The eternal struggle of rating books

In March I’ll have been running this blog for 4 years. That’s so crazy to me! It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long, but I guess it has. I started this blog shortly after I graduated from college and before I was working full-time or had completed my Master’s. Apparently that was 4 years ago! Over that amount of time, I feel like my ratings have become more consistent. Early on, I definitely gave more five star ratings than I do currently. This is basically a short rundown of how I rate books these days.

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Firstly, if it was just up to me, I would probably give half-star ratings (and I do occasionally). But since Goodreads doesn’t allow half-star ratings, I try not to do that unless I have to. I want my ratings on here to match the stars I give a book on Goodreads.

One Star

I rarely give out one star ratings. That’s just because if I dislike a book enough to give it one star, I’ve probably DNFed it and I don’t give ratings to books I DNF. Here’s a link to my post about why I DNF books.

Two Stars

I finished it, but I didn’t like it. I didn’t absolutely HATE it, but I wouldn’t generally recommend it.

Recent(ish) two stars: S.T.A.G.S. by M.A. Bennett, Hello, Sunshine by Leila Howard, Coming Up for Air by Miranda Kenneally

Three Stars

This book was okay. Pretty good even. I didn’t hate it, but there’s still room for improvement in my opinion. Maybe the writing wasn’t great, the characters were a little annoying, the world wasn’t convincing, or the plot was lacking. It’s not something that I would necessarily recommend, but it was fine.

Recent three stars: The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi, Love á la Mode by Stephanie Kate Strohm, The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

Four Stars

I liked this book a lot and would highly recommend it! Maybe there were a couple little things that didn’t make sense or jive with me, but I’m willing to overlook them!

Recent four stars: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard, Sadie by Courtney Summers, The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson

Five Stars

As I said earlier, I have definitely become more selective with my five star reviews. At this point, a five star comes when I absolutely LOVE a book. If I finish it, close the cover, and then hug the book (or my Kindle) to my chest (possibly holding back tears, but that’s optional), it’s a five star book.

Recent(ish) five stars: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, Bone Gap by Laura Ruby, Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

How do you rate books? Do you find you’re freer or more stingy when handing out five star ratings? Do you ever one star books or do you just DNF? Do you do partial star ratings?

If I hear the term “swimcest” one more time… | Coming Up for Air by Miranda Kenneally [ARC]

Coming Up for AirFor years, the only things that Maggie has thought about are swimming, school, and food. She doesn’t have time for boys if she wants to get into one of the top swimming colleges–she has to concentrate on shaving seconds off of her race times. After a disastrous college visit, however, Maggie begins to rethink her “no boys” policy. The last thing she wants is to get to college and be completely inexperienced in the boy department. But how is she supposed to make time for boys with her busy swimming schedule?

The premise of this story is so cringe to me. Our main character doesn’t want to go to college inexperienced, so she turns to her best guy friend to help her get some “experience”. I feel so awkward just typing that sentence. And they kept using this term “swimcest” to describe two people on the same swim team dating…so cringe. For the record, it’s not the worst thing in the world to go to college without having kissed someone–I would know. (P.S. I turned out fine. I’m even married now! Funny how that happens). That’s kind of my main issue with this book I guess… I feel like it promotes an incorrect message that everyone going into their freshman year of college has had sex. This is so far from the truth! Do we really want teenage girls reading this book to feel defective if they haven’t had much experience with boys? Or feel pressured to get some kind of experience before college? That’s definitely NOT the message I’d want my daughters to receive. Every girl is on her own time table and that’s OKAY.

With all that in mind, I really think it’s about time that I cut this series loose. Looking at my Goodreads, I’ve realized that I haven’t given any of these books over three stars. Yikes. I think the only reason I keep reading these books is because I like finding the easter eggs–but that’s definitely not a good enough reason to keep reading.

But anyway, on to the actual book. I thought Maggie was completely immature in almost all of her interactions with other people. Perhaps I shouldn’t judge her so harshly since she’s only in high school, but I found myself rolling my eyes at her. A lot. Levi was a weird character who was nice enough, but didn’t have a ton of depth in my opinion. And then I guess there were other characters? But they were seriously so inconsequential that I can’t remember any of them.

The plot was completely predictable and had a ton of manufactured drama. That’s pretty much all I have to say about that.

Overall, I wouldn’t recommend this book. I wouldn’t recommend this series. While I appreciate seeing female main characters in prominent sports roles, that doesn’t outweigh all of the negatives that have accumulated from each of the books throughout the years.

Overall Rating: 2
Language: Moderate
Violence: None
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate
Sexual Content: Heavy

Note: I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Top Ten Tuesday: The Transformative Power of Summer

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week there is a new topic and this week’s topic is: Top Ten Books With X Setting (top ten books set near the beach, top ten book set in boarding school, top ten books set in England, etc)

In YA books, Summer is filled with endless possibilities. There will certainly be a romance and lots of days on the beach/at the pier/in the ice cream shop hanging out with old (or new) friends. Summer is a time when you can transform into something or somebody new. You might be getting ready for that last year of high school, or maybe even on your way to college. There’s one thing for certain though–anything can happen over the Summer.

Still in High School

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Open Road Summer by Emery Lord
Getting Over Garrett Delaney by Abby McDonald
The Last Forever by Deb Caletti
Kissing in America by Margo Rabb

Leaving for College

This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen
Panic by Lauren Oliver
Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally
You Were Here by Cori McCarthy

P.S. Really several Sarah Dessen and Morgan Matson books could have made the list, but I decided to stick with on per author.

P.P.S. Sorry if I miscategorized a book, I don’t quite remember where all of our MCs were heading.

 

Pre-Vacation Mini-Reviews

Hello everyone! I have been so bad at blogging lately and for that I apologize. I’ve just been really busy at work and with school (summer terms are KILLER). But excuses, excuses. I’m about to head out of town this weekend, so it’s kind of a now or never thing with catching up. Here are some of the books that I’ve read recently and what I thought about them. Links are to Goodreads.

The King SlayerThe King Slayer by Virginia Boecker [ARC]
This is the second book in the series and it was pretty similar to the first book. I liked the characters pretty good and their reactions to things (even if I thought Elizabeth did some not-very-well-thought-out things…). I liked the additional characters that we got to meet and the conflict between Elizabeth and John was interesting. But again, the pacing of the plot was kind of weird. All of the sudden they were in battle and then the actual battle lasts like two chapters. I felt like since the whole book was leading up to this huge event, it should have taken more time and had more weight in the book. In the end it felt like the battle really didn’t even matter. The actual conclusion of the book was also pretty strange and I didn’t really understand exactly what happened. It seemed like the author maybe needed the book to end a certain way so she just kind of made it happen even if it left the readers a little confused. In the end it was just a little anticlimactic because of how confused I was. 3.5/5

Defending TaylorDefending Taylor by Miranda Kenneally [ARC]
I’ve read all of Kenneally’s books so far and I always like the intersection of sports and real life. Her books aren’t always the most realistic, but I’m usually okay with it. I don’t know if this book is basically finished or if there’s going to be another round of editing, but Taylor seemed way more annoying than any of Kenneally’s other main characters. She’s spoiled and entitled and just overall bratty. There was so much angst in this book and a lot of “but I can’t tell the truth because then my reputation will be ruined because everyone will think I’m a snitch.” GET YOUR PRIORITIES STRAIGHT. Do you really think colleges are going to say, “Oh wait, we don’t want this one because she’s a snitch” over what they actually thought she did? Come on. I was also floored by the callousness of the main character’s mother. She seems completely superficial and I’m just left going, “Who is this woman?”. Overall, this book was just a big disappointment. 2/5

The Year We Fell Apart by Emily Martin
The Year We Fell ApartI believe this is the author’s debut book so it’s not a bad start, but I didn’t love it. Our main character just makes a series of bad decisions. There is A LOT of teenage drinking in this book which I always kind of roll my eyes at. Harper seems to have no understanding of the words “moderation” or “self-control” which makes her seem more immature than I think the author wants us to see her. I wished that Harper had spent more time with her family (her mom’s going through chemotherapy for goodness sake!). Also, Sadie is a terrible friend and I honestly do not know why Harper is friends with her or what even her role is in the story other than putting Harper in bad situations. The romance is nice, but then there are times when Declan doesn’t seem like the best guy either–kind of emotionally manipulative at times. And he has a role in their original breakup and that’s never addressed. In the end, there is some character growth, but not much and definitely not as much as I would have hoped for. I did like Gwen and Mackenzie though. They seemed like cool girls. 3/5

Note: ARCs were received free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Top Ten Tuesday: YA Books for Introverts

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week there is a new topic and this week’s topic is: Ten Books Every X Should Read

I’m going to fill in the blank with “YA Introvert”. This also applies to those who are not traditionally classified as YA but enjoy reading it nonetheless. Not all of these books necessarily feature introverted characters, but they all feature people who are trying to come out of their shells.

  1. Smart Girls Get What They Want by Sarah Strohmeyer
  2. Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson
  3. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  4. The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
  5. The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord
  6. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
  7. Things I Can’t Forget by Miranda Kenneally
  8. Flat-Out Celeste by Jessica Park
  9. Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone
  10. So Much Closer by Susane Colasanti