It Was Okay

It Was Okay

 

Hello and happy Wednesday. I remember listening to a review of All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven in which the person said that they hadn’t loved it as much as everyone else did, or really at all. This was actually the first time I’d heard something concrete about the book, considering that I got it a few years ago because of all the hype it’d gotten. We all know, however, that people don’t always tell us much about the hyped book other than we should read it and that’s it. As you can probably tell by my recent reads, I am going through the books I own that won the Goodreads Awards or whatever, starting in 2015. This is one of those books, and though I can see why it was one of the winners, it didn’t do it for me.

I read this book between July 30th and August 3rd, 2019 and gave it three stars. Some might say this is a low rating but lately, I’ve been giving more and more books three stars because I think it represents my feelings towards stories that were just “okay” or “fine,” like this one. Of course, there are elements I’m into, like the multiple perspectives, because I think they always add a lot to a story that would otherwise seem incomplete, in my opinion.

Right off the bat, let me tell you that this book deals with suicide and this is a constant throughout the plot, so if you are sensitive to this topic, or to topics related to suicide attempts and suicidal thoughts, steer clear. We have two main characters who are very different to each other, but who meet in a tower at school and who, as far as we can gather, go there with the intention of jumping off. Again, suicide is a recurring topic and I personally think that it could’ve been handled way better than it was, but we’ll get to that later.

It bothers me that authors make dumb decisions just because that’s how they think their characters think. For instance, I thought the comments the guy main character made about the female students’ bodies were completely unnecessary. That stuff adds absolutely nothing to the plot and just makes readers not connect as much with the characters. On the flip side, I really liked how each of the characters was portrayed. They were so unique, and I know that’s no easy feat for an author to accomplish.

Finch, the male main character, is very unique, and you need to read the book to understand why. I don’t know if his representation is accurate or not, but I had never read a book about a character who’s been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I don’t know if this is a spoiler, but I think it’s better to say it before you read it because I think that if the rep is not accurate, it might be harmful to some readers. Finch is sometimes very pushy and he doesn’t understand when someone is saying “no.” Here’s where I’d like to know if this behavior could be considered representative for a person with bipolar disorder, or it’s just a stereotype or a trait that is not accurate. We all know that the conversation on consent must go beyond sex because one person should never force another one to do anything, especially after being told “no.”

There’s some conversation regarding the stigma around mental illness, which I appreciate, but considering that this is a predominant issue in this novel, I think it fell short. I mean, Violet’s (the main character’s) sister died in a car accident and nobody seems to notice how much she’s hurting because of that. There is also a mention of an eating disorder, but from what I gathered, it is only present once. If you are sensitive to this issue, you might want someone you know and trust to read this book before you and either tell you which part you should skip or maybe advice you on reading it or not.

I’m starting to increasingly see the class-assignment trope. I think, again, that the author of this book did a good job with it and the way the story was built around the assignment the main characters had to do together. I also liked that she included flashbacks and flash-forwards as well as inserts of text messages because by this point we all know that I’m a sucker for that.

Now, remember when I said we’d go back to talking about how suicide was handled? Okay, we’re back. I think suicide is one of those issues that I’d rather not see than see being poorly handled because of the dangers it entails. For example, describing ways in which a person has attempted or thought about suicide is extremely dangerous and it is present in this book.

The picture of this book is one of my most-liked pictures on Instagram, and I even got comments of people saying I’d cry reading this. I get why some readers might be affected by this, but I wasn’t. I just don’t see the purpose of this book, if I’m being honest, especially not the ending. The ending was what ruined the story for me, and because of it, this book didn’t get four stars but three. If you read it, you’ll know why.

What is a topic that’s trending right now on books that you don’t like reading about? Let me know in the comments.

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila

 

 

A New Favorite

A New Favorite

Hello and happy Wednesday. It’s tough for me to feel represented in the books in English I read because the authors don’t really cater to my demographic, which sucks. I think the only author that I could somewhat relate to is Patricia Engel because she is Colombian and her characters are, too. That being said, there are different layers to my identity and I can feel represented in other ways. To me, YA lacks a lot of representation when it comes to neurodiversity, which is why I was so excited to find a book with a main character who shares a very similar diagnosis with me.

I read Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella between July 5th and 6th, 2019 and gave it five stars. I knew from the start that I was going to enjoy the writing style because I’ve read and loved other Sophie Kinsella books. This one was just brilliant. It keeps the humor of novels like Confessions of a Shopaholic, but the themes are clearly deeper and are dealt with in a very smart, respectful way. I also loved how the reader is hooked from the very first page and they’re just forced to continue reading. That totally happened to me, which is why I devoured this book in two days.

The chapters are really short, which we all know I love, and I also think that makes the book even more addictive. Like I said, I related to Audrey because of her diagnosis, but her parents reminded me a lot of my parents: the neurotic mom and the overeager dad are literally my mom and dad. The type of narration was really nice for me because Audrey, the main character, is talking to the reader. I get that some of you might not like this, but I do, and I think it added more to this particular story.

I would say that this book is a must both for neurotypicals and neurodiverse people. If you have anxiety and/or depressive episodes like Audrey or me, you’ll feel accurately represented, and if you don’t but you want to learn more about this, you might be educated on the subject. To me, at least, the way Audrey approaches and refers to her anxiety was very spot-on, and even her own thoughts about how the way her brain worked made her a freak were some I had when I started going to therapy. It was hard to open up about what I was going through, especially when people wouldn’t get what I was feeling or why because that itself was even more anxiety-inducing. I do not have social anxiety, so I don’t know whether this was well represented in the book.

The format of the book was amazing. I loved that we got different formats, like transcripts of a documentary Audrey was filming as an assignment for her treatment and little notes and texts that she’d exchange with Linus, her love interest. I think that all those additions made the story really come to life because we weren’t just being told of what was going on: we were shown that.

Yes, there is a love interest but no, this is not a romance novel. The plot does not center around a relationship, or at least not your neurotypical kind of thing. I heard someone reviewing this book and saying they didn’t understand how two people could have a relationship if Audrey wouldn’t make eye contact or even look in the direction of another person while talking. While this concern is totally valid, it shows just how we have normalized certain neurotypical behaviors and attitudes. We assume that a romantic relationship involves physical contact and face-to-face conversations, but that is not the case for many people, for many different reasons, and I think part of the educational value of Finding Audrey is showing the readers other ways in which people can interact.

Finally, I loved that Linus wasn’t portrayed as the savior or as the reason why Audrey “got better.” He doesn’t understand why Audrey behaves in certain ways and he thinks she might be able to control them, which, again, is a very neurotypical idea. You’re depressed? Cheer up! You’re feeling anxious? Face your fears! It makes sense that someone would think like that, right? Especially when they haven’t experienced any of those thoughts. It also makes sense because they assume that one can control their brain and “tune it down,” but reality is different. Linus tried to help and tried to understand, but we could see that sometimes he didn’t and that it was fine.

Do you have any recommendations of books that deal with mental health issues and that you feel are accurate in their representation? Tell me about them in the comments below.

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila

 

Spoiler Alert: It’s Not

Spoiler Alert: It’s Not

Hello and happy Wednesday. The title of this post seems a bit aggressive, but I want to let you know that if you plan to pick up It’s About Love by Steven Camden because you think it is a romance book, then don’t because it’s not. This book is about love alright, and it does feature romantic love, but at the center it is a story about love between brothers, about family and being proud of who you are and where you come from. It is definitely a refreshing take on what we usually think when we hear the word “love,” especially related to young adult literature. 

I read this book between February 2nd and February 8th, 2020 and gave it four stars. I did fall into the “trap” of thinking that this would be a cutesy, quick read, and I was honestly in need of that. It is a quick read because you simply can’t stop, you want to know what happens next, and I think the author does a great job at building up suspense and anticipation throughout the plot. It is not, however, cute, and I picked up on that right from the first scene. 

Luke, the main character, is really into films and filmmaking, so we get some movie script inserts throughout the story. The first scene reminded me of The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson, so I knew that this book would have me hooked. Violence is present and it is a common theme, so if you are not into that, I don’t think this book is for you. 

Luke is attending college in the fancy part of town and he feels like he doesn’t belong with the rest of his classmates, but he is still very excited to be taking a film class. His life at home is complicated because his brother Marc will soon be released from jail after having been sentenced for physically assaulting the neighborhood bully. At times the sense of doom made me feel like I was reading an Adam Silvera book and I knew that there wouldn’t really be a happy ending. I did, however, appreciate how Luke’s and Marc’s relationship was explored because I don’t think that’s seen often. 

What type of relationship would you like to see more in the books you read? Let me know in the comments. 

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila 

NetGalley Review: And We Call It Love

NetGalley Review: And We Call It Love

Hello and happy Friday. I think last year I became stricter with my ratings and 2020 won’t be an exception. Today’s book is perhaps my second or third two-starred book of the year, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. I’m talking about And We Call it Love by Amanda Vink, a book that was sent to me for reading and reviewing purposes, so I’d like to thank NetGalley, the publisher, and the author.

I read this book between January 27th and 28th, 2020 and like I said I gave it two stars. The entire story is written in verse and that’s not my thing. I was only happy about the fact that I’d fly through it, and I did considering that I only had a few minutes every night. Judging by the title and the cover I knew it wasn’t going to be a lovey-dovey story, but it went in a completely different direction than what I’d anticipated.

I first thought it would feature a romance between the two main characters, who were both females, and I was excited about the LGBTQ* themes, but that wasn’t the case. I don’t even know what made me think that one of the main characters was in love with the other, but that’s what I thought. Besides that, I was very confused at the beginning because the narration, which is all in verse, alternates between the two main characters, Clare and Zari, but there’s nothing that explicitly tells you whose perspective you’re reading from.

Part of why I say that verse is not my thing is the fact that I feel like I’m always getting the general picture of the story, not the whole thing. I get the main idea but no details, if you will, and I am a sucker for details. Had the story been written in prose, I would’ve gotten the alternating perspectives way quicker, without needing any titles or any explicit indication of who was talking. All in all, I felt like I was reading the SparkNotes version of an actual story.

For such a short book, I thought there wasn’t a clear focus of the plot. We already know that there isn’t a romance between the two best friends, but the story doesn’t focus on their friendship either. It’s more of a coming of age story, in my opinion. Both Clare and Zari start dating different boys, and on top of that, Zari’s family doesn’t want her hanging out with Clare, so they drift apart. The synopsis makes it seem like it was Zari’s boyfriend who didn’t let her be with her friend, but the mom was also a huge influence on that friendship drifting apart. Zari’s boyfriend, Dion, is a dickhead, though, and he physically and psychologically abuses her, so trigger warning for that. Because this was such a short book, the ending wrapped up pretty quickly and in my opinion, it was way too happy considering the topics the story was dealing with.

Do you like stories written in verse? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila

 

Series Saturday: The Heartbreakers Chronicles

Series Saturday: The Heartbreakers Chronicles

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Hello and happy Saturday. Have you ever been blown away by an ARC? Like, after reading it you think, “I would have totally paid money for it”? Well, this is what happened to me when I read The Heartbreakers, which is the first book in the Heartbreakers Chronicles series by Ali Novak.

Ali Novak started writing this series on Wattpad, and I guess someone noticed how good it was and decided it should be properly published. I got the first book in the series via NetGalley and fell in love with it. The Heartbreakers is a boy band, and every book will focus on one member of the band, and I’m just living for it. Just to clarify, only two books have been published. There is a third one in the making, but I’m not including it in the list because technically it doesn’t exist yet.

READ 

The Heartbreakers (Book #1)

I read this book between August 26th and August 27th, 2015 and gave it four stars. It centers around Oliver Perry, who is the band’s lead singer. Oddly enough, he’s not the main character but the love interest, and that makes the story all the more interesting. This isn’t just a cute fluffy YA romance; it deals with family drama and if you’re like me, it’ll make you cry.

Paper Hearts (Book #2)

I was lucky enough to score this babe via NetGalley and I can’t wait to devour it. This book focuses on Alec, whose dad is like the band manager or something. He’s super quiet and shy, so we don’t know much about him from the first book. I hope that we do get to know him better and fall in love with him through his story.

Have you read an ARC that seriously blew your mind? Tell me about it in the comments.

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila

 

 

NetGalley Reads: Tweet Cute

NetGalley Reads: Tweet Cute

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Hello and happy Wednesday. I can tell someone out there is taking me more seriously as a book reviewer because I actually got asked to review today’s book. Not just that, but it’s part of a blog tour or something like that.  As always, I’d like to thank NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for this opportunity. By the way, if you’re a regular here, this book does not fit the theme of titles I’m reading for January; I simply decided the post the review today because the book was released yesterday.

I read Tweet Cute by Emma Lord between November 11th and November 17th, 2019 and gave it three stars. Let me tell you, I was honestly kind of scared to read this because it was so hyped I really wanted to genuinely like it. Based on my rating alone you can draw your own conclusions, but I’d like you to keep reading so that I can explain where the rating came from.

Most of the young adult books I currently read are backlisted titles, so when I read them I consider the fact that they were published years ago. Tweet Cute, though, is a 2020 release, so it is a current take into young adult romance. My expectations, of course, were high, since I think readers have become more critical throughout the years and expect their books to portray healthy romances, realistic characters, and to subvert tropes that are straight-up wrong. What I found, however, was a cookie-cutter story, at least at the beginning.

I’m going to say this now so that it doesn’t lead to confusion or eye rolls on your part: I know this is a re-telling of You’ve Got Mail, but I haven’t watched the movie (gasp) and I believe that, as an original piece of literature, it should stand on its own, so the comparison to the movie is unnecessary to me. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I’ll proceed to explain why I thought it was cookie-cutter.

You know a story is going to be predictable when the love interest is introduced in the first few pages of the story. In the case of this novel, our quirky main character with a silly nickname mentions her nemesis on page two, which led me to believe that this would be an enemies-to-lovers kind of story. Now, I must be fair to the novel and say it sort of was but it sort of wasn’t. Yes, there was rivalry, but the characters weren’t really enemies, more like the guy used to tease the girl and she got annoyed, but then they become friends.

This review is probably all over the place but so was the novel, so I feel like I must go back and forth when sharing my thoughts. The story is told from the perspective of Pepper, the female main character, and Jack, the male main character. Like I said, Jack sort of teases Pepper at school and she can’t stand him, but that’s at the very beginning of the book. On top of that, both Jack and Pepper’s families have food businesses: Jack’s family owns a deli that’s pretty much a staple in their neighborhood, and Pepper’s family owns a fast-food chain. Pepper is often in charge of the restaurant’s Twitter account, and she’s also into blogging. Judging by this information, and the title alone, we know that there’s going to be an online romance.

Although in theory, I like elements that are present in this novel, like the dual perspectives or the potential online romance, I felt that the chapters were too long, the perspectives weren’t really alternated in a way that made sense, and the romance was just one more plot device from a list of random events and situations presented by the author. It was just too much for a book that was supposed to be cute and lighthearted.

There was also a potential love triangle, which again, was introduced very early on. In a way, I feel like the author just handed the reader a bunch of drama that was going to be developed and resolved throughout the story, instead of introducing it as the plot progressed. We got all these things: Pepper’s grades, a Twitter feud between Pepper and Jack’s families, something about the swim team, Pepper and Jack’s online relationship and the fact that they didn’t know they were corresponding with each other…it wasn’t overwhelming but it was all over the place.

One thing that I noticed and despised was the fact that whenever a same-sex couple was mentioned, the only thing they were doing was making out. Even the people talking about them said that the only thing they did was making out. Ethan, Jack’s brother, had a boyfriend, and all the conversations regarding Ethan went like this: “Where’s Ethan?” “I don’t know, probably sucking face with his boyfriend.” It was okay the first time, but I noticed a pattern and I think it completely defeated the purpose of making this a diverse book.

I liked Jack way more than I liked Pepper, and I’ll acknowledge that as a me-problem. However, I think both characters were unrealistically portrayed when it came to their pop culture references. I found it odd, for example, that Jack talked about High School Musical, not because he’s a guy, but because that’s a movie that was relevant to people from my generation, people who are at least eight years older than Jack and Pepper.

When you get past all the initial drama that is thrown at you,  the story actually becomes enjoyable. I totally rooted for both characters and I think their relationship involved from kind of enemies to friends to a couple. I must say, though, that it takes so long for them to be “something else” that at times I thought I would’ve been just as happy if they ended up as friends or maybe the story ended with the possibility of more.

Overall, I’d make this story 100 pages shorter. I think there was too much drama added towards the end when everything seems to be resolved. This story made the same mistake as Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, in which the characters are completely unaware that they are talking to each other online. I found this even harder to believe in Tweet Cute since they’re actually getting closer in real life. I feel like that’s an indication that they don’t really know each other if they can’t even deduce from the texts they’ve been exchanging that they are talking to the other person. I don’t know. I just feel that I’d know who my man is even if he had a lame username. 

The whole miscommunication drama towards the end was absolutely unnecessary. I was finally enjoying my reading experience and all the conflicts were being resolved nicely, and then that happened. I could’ve totally done without it.

Do you have any cute online romance recommendations for me? Tell me about them in the comments below.

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila

This Was a Complete Shitshow

This Was a Complete Shitshow

Hello and happy Wednesday. I’m one of those people who think if we read solely for the entertainment value, then that’s fine and we’re doing a great job. Because of this and also because I have a blog and like to keep it interesting both for you and me, I create these reading challenges for myself, or I come up with fun TBR lists, and that leads me to read silly books. Well, I can honestly say that nothing so far had been as nonsensical as Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend by Alan Cumyn. Seriously though, I’m only linking the book because I’m sure many people want to check it out and like me read it “as a joke.”

I read this book between December 26th, 2019 and January 2nd, 2020 and gave it two stars. I didn’t give it one star because I didn’t think there was anything structurally wrong with it in terms of the message it was sending; I don’t even think it had a real message, it was just a shitty book.

This is a good time to tell you that if you’re looking for a serious review of this novel, you will most definitely not find it here. You see, I know this book is a joke, so I read it as such. The reason why it took me so long to read was that I didn’t know this was a 400-page-long joke. The same shitty effect could have been accomplished in 200 pages.

Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend is a parody of your typical YA romance with some paranormal/fantastical elements, and you can tell by reading the first page. You don’t need to read all 408 pages to make a point unless you want to, in which case, who am I to judge when I did read them? If you’ve read this far into the review and you don’t know what this book is about, consider yourself lucky. This is the story of a young pterodactyl who starts attending a human high school as part of an inter-species exchange program. What nobody anticipates, especially not the main character, is that Pyke, the pterodactyl will come to school and basically mess up everyone’s lives with his charm.

I had a discussion a long while ago about what genre this book might belong to (hi, Sam, I hope you’re enjoying the books I bought and sent to your house thinking I’d live there too, in the future), and I would say it’s a contemporary with speculative elements. It couldn’t be magical realism in my opinion since dinosaurs existed, they aren’t magical creatures. That probably makes everything sound more interesting than it is, but don’t be fooled, this “joke” put me to sleep after just one chapter and it took me way longer than other books do to finish.

What else is there to say? Have you read this book or anything like it? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila