*DNF* Young Adult Review: Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Source: Library

Purpose: Personal Choice

*DNF Review*

I typically don’t do DNF reviews for books that I pick up on a whim. I reserve DNF reviews for actual review books, and even then, I try my best to finish them. But, I feel that I need to put my voice into the mix for this book. I picked this up because everyone was raving about it, it’s got good ratings on Goodreads. Jack the Ripper and forensics are buzz words for me. I read the summary and thought, “Yes! I’m in!” And then I started reading it. Disappointment soon set in. Immediately. I followed my 100-page rule and then gave it another 25 before I set it aside. As far as the mystery, it was interesting and I am curious as to how it all works out. I suspect that it’s either the brother or the father. (But those two are so super-obvious that if it is one of them I’d be even more disappointed). There is a part of me that is a but curious about how it all works out.  The two main reasons that I am dnfing this would be 1. The romance and 2. The main character, Audrey Rose.

The romance: it’s instant. As soon as Audrey Rose hears Thomas’ voice she’s in love. And that is just stupid.  Thomas Cresswell swings between being overconfident and annoying to creepy and annoying.  I am sure that they end up together but I find it rather disappointing.  The main character: Audrey Rose is obviously not doing what “normal” girls her age are doing in this time period. But she is choosing to follow this path, so she should be okay with it. There’s no reason to beat this fact dead into the ground every couple of pages. I think that if she was truly confident in herself her interactions with the rest of the characters, especially Thomas, would have been a lot less annoying.

There are a lot of positive reviews for this book, and I am not sure why. But I wanted to share my opinion so that if nothing else, the next reader is forewarned.

DNF Review

Young Adult Review: Shock Point by April Henry

Shock Point

Young Adult Review: Shock Point by April Henry

Source:  Library

Purpose: Personal read

3.5 stars

 

“It was the rough hand over her mouth that convinced Cassie Streng that what was happening was real”

 

I received a book that Henry co-authored for review a very long time ago. Since then I kept saying that I wanted to read some more of her work. I also follow her on Facebook, so I have heard about all the research and work that she puts into her writing. This has made me even more curious, so I finally picked up her first published YA novel. Henry does not disappoint.

 

Cassie’s situation is one that is all too familiar for a lot of young people, unfortunately. Her parents are divorced. Her dad has remarried and so has her mom. Her mom is now pregnant and her stepdad is a jerk. She has moved to a new school in a new city and doesn’t have any friends. There’s a lot of transitions and changes that would explain -not excuse-  Cassie acting out.  When Cassie discovers facts that Rick, her stepfather, would like to keep hidden, Cassie finds herself going through one more transition. This one is life and death.

I liked Cassie as a character. Her situation was familiar, while also being unique. She was not some teen with superpowers. She was in a tough situation and only wanted to do the right thing.  Even if the right thing was not easy and put herself in danger. Her father sends her away to Peaceful Cove. This place masquerades as a place for helping troubled teens. In reality, it’s sadistic a place that resembles more of a prison.

When Cassie arrives at Peaceful Cove, I found this hard to read. Not because of the writing. It was just awkward and uncomfortable to watch -read- someone endure physical and psychological abuse.  I wanted to jump in and help, to find a way for them all to escape. But I couldn’t, there wasn’t anything for me to do except to keep reading. I don’t think that I would have survived if I had been sent to Peaceful Cove.

This was a very short book, less than two hundred pages, but it packed quite a punch. There’s no “convenient” tools that suddenly appear to provide an easy out. Escaping is a struggle and a risk. While I don’t believe that the ending was rushed, Henry didn’t dwell on Cassie’s escape. There was enough to envision what she was going through without passing into the annoying or unbelievable zone. I am definitely looking forward to reading more of Henry’s work.

“And then, while there were still both laughing and before she could think twice about it, Cassie stood on tiptoes and gave Thatcher a kiss.”

Always Shine!

Young Adult Review: Perfect Liars by Kimberly Reid

Perfect Liars

Perfect Liars by Kimberly Reid

Source: Edelweiss, Tu Books

4 stars

A digital copy of this title was given to me, free, in exchange for my honest opinion.

 

When Drea pulled up to the house, she was surprised to find the iron gate wide open.

First, I really enjoyed this book. No, it wasn’t perfect but it was still very good. Ignore the synopsis because it is very misleading. One of the things that annoyed me was the beating to death of the fact that Drea is not who she was pretending to be; that she was secretly a criminal. Other than her dwelling on it over and over and over there isn’t any real evidence of her criminality.  I liked the dynamics of the characters. I found Jason to be funny, and I think he’s my favorite. Drea was super-smart but did some stupid things, but they somehow fit into her personality –  if that makes sense. Gigi was a handful popping in and out as the story needed her. But, I feel like there’s room for her to grow into.  Xavier was like and iceberg. What he wanted you to know was just the surface. There is so much more underneath. The instant attraction between Drea and Xavier was stupid so I was glad that they didn’t act on it. The romance was allowed to build and it never became the focus of the plot. The mystery slowly started unraveling and this pulled me into the story even more. I really liked watching Drea slowly put things together and unknowingly move into a leadership role. I don’t think there’s anyone better for it. I liked the ending, and how we didn’t know everything that was going on. I do feel like it was a bit rushed. Even though there is more going on, things that may be resolved in book two, the ending was satisfying. I’ll definitely be keeping my eye out for more from this author.

But at the moment, Drea realized that these people who had been strangers-enemies even- only two weeks ago might be her first true friends.

Always Shine!

Young Adult Review: By Your Side by Kasie West

By Your Side

 By Your Side by Kasie West

Source: Edelweiss, HarperTeen

 4 stars

 A digital copy of this title was given to me, free, in exchange for my honest opinion.

 

I was locked in the library trying not to panic.

This was my first Kasie West book. In fact, I had not heard of her until after I received this book for review. So, I can’t say I was expecting much of anything. But, I was definitely surprised. I wasn’t sure how to take Autumn as a character, wasn’t sure I’d like her. People and characters who go along to get along tend to annoy me. While there were moments where I wanted to smack her, I believe her heart was in the right place.  Dax was interesting too. I liked the fact that despite his troubled background, he was a decent guy. He wasn’t the troublemaker in need of saving (a trope that happens all too often).

I could see what was happening between Dax and Autumn way before she picked up on it, and I was waiting for the light to go off in her head. I am not talking about the romance part, I am talking about the calming effect he had on her. It is the complete opposite of how she felt when she was with her friends and Jeff. That is not her friends fault completely, they don’t know anything about her anxiety disorder. Speaking of her anxiety disorder; anxiety is a something that everyone that everyone deals with. There were moments in the story where I knew that I would be feeling the same way as Autumn if I was in a similar situation. But an anxiety disorder takes the normal emotion to a whole other level. I do not have an anxiety disorder so I can’t say how accurately it was portrayed. But I will say that I think it was dealt with respectfully.

In the end, I enjoyed this book. I don’t think that getting locked in a library is completely believable. But West did a good job of making It so. I am looking forward to checking out West’s backlist. This book ended happily, it ended as it always should. Despite the fact that this is not how reality works. This was a refreshingly optimistic story.

I could feel his cheek pressed against mine, turn up in a smile. “One step at a time, Autumn, one step at a time.”