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Weekly Review and Recommendations: Week 7

The beautiful chaos between organization bouts. Thank you finals.

Hey guys! This week I only got around to two books (sorry), but I've had a busy week. This week looks like it's gonna be busy again, so I'm not going to push myself to finish my current read tonight. But that means I can guarantee at least one great book next week: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowe. Not only have I heard great things about this title, I'm halfway through and so impressed. As for my books this week, I had one good read and one not so much. It was unfortunate, but you have to read a few every once and a while. Enjoy!

Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone (https://www.amazon.com/Every-Last-Tamara-Ireland-Stone-ebook/dp/B00RY6YX56/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1493051209&sr=1-1&keywords=every+last+word)
Overview: Every Last Word is the story of Samantha McAlister member of the popular group The Crazy Eights. But things with the popular girls are starting to fall apart. How can a friendship where you have to hide your biggest secret last? That's when Sam discovers the secret world of Poet's Corner and its members. With help from her new friends and her therapist, Sam learns to own her OCD, cope with the symptoms, and find people she can feel free to talk to. Overall: 4.5

Characters: 4 I thought that the protagonist, Sam, was well crafted and multifaceted character. Stone's expression of Sam's OCD was well done, and her inner conflict about change, even healthy change, is quite relatable. I also liked AJ and Sue's characters. The poets were all well developed and contributed positively to both Sam's and the story's growth.
The Eights are not the most well rounded group, and Stone does not work hard to show us all their angles. Which is fine, but I felt it was a bit off from Sam's character to give them a one sided approach. Stone's offhanded tries at giving them a humanity seem forced and out of character.

Plot: 4 The plot showed the evolution of Sam's life and the space of time she grows more comfortable with her OCD nicely. I thought that the story served the characters, but I didn't find it in any way spectacular.

Writing: 4 I thought that Stone did a great job representing OCD in the story. She stayed very honest to the emotions and presented them in a way that displays them but also discusses them and shows them as a person faced with this disorder would. Otherwise, I found that the writing blended into the background and wasn't particularly remarkable. Which is just fine. My only thought is that the story didn't sparkle as much as it had to potential to, but overall, it is was still a satisfying, worthwhile read.

Life in a Fishbowl by Len Vlahos (https://www.amazon.com/Life-Fishbowl-Len-Vlahos-ebook/dp/B01M2BO90I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1493419941&sr=8-1&keywords=life+in+a+fishbowl)
Overview: Life in a Fishbowl, in a back of the book description, is about a family who becomes the center of a reality show when Jared, who is dying of cancer, attracts attention of a television producer by putting his life on eBay. While the eBay listing gets shut down, Jared gets a $5 million deal to film his final months for reality television. Something that feels like winning the lottery quickly turns sour when the family finds that the intrusion of the cameras and the lies of the production department become too much. This book has a promising premise, but with too many points of view, far too many offensive comments and ideas to ignore, and an overexploited, down-talking voice of a middle grade novel paired with the language and one liners of a YA novel. Overall: 2

Characters: 3 The only characters that I liked were the Jackie and Deirdre Stone. Coincidentally, or maybe not, they were the only characters who weren't exploited stereotypes or insensitive, off color portrayals. There was the psychotic Simon Knightsborough who decides he wants to purchase and kill Jerad Stone. He is written as a rich man who has always been rich and used his money for plenty of heinous and outrageous escapades, some of which cross the life too far to joke about. It is clear that Knightsborough must have some kind of mental illness but it is all used as comedic fodder. Then there is the crazy nun who is a blogger and terribly self absorbed and overly exaggerated. I'm not religious, but it was even offensive to me. Then there was the over the top television executive who is entirely self centered and does his receptionists. Also, giving the brain tumor a point of view, a ridiculous one at that, is terribly insensitive. Cancer is a very serious thing. You can bring levity to a sad situation without exploiting it. So, ya, even though I do have cancer, a mental illness, practice Catholicism, or any of the farther number of serious topics this book uses for a cheap laugh, I am somewhat offended by how they constructed this story.

Plot: 3 The plot was what made me not give up on this story. Both the concept of putting your life up for sale on eBay and the then concept of the a reality show and the reality of a reality show is intriguing. Unfortunately, the execution never was so amazing I could look past all the other flaws. I liked the subplots about exposing the producers tactics and Jackie working with everyone to outwit the company, but that was pretty much where it ended.

Writing: 2 I take many issues with this. First, the way the story is written, every detail is over explained to the most frustrating degree. This works when you're writing for middle school and under, but with YA, you need to give the reader more credit. If it wasn't so offensive, filled with curse words, which I don't care about but wouldn't give to my fifth grade brother, and innuendo filled, I would have handed it to him.
Also, this is written in third person personal with nearly ten points of view that switch multiple times over six chapters. This makes the whole narrative not so much confusing as impersonal. Either use first person and choose a few key characters to make POV characters or use third person omniscient . Because of this, I feel like I never got to know any of the characters enough to care about them.

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