Side Effects May Vary: Review

In early February I wanted to participate in a ARC tour that I saw via my Twitter feed, for the blog On the Same Page (former LitLushes). I was looking forward to joining and started right up as soon as the book arrived in my mailbox. I had seen it’s title pop up on my social media but wasn’t actually sure what the plot was about.

Side Effects May Vary
Author: Julie Murphy
Publisher: HarperCollins/ Balzer + Bray
Release Date: March 18, 2014
Pages: 336, Paperback
Received Copy: ARC tour at On the Same Page/Literary Lushes blog courtesy

Synopsis (via Goodreads):

What if you’d been living your life as if you were dying—only to find out that you had your whole future ahead of you?

When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, her prognosis is grim. To maximize the time she does have, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs—however she sees fit. She convinces her friend Harvey, whom she knows has always had feelings for her, to help her with a crazy bucket list that’s as much about revenge (humiliating her ex-boyfriend and getting back at her arch nemesis) as it is about hope (doing something unexpectedly kind for a stranger and reliving some childhood memories). But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission.

Now Alice is forced to face the consequences of all that she’s said and done, as well as her true feelings for Harvey. But has she done irreparable damage to the people around her, and to the one person who matters most?

.  .  .  .

Side Effects May Vary features Alice, and her guy best friend’s, Harvey, lives that weave through past and present scenes as well as his/her points of view throughout the novel. Alice is a sophomore who gets the shock of her life when she gets told that she has cancer and the outlook for her future seems short. She’s in the prime of her teenage life: Prom, learning to drive, love, friendships, college decisions to look forward to–which now have all come to a halt because of her ailing health. Alice relies on Harvey, her best friend to lean on, and help her carry out some revenge on a not so nice ex-boyfriend and the school’s popular, bad girl as well as Alice’s nemesis. In the process Harvey and Alice have their friendship lines blurred and strengthened all throughout the book.

Overall this was a tough book to rate because I wasn’t much of a fan, but here goes…

Things I liked:

the Cover…
It’s colorful and very appealing to the eye. While looks may be deceiving, I knew looking forward to a heartfelt book that I wanted to invest my time in reading.

the Book Length…
I don’t think the book needed to be any longer than it should’ve been. Definitely just the right amount of pages–maybe a little more to the ending to thicken it out.

Things I didn’t like:

the Characters
Honestly, I don’t believe any of the cast of characters had any redeeming qualities about them. It’s difficult to immerse yourself in a story when you don’t enjoy either protagonists–they kind of drove me crazy. I could probably break down each one but I won’t. I also couldn’t identify myself with any of the characters, not on any real level. Yes I may have the desire to act out like Alice, be desperate like Harvey but in the end, their behavior just didn’t flow very well, I just wasn’t much of a believer.

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the Ending
With everything that had happened to both Alice and her behavior and Harvey in his naivety, I had hoped the ending could save this and maybe for some readers it did get better, but for me, I stillwas not into it.

 

While I participated in the ARC tour, I still wanted to give my opinion. Truthfully I do not want to be a blog catered to just reviewing everything that I loved reading–I feel it’s important to focus on the good and not-so-good. Unfortunately, I haven’t had to write many not-so-good reviews–this is really my first. But the important thing is I want to give an honest opinion. I say if you were looking forward to reading the book you still should! I’d most likely borrow it from a friend or get it from the library in case you’re still skeptical and don’t end up liking it. Hopefully this wasn’t too harsh–there are tons of books that I fall head over heels reading and some just don’t appreciate them like I do, which is okay…I may be side-eyed and judging you, LOL, but I get it. You do have opinions too. I’d love for you to have the same respect for mine as I do for yours.

If you read it, let me know what you thought about it….did you like it? Agree or disagree? Thanks in advance!
Linz xx

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Fault Line: Review (book club pick)

Where to even begin with this one….okay here goes:

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Fault Line
Author: C. Desir
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: 2012
Pages: 226, Hardcover
Received Copy: friend loan

For January’s book club pick we chose Fault Line by C. Desir. Now going into reading this I already knew what to expect. I had read a blog post late last year that was tweeted out and decided to read up on it. Fault Line’s subject matter is a stressful topic to tackle, to talk about, think about, and let alone WRITE about it but sometimes that can be cathartic.

The story is told through Ben’s eyes, soon to be & then becomes boyfriend to Ani, the new girl in town who’s pretty spunky and down to earth. Not afraid to be herself and speak her mind. Until a few months into the relationship something goes down at a party: Ani was there and Ben was not. What happens at the party is different but definitely along the lines of last year’s upsetting national headlines Steubenville rape case, while luckily social media wasn’t an added factor in this story, the amount of guys, the acts…you know where I’m going with this; it’s similar.

The book does a pretty good job of attempting the realistic: the shutdown of both the boyfriend and girlfriend’s lives–they change, they’re closed off, they act out, they don’t tell others and try to deal with the burden and trauma on their own terms. Every person acts differently and it was sad to see Ani’s character go into a downward spiral and to read how she made herself feel, to prove right others expectations from this one tragic night.

Things I liked:
-the realistic approach and not making it all sunshine and rainbows, it’s dark, and while it could seem unrealistic, I’ve read a bunch of posts on sites like XO, Jane where women have recounted their stories and a bunch acted out exactly how Ani did.
-the voice of Ben; really interesting to see through the prescriptive of someone who didn’t witness it, wasn’t around for it but just the before and aftermath.
-the fact that this is not your average YA novel…this might actually be more New Adult, but don’t quote me on that

Things I didn’t like:
-It was a little too short, or rather the ending fell flat. It would’ve been nice to see where things happened to go a little later on with the characters or a little more of Ben’s discussion when he goes to Ani’s house right before the book ends
-Obviously: the subject matter. It gets me too enraged. It gets my blood boiling when this stuff actually happens in real life–not just a made up story but girls and guys who suffer this every day.
-In the beginning of the story the dialogue sometimes felt a little cheesy but did get a bit better the rest of the way through

Overall rating: if you’re going to read this book, borrow it from a friend or library loan it–it’s a decent book but it’s a rough read you might not want to leave on your shelf.

xxLinz

Top Ten Tuesday: TTT Book Goals/Resolutions for 2014

So, nothing like starting off the new year with a new tradition. Apparently the book blogging world (thanks to The Broke & the Bookish) have a weekly Top Ten Tuesday where fellow bloggers list their top picks via the prompt given.

For January 7th, 2014: Top Ten Goals/Resolutions For 2014 (bookish, not bookish or a blend)
So let’s get to it…   I’ve decided to make five bookish goals and five non-bookish goals, the bookish goals first:

Probably my most obvious of the goals is my Goodreads 2014 challenge which is to complete 50 book titles. In 2012 I read 26 books (? i think) and decided that was like…HUGE! I hadn’t really started falling in love with reading until college and I broke out into the midst of Harry Potter–those movies got me hooked! After that, some historical and random school books here and there, thus leading me to a random day at Barnes & Noble where they would not stop talking about Breaking Dawn coming out in a few weeks! “PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY NOW!” they shouted over the loud speaker, where I then sat at a cafe table thinking “Um sorry, Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel are the only universes I want to know about where a human falls for a vampire, mmmkay?” Well joke’s on me because I bought into it–which was kind of a blessing. I immersed myself into reading fanfiction which then lead me to the discovery of fic authors twitters which lead me to OOH you like Twilight and Harry Potter, check out Hunger Games, which then made me go crazy into the book-loving community! So it all worked out. Those little words on pages can get you places, so don’t ignore them!

As I was saying, the past few years I keep progressing my goal, 26 books, turned into 50 books for 2013–my original goal was 35, so I’m hoping that setting the goal for what I actually was able to read this year I can surpass it yet again!

Explore some different genres. I stick to too much YA. Not that this is a problem but, I probably should branch out. Or at least read YA novels but read more that are paranormal or dystopian because I predictably read a lot of “Janey’s-in-high-school-and-Rachel-is-a-mean-girl” “George-likes-Kelly-but-she’s-the-cool-girl-who-will-inevitably-fall-for-his-geeky-side”-kind of books. Stepping outside of the box can really be exciting and who knows what kind of new authors/genres I’ll grow to love just like my high school drama classics?!

BLOG MORE! Obviously I started this on a whim and I have a personal blog that gets neglected, but I really feel like sometimes when you blog you can make other connections. You can create friendships, you build certain skills. As I’m discovering, while growing up practically during a rapid technology revolution, blogging is so freaking foreign to me! What happened to the Myspace days where like layouts were so easy to manipulate? Now I have to find new avenues to create things and realize that without step-by-step processes on YouTube, I kinda suck. Which is terrible because in my family I’m like the QUEEN of all things technological!! I cannot be dethroned!

Creating new ideas to post, see if maybe I can branch out into getting ARCs and reviewing them instead of just pulling them off my personal library shelves and posting. I mean, who doesn’t want to read something before everyone else gets to? DUH! ME! I DO! So I would love to put more effort into that. Anddddd duh-duh-duhhhhh it includes this post: Top Ten Tuesday! I guess I’m on my way already!

Book events galore! I was so excited to meet some really awesome authors last year: Tahereh Mafi, Ransom Riggs, Elizabeth Wein, Gayle Forman, Leila Sales! All so wonderful and fun to meet! It’s nice to just do something local and I’m extremely lucky I live in an area where I can have access to meet them. The book club that I joined also helps make it possible (psst, they’re the coolest) and they’ve helped me branch out and look for authors who have appearances close by. Even if we can’t all see them, I’m ready to go out and be a fangirl all by myself.

This year I’m extremely excited because I’ll be attending the Midwinter ALA and then in the spring I  get to do Power Reader day for BEA! Guys, B-E-A!! I AM GOING TO GET ALL THE BOOKS!! I don’t care who’s at BEA, but I will gladly see whomever! And ALA has one of my new favorite authors: RAINBOW ROWELL! HOLLER!!! So 2014 should be very exciting! (sorry about the exclamation points, but like…GAHH!!! *needed*)

Hmm…this last one is a toughy because I’m running out of book goals. Ah! I’ve found one!
I’d probably like to 1. ….now guys, don’t judge, but….I should go and get a library card. *hangs head in shame* I know. Believe me, I know. But here’s the thing. I have a bit of an OCD thing….books I love have to be hardcover. If a cover changed it’s format I’ll probably need another new book. If I read it on Kindle and fell in love, I’ll probably need to own it, etc… But for the books I just say, “eh, you were okay”? I’d like to not waste my money. I should invest in *not investing* (it makes sense!) on books that I’m not excited to read. I’d like to save money.

Another thing that could be really cool at a library is volunteering. I still have no idea what I’d like to do in life, but reading has given me a good outlet. Believe me I’d rather not be drug addicted or in major debt or having a kid…things I’m not ready for and do some reading. While it’s not always wise to keep your nose in a book because you can miss out on good stuff around you, you can educate yourself–and that’s super important. So maybe going to the library I could see some kids who want to learn to read or elderly whom want to hear stories, whichever, maybe the library would know how to help me out in that department.

Now onto the big non-bookish goals of 2014…

Ugh. Life. Where do we begin by trying to pick the pieces a part on what I’d love to change? Well for starters, my actual self is the best place to begin.

I don’t know what happened but one day my brain decided to play a trick on me. It said, “No matter what you do, you will not come close to others around you: in looks, in intelligence, in your career, etc” Sucky brain, right? Well it’s time I try to stop that. 1. It’s not healthy. 2. It does nothing but keep me down and feel god, awful depressed. 3. I can’t help but project myself to others and they think of my behavior just like my mind does. Basically this isn’t fun for anyone. I’d like to take deep breaths and say “I can do it”…cheezy but possibly helpful?

Still focusing on goals to better myself, the next is fairly easy: more running! Now I have a slight medical issue right now where I needed minor surgery but I feel like after I figure this thing out, I want to break out my newly received gym membership and go to town!

Last year I got myself to use the Couch 2 5K app on my smartphone and I actually got up to where I could run, albeit not the fastest, but could run a 5K! Took me like 2.5 months of consistent getting out onto a track and just getting lost in my footsteps. In the end I ran three in two months! I’d like to run more and work myself up to a 10K or something longer.

Next move for myself is my…..appetite. It’s bad. Like really bad. On New Year’s Eve I was told to calculate my Starbucks habit. Oh god. Not a good idea! DON’T EVER DO IT! Well I did it. And not only am I burning a hole through my bank account (sorry Starbucks, you deliciously overpriced caffeinated drinks) I’m probably burning a hole through my stomach lining. I need to cut down. I need to cut so much from my diet, not just from a “look better, feel better” point of view, but I’ve got some rough diseases in my family history and it’d be nice if I could stop them before they hit me hard and I can’t do much about it. Less sugar, less carbs, less…well definitely sugar and carbs but also trying to see a nutritionist. This can help better my knowledge on what healthier choices I should opt for when eating and going about my day. Instead of the ole, “Hi, can I have an everything bagel toasted with butter annndddddd aaaaaa grande vanilla spice latte?”…. BUT SERIOUSLY STARBUCKS WHEN WILL YOU BRING IT BACK BECAUSE THAT WILL BE MY MONTHLY TREAT! OH PLEASE OH PLEASE!

I would probably say getting a life is definitely on my list. Sometimes it’s good to forget the online world. In the end, social media can be amazing but it can also be the worst thing for you. I’ve officially dropped Facebook, something I do not regret. Instagram and Twitter are probably the two that just take over my life. Why should I care about putting up a thousand hashtags so my pics get liked? Why do I want to figure out who unfollowed me on Twitter? I don’t. And I shouldn’t. It messes with my brain, and half the time, while I love all of you, I don’t know you. A few I have actually met, but…here’s the thing. My Twitter timeline is NOT the same as it was in 2009 when I joined. I’ve made several twitter handles and dropped them as well. I had an account (that was linked to so much) and had almost 90K in tweets! Like….what was so important that I needed to share with the world? I don’t want creepers to find me, so I keep personal stuff to a minimum. I didn’t become famous (psst I’d need a lot more tweets). I didn’t have some life altering event that needed play by plays. So, I guess I’d like to tone it down on the social media. Especially since half the people I loved before don’t make time for me, we stopped liking the same things, and people whom I thought I had cool connections with just became another level of high school drama where it hurt to look at the times because I was ignored and left out. Not worth it.

And finally….sorry sorry, I’m a chatty Kathy, I won’t get this in depth next week…lol

Changing my status: out of the house/new job/possible dating:
These things all majorly suck in my life right now. Still at home (barely saving), miserable at my work, and have been boyfriend-less since the dawn of time. I’d LOVEEEE to tackle some of these! Any of these! I’d probably say the most important is a job. When you graduate college and become that adult you always thought in your head was the coolest, but guess what: it’s really not, then believe me when I say, that time should be spent not wanting to pull your hair out. You want to grow, learn, meet people, continue your ethics. I can’t really say that. I’ve learned some tough lessons, but I want to be happy, or at least semi, semi-happy when the alarm goes off every morning. Not dreading my time until 5pm when I can peace out.

Okayyyyy that’s it! My first Top Ten Tuesday is complete! Success?! um…hopefully?

xx Linz

1st book down, 49 to go!

Okay, so I’m trying to actually come up with a format so I’m just feeling things out and taking advice from friends/bloggers so let’s see how it goes:

Girl, Stolen by April Henry

Girl, Stolen by April Henry

Girl, Stolen

Author: April Henry
Publisher: Square Fish, an Imprint of Macmillan
Release Date: 2010
Pages: 213, Paperback copy
Received Copy: Personal Library

I happen to stumble upon this while browsing another author on Goodreads. I’m interested in what others are always reading–sometimes that’s the best way to get rec’s but sadly most authors are writing rather than reading, which isn’t surprising, but I decided to browse this author’s profile and peek through her book selections. One that sounded interesting was this one, Girl, Stolen. In one of my many Amazon purchases I usually make, I decided to add this to my cart.

Synopsis:
(courtesy of the back book cover)

Sixteen-year-old Cheyenne Wilder is sleeping in the back of the car while her mom fills Cheyenne’s prescription for anitbiotics. Before Cheyenne realizes what’s happening, their car is being stolen. Griffin hadn’t meant to kidnap Cheyenne, but once his dad finds out that Cheyenne’s father is the president of a power corporation, everything changes–now there’s a reason to keep her. How will Cheyenne survive this nightmare? Because she’s not only sick with pneumonia–she’s blind.

From the plot’s description it sounded like something I would definitely be into reading. I mostly read YA so that fit. I usually like a bit of a love story, it had potential so a possible fit, and it had some suspense/drama, which I don’t mind reading as well. Altogether it seemed like a decent read, and it basically was. My problem is that I’m so SILLY and don’t have a library card. This book DEFINITELY should have been a library loan. While I don’t think the book cost more than $10-12 it’s just a book you’d read while waiting for your flight at the airport, or to kill time on the plane but not to buy. It had been sitting on my shelf and I thought, ‘Well it’s probably time to read this so I start cutting down on what’s on my shelves.’

Cheyenne is taken in the luxury car that is stolen, by Griffin, who comes from a shady family. Griffin basically has no good solution except only to take her, so he ends up bringing Cheyenne back to his house. Griffin lives with his dad who steals parts of cars and then resells them for profit. He’s got a temper, isn’t very smart, and is completely selfish when it comes to taking care of his son. Griffin knows what he did was wrong but he’s got a pretty depressing life so at the time he sees no other option, but after spending time with Cheyenne begins to realize he might be able to help her get out and deal with the fault of kidnapping. The most entertaining parts were the last 40-50 pages of the book where things had escalated to whether or not Cheyenne would be exchanged for the ransom. I did find things interesting about potential blindness (not actual term used haha, she’s legally blind). You learn that Cheyenne lost her sight when she was around thirteen and to me, that’s such a terrifying thought–to know what the world around you looks like and one day to have it abruptly taken away. I was however disappointed that there wasn’t more of a love story between Griffin (who’s stuck in the middle of the situation) and Cheyenne. I guess it didn’t have much time to develop although there were signs of possibility, the kidnapping is not over an extensive period of time so in way it was probably the most realistic. Sometimes I just pretend that in a world the bad guy becomes good and you’ll fall in love and live happily ever after but rarely does that happen or exist haha!

Overall rating: Library Loan (3 out of 5 book stars)
You’ll read it and then probably forget about it.

Hopefully this will be how my posts will go, that is if I can keep up with them!

xxLinz