Month: December 2016

2016: My Reading List

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You know how you get that notification and e-mail from Goodreads, telling you to look back at what you’ve read for the year? When I clicked this link, I was told I read 7 books in 2016. This undoubtedly proves that I am using the site incorrectly, and is also patently untrue. So I’ve decided to create my own list of books that I read in 2016, because I don’t fucking need Goodreads to do it for me.

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1. A World Without Princes

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Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 stars

One-line review: While not as charming as its’ predecessor, Chainani continues to amuse with his unique twisting of fairy tale tropes.

2. How Elizabeth Barrett Browning Saved My Life

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Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 stars

One-line review: This slightly ridiculous plot follows protagonist Abby Randolphe turn her life around through a mix of luck, epiphany, and effort.

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3. Howl’s Moving Castle

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Goodreads rating: 5 out of 5 stars

One-line review: A well-known and well-loved story, this fairy-tale retelling is filled with magic and well worth reading.

4. The Glimpses of the Moon

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Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 stars

One-line review: Follow newlyweds Nick and Susy as they struggle with that age-old question: Is love really all you need? because being poor is awful.

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5. Love in the Time of Global Warming

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Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 stars

One-line review: A re-telling of the Odyssey, this book has interesting ideas and sounds promising, but is missing Block’s poetry.

6. Inherent Vice

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Goodreads rating: 5 out of 5 stars

One-line review: A mystery novel with an unorthodox detective that takes place in the ’60s, this book is fantastic.

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7. Immaculate

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Goodreads rating: 2 out of 5 stars

One-line review: This book is poorly written religious propaganda. It was so bad, I considered writing a parody of it about Leda, but… didn’t have the time.

8. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

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Goodreads rating: 5 out of 5 stars

One-line review: Flavia de Luce is the shit, and if you have not read this novel yet, you should do so now.

9. The Island of Excess Love

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Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 stars

One-line review: This re-telling of the Aeneid is not very good; I do not recommend reading it.

10. The Evolution of Mara Dyer

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Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 stars

One-line review: This sequel is not as good as the first in the series; however, it is a decent book.

11. The Retribution of Mara Dyer

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Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 stars

One-line review: The conclusion to the Mara Dyer trilogy, I was personally not satisfied with this ending, which felt a bit like a cheat.

12. Holding Court

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Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 stars

One-line review: This mystery novel is as fun to attend as a renaissance faire; join the psychic teenage protagonist as she agonizes over whether or not a cute guy wants to date her, and solves a murder.

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13. Landline

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Goodreads rating: 5 out of 5 stars

One-line review: Georgie, cool, funny television writer, is married to Neal, nerdy, funny artist, but that marriage might be in trouble; when she discovers that the landline telephone at her parents’ house allows her to speak with her husband in the past (and pre-marriage), the subsequent conversations allow her to gain a deeper understanding of her relationship and her priorities.

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14. Britt-Marie was Here

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Goodreads rating: 5 out of 5 stars

One-line review: Britt-Marie is compulsively clean, and rejoining the workforce after a few decades.. this novel is wonderful, and you should read it.

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15. Alias Grace

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Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 stars

One-line review: Grace Marks was imprisoned at a young age, accused of being an accomplice in the grim murder of her employer and his mistress; whether or not she is guilty in this fictionalized (but well-researched) account provides for a fascinating feminist read.

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16. I Almost Forgot About You

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Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 stars

One-line review: Dr. Georgia Young is not quite as young, anymore; yet the middle-aged woman is determined to turn her life into one with which she is happy in this inspiring and heartwarming read from Terry McMillan.

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17. June

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Goodreads rating: 5 out of 5 stars

One-line review: When famous film stars come to a small town in Ohio to shoot a big-budget film, shit gets crazy…

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18. Forever

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Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 stars

One-line review: Teenage love is real and raw in this classic YA novel by Judy Blume; it’s a bit dated, but the feelings and the sex are timeless teenage relationship fodder.

19. Good Bones and Simple Murders

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Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 stars

One-line review: A collection of short stories, prominently featuring feminist and creative subject matters, some of which are great, some of which were not quite my bag.

20. The Accidental Alchemist

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Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 stars

One-line review: Mediocre mystery that spends more time discussing vegan cooking than the plot.

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21. Tell the Wind and Fire

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Goodreads rating: 5 out of 5 stars

One-line review: A YA re-telling of A Tale of Two Cities that was an amazing read.

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22. Rich and Pretty

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Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 stars

One-line review: One girl is really pretty, one girl is really rich, they’re best friends, and the writing is fairly good, although the story meanders – a lot.

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23. The Monsters of Templeton

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Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 stars

One-line review: Willie Upton returns home, lost and pregnant. While struggling to figure out what to do about her life, she invests her energy into discovering the truth about her family’s history, in the process unearthing some unsavory secrets and a town curse.

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24. Fates and Furies

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Goodreads rating: 5 out of 5 stars

One-line review: Marriage is a crazy thing, and perspective affects the manner in which the relationship is perceived; this novel is amazing.

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25. Under the Greenwood Tree

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Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 stars

One-line review: One of Thomas Hardy’s pastoral romances; this work is a great analysis of a small English town.

26. Educating his Bride

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Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 stars

One-line review: When a young college student gets married to one of her professors, she embarks into the real world — learning what it is to be an adult, to be in a relationship, and to be okay with sex.

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27. I’m Just a Person

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Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 stars

One-line review: Not the best idea for a mother’s day read, but Tig is an interesting individual who shows strength and resilience in the face of a year when everything seemed to go wrong; this read is inspiring and highly recommended.

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28. My Best Friend’s Exorcism

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Goodreads rating: 5 out of 5 stars

One-line review: This book is like a montage of ’80s horror movies, with a heart, and BFF’s forever; highly recommend!

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29. Crisanta Knight: Protagonist Bound

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Goodreads rating: 2 out of 5 stars

One-line review: Crisanta Knight is the daughter of Cinderella, and she’s really annoying; this book is for those readers who really want to read a fairy-tale inspired series and don’t really care about the quality of the writing.

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30. Furiously Happy

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Goodreads rating: 5 out of 5 stars

One-line review: This short story anthology contains stories that are both touching and hilarious, and deal with mental illness.

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31. We Love You, Charlie Freeman

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Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 stars

One-line review: The Freeman family is taking part in a study to teach sign language to a chimpanzee; this novel deals with many difficult experiences in a way that is probing, and really makes you care about the characters.

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32. Killing Monica

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Goodreads rating: 2 out of 5 stars

One-line review: A group of women in Manhattan meet, giggle, gossip, but from the amount of vapidity and lack of soul displayed, this novel would have fared better had it veered into a horror novel (which, with a title like “Killing Monica” you might be expecting, but such expectations will leave you sorely disappointed).

33. The Postman Always Rings Twice

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Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 stars

One-line review: Pulp noir fiction that is entertaining, with realistic characters and which I highly recommend.

34. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock

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Goodreads rating: 2 out of 5 stars

One-line review: Leonard is an abused, down-on-his luck teen who has trouble interacting with people, and has decided to commit suicide; this book was supposed to make you feel for Leonard in the way that you feel for Willy Loman, but it doesn’t work.

35. Kisses from Hell

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Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 stars

One-line review: This collection of YA short stories all feature a supernatural element, and vary widely in the degree of quality displayed by the authors.

36. Saint Anything

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Goodreads rating: 5 out of 5 stars

One-line review: Sydney has a brother who is so much larger-than-life, she tends to get lost in the shadow of his spotlight; when he is arrested for a drunk driving incident in which he accidentally maims a teenage boy, Sydney’s parents continue to ignore her while putting more restrictions on her life that cause more problems than solutions.

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37. The Light of Paris

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Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 stars

One-line review: To live a loveless life, or take a chance on being a destitute artist; that is the question in this fairly enjoyable read.

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38. Audrey, Wait!

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Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 stars

One-line review: When Audrey breaks up with her musician boyfriend, he writes a song about it — that becomes a hit; very enjoyable YA fluff.

39. Teen Spirit

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Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 stars

One-line review: Desperate with grief, Julie enlists the help of her friend to attempt to contact her deceased grandmother via ouija board; this action unleashes her friend’s dark secret, and sends them on a supernaturally tinged adventure.

40. Dora’s Box

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Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 stars

One-line review: When she loses her work-study job at the university, Dora is at her wits’ end, until she realizes the significance of a box she inherited from her grandmother; good read for plot readers, although the characters are kind of annoying.

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41. Defending Taylor

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Goodreads rating: 2 out of 5 stars

One-line review: Soccer, politics, and bad writing.

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42. The Sunflower Cottage Breakfast Club

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Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 stars

One-line review: Overly sweet romance about a woman who’s good at her job and just needs “a good man” (which I’m pretty sure is romance-speak for huge dick) to help her understand what she’s been missing in her life; also, there’s, like, family drama and shit.

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43. The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters

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Goodreads rating: 2 out of 5 stars

One-line review: Those who suffer from insomnia should borrow this book from the library, since reading it is far more likely to induce narcolepsy than counting sheep.

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44. Lucy and Andy Neanderthal

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Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 stars

One-line review: This graphic novel is intended for a younger audience; it was cute, enjoyable, and age appropriate.

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45. Emily

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Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 stars

One-line review: 3 short stories by a famed Japanese author, these stories were interesting, but I’m not sure the translation does them justice.

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46. L.A. Candy

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Goodreads rating: 2 out of 5 stars

One-line review: As vapid and pointless as a reality TV show, which is sort of what this novel is about; I do not recommend.

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47. Funny Girl

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Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 stars

One-line review: It may be a fiction, but this novel still provides an inspiring story of a woman who breaks boundaries and proves that women can be funny as well as beautiful.

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48. Mrs. Caliban

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Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 stars

One-line review: The lizard-man walks into Mrs. Caliban’s kitchen, and the reader is forced to determine whether or not this sixties housewife is sane or not, in this award-winning novella.

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49. Wintergirls

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Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 stars

One-line review: Lia is a wintergirl; she doesn’t want to eat, and when she doesn’t, she doesn’t feel… So. Well. Done.

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50. The Glass-Blowers

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Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 stars

One-line review: The Duval family, skilled in the art of glass-blowing, live through the reign of Louis XVI, the tumult of the revolution… well, many of them… in this interesting historical fiction novel.

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51. Shattered Glass Shards

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Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 stars

One-line review: This novel reads like a fan fiction – a writer who novelizes a thinly veiled version of her last relationship becomes a bestselling author, which includes a movie deal… with her ex slated to play the part of the manipulative male lead.

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52. Off the Page

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Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 stars

One-line review: The idea is interesting; the story is a bit bland.

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53. The Wicked Boy

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Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 stars

One-line review: Summerscale researched and wrote about a fascinating case wherein a young boy murdered his mother.

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54. Odd Girl Out

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Goodreads rating: 5 out of 5 stars

One-line review: This novel is wonderful; explore the meaning of love with Elizabeth Jane Howard’s exquisite writing.

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55. Kiss Me Kill Me

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Goodreads rating: 2 out of 5 stars

One-line review: I could barely even finish this book, which is legitimately a story about a girl who thinks she killed the boy she had a crush on because she kissed him… Yeah…

56. Smoke and Mirrors

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Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 stars

One-line review: This short story anthology by Neil Gaiman varies widely in quality – there are a couple of stories that are very, very good, and many mediocre ones, as well as poem-stories that, frankly, did not appeal to me very much.

57. Someone Else’s Summer

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Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 stars

One-line review: An annoying little cheerleader with no imagination decides to perform her recently deceased sister’s “summer to-do list” in order to, like, find herself or something.

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58. Beautiful Ruins

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Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 stars

One-line review: This book likely does not hold any deep truths for you to learn about yourself (although I think Walter tries, that aspect of his story didn’t quite work, for me); however, the story is generally interesting and well-written.

Currently reading, and plan to finish in 2016: 4 3 2 1

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This book is so, so, so, so good. Will be on sale in January 2017, and blog post to come.

So, there you are. A little more than a book each week, which, for those who have trouble with math, is slightly more than the 7 that Goodreads says I read.

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In all seriousness, I generally like Goodreads, and keep harping on this difference because I find it hilarious.

Have you read any of these books? What was your reading like in 2016? Please share your thoughts, your links, etc., in the comments!

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Happy Holidays!

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Despite the dearth of my posting this month, I really love and appreciate all readers who stumble across this blog. Thank you for reading, and I hope that you are having a lovely holiday!

xmas

Less Interesting than Pretty Little Liars #bookreview

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I recently received and read an ARC of Rachel Bateman’s Someone Else’s Summer from Netgalley:

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I have mixed feelings about this novel. I actually really liked the plotline, though it was fairly predictable. Someone Else’s Summer follows Anna, the effortlessly beautiful, popular high school cheerleader who realizes upon the death of her sister that she has potentially lost touch with a reality that her dead sister Storm understood intimately. She discovers her sister’s list, meant to be accomplished during the summer after Storm graduates and before beginning college, until the car crash on graduation night that prematurely took her life.

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Beauty, death, road trip… it’s like an episode of a TV show on ABC family.

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Except that unlike the earnest beauties of questionable intelligence becoming embroiled in drama and solving mysteries on a popular cable network, this novel features an earnest beauty who is fucking annoying as hell.

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Give me an “A!” Give me an “N!” Give me an “N-O-Y-I-tkN-G!!”

Overall, it was difficult to feel sympathetic for Anna. And it was difficult to see why her love interest, literally obvious from the first page of the novel, was in love with her, other than her beauty.

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… which brings us to the same question as this movie: is this girl just the equivalent of a dessert to [love . If I were to sum up the interest]?
In addition to featuring an aggravating, unsympathetic protagonist, I was also not particularly a fan of the writing style. There were moments, glimpses in the writing, of the book that I had been hoping this one would be. However, overall, the writing is not quite as polished as it should be. This novel reads as a draft, that should have been further edited.

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This YA novel is okay. If I were to sum it up in one word, it would be “meh.” I like the idea of the novel, just not its’ execution. Unfortunately, I do not recommend.

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#dontrecommend

Have you read Someone Else’s Summer? Or are you planning to? Please share your thoughts in the comments!