Review: Busted

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Busted by: Gina Ciocca

My Rating: 2 of 5 Stars

Marisa wasn’t planning to be a snoop for hire—until she accidentally caught her best friend’s boyfriend making out with another girl. Now her reputation for sniffing out cheaters has spread all over school, and Marisa finds herself the reluctant queen of busting two-timing boys.

But when ex-frenemy Kendall asks her to spy on her boyfriend, TJ, Marisa quickly discovers the girl TJ might be falling for is Marisa herself. And worse yet? The feelings are quickly becoming mutual. Now, she’s stuck spying on a “mystery girl” and the spoken-for guy who just might be the love of her life…

Beware spoilers ahead!

I’ve had Busted in my TBR for awhile. The original pitch really spoke to me. I liked the idea of the main character going after cheating boyfriends. I was generally excited for it! I did not enjoy Busted.

You can assume that based on the synopsis that Marisa has been busting boys for awhile. That is actually not what happens. The book begins with Marisa stalking her best friend’s (Charlie) boyfriend. Perched on the back of his house, Marisa takes a picture of the guy and the other girl. Of course she goes to Charlie and shows her the picture.

From here on out Marisa has gained a reputation for catching cheating boyfriends. The plot furthers when she meets her old friend Kendall. Kendall goes to the same school as Charlie and overheard the situation with said cheating boyfriend. Kendall then enlists Marisa’s help with her ‘cheating’ boyfriend TJ.

Let me start off with saying what I liked. TJ’s character was nice to read about. Yay for nice guys! I adored Marisa’s family and her relationship with them. I was actually liked that Charlie starts to date Marisa’s brother. Charlie and Marisa’s friendship was supportive and well written! We seriously need more positive female friendships in all genres. And that would be it.

Pretty much all of my dislikes are going to have a lot of spoilers. Like the whole plot. I was honestly surprised that Marisa starts her reputation in the beginning of the book. The synopsis seemed to imply the opposite. Then I heard someone say that the initial pitch compared Busted to Veronica Mars. Marisa was no sleuth, she was just really lucky with a dose of stupid.

Marisa and TJ were in the (I think) newspaper together. So that definitely made it easier to get close to him. In the paperback synopsis it is implied that there is more than one specific type of cheating. I don’t know why this isn’t mentioned in the GR synopsis. This definitely would’ve saved a lot of readers. Including myself.

TJ was in fact not cheating on Kendall. He had broken up with her months prior to the book. Despite this he still cared for her and stayed friends. Kendall seemed to be in some sort of denial about the whole situation. Kendall and a few other classmates were actually running an underground cheating ring (tests). Fearing that TJ would find out Kendall asked for Marisa’s help. 

I do not like a ton of drama in my contemporaries. I like them comedic, relatable, and important. Busted was none of that. As someone whose been through high school I can tell you it is not this dramatic. I was actually reminded of Gossip Girl while reading this. I personally felt that there was a lot of unnecessary drama between the characters.

Onto some other issues that bothered me. Seriously I don’t understand why Marisa and TJ repeatedly forgave Kendall (in the beginning). Kendall obviously had some pride issues, held grudges for a very long time, and man does she like getting back at people. A lot of the things she did were horrible and while there were signs in the beginning, TJ and Marisa still held on.

Also unless you were Kendall and her posey you got away with everything and didn’t have any consequences. Charlie knew the girls that were bullying Kendall. And rather than do anything about it she remained silent. I know that a lot of people do this due to fear and whatnot. But Charlie had a way to stop this without anyone knowing. Her mother is a teacher at the school. All she had to do was tell her and a lot of the plot could’ve been avoided.

For the most part Charlie does get away with this as both girls decide to shift full blame on Kendall. Despite Marisa’s ex cheating on her, she certainly didn’t have many qualms of participating in cheating. Keep in mind that for a majority of Marisa and TJ’s interactions, she thinks that he’s dating Kendall. They do kiss early on as well.

Then came the website drama. Kendall set-up a website for Marisa’s services. And of course when things got bad she ruined (Kendall had the password) Marisa on said website. Thus began the prank phone calls and the trolls. Marisa’s ex was actually plot important and man was it annoying! Like was any of that drama necessary?! It took up so much of the plot. Wasted page time.

The ending is a typical dance. With apologies and everything seemingly back on track with the main characters. Marisa forgive’s her ex and starts a real relationship with TJ. Charlie is dating Marisa’s brother. Kendall and co have been exposed and are awaiting punishment. All’s well that ends well.

Overall I didn’t enjoy this book. I do not recommend.   

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Review: The Rose & the Dagger

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The Rose & the Dagger by: Renee Ahdieh

My Rating: 2 of 5 Stars

The darker the sky, the brighter the stars.

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad is forced from the arms of her beloved husband, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once thought Khalid a monster—a merciless killer of wives, responsible for immeasurable heartache and pain—but as she unraveled his secrets, she found instead an extraordinary man and a love she could not deny. Still, a curse threatens to keep Shazi and Khalid apart forever.

Now she’s reunited with her family, who have found refuge in the desert, where a deadly force is gathering against Khalid—a force set on destroying his empire and commanded by Shazi’s spurned childhood sweetheart. Trapped between loyalties to those she loves, the only thing Shazi can do is act. Using the burgeoning magic within her as a guide, she strikes out on her own to end both this terrible curse and the brewing war once and for all. But to do it, she must evade enemies of her own to stay alive.

The saga that began with The Wrath and the Dawn takes its final turn as Shahrzad risks everything to find her way back to her one true love again.

Beware spoilers ahead!

Buddy read with Waukesha, Luke, and Adita! Once their reviews have been posted I’ll add the links.

For those of you that followed me back in November probably know that I did not enjoy The Wrath and the Dawn. You’re probably wondering why I bothered to continue this series. Part of it was curiosity. It was curiosity that got me to finish all the short stories. After I finished The Mirror in the Maze I was curious to see how the series ended. It came in my library I put it on hold. While I did enjoy this more than the first book I can’t say I’m happy with how this series ended. 

The book begins with a prologue in which a little girl and her brother are trying to restore their house. A storm blew their house over. Unfortunately the storm killed their mother. While the girl and her brother start clearing the area a boy appears in their door. The girl realizes that this boy is the prince. The prince mentions that he would like to help the girl and boy with their home. The brother agrees and they continue to work.

After they have finished most of the work the brother asks for the princes name. The prince says that his name is Khalid. The brother introduces himself. And the girl turns out to be Shiva.

The plot in this book was much better than the first! There was a large focus on the war and some politics. The magic was interesting to read about as were the new characters. There wasn’t that much focus on Shazi and Khalid’s relationship. I actually found Khalid to be much smarter in this book. He started acting like a King. I enjoyed reading about Shazi’s sister Irsa! She was so refreshing to all the strong and confident females you read about. And I absolutely loved her romance! Rahim was so sweet! All of the twists and reveals were very surprisingly. Especially concerning Despina. There was this really sweet scene were Shiva comes in! 

Shazi and Tariq were the same. Which is to say annoying. I actually noticed an error while reading this book. In the beginning of the book it is mentioned that Shiva’s mother died in the storm. Yet when Shazi and Tariq are talking about Shiva, it’s mentioned that his aunt (Shiva’s mother) committed suicide. Please do correct me if I’m wrong. The curse was pushed aside in this book. You’d think with it being deal in the first book it’s reduced to nothing in this book. The magic wasn’t really explained.

I also wished that Irsa and Rahim were the main characters as I would’ve preferred to read about their romance. You are given constant reminders in this about how strong the women are. In the form of a stupid man touching her. And said women defending herself. How was it that most of the men Shazi ran into were pervs? I am not at all happy with how Irsa and Rahim’s romance was dealt with. While the epilogue was somewhat sweet it left a bitter taste in my mouth. I’m really not happy with a certain part of the ending.

Overall this was not a good conclusion in my eyes. But I still recommend it to fans of forbidden romance and fairy tale retellings.  

Review: The Lie Tree

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The Lie Tree by: Frances Hardinge

My Rating: 2 of 5 Stars

To earn a secret so profound, I would need to tell momentous lies, and make as many people as possible believe them…

Faith Sunderly leads a double life. To most people, she is modest and well mannered—a proper young lady who knows her place. But inside, Faith is burning with questions and curiosity. She keeps sharp watch of her surroundings and, therefore, knows secrets no one suspects her of knowing—like the real reason her family fled Kent to the close-knit island of Vane. And that her father’s death was no accident.

In pursuit of revenge and justice for the father she idolizes, Faith hunts through his possessions, where she discovers a strange tree. A tree that only bears fruit when she whispers a lie to it. The fruit, in turn, delivers a hidden truth. The tree might hold the key to her father’s murder. Or, it might lure the murderer directly to Faith herself, for lies—like fires, wild and crackling—quickly take on a life of their own.

Beware spoilers ahead!

DNF 

I heard about this book through a GR friend’s review. It sounded interesting and I was happy to see that it was coming in my library. Unfortunately I didn’t like.

The book begins with Faith’s family traveling. Faith’s little brother asks why they are traveling and their mother says that it’s for their father’s work. When her brother mentions that they never needed to come for their father’s traveling. Their mother responds that this is a vacation for them.

Their mother then tells Faith that she’s happy that Faith hasn’t asked any questions. Faith is bursting with questions. She has the same questions as her brother and more. But as a Lady she is not supposed to ask any questions just do as she is told.

Faith claims that her stomach is hurting and goes for a walk. Faith then takes an about turn and listens in on a conversation with her uncle and father. Her father mentions that he is not happy that he had to come here. Her uncle then replies that they didn’t have a choice. The public believe that her father is a fraud and they would’ve all suffered.

The reason I didn’t finish this is because I didn’t feel anything. I didn’t care that Faith’s father was supposedly a cheat. I had no interest in continuing further. I’ve rated it 2 stars because the premise sounds interesting and the writing style was well done.

Overall I had no interest in this book. I still recommend it to fans of murder mystery with a hint of paranormal.  

Review: Between Us and the Moon

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Between Us and the Moon by: Rebecca Maizel

My Rating: 2 of 5 Stars

A luminous young adult novel that evokes Judy Blume’s Forever for a new generation.

Ever since Sarah was born, she’s lived in the shadow of her beautiful older sister, Scarlett. But this summer on Cape Cod, she’s determined to finally grow up. Then she meets gorgeous college boy Andrew. He sees her as the girl she wants to be. A girl who’s older than she is. A girl like Scarlett.

Before she knows what’s happened, one little lie has transformed into something real. And by the end of August, she might have to choose between falling in love, and finding herself.

Fans of Jenny Han and Stephanie Perkins are destined to fall for this story about how life and love are impossible to predict.

Beware spoilers ahead!

DNF

I had heard about this book last year through GR. It looked interesting. At the time it wasn’t in my library so I made a mental note of it. Luckily it had come to my library and I was excited to read it! Unfortunately I did not enjoy it.

The book begins with Sarah talking to her sister Scarlett about the stars. Scarlett calls Sarah a dork and leaves. Their mother calls and announces that Sarah’s boyfriend Tucker is here. Sarah goes to greet Tucker. She notices something off about him but pushes it aside. Tucker takes Sarah outside and breaks up with her. During their conversation Tucker mentions that he has changed but because Sarah has her head in science she never noticed. He also implies that he has been cheating on her. He leaves.

Sarah goes back in her house in a daze. She can’t believe what just happened. She always thought that Tucker and her would be forever. They’ve been friends since kindergarten and share a love for science. Sarah is very happy that her family will be spending the summer in Cape Cod.

Once in Cape Cod Sarah still feels hurt by Tucker. One day her sister Scarlett goes to the beach. Sarah wants to go as well but Scarlett says that she wants to spend some time with her friends. Sarah goes anyways and ends up following Scarlett. Sarah realizes that if she becomes Scarlett she’ll never be hurt again. Thus creating The Scarlett Experiment.

The reason I didn’t finish this book is because of all the lies that Sarah ends up telling. Literally before the epilogue she reveals everything. Which didn’t sit well with me. My family considers me the epitome of honesty so that might be part of the reason I couldn’t finish this.

I have rated this 2 stars because despite all hte lies Sarah does develop. And the premise sounded interesting.

Overall this was not for me. I still recommend it to fans of contemporary. If you can get past the lying then I think you’d enjoy this.  

Review: Revenge of the Girl with Great Personality

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Revenge of the Girl with Great Personality by: Elizabeth Eulberg

My Rating: 2 of 5 Stars

A hilarious new novel from Elizabeth Eulberg about taking the wall out of the wallflower so she can bloom.

Don’t mess with a girl with a great personality!

Everybody loves Lexi. She’s popular, smart, funny…but she’s never been one of those girls, the pretty ones who get all the attention from guys. And on top of that, her seven-year-old sister, Mackenzie, is a terror in a tiara, and part of a pageant scene where she gets praised for her beauty (with the help of fake hair and tons of makeup).

Lexi’s sick of it. She’s sick of being the girl who hears about kisses instead of getting them. She’s sick of being ignored by her longtime crush, Logan. She’s sick of being taken for granted by her pageant-obsessed mom. And she’s sick of having all her family’s money wasted on a phony pursuit of perfection.

The time has come for Lexi to step out from the sidelines. Girls without great personalities aren’t going to know what hit them. Because Lexi’s going to play the beauty game – and she’s in it to win it.

Beware spoilers ahead!

I had heard about this book through GR. It sounded really good, light and just what I needed. I was very happy that this was in my library. Unfortunately I did not enjoy this. 

The book begins with Lexi at her little sisters beauty pageant. As always Lexi is cheering Mac on. Lexi hates pageants. Her mother ends up spending a lot of money just for her sister to wear this cheap plastic tiara.

When Lexi was younger her parents would always argue. She didn’t understand what they were talking about but she knew it must have been bad because they would always shout. Then Lexi’s mom was pregnant with Mac. And her parents started getting along. Unfortunately Mac wasn’t enough to save their parents marriage. Her father left them nonetheless.

Her mother was trying to look for ways to mend the whole in her heart. When they were shopping they came across an add for a beauty pageant. Lexi refused to participate but her mother was able to Mac to. Ever since then Mac has been in all these competitions. They can’t actually afford any of it but they manage to get by because Lexi is working.

The reason I couldn’t finish this is because of Lexi’s mother. I couldn’t stand her! All she cared about were these pageant’s which they couldn’t afford. She didn’t even care that her daughter was having fun participating in these pageant’s. No she only cared about winning so that she could say her daughter won. She treated Lexi terribly. She was horrible and ridiculous. While I know that this is realistic because some mothers are like that isn’t a reason for me to continue.

However I did like some things. There are a lot of good lessons to be taken from this book. And in the end Lexi chooses herself over a guy and her relationship with her sister improves. Unfortunately this wasn’t enough for me to put with their mother. 

Overall I didn’t like the mother. But I still recommend this to everyone because of the lessons learnt.  

Review: The Flip Side

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The Flip Side by: Shawn Johnson

My Rating: 2 of 5 Stars

From gold medalist and reality TV star Shawn Johnson comes a debut YA novel inspired by her own experiences as an elite teenage gymnast—just in time for the Summer 2016 Olympic games.

Charlie Ryland has a secret.

She may seem like your average high school sophomore—but she’s just really good at pretending.

Because outside of school Charlie spends all her waking hours training to become one of the best gymnasts in the world. And it’s not easy flying under the radar when you’re aiming for Olympic gold…especially when an irresistible guy comes along and threatens to throw your whole world off balance.

Inspired by her own experiences as a fifteen-year-old Olympic gymnast, gold medalist Shawn Johnson writes a delightfully entertaining novel about chasing big dreams and falling in love, all while trying to keep it real.

Beware spoilers ahead!

I received this E-ARC via Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

DNF

This book was recommended to me by my dear GR friend Lola! Click on her name to read her review. 

I had heard about this book through Lola’s review. It sounded pretty good and I was in the mood for something light to read. I requested it on Netgalley and much to my delight (and surprise) I got it! Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy this. 

The book begins with Charlie day dreaming about a competition. Reality comes back when her teacher makes a comment on her lack of knowledge on the government. Much to her dismay the lesson she day dreamed in will be coming in the test.

Her best friend suggests they study together. But that weekend Charlie will be having a competition. She tells said friend that she’ll be visiting her grandmothers and won’t be able to meet her and study.

When Charlie first got into gymnastics it was easier. Her schedule was more flexible and she didn’t have to worry about a thing. As she got older and enrolled into a different gymnastics course she started getting homeschooled. Charlie wanted a normal life. She wanted to go to high school and make friends. So her parents talked to the school and it was arranged. Charlie keeps her other life a secret so that they don’t clash. She finds it overwhelming to balance the two. Which is why she lies to her best friend about her plans.

The only problem I had was the writing style. It wasn’t so bad in the beginning but then it started to bother me. I actually wanted to reword some of the sentences. The plot in itself sounded interesting hence the two star. 

Overall I did not like the writing style. But I still recommend it because it does sound interesting. 

Review: Tell Me Three Things

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Tell Me Three Things by: Julie Buxbaum

My Rating: 2 of 5 Stars

Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?

Julie Buxbaum mixes comedy and tragedy, love and loss, pain and elation, in her debut YA novel filled with characters who will come to feel like friends.

Beware spoilers ahead!

DNF

This book was recommended to me by my dear GR friend Alyssa! Click on her name to read her review. 

When I had first read Alyssa’s review I was sold. At the time I was in a contemporary funk and added it to my shelf. Then one day I started thinking about this book. I realized that I couldn’t bring myself to buy it because I thought the SN thing was stupid. What was the point of the mystery? If it had been me going to a new school I would’ve rather had someone physically show me the ropes rather than keep his/her identity a secret and just email me. A few weeks back I saw that it was in the library and thought ‘Why Not’. Maybe there really was a reason for the mystery behind SN. Unfortunately I did not enjoy this. 

The book begins with Jessie coming across an email from a mysterious SN. In the email SN mentions that SN took an interest in her because Jessie is different from everyone else at her new school. SN offers to be Jessie’s guide. Jessie thinks that this a is a trap. SN replies that it is not a trap and that SN indeed wants to help her. Jessie turns SN down claiming she can handle it herself. 

Thus far Jessie hasn’t been able to make any friends. She’s having a hard time adjusting and her situation certainly doesn’t help. Jessie’s mother passed away about a year back. Since then she only had her father. Her father arrived at home one day explaining to he eloped with a woman he met online. Jessie had to leave her home behind and her friends. What bother’s her is that she didn’t even get a say in the matter.

Once they moved Jessie makes it a point to be polite and civil, all while avoiding conversation with her step-mother Rachel and her step-brother Theo. Rachel is nice enough but Theo is pretty rude. He doesn’t make any small talk with Jessie and whenever he sees her at school he pretends like he doesn’t know her.

School is proving to be rather difficult. She has successfully managed to humiliate herself on several occasions and so far no one talks to her. Two girls in her grade make it a point to make fun of her every time she’s around them. Eventually she decides to take SN’s offer because she is a lost cause.

Tell Me Three Things started off pretty good. I liked the humour and the writing style. I was engaged. Then it all went downhill as I continued to read. I started to notice that this book is overly dramatic. Yes it sucked that her mother died. And I understood why she was angry at her father. But I couldn’t connect with any of her pain because of all the needless drama. It seemed like everyone hated Jessie and all she did was humiliate herself repeatedly. SN literally writes in an email that their high school is a war zone.

From my personal experience most high schools aren’t like that. Yes there are bullies who every time you walk by them will start ‘whispering’ about you. And it isn’t easy making friends especially if you’re the new kid. But it was really overdone in this book. I kept on thinking ‘Wow that’s a lot of drama’ and ‘This book is awfully dramatic’. There were times were it felt like the author was intentionally making Jessie miserable so that she could contact SN.

I’ve rated this two stars because I did enjoy the beginning of the book. Aside from that I can’t think of anything that appealed to me.

Overall I did not enjoy this book. I cannot bring myself to recommend it.