Happy Top Ten Tuesday, a few hours late!  Today’s topic is five recent fives and five recent ones.  It’s not often that I rate things so strongly, so I had to travel back in time for some of these!

My five most recent five-star reads…

1. What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler

2. You Know Me Well by David Levithan and Nina LaCour

3. The Deal by Elle Kennedy

4. Long Way Down by Krista & Becca Ritchie

5. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

At the other end of the spectrum, five recent one-star ratings…

1. What Wendy Wants by Nikki Sex

2. You Make Me by Erin McCarthy

3. Love Me by Bella Andre

4. Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty by Diane Keaton

5. Faling Fast by Tina Wainscott

What books have you felt really strongly about recently?

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Book review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

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It’s been a really, really long time since I read a vampire novel.  Like, maybe since high school.  But I’d been hearing about this book on and off for a few years, and my library had it, so I thought, hey, why not.

The first thing you should know about this book is that the premise is really interesting.  The second thing you should know is that’s really all it has going for it.

Let’s start with the basics.

Tana wakes up in a bathtub after a long night of partying.  It sounds like everybody’s still asleep, so she quietly sneaks out to avoid embarrassment.  What she finds on the other side of the door is blood, and lots of it.  It seems that vampires attacked the party while she was passed out in the bathroom.  Almost everybody is dead.

She finds the only other survivor, her ex-boyfriend, Aiden, obviously bitten and chained up in one of the bedrooms.  With him is a vampire, who is inexplicably also in chains.  The law states that Tana should call 911 and await further instruction.  It’s not safe to have vampires, or anybody who’s been recently bitten, roaming the streets.  Throwing caution to the wind, Tana decides to embark on a road trip with Aiden and the mysterious vampire, otherwise known as Gavriel.

Their destination: Coldtown, the walled city where vampires are quarantined.  Coldtowns have become a bit of a legend in this new version of the United States.  Live feeds show all-night parties.  Vampires and vampire hunters have become celebrities.  Coldtowns appear to be glamorous, fun, and exciting.  Tana has no desire to live in the Coldtown herself, just to get Aiden and Gavriel there without incident.

It’s a pretty interesting premise, and then nothing else really happens.

There are enormous info dumps throughout.  Also flashbacks.  Just when you’re getting into the story, let’s cut to a scene from Tana’s childhood or Gavriel as a new vampire and totally ruin the flow.

That was frustrating, to say the least.

This is not a poorly written book.  It’s not terrible.  I didn’t hate it.  But I could not have cared less what happened to these characters.  I didn’t understand how a centuries old vampire could fall in love with a teenage girl – something that probably speaks more to me being in my mid-twenties and feeling like an elderly woman whenever I’m around someone under twenty than to any sort of failing by the author.

This is probably a young adult novel that is more suited to actual young adults.

Final rating: ★★☆☆☆

For my 2016 reading challenge, I’m crossing off #29: a dystopian novel.

April is almost upon us, and there are three books coming out that I’m really excited for!

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. Scarlett never considers what might happen if they were to find out what she truly thinks about them…until a dramatic series of events exposes a very different reality than Scarlett’s stories, forever transforming her approach to relationships—both online and off.

Find it on Goodreads

Dolssa is an upper-crust city girl with a secret lover and an uncanny gift. Branded a heretic, she’s on the run from the friar who condemned her mother to death by fire, and wants Dolssa executed, too.

Botille is a matchmaker and a tavern-keeper, struggling to keep herself and her sisters on the right side of the law in their seaside town of Bajas.

When their lives collide by a dark riverside, Botille rescues a dying Dolssa and conceals her in the tavern, where an unlikely friendship blooms. Aided by her sisters and Symo, her surly but loyal neighbor, Botille nurses Dolssa back to health and hides her from her pursuers. But all of Botille’s tricks, tales, and cleverness can’t protect them forever, and when the full wrath of the Church bears down upon Bajas, Dolssa’s passion and Botille’s good intentions could destroy the entire village. 

Find it on Goodreads

What if your town was sliding underwater and everyone was ordered to pack up and leave? How would you and your friends spend your last days together?

While the adults plan for the future, box up their possessions, and find new places to live, Keeley Hewitt and her friends decide to go out with a bang. There are parties in abandoned houses. Canoe races down Main Street. The goal is to make the most of every minute they still have together.

And for Keeley, that means taking one last shot at the boy she’s loved forever.

There’s a weird sort of bravery that comes from knowing there’s nothing left to lose. You might do things you normally wouldn’t. Or say things you shouldn’t. The reward almost always outweighs the risk.

Almost.

It’s the end of Aberdeen, but the beginning of Keeley’s first love story. It just might not turn out the way she thought. Because it’s not always clear what’s worth fighting for and what you should let become a memory.

Find it on Goodreads

What are you excited to read next month?

Book review: Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

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I was deep in the throes of college when Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares came out. Back in 2010, I was probably doing something really ridiculous like taking multiple literature classes in the same semester or working three part-time jobs. Definitely not a lot of time for reading YA contemporaries.

But somehow I managed to notice this book, probably because it’s by two of my favorite authors from my high school years: David Levithan and Rachel Cohn. I’ve previously talked about how much I love Levithan’s books. I’ve read a lot of them. I’d like to read a lot more. I feel pretty similar about Cohn. I was a big fan of her Cyd Charisse trilogy back in the day. I also loved Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, which was another book co-written by these authors.

Lucky for me, my library had an available copy of Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares, so finally, after all this time, I was able to read it.

And it was okay.

I guess.

The idea of the book is really engaging. I would give it three stars for that alone.

Dash finds a mysterious red notebook shelved in The Strand, a bookstore in New York City. (Which I still have yet to visit, despite having probably walked by it many times. Note to self: Get to The Strand.) The notebook dares him to find some books to piece together a message, at which point he begins exchanging the notebook with Lily, its owner. The two of them dare each other to do increasingly outlandish things. Find a specific pair of reindeer mittens at Macy’s. Go to FAO Schwartz at the height of Christmas shopping. Sneak out of the house to go to a midnight show at a bar. (They’re sixteen years old.) So on, so forth. For a good half of the book or so, they haven’t met. Their attraction is built solely on words.

Where it falls apart is in the characters.

Dash is a pretentious hipster, who, at sixteen years old, is exhausted with life. He’s so fed up with everything and everyone, especially his parents. He hates Christmas. He is so happy to have fooled his divorced parents into leaving him alone for the holidays. His parents don’t talk, so his dad thinks he’s with his mom and his mom thinks he’s with his dad. Both parents are away on vacations with their new significant others. He’s often referred to as “snarly” by the people Lily employs to pass along her messages.

Lily is a cinnamon roll in human form. She loooves Christmas. She loves puppies. She actually likes hanging out with her great aunt and her grandpa. She sees the good in everybody. She doesn’t have a lot of friends, but she gets along with everyone. She’s easily excited, to the point of being nicknamed “Shrilly.” Lily’s parents are in Fiji for the holidays, and her reaction is the polar opposite of Dash’s – she’s miserable about it.

You might think that opposites attract. You might think that this relationship would work.

For me, it didn’t.

Dash is the emotional equivalent of an elderly man. Lily is the emotional equivalent of a child. What do they have to talk about? (Just their mutual love of books.) What do they have in common? (Books.) Sure, it’s romantic to think that a love of books trumps everything else, but it’s just not realistic. One day, these kids are going to have to talk about something other than their mutual love of The Strand or whatever, and their little bubble is going to shatter.

For a quick book that takes place over a couple days, it was nice. But I have no faith that these two would still be together next week, let alone a few months down the line.

It’s a cute book, and a very quick read. I just wish Dash and Lily would have seemed more suited for each other.

Final rating:

★★★☆☆

Happy Top Ten Tuesday!  Today’s theme is ten books I really love but feel like I haven’t talked about enough.  I’m not going to go into grave detail here because I don’t think anybody really wants me to rehash my feelings about books I read two or three or five years ago, but here are ten books that I really do love that I haven’t really talked about much (if at all) on the blog.

          Room // Thirteen Reasons Why // Fangirl

         

The Death of Bees
 // 

The Dreaming Void (and the whole Void trilogy)

          

Remember When // 

The Tyrant’s Daughter // The Truth About Alice

          Then & Always //  A Darker Shade of Magic 

What are some old favorites of yours?

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I decided, when I finally started using my library membership, that I was finally going to read all those celebrity memoirs I’d been putting off. On my list: Bossypants by Tina Fey, Yes Please by Amy Poehler, Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham, You’re Never Weird on the Internet by Felicia Day, so on, so forth, etc, etc.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? was the first one that was actually available.  I didn’t have to place a hold or anything.  So great.

…Not so great.

I wouldn’t call myself Mindy Kaling’s biggest fan.  I’ve seen a few episodes of The Mindy Project.  I enjoyed it well enough.  I saw her occasionally when I’d catch The Office.  But I’ve seen a lot of interviews and quotes from her, and she always seems so down-to-earth and funny.  She’s friends with unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.  What could go wrong?

Well, first off, this book is not funny.  I mean, I guess I did a light chuckle a couple times, but that happens in most books I read.  I thought a book by a “comedic genius” would have me LOL-ing.  LMAO-ing.  ROFL-ing, even.  No such luck.  I wondered if I was missing something. Maybe I just didn’t get it?

This book is all over the place.  The jokes fell flat.  A lot of the essays veered into unfunny political incorrectness.  Most of the time it was just confused.

It was, unfortunately, a terrible first choice for my foray into celebrity memoirs.  Hopefully I’ll choose better next time.

Final rating: 

★★☆☆☆ 

For my 2016 reading challenge, I’m crossing off #15: a book written by a celebrity.

Book review: P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

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Last night, I devoured To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.  Read it in one sitting with a huge smile on my face.  So today I picked up P.S. I Still Love You.  Finished it in two sittings, with a somewhat confused expression on my face.  There was no smile to be found.

Lara Jean is still there.  Kitty is still awesome.  But what happened to Peter?

Peter was the best part of TATBILB and he is just… someone else here.  He spends all of his free time with Genevieve because “she’s going through some stuff.”  He doesn’t understand why Lara Jean feels insecure about him running to comfort his ex every time she calls.  At one point, Lara Jean plans a whole thing for him and he doesn’t even show up because Gen was crying and needed him.

I can’t blame Lara Jean for feeling betrayed.

And then, randomly, conveniently, another of the guys Lara Jean wrote a letter to shows up.  Because, hey, if you were worried that there would be no action without a love triangle, stop right there.  We have some kind of love shape (square? diamond? trapezoid?) what with Peter and Genevieve and Lara Jean and John.  Who even knows what’s going on.  Aren’t Peter and Lara Jean supposed to be together?

And the worst part of it, the absolute worst, is that I was rooting for John.  He is an infinitely better guy than this sorry version of Peter.  He’s there for Lara Jean when she needs him.  His interests fall much more in line with hers.  He’s generally just a stand up guy while Peter is sneaking off to be with Genevieve.  And I can’t for the life of me figure out how this is even a question for Lara Jean.

We’ve also got a weird side plot, which actually takes up a good chunk of the book, in which someone releases a sexy video of Lara Jean and Peter, and Lara Jean is promptly chastised by everyone from her classmates to her guidance counselor to her father.  (But, let me mention, not John.)  I appreciated that this allowed the opportunity for discussion of sexism and double standards (of course, Peter doesn’t hear a single negative word about it), but it dragged on for so long that it felt like another purposeful roadblock in an already rocky relationship.

Mostly, I felt really conflicted through this whole book.  I loved Lara Jean and Peter so much in the last book.  Their perfect, adorable relationship is gone.  Peter’s sneaking around with Gen.  Lara Jean is sneaking around with John.  Neither of them want to explain to each other what is going on, and everything just implodes.  I guess, if nothing else, this seems pretty accurate for a high school relationship.

I don’t think that this sequel was necessary.  It contributed nothing to the relationship between Lara Jean and Peter.  It made me wish that she and Peter had never gotten together.  It made me root for the other guy in the triangle, and that never happens.

I wish that I loved this book as much as I loved TATBILB, but I didn’t.

Final rating: ★★★☆☆