Title links are to Goodreads and “My rating” links are to my reviews if applicable. Be on the lookout for the next installment of this series: “6 books I didn’t like that other people did”.
The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares – My rating: 5 stars; Goodreads: 3.3 stars
What other people are saying: “The first half felt like a YA novel with the romance and family issues, but then the second half turned into a depressing mess with difficult marriages and family tragedies. The end felt cheap. And then the book was just… over. Most things I cared about were never resolved or addressed.”
“There are a lot of characters, and the author bounces between them often and rapidly. I don’t feel like I got to know any of them, which made it difficult to care about anything that happened.”
Several reviewers mentioned that they felt the book contained both racism and sexism.
What I say: I really liked this book. To address the first point, I don’t exactly remember how the book ends, but I always take this kind of comment with a grain of salt. Real life doesn’t resolve easily, so why should a book? In contrast to the second comment, I actually liked all of the different POVs and did feel like I was able to get to know each character–just a difference of opinion I guess. Lastly, I can’t say that I completely agree with the racism and sexism allegations. I recommend you read my original review to see my reasoning.
The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd – My rating: 5 stars; Goodreads: 3.69 stars
What other people are saying: “…the middle felt very uneven in comparison with the rest of the story and a major downside for me was the love triangle…. The romance just seemed uninteresting, boring, and way too over-emphasized.”
“…so many parts of the book seemed like pointless filler to stretch out a weak plot”
What I say: I understand disliking the love triangle. Honestly, I get it. I, myself, am not a fan of love triangles. However, I feel like this book still does it well. I think the love triangle (and romance overall) actually is important to the book in a really subtle way. Even more, I think it carries the rest of the series. And then as far as filler and a weak plot goes…was the book a little slower paced? Yes. But I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it’s a weak plot. I think the plot is actually quite complex with Juliet having to figure out how she feels about her father and deciding what to do about him.
This Raging Light by Estelle Laure – My rating: 5 stars; Goodreads: 3.71 stars
What other people are saying: “My main issue was with the writing style. It wasn’t my favorite. I think that if it was written in a different point of view instead of first person, I would have liked it.”
“I found that I didn’t really connect to the characters or the story at all until one point that had me almost choking up at the kindness of some people…. I also have a huge problem with unresolved plot lines, and this was one of those”
What I say: Meh, I had no qualms with the writing style. In fact, I liked that the book was fast-paced and easy to read. I also felt like I really connected with the characters–especially the main character and her little sister. I think some readers wanted the main character to be a certain way, but her mom freaking left her and her sister to fend for themselves. Like honestly, that would make me snap at my best friends too (even though they were being super helpful). And then again with the unresolved plot lines. Life, you guys.
Once and for All by Sarah Dessen – My rating: 5 stars; Goodreads: 3.78 stars
“I wanted a fluffy, cute read and this was more depressing than anything else.”
What I say: I’m not going to pretend that Louna is my favorite Dessen protagonist (Macy has that designation) but she’s certainly not the worst. In my opinion, Louna was the most Remy-like of all of them which I think makes her distinctly NOT undynamic. I loved her sour grapes attitude and it was nice seeing her more tender side with her mom, William, and Jilly. And then to the person who wanted a “fluffy, cute read”…have you ever read one of Dessen’s books? NONE of her books are fluffy, cute reads. They all deal with heavy stuff so you have to be prepared for that. It’s about the growth that the characters experience through the heavy stuff–not just the romance.
Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger – My rating: 5 stars; Goodreads: 3.79 stars
“It is funny, frivolous and frothy. I found that I wanted more substance.”
“The main fault of this book is the inexplicable absence of a plot: I kept on wishing something would happen, but nothing really did.”
What I say: Pish posh. But really. I understand that since Carriger’s previous series was an adult series readers may expect this to fall in the same vein. However, it’s immediately made known that our protagonist is 14-years-old. So yeah, it’ll have a middle grade vibe, but if you keep reading the series, it grows up as the characters do (the last book is definitely, squarely YA). The girls are all 14 and so there’s some immaturity and frivolity, but I think it just adds to the overall fun tone of the book. With that being said, I also didn’t mind (or notice) the lack of a plot. They’re at a floating boarding school for assassins for goodness sakes! What more do you want???
Iron Cast by Destiny Soria – My rating: 5 stars; Goodreads: 3.81 stars
“I couldn’t connect to the characters and I felt like the book dragged.”
What I say: I loved the characters! Honestly, this was one of my favorite reads of 2016 because of the characters. The relationship that Ada and Corinne have seems so much stronger and bigger than a lot of YA friendships (especially girl-girl friendships). They weren’t catty, they weren’t competitive, they just cared about each other. I absolutely loved that the author focused more on their friendship than on their individual romances. I will admit that the beginning of the book did “drag” a little bit, but it’s because the author needed to develop the world and introduce the reader to these two amazing girls.