Annette Reviews: 2015 Reads So Far

Well, I am doing pathetic job of reading this year.  I’d be more ashamed of myself if it wasn’t for the fact that I’m also trying to be a grown up and working a bazillion hours a week.  So far I’ve read 12 books this year and I’m 1 book behind on my Goodreads challenge and it’s driving me MENTAL.  But enough of that, here’s a recap of what I’ve read so far:

1) 17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma  2 stars:  I really wanted to like this more than I did. I just found it to be repetitive and slow.  BUT Nova Ren Suma has a very poetic way of writing which is nice to read.

2) Something Like Normal by Trish Doller – 4 stars:  This was my first (and only, so far) re-read of 2015.  Look… it’s a 4 star right now but it’ll probably become part of the 5 star club.  Great writing, great characters, GREAT storyline.

3) The Incredible Adventures Of Cinnamon Girl by Melissa Keil – 3 stars:  Melissa Keil, doing it for the Aussie authors.  This is an adorable book. Melissa Keil has such a fun writing style.  I did like her first novel better, but this was still a great read

4) What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton  4 stars:  Wow.  This book is fantastic, I loved it.  Yet another YA novel tackling big issues.  Well done Colleen, well done.

5) Fault Line by Christa Desir – 2 stars:  Sorry, I know this book got a lot of hype, but I actually thought it tackled the issue of sexual assault really badly. I found it rushed, jumpy and a tad insulting.

6) The Off Season by Catherine Murdock – 3 stars.  A fun and light read.  I enjoy this series though it’s probably not something I would feel the need to read again.

7) Isla And The Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins – 3 stars:  What a cute ending to the series.  My least favourite of all three books, but pretty much in line with what you’d expect.

8) The Sky So Heavy by Claire Zorn – 4 stars:  An apocalyptic novel set in Australia?  Yes please!  I feel like it completely changes the path of the story having it set somewhere that doesn’t have guns readily available.  Loved this novel!

9) I Was Here by Gayle Forman – 3 stars:  I loved If I Stay and Where She Went and I gotta say…I’m kind of disappointed with her 2 most recent novels.  It was a good read but nothing super stand-outy.

10) The Flywheel by Erin Gough – 4 stars:  Another kick-ass Aussie writer tackling big issues in a super cool way.  Rachel and I met her at the Kill Your Darlings First Book Club event and she is so nice, which makes it even better!

11) Every Move by Ellie Marney – 4 stars:  Oh Mycroft why are you not REAL!  I thought this was a really good conclusion to the series. I didn’t feel like it was rushed and it tied up all the ends nicely… but not ‘too nicely’ if ya know what I’m sayin’

12) Gracie Faltrain Takes Control by Catch Crowley – 3 stars:  Cath Crowley is so QUOTABLE.  No wonder she was able to write a character like Poet (Graffiti Moon), she is so lyrical.

I haven’t read many books this year, but the ones I have read have mostly been super dooper (yeah…that’s the adjective I’m going with).

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Annette Reviews: This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
Paperback, 416 pages
Published April 2nd, 2013 by Headline
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
How I Read It: I bought it
Rating: 3 Stars

For my rating system, please click here

Blurb (from the book): It’s June – seventeen-year-old Ellie O’Neill’s least favourite time of year.  Her tiny hometown is annually invaded by tourists, and this year there’s the added inconvenience of a film crew.  Even the arrival of Hollywood heart-throb Graham Larkin can’t lift her mood.  

But there is something making Ellie very happy.  Ever since an email was accidentally sent to her months ago, she’s been corresponding with a mysterious stranger, the two of them sharing their hopes and fears.  Their developing relationship is not without its secrets though – there’s the truth about Ellie’s past…and her pen pal’s real identity.  When they finally meet in person, things are destined to get much more complicated.  Can two people, world’s apart but bought together by chance, make it against all odds? 

**WARNING: SPOILERS**

The cover and the title peaked my interest with this book, so I’m a little bit disappointed with the end result.  My biggest issue with this book is that it’s just so corny.  I know that the blurb, the title and the cover insinuate a love story, and I’m not averse to that by any means, but she falls in ‘like’ with a guy she accidentally meets over email and he turns out to be a celebrity.  Really?  In saying that, I did rate it a 3, so it obviously had some redeeming qualities for me.

What I enjoyed about This Is What Happy Looks Like is that the story wasn’t just about ‘Graham Larkin – Celebrity’.  It could have easily focused on his famous life and become a gushing teenage read about his crooked smile and perfectly messy hair.  But props to Jennifer E. Smith, she made sure there was more to the story than that.  Ellie has her own problems to deal with and, by telling the story in alternating perspectives, we get a glimpse into both of their very different worlds.

I also liked that it was an easy story to read and that the characters were likeable.  I didn’t have to sit through another ‘bad-boy meets good-girl and changes his ways’ story, which also would have been an easy writing trap to fall into.  I think it was well written, I didn’t have to struggle through it to finish and I found it enjoyable enough.  I would say that This Is What Happy Looks Like is a perfect summer holiday read.  And really, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of a fluff read every now and then.  It gives my feels a bit of a break.

But at the end of the day, while it was an easy read and I enjoyed it for what it was, I couldn’t get past the whole ‘celebrity’ thing.  And it was a just a little bit too neat and perfect for my taste.

– Annette

Annette Reviews: All I Ever Wanted by Vikki Wakefield

All I Ever Wanted by Vikki Wakefield
Paperback, 202 pages
Published June 27th 2011 by Text
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
How I Read It: I borrowed it off Rachel

Rating: 4 Stars

For my rating system, please click here

My blurb: ‘Almost 17 year old Mim doesn’t belong in her family and she doesn’t want to belong.  She doesn’t want to be a drug dealer, she doesn’t want to cross the road in her own neighbourhood to avoid vicious dogs and vicious people and she certainly doesn’t want to be anything like her mother.  But despite Mim’s rules, she finds herself getting pulled deeper and deeper into a life that she’s never wanted for herself.  And now she has to figure out how to pull herself out.’

Man, can Vikki Wakefield write!  As soon as I started reading this book I got a sense of…foreboding?  Darkness?  Melancholy?  No… perhaps I am best to describe the way she doesn’t write.  Her books aren’t light and fluffy, they aren’t puppies and rainbows or squealing with excitement.  They aren’t pastel.  They are heavy and serious and important and strong.  They are greys and blues, but with a bit of yellow at the edges.

I loved All I Ever Wanted, and I think some of it has to do with my own personal experiences.  And I don’t mean that in the sense that my life is anything like Mim’s, but I work with a lot of young people whose lives are like that.  And I know that, despite what people might think, these young people don’t want their lives to be like that, it’s just really really hard to stop it from happening.  So this book, to me, is truth.

Mim is such a strong character and there were so many moments in the book where, if it were me, I would just roll myself in a ball and cry, but Mim carries on.  She reminds me of someone I know, who is very dear to me, which made the book just that much better.  There are so many things to love about this novel, that I can’t possible list them all, but I can’t finish without mentioning the love interest.  I don’t want to spoil anything, but I would like to thank Vikki for doing this differently and telling another side.

– Annette