Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Flash Reviews - June 2014

I've been reading a LOT this year and not reviewing anything, so I figured I'd try doing some "flash reviews." These will just be quick, two or three (or four or five) sentence reviews about the general impression/feelings I got from the books I read in the past month.
  • All-American Girl by Meg Cabot (YA Fiction)
    • I picked this up because it sounded cute and simple and it was exactly that: cute and simple. An average American teenager unthinkingly saves the President's life, then proceeds to fall in love with the first son who happens to be in her art class. Cute. Simple. 3.5/5
  • This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki (Graphic Novel)
    • This One Summer is a coming of age story about two pre-teens who spend every summer together at their families' respective cottages. The artwork was absolutely stunning, but something in the story didn't quite resonate with me and the characters were less than likable. 3.5/5
  • The One by Kiera Cass (YA Fiction)
    • This is the last book in The Selection series. Think The Hunger Games mixed with "The Bachelor". Now make it ten times worse than you imagined and you'll have The Selection. These books are pure, terrible fluff and I have no excuse for reading the whole series aside from wanting to know how the inevitable love triangle is resolved. 1.5/5
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (Fiction)
    • The hero of Ready Player One is Wade, a young man who spends almost all of his time in a virtual online world called OASIS. Wade is making strides to win a contest set by the creator of the OASIS to win control of the virtual world and its creator's vast fortune. Fast paced and fascinating, Ready Player One is a delightful dystopian thriller. 4/5
  • Choker by Elizabeth Woods (YA Fiction)
    • I knew what I was getting into with Choker. A YA thriller set around teenaged Cara, whose childhood best friend Zoe appears after several years of radio silence. Of course, strange, terrible things start to happen once Zoe comes to town. Worth reading if you like a twist ending (albeit a relatively predictable twist ending). 2.5/5
  • A Guide to Being Born by Ramona Ausubel (Short Stories)
    • Ramona Ausubel's collection is literally organized around the stages of being born - love, conception, gestation, and birth. Her stories are beautiful, strange, and often breathtaking. This was a very enjoyable read. 4/5
  • Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead (Fiction)
    • Astonish Me is the story of Joan, a ballet dancer who gives up her career after becoming pregnant. The novel spans several decades and covers the stories of various figures in Joan's life. I found Shipstead's writing to be lovely and the story enthralling, right up to a surprising twist at the conclusion. 5/5
  • Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger (Fiction)
    • Twin sisters move into their mysterious aunt's London flat about her untimely death in Niffenegger's sophomore novel. This novel had the potential to be very interesting, but the plot just wasn't executed well enough. And the last hundred pages or so were so strange and ridiculous that the book lost almost any credibility it would have had. 2/5
  • Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill (Fiction)
    • This is a very short novel narrated by an anonymous wife who reflects on her crumbling marriage and relationship with her daughter. Offill's prose was lovely, but it wasn't quite enough to carry me through with interest. 3/5
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (Fiction)
    • I finally got around to reading Gone Girl this month, even though it has been insanely popular for at least two years now. This really was an edge of your seat thriller for me. I read most of it in a day and I absolutely did not see the twist coming. The ending was pretty upsetting to me and some of the last quarter of the book seemed a little ridiculous. But the rest of Gone Girl was very, very good and made for an enjoyable, exciting read. I look forward to reading more of Flynn's books! 4/5
  • Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour (YA Fiction)
    • LaCour's novel is a love story wrapped in a mystery. Emi Price is a budding production designer living in her brother's awesome LA apartment for the summer. When she stumbles across a hidden letter in a recently deceased Hollywood film legend's home, she and her best friend Charlotte find themselves on an adventure they never imagined. Emi spends the summer learning about film, friends, love, and, of course, herself. 4/5
  • The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (YA Fiction)
    • Barnes's The Naturals is billed as Criminal Minds for the YA set. I LOVE Criminal Minds and I obviously enjoy YA books, so I figured this was a shoo in. It was enjoyable with (of course) a twist ending. As long as you're willing to suspend your disbelief enough to buy an FBI program for teenagers with innate psychological crime-solving abilities, you'll probably like this book. 3.5/5
  • The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon (Fiction)
    • This book had a very interesting premise: Anana Johnson's father, editor of the last print dictionary in existence, just before the dictionary is set to print its final edition. Around the same time, Americans start coming down with a virus called the Word Flu, spread through their ubiquitous handheld devices called memes. Unfortunately, this proved to be a dense, sometimes exhausting read. Not only was the plot confusing, I literally felt like I had the Word Flu myself while reading. I really would not recommend this unless you like an unrewarding challenge. 2/5
  • Case Histories by Kate Atkinson (Fiction)
    • In Case Histories, Jackson Brodie is a Private Investigator who has been called on to solve three cold cases that span over thirty years. His investigations lead him to dead ends, new relationships, and shocking conclusions. This wasn't the fastest-paced mystery I've read, but it kept my attention and I was satisfied by its conclusion. 4/5
  • Fourteen books in a month is almost a record for me! I'm excited that I've been on such a kick lately and I hope it continues...forever.
  • A weird coincidence this month: three of the books I read had a character named Theo (Her Fearful Symmetry, The Word Exchange, and Case Histories). Strange! 
  • Favorite Read: Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead
  • Least Favorite Read: The One by Kiera Cass
  • Most Disappointing Read: The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon...this was actually hard to choose because I had a few disappointments this month. 

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