Review: Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here by Anna Breslaw

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here by Anna BreslawScarlett Epstein Hates It Here by Anna Breslaw
Published by Razorbill on April 19, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Humor
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Meet Scarlett Epstein, BNF (Big Name Fan) in her online community of fanfiction writers, world-class nobody at Melville High. Her best (read: only) IRL friends are Avery, a painfully shy and annoyingly attractive bookworm, and Ruth, her weed-smoking, possibly insane seventy-three-year-old neighbor.

When Scarlett’s beloved TV show is canceled and her longtime crush, Gideon, is sucked out of her orbit and into the dark and distant world of Populars, Scarlett turns to the fanfic message boards for comfort. This time, though, her subjects aren’t the swoon-worthy stars of her fave series—they’re the real-life kids from her high school. And if they ever find out what Scarlett truly thinks about them, she’ll be thrust into a situation far more dramatic than anything she’s ever seen on TV…

My hopes were so very high for Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here. Like, it sounded so awesome and looks so fluffy and yes give. Have you ever read a book and it was good and did cool stuff and the subject matter was completely up your alley, but also it kind of rubbed you the wrong way? That’s me right now.

It’s not that I found Scarlett Epstein offensive or anything, but sometimes Scarlett’s voice really grated on me. I don’t really know why, and honestly it’s probably some sneaky self-loathing. For a lot of the book, her voice (which is very strong) walked the line between funny and obnoxious. At the start, it was more to the obnoxious, but as the book progressed became increasingly funny and enjoyable. Scarlett has a great character arc that’s worth sticking around for, even if she does grate on you at the start. Plus, even if I didn’t always love the voice, mad props to any author who can write a book that’s got such a strong voice.

(more…)

Size Doesn’t Matter (45): Mini Reviews by a Lazy Blogger

Size Doesn’t Matter (45): Mini Reviews by a Lazy BloggerThe Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle #1
Published by Scholastic on September 18, 2012
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Mystery
Pages: 409
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
five-stars

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them--until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her.

His name is Gansey, a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can't entirely explain. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She doesn't believe in true love, and never thought this would be a problem. But as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she's not so sure anymore.

Rereading The Raven Boys was such a treasure, because, with how layered this series is and how planned, there’s so much to discover that I missed the first time. Actually, I could probably read this a hundred times and find more new stuff each time. Also, Stiefvater’s prose is so delicious that I just want to roll around in a pile of her words.

On the reread, the pace was a bit faster for me, but there’s no doubt that the pace of this series tends to be slow. Then again, I find that’s often true with authors who write such perfect prose, and that’s kind of nice because it gives you time to glory in every sentence.

(more…)

Size Doesn’t Matter (44): Mini Reviews by a Lazy Blogger

Size Doesn’t Matter (44): Mini Reviews by a Lazy BloggerKingdom of Ashes by Rhiannon Thomas
Series: A Wicked Thing #2
Published by HarperTeen on February 23, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Fairy Tales, Retelling, Romance
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover
Source: Gifted
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
three-stars

Asleep for a hundred years, awoken by a kiss. Aurora’s life was supposed to be a fairytale.

But since discovering that loyalty to the crown and loyalty to her country are two very different things, Aurora knows she can only dream of happily ever after. Once the enchanted princess, savior of her people, she is now branded a traitor.

Aurora is determined to free her home from the king’s tyrannical rule, even if it means traveling across the sea to the kingdom of the handsome and devious Prince Finnegan—someone who seems to know far more about her magic than he should. However, Finnegan’s kingdom has perils of its own, and any help he gives Aurora will come at a price.

As Aurora and Finnegan work together to harness her power—something so fiery and dangerous that is as likely to destroy those close to Aurora as it is to save them—she begins to unravel the mysteries surrounding the curse that was placed on her over a century before…and uncover the truth about the destiny she was always meant to fulfill.

Brimming with captivating fantasy and life-threatening danger, the sequel to A Wicked Thing takes Sleeping Beauty on an adventure unlike any she’s ever had before.

Kingdom of Ashes was such a surprise as a follow-up to A Wicked Thing. I mean, I liked both, but they’re massively different in tone and pacing. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it is very jarring if you’re doing a back-to-back read of the two. Where A Wicked Thing was slowly-paced and thoughtful, Kingdom of Ashes races by with constant action and magic. They’re strong in different ways, and I really appreciate the series, but, yeah, definitely a surprise.

Though I think Kingdom of Ashes is a really strong novel as it is, I do think it would have benefited from a bit of a slow down. The plot goes by so fast, kind of like you’re watching the story happen out the windows of a bullet train. It works, but I think the story could have been even more effective. I like the ship and I like the evolution of Aurora’s powers, but, with a bit more time and development, I could have completely loved them.

That said, I do think there’s something very special about this series. Thomas’ focus is always very much on Aurora, with the possibility of romance pushed way back. Though I adore romance obviously, I think that’s the right choice for this story and especially this character. In updating a fairy tale about a heroine who got so little agency, Thomas’ retelling is all about helping her find who she is and make her own choices. A Wicked Thing is all about Aurora’s feeling that she doesn’t have a choice in her life and finally making one; Kingdom of Ashes is Aurora seizing control of her life. She makes some mistakes and does some bad things, but now she finally really owns her life. It’s a very cool way to retell Sleeping Beauty.

Rhiannon Thomas has done a really nice job with her debut series, and I most definitely want more books from her. I think these books are great and very different from the typical YA, but I also think they’ll be a tough read for a lot of people. If you can handle the slow pace of A Wicked Thing, though, you do get dragons. Just saying.

(more…)

Review: Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Girl Against the Universe by Paula StokesGirl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes
Published by HarperTeen on May 17, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 382
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads
four-half-stars

From the author of The Art of Lainey and Liars, Inc. comes a fresh, contemporary story about one girl’s tragic past and a boy who convinces her that maybe her luck is about to change. Perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen or Jenny Han.

Maguire knows she’s bad luck. No matter how many charms she buys off the internet or good luck rituals she performs each morning, horrible things happen when Maguire is around. Like that time her brother, father, and uncle were all killed in a car crash—and Maguire walked away with barely a scratch. But then on her way out of her therapist’s office, she meets Jordy, an aspiring tennis star, who wants to help Maguire break her unlucky streak. Maguire knows that the best thing she can do for Jordy is to stay away, but staying away may be harder than she thought.

Jetlag has been doing some interesting things to me. For instance, on the day of this review’s writing, I woke up at 3am in the morning, having gone to sleep at 9pm. Since I was stupidly alert, I decided to read for a bit until I got tired enough to go back to sleep. My plan failed epically, due to my poor choice in novels. Girl Against the Universe is not the sort of book to put you back to sleep. Turns out, though, that you can get some really good reading done in the middle of the night.

(more…)

Cover Snark (184): A Torch Against the Snark

Welcome to Cover Snark, where the people are snarky and the covers quiver in fear. Since I don’t write many snarky book reviews here on A Reader of Fictions, Cover Snark is my outlet. If you click on the title of the book, where possible, I’ve linked to Goodreads. Clicking on the cover itself will show you the cover in a larger size, in most cases. Feel free to love covers I hate and vice versa. Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Please note that you should by no means contact the author if you do not like their cover; they likely have ZERO control. Feel free to express opinions in the comments, but please do not @ an author on Twitter because of anything you’ve seen here. Let’s keep it kind.

Shiny and New:

1. Branded (Inked #2) – Eric Smith
Branded (Inked #2) - Eric Smith
Thoughts: Such a cute cover. Auggie the corgie deserves no less. Wait, Eric Smith. I meant Eric. (No, I meant Auggie.)

(more…)