Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Title: The Scorpio Races 
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: YA Contemporary Fantasy
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Length: 416 pages
Original Publishing Date: October 8th, 2011
Series: Standalone
Where I got it: Audiobook from the library
Links: Goodreads Amazon Author's Website


Synopsis from Goodreads: 
 
It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

 
Main characters: 5/5

Puck and Sean were well-developed characters that demonstrated a wide range of motivations and emotions that I could connect to. Puck was a little more hot-headed than Sean, which I liked. Even sometimes when I wanted to bang their heads against a wall, I still liked them as individuals. And better yet, they were realistic (even when the plot was fantastical).

The romance between them was even better. It was a slow romance, and I really appreciate that. Sean and Puck didn't fall instantly in love, in fact it was more like instant dislike. The way they slowly became friends, and then more, was perfectly done. 

I think the best part is how the characters were interwoven into the plot. Have you ever read a book where you feel like the conflict could be the same if you interchanged any character in the story? That's not the case with Puck and Sean. Their conflicts are entirely unique to them and to the story.

Secondary characters: 4/5

I was slightly torn on the secondary characters. I loved Puck's brother Finn: he was amusing and fun and added a lot to the story. I was a little concerned about Gabe because I felt he was very one-dimensional for most of the story (although much of this may have been because we only saw him through Puck's POV).

Similarly, Mutt and Benjamin Malvern, while excellent villains, sometimes lacked realism because I didn't feel any redeeming or human qualities. They were pure evil, which doesn't create relatable conflict.

But then on the other hand, Stiefvater created characters like the Maud sisters and George Holly, who were just a hoot to read. Just as Steifvater brought Puck and Sean to light in the context of Thisby, she did the same with the other islanders, and used them to create the world, and vice versa. The integration of plot, characters and the setting was phenomenal.

Writing style: 4/5

I loved the writing style of The Scorpio Races. Somehow, Steifvater made me feel the vibe of the island and understand the setting better through her writing. Incredible. Steifvater has a way of describing Thisby that makes you feel like you're there with Puck and Sean and the waterhorses. Her style is atmospheric and evocative, and I loved every little bit of it.

The pacing was maybe the only weak spot. As interesting as the plot and the characters were, sometimes the pacing moved too slow and I started to get a little bored. I thought the races would be longer (literally longer, like days or weeks) rather than a 5 minute race, so I was expecting the description of the race itself to take up a lot of the book. Instead it was a very tiny little section at the end, and most of the book was lead-up to the race. I wish there had been a little bit more action.

Plot: 4.5/5 
The plot of The Scorpio Races was fabulous. The combination of the legend combined with the realistic and complex society and the interpersonal conflict was fascinating. The way that Steifvater combined the fantasy aspect with the conflict that occurred between characters creates multiple layers of plot, which I loved. It definitely kept me interested.  

World-building= yes. Stiefvater came up with so many minute details about the world and the Races that made me feel like I was actually there.

Bonus: I also love horses, horse racing and mythology, so the subject matter of The Scorpio Races was right down my alley. 

The only weak side (as I mentioned earlier) is that there was a lack of major plot elements. The book sometimes felt like one long exposition and the Races themselves made up such a minute aspect of what actually happens. I would have liked to see more details of the race itself: more action

Ending: 3/5

I was lukewarm about the ending. There was a lot to appreciate and feel excited about, but I also felt like it was wrapped up in a nice little bow and everything worked out perfectly. That didn't feel realistic, especially after all the lead-up conflict. But yes, okay, I did cry a little still. So.... mixed feelings on this ending.

Best scene: Probably the race itself or the very end scene


Reminded Me Of: Hidalgo

Positives: Strong characters and development, slow romance, world-building, writing style

Negatives: Pacing, pure-evil villains were unrealistic, the ending was a little too perfect


Cover: Not my favorite. I don't particularly understand the red color scheme and I think the font and image are both pretty boring.


Verdict: Fantastic world-building and characters make up for the slow pacing of this unique fairytale


Rating:  8.2 / 10 (5 stars)


Your Thoughts: Have you read it? What did you think? If you haven't, will you be adding it to your TBR list? Let me know!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Review: The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Title: The Evolution of Mara Dyer
Author: Michelle Hodkin
Genre: YA Paranormal Suspense
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Length: 546 pages 
Original Publishing Date: October 23rd, 2012
Series: Mara Dyer #2
Where I got it: Gift from Evie at Bookish
Links: Goodreads Amazon Author's Website


Synopsis from Goodreads: 
 
Mara Dyer once believed she could run from her past.
She can’t.

She used to think her problems were all in her head.
They aren’t.

She couldn’t imagine that after everything she’s been through, the boy she loves would still be keeping secrets.
She’s wrong.

In this gripping sequel to The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, the truth evolves and choices prove deadly. What will become of Mara Dyer next?

 
Main characters: 4/5

  • Mara= yes. I love her. Mara, you are badass so just keep doing you. Not a whole lot of new development, but none needed.
  • Noah= meh. I'm a little torn. I'm obsessed with him, but some of the stuff he was doing in this book pissed me off. I understand why, but sometimes I wished he would just grow a backbone.

Secondary characters: 3.5/5

  • Jamie, why weren't you as entertaining as in Book 1? You fell flat. 
  • Parents, you suck.
  • Daniel and Joseph are everything.
  • Wish we saw more of Jude and understood him more
  • Evil characters are awesomely creepy

Writing style: 5/5

  • Seriously? How does a 500 page novel feel so fast? I couldn't believe how quickly I finished it. The pacing of this novel is INCREDIBLE.
  • The flashbacks started a little slow, but by the end I was waiting for the next one in anticipation just because of the clues they left!
  • Speaking of which, the way that Hodkin scatters clues throughout the novel is impeccable

Plot: 4.5/5 
  • Yes creepiness! So scary and I loved it.
  • I love that I'm still confused, but in a good way. I feel like I learn little tidbits but there's still so much to learn.
  • I wasn't necessarily pleased with how the paranormal plotline turned. You'll know what I mean if/when you read the book. I don't know, it just felt very.... done before.
  • I love all the times when everything that happens to Mara makes her seem more crazy. The perfect set-up... muhahahahaha. Jk, I love you Mara.

Ending: 4/5

  • Dat cliffie doe. Surprisingly, I was less on the edge of my seat than with Unbecoming though.
  • The climax scene was a little messy. I was having trouble keeping track of what was happening.

Best scene: All of them. No but seriously, I really liked all the mental hospital scenes and Mara interacting with the other kids at Horizons. 


Positives: Mara, writing style, plot, creepiness

Negatives: Cliffhanger was just ok, messy climax scene, plotline didn't go where I wanted it to, Noah fell a little short


Cover:  Just as pretty as the first one! I like how it's darker, just like this book got a little darker than the first.


Verdict:  Um yes. Just what I wanted from this sequel. 


Rating:  8.4 / 10 (5 stars)


Your Thoughts: Have you read it? What did you think? If you haven't, will you be adding it to your TBR list? Let me know!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Review: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Title: Beauty Queens
Author: Libba Bray
Genre: YA Adventure Satire
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Length: 396 pages (not sure how many hours!)
Original Publishing Date: May 24th, 2011
Series: Standalone
Where I got it: Audiobook from the Library
Links: Goodreads Amazon Author's Website


Synopsis from Goodreads: 
 
The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and compete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea, crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eyeliner.

What's a beauty queen to do? Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program - or wrestle snakes to the ground? Get a perfect tan - or learn to run wild? And what should happen when the sexy pirates show up?

Welcome to the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Your tour guide? None other than Libba Bray, the hilarious, sensational, Printz Award-winning author of A Great and Terrible Beauty and Going Bovine. The result is a novel that will make you laugh, make you think, and make you never see beauty the same way again.


 
Main characters: 3.5/5

There's a lot of characters. To Bray's credit, she is able to juggle all of them pretty effectively, giving them their own personality and likes and dislikes. Unfortunately, the way she does this is through stereotypes. I liked the idea that they started as flat characters, or what you would judge them as from first glance, and turned into well-rounded and developed characters with secrets and unique interests. Still, some of the characters seemed over-the-top, ridiculous and unbelievable.

But I felt like Bray had an agenda (you may hear this more than once in this review). Especially in relation to their thoughts about the pageant. It's obvious that Bray holds some disdain for the pageant circuit, because half the characters were only in the pageant to bring it down, and the ones who weren't either realized they hated it or they were described as dumb as a doorknob. So great, no one actually enjoys pageants and the ones who do are dumb.

To go over some specific qualities: I like the twists with Adina & Duff and with Sosi & Jennifer. They were nothing like what I expected and I LOVED that. Mary Lou was a little boring to me, even though I know she was meant to be the opposite. Her secret was nothing particularly special and I didn't like how her subplot ended. Taylor was excellent. I loved her transformation. I hated Adina. Sorry, but her pessimism just didn't do it for me. And the way that Miss Montana, Miss Arkansas and Miss New Mexico were portrayed? Why did Bray even include them if she wasn't going to give them a personality?

Secondary characters: 2/5

My first negative complaint with the secondary characters is that our villains are thinly veiled representations of real people: leaders and politicians. This irked me because I didn't find anything new from them and even though this was intended to satirize these figures, I guess I just didn't feel it.

The inclusion of the pirates also stumped me. While they were raucous and elicited some thought from both the girls and the readers on what it meant to bring boys into their all-female island, I felt that it shifted the focus of the novel from a sort of "yay-Feminism!" to "let's-talk-about-romance". This may not be a bad thing, but all of these crazy, shifting focuses meant that I got confused about the main point of the novel and I felt like Bray was trying to do too much.

Writing style: 2/5

Let's chat about Beauty Queens. There's a lot to talk about. First, though, I want to mention the satire. I liked the idea of the satire of American culture and the underlying currents of anti-feminism that run through our society, however the satire in Beauty Queens was heavy-handed. I don't just mean that Bray was a little too obvious; it seemed like she went through with a bulldozer and ran you over with her attempts at satire.

Then we have the writing style itself. On the one hand, Bray writes with an irreverent, witty, over-the-top and campy style, with an almost slapstick form of comedy. If this was how the book went, it wouldn't be my cup of tea, but it would be consistent. Instead, in the middle of this outrageous, comical satire, Bray attempts to discuss serious issues. For me, this was very confusing. If you're going to bring awareness to societal problems through satire, do it through satire. If you're going to do it through legitimate conversations and discussions, do it that way. But don't get me in the mode of satire where I'm viewing the world through the ironic or hyperbolic lens and then flip it and give me real issues and solutions.

I did like the footnotes and fun commercial breaks and all of the different media included in the novel. Even when they were heavy-handed, it provided some breaks from the narrative and throws you deep into the world that Bray has created.

The pacing was just okay. There were some parts that dragged in speed and that I wished I could skip. 400 pages of this ridiculous satire was too much.

Plot: 1/5 
So, here's the thing. Beauty Queens was ridiculous. There is no doubt about that. It definitely wasn't my thing, as I prefer less of a slapstick comedy routine and more realism in my novels, even in something that isn't realistic at all. First, the plotline itself is over-the-top, but on top of this, even the more minute details ended up making me going, "whattt??". Like the Lady Stache Off subplot? Please... It just wasn't my cup or tea.

The other thing that I mentioned earlier but want to expand on: Bray just tried to do way too much with this novel. She's attempting to satirize American society, but it seems like she's trying to satirize EVERYTHING, and that's just way too much to do. Then she tries to pull off this campy James Bond thriller, and she tries to tie in this evil corporation? It all gets done, just not very effectively.

Ending: 4/5

I like the idea of seeing where the girls are in the future and I liked how it concluded the story and the growth of the characters. I also liked the "mixed media" aspect with the commercials and the Corporation, and how it played into the ending. Yay for no sequels and an ending that ties up all loose ends well.

Best scene: There were a couple ridiculous ones, like the beauty pageant scene, that were pretty memorable.


Reminded Me Of: Lord of the Flies meets Miss Congeniality

Positives: The reclamation of the beauty queen stereotypes, the main characters, the way that the characters break expectations and grow, the premise,  the fun mixed-media writing style (commericals, footnotes, etc)

Negatives: The satire, the pacing, the fact that Bray seemed to push an agenda, the attempt to do too much, the ridiculous, over-the-top, campy style, 


Cover:  Yesss... I love this cover. It's so eye-catching and very representative of the novel.


Verdict:  Beauty Queens is a novel like nothing I've ever witnessed before. I applaud Bray's innovation and outside-the-box thinking, however the concept was larger than could be executed. 


Rating:  5.0 / 10 (3 stars)


Your Thoughts: Have you read it? What did you think? If you haven't, will you be adding it to your TBR list? Let me know! Also: if you have read it, what did you think of the satire aspect? Did you like it? Did you think it was heavy-handed?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Review: The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider

Title: The Beginning of Everything
Author: Robyn Schneider
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publisher: Katherine Tegen
Length: 335 pages
Original Publishing Date: August 27th, 2013
Series: Standalone
Where I got it: No idea. It's a print ARC that I got from a giveaway I think. I should pay more attention. Thanks, whoever gave it to me!!
Links: Goodreads Amazon Author's Website


Synopsis from Goodreads: 
 
Golden boy Ezra Faulkner believes everyone has a tragedy waiting for them—a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen. His particular tragedy waited until he was primed to lose it all: in one spectacular night, a reckless driver shatters Ezra’s knee, his athletic career, and his social life.

No longer a front-runner for Homecoming King, Ezra finds himself at the table of misfits, where he encounters new girl Cassidy Thorpe. Cassidy is unlike anyone Ezra’s ever met, achingly effortless, fiercely intelligent, and determined to bring Ezra along on her endless adventures.

But as Ezra dives into his new studies, new friendships, and new love, he learns that some people, like books, are easy to misread. And now he must consider: if one’s singular tragedy has already hit and everything after it has mattered quite a bit, what happens when more misfortune strikes?

Robyn Schneider’s The Beginning of Everything is a lyrical, witty, and heart-wrenching novel about how difficult it is to play the part that people expect, and how new beginnings can stem from abrupt and tragic endings.

 
Main characters: 4/5

Yes, you caught me, ok? I absolutely am completely in love with Ezra Faulkner. First of all, that name. Ezra. Have I mentioned I am naming my child Ezra? So yeah, he starts of with some brownie points. But it's more than that (I mean, hopefully this would be the case for any character. If I just liked them because of their names then we might have a problem...). Ezra is incredibly detailed, developed and well-characterized. I felt like I got to know him so well through the story and there was nothing more I could have asked for from him. He had his failures and his successes, and you might not like him or agree with him all the time, but that is a realistic, well-developed character at its finest.

Cassidy however, was (as Maddy and I discussed the night I finished the book) a complete manic pixie dream girl. From head to toe. Wikipedia defines Manic Pixie Dream Girl as "that bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures". Sometimes this made it hard to relate to her. Another reason is possibly the first person limited POV. All of this begged the question, who was Cassidy really? What were her hopes and dreams and aspirations? Sure, part of the allure of Cassidy (and really the plot as a whole) was her mystery. But I had this incredibly strong connection to Ezra and not having the same with Cassidy made me question their relationship.

The part where Ezra first doesn't like or "get" Cassidy and suddenly that changes over night and he doesn't know why? Well, neither do I! What's so special about her other than that she opens up a new world for Ezra? Nothing, and that's exactly why she's a Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

Overall, it became hard for me to see Cassidy as a developed character once I had pegged her as the MPDG, but to be fair, we did learn a bit more about her as the novel went on and I feel like Cassidy grew and developed through the course of the story as well, it was just harder to recognize. Despite my frustrations with Cassidy, I feel like Ezra was more of the "main character" and he was phenomenal, which completely made up for Cassidy's shortcomings.

Secondary characters: 4.5/5

Schneider also created some beautifully crafted secondary characters. Toby was hilarious, kind and big-hearted. He was the perfect foil to Ezra and I loved how Schneider tied his tragedy to Ezra's theory about tragedies.

Even some of the more minor main characters gained depth as the story went on. Phoebe, for instance, started as just another gal in the group, but I ended up really liking how she developed and grew as a person. Austin was lovable and his intensity about video games really did remind me of some of my friends. All in all, their dialogue and sassy-ness towards each other paired perfectly with the debate world that they participated in, and I loved all of their allusions and puns. SO GOOD.

The negative to the secondary characters was Luke and the other characters who were stereotyped. Luke was the antagonistic debate nerd who hated Ezra and never got over that. Charlotte was the slutty, bitchy cheerleader. Ezra's old friends were the dumb jocks. Apparently Ezra can break through stereotypes, but no one else can.

Writing style: 5/5

The writing style of this novel is what MAKES it. Schneider's writing style is perhaps one of the best recent examples of what I consider "distinctive voice". What do I mean by this? I mean that with each chapter, paragraph and sentence, I feel Ezra telling this story and I get to know him through the writing. 

I'm not a big person to laugh out loud at a book, but The Beginning of Everything had me chuckling at every page. It exemplified the quirky and humorous style perfectly. The pacing was excellent as well. The only part that it dragged a little bit was towards the end, but I believe it was meant to allow the reader to feel the experience that Ezra is having.

Plot: 3.5/5 
Here's the thing. Some of the minor plottish things (I need to make up a name for this) were unique, but not really the overall plot summary. Just to clarify, by "minor plottish things" I mean small plot happenings, like the beginning story about Toby's tragedy. Things that don't necessarily "further" the plot but are happening along the way. Those tiny little details were quirky and unique. But the overall plot? I had a nagging feeling that I'd seen it before (and I pretty much had) and thus the "surprise" was not really a surprise, but a disappointment.

In the long run, this book is not one that you read for the plot. It's a book that you read for the characters and the writing style. The quirky subplot things are what make the plot, not the overall summary, because honestly, not that much happens.

I do just want to address one more thing briefly. I have noticed a recurring trend (that is not new) in YA contemporary novels that I wish this book had tried to tackle, because I honestly believe that Schneider has the writing capability to do so. The stereotyping of high school cliques was used a lot in this novel, and I believe that it would have been stronger if it moved past some of these and rounded out some of the characters, like Charlotte and Evan. Particularly Charlotte, since there is a problematic scene where she tries to seduce Ezra and Ezra is seen as "saint-like" for resisting her while Charlotte is painted as a slut. This is not an unusual turn of events in YA literature and I think Schneider is a strong enough writer to have come up with some new options/tropes.

Ending: 3/5

I was flabbergasted by this ending at first. I didn't know what to think. I spent some time ruminating on it though and I think I've decided how I feel about the ending. On the negative side, it truly encapsulates the theme of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl and that was frustrating. There were also some major issues with the pacing. Everything seemed to be unloaded at the end and I think it could have been adjusted to have evened out the pacing.

That being said, the surprise was exactly what I was looking for. It would have been easy for this book to turn into a cliche or stereotype and the curveball was one of the things that kept it from being so. It was a shock, but one that I appreciated.

Best scene: I love books where it's impossible to choose just one scene, and The Beginning of Everything is like that. I think my favorites are the first chapter and the party in the hotel room.  


Reminded Me Of: Catcher in the Rye meets You Against Me meets Looking for Alaska

Positives: Everything about Ezra, the allusions/puns/jokes/debate-ness, the fun and well-developed cast of secondary characters, everything about the writing style, the unique and quirky subplots and plot details, the surprise ending

Negatives: Manic Pixie Dream Girl (Cassidy), stereotypes and cliches, the pacing of the ending, the predictability of Cassidy's mystery


Cover: Well, it's bright and eye-catching, I'll say that. I like the font and the roller coasters in the background but the color scheme is just not my cup of tea.


Verdict:  Incredible writing and characters make The Beginning of Everything a fascinating and funny read


Rating:  8.0 / 10 (5 stars)


Your Thoughts: Have you read it? What did you think? If you haven't, will you be adding it to your TBR list? Let me know!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Review: Lex and Lu by J. Santiago

Title:  Lex and Lu
Author: J. Santiago
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: River Grove Books
Length: 296 pages
Original Publishing Date: July 1st, 2014
Series: Standalone
Where I got it: Netgalley
Links: Goodreads Amazon Author's Website


Synopsis from Goodreads: 
 
LOUISA MAY KNIGHT, THE INTELLECTUAL, AND LEX PELLITERRI, THE SOCCER SUPERSTAR, WERE CHILDHOOD SWEETHEARTS.

Lex, with his irreverent, outgoing personality brought out the fun-loving side of his serious next-door neighbor, Lu. Together they experienced the excitement of first love and shared their dreams for the future—until their well-meaning parents forced them apart.

Now, eight years later, a tragedy brings Lex and Lu back together for the first time. As they deal with the tribulations of the present and the pain of their past, they find themselves undeniably drawn to each other once again. But when Lex discovers the scandalous secret that Lu has been keeping from him, he is crushed under the weight of betrayal. Only
time will tell if Lex and Lu can overcome their tumultuous history, but one
thing is certain—the passion they share will burn forever.

 
Main characters: 1/5

There is a thin line in fiction that author's need to tread along, in terms of characters. On the one side is having characters that are realistic. Let's be honest, if there is a character that reader's just don't connect to and don't believe is realistic, then that character has failed. However, on the other side is having a character that is likeable. At the end of the day, an author can make a character that is so realistic and hits so many hidden, unlikeable, awful things that humans do that it can make the reader hate that character. And I think that Santiago may have crossed that border with Lex and Lu.

To be honest, most of the time I kind of hated Lex and Lu both. First off, they have a very toxic relationship. Sure, great, they're in love, but it's not the happy kind of love. It's the "both sides are destroyed by this love" love. And that just plain sucks. But I also hated them because they attacked each other and brought up these points about each other that, unfortunately, resonated with me. I was like, yeah! Why is s/he doing that!? What an asshole! Great, right? Both characters were making me hate the other.

Lu is the "smart one", the mature, self-sacrificing child genius who is always described as "old beyond her years". Lex is the vivacious and outgoing soccer star who is dedicated to his talent. Ultimately though, their faults overwhelmed their weaknesses, and although they were well-characterized, I found it hard to appreciate main characters that I detested. Lu was weak and a pushover and Lex was kinda just awful. How can I connect with characters like that?

Secondary characters: 2.5/5

In general, I was split on the main characters. Lex and Lu's mother's, Amber and Jo, are big parts of their lives, and thus are big secondary characters. To be honest, I struggled with liking them as well. You know what they say, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. They were both incredibly manipulative and it was hard to see why they were friends.

On the other hand, I really enjoyed Lu's sister, Willa, and Lex's brother, Pete. They exemplified characters who were flawed, but grew and developed through the story and were extremely likable. Willa was incredibly strong-willed, stubborn and blunt, while Pete was quiet, caring and kind, sometimes to a fault. Together, they balanced out their siblings and dished out some tough-love when necessary.

Writing style: 2.5/5

For the most part, I was okay with the writing style. It was nothing fancy, and some of the sentences were a little awkward and long-winded. One of the better parts was the dialogue. The dialogue was realistic and flowed well. It gave me a good read on different people's relationships to one another.

My main problem with the writing style was the pacing. There were quite a few times when I got bored because the pacing of the story slowed down, or that I just lost interest in the scene. The story moved slower than it needed to, or lacked the intrigue to keep me moving forward at that breakneck pace that I long for.

Plot: 2/5 
I'm torn on the plot. The "surprise" wasn't super surprising but it definitely threw a wrench into the relationship of Lu and Lex and their families. I liked the concept of a hidden secret within two families that are so close, and it is definitely a twist on the "neighbors turned lovers" plot. However, the characters and mediocre writing style were sort of a let down on a concept that could have been cool.

I also felt like not much happened. I know that this is a continuing mantra of mine with realistic romance but I really mean it with this one. There were very few plot points to keep the story moving forward. Instead, it was a lot of discussion about the past and characters sifting through their feelings and questioning their relationships with one another. However, this lack of plot combined with teh slow pacing and the subpar characters made the story move especially slow.

Ending: 2/5

I felt a little jipped. While I thought that Santiago wrapped up the emotions and conflicts as well as could be expected, I can't say that I necessarily agreed with the way that Lex and Lu worked things out. Also, for a novel that moved so slowly through the feelings and deceptions and different emotions about the past, the ending seemed almost a little rushed. It made it hard to comprehend the conclusion of all of the conflict that had happened. I did like how Lu seemed to grow a little bit more of a backbone and take control of her own life more at the end, hopefully a sign of good things to come.

Best scene: The one towards the end where Lu finally explains all her emotions to Lex and tells him how she really feels about everything 


Reminded Me Of: The Summer of Skinny Dipping 

Positives: Casual and easy-flowing writing style, dialogue, Willa & Pete, the concept

Negatives: The unlikeable characters, the ending, the scarce plot points, the pacing


Cover:  This cover is absolutely gorgeous. I love the colors, the background, and the font. The way that the figures fade away is so pretty as well.


Verdict:  The concept had the potential to be better, but the characters and pacing fell flat


Rating:  4.0 / 10 (2 stars)


Your Thoughts: Have you read it? What did you think? If you haven't, will you be adding it to your TBR list? Let me know!