Skip to main content

Weekly Reviews and Recommendations: Week 20

Hello, everyone! So sorry that I completely blipped and didn't post last week! I've been reading a ton and writing plenty of reviews, and I guess I just had a slip of the mind. Anyway, I guess you'll have back to back reviews to enjoy. I got this selection (and tomorrow's) from randomly exploring the library. It's a great way to discover new, great titles, though there is some risk involved. This week illustrates that perfectly as I found one book I loved, and one that really fell flat. Also, just walking through the shelves highlights the importance of eye catching titles and covers because that's what gets me to read summaries of books I've never heard of. So again, I can't believe this post is so late, but better late than never.


OCD Love Story by CoreyAnn Haydu (341 pages)
Overview: Bea has OCD. She's been in therapy for anxiety for a few years when she finally receives this diagnosis. She's left to sort out what this means to her and her identity alone despite her supportive parents, therapist, and seemingly supportive best friend. But none of them can truly understand what she's feeling leading to strain on her relationships. To make matters worse, her checking and note taking compulsions lead her into trouble with the people it is targeted at. She's been accused of stalking before, but when signs she's falling down the same path crop up, Bea is powerless to stop them and too ashamed to share with anyone besides her best friend who does not understand her OCD and sees it as a harmless game. As Bae grapples with this, she is also confronted with a new possible relationship with Beck, a boy she met at a party who appears in the support group Dr. Pat forces her to attend. Though they both must contend with OCD, it manifests in each very differently leading to strain when one cannot understand what the other is going through despite feeling they should. Overall: 4.5

Characters: 5 Bae is a great narrator. She is able to ground the story in a unique way and lead the reader to both understand and sympathize with her behaviors and struggles that might be looked on very differently from an outsider perspective. Also, very importantly, her OCD does not define her. She has her own personality traits and interests. But she also does a good job of accepting her thoughts and compulsions as a part of her in a very healthy way.
Then there's Beck who is pretty singularly defined by his compulsions. I'm sure if the book was written in his voice he would have much more depth, but Black isn't the focus of the book. He is used as another person Bea has in her life to help her as well as showing his own battle.
Finally, there's Lisha, Baa's best friend. She's an interesting character because she entertains Bea's compulsions and obsessions when they seem cute and minor. She may have even encouraged the negative behavior, but when Bea's OCD gets worse, she starts to shy away from her friend becoming cold and distant because she can't understand Bea, and people tend to shy away from things they cannot understand.

Plot: 5 This was a super entertaining book. Each chapter made me want to keep reading to answer more and more questions. The action moved along at a great pace, and it never felt stale.

Writing: 5 The writing with this book is absolutely excellent. One thing I was super impressed with was the author's ability to write a character with mental health issues while maintaining a light, fun tone that was not disrespectful to the issue but served it because it showcased the other elements and nature of Bea's personality. This also felt like a genuine teenage voice and a genuine, three dimensional voice as well which was enjoyable to read. Both plot and character development was spot on, and Haydu nailed the evolution of the intensity and her coping ability with her OCD as the story progressed. The only reason this story did not receive five stars is that while I genuinely enjoyed reading it and could no fault with this lovely book, I've gotten really picky with saving my Overall 5's for those extra special books that touch you in an indescribable way. And that means to take away nothing from this great novel.


The View From The Top by Hilary Frank (232 pages)
Overview: Annabell is finally finished with high school, and along with that, the town of Normal, Maine. Only, her clean break to college won't be as easy as she hoped. When long existing problems with her boyfriend boil to the surface and her romantic life becomes suddenly complicated, Annabell must sort out her problems before she can leave. She confronts her feelings for the town bad boy, Jonah when he expresses his feelings for her. She also runs into an awkward situation with her friend from orchestra, Toby, which she must figure out. Over the course of the final summer, she must settle her feelings for old friends and make new ones. Overall: 2

Characters: 2 I found these characters not enjoyable in the least. Annabell is flat and seems to have no self esteem what so ever. Matt, her longterm boyfriend, seems borderline verbally abusive, not that this is an issue brought to light, and just a creep in general even though it's said that Annabell is so lucky to have her. Then there's Jonah who is simply the bad boy, bland archetype, and Tobin, the sweet geek who has a heart of gold, who both have suddenly decided they've fallen for Annabell.
Finally, there's Lexi, a girl who struggles with her sexuality and wants to find a way to express that to Annabell, but never does leaving the reader wonder whatever happened there when she's never mentioned again, and Mary-Tyler, a rich girl who meets and spends the day with Annabell getting a narration part for no apparent reason.
These are cardboard characters. I'm fine with taking known or already explored character archetypes and making them your own in some way, but these characters just felt stale.

Plot: 2 I felt like there was no point to the sequence of actions that unfolded. Really, it seemed pointless as none of the events ever peaked my interest or seemed important to the plot of the story. The plot seemed aimless and underdeveloped, and I never understood what the point of the story was.

Writing: 2 Unfortunately, this was a major barrier for this book. The writing felt like a wall blocking me from getting deeper into the narrative or connecting with it on any level. With writing just as stale as the characters, I can't even say that it was written at a reading level for middle grade, it just didn't work here.
Also, the book is split and narrated by a different character each time, though it always remained in third person with the same voice. I feel if a book is split between multiple narrators there should be strong differentiation in voice and a true reason for doing so. Overall, I just couldn't get into this book no matter how hard I tried.


If you liked this article, please share it with your friends and check out our other articles ranging from book reviews to poetry and short stories to editorials. To get updates about new posts and extras, please follow us on Instagram (@readingwritingandme), Twitter (@readwriteandme), and Facebook or sign up for email alerts by clicking the subscribe button at the top of the sight. Also, please leave comments or email us (readingwritingandme@gmail.com) with your thoughts or review requests. 

Comments

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

A Summer of YA

I thought that I would make a bonus post for all of you to celebrate summer finally starting to arrive! I've compiled a list of books that I've read this year and last that either take place in the summer or give me total summer vibes. A lot of these books are ones that I think should get a lot more love. Let me know in the comments what books make you instantly think of summer! I've linked reviews to all of these books in the titles below.




Going Off Script I read it last weekend in nearly a single day because it is such a refreshing, quick read. While I don't think it takes place in the summer and it focuses on a TV internship, it's set in LA which serves up eternal summer vibes.
The Way You Make Me Feel This is one of the ultimate books on my summer playlist. As a punishment for a school prank, Clara has to spend the summer working with her nemesis in her father's food truck. With mouthwatering Korean-Brazilian food, tons of snark, and summer heat, this book is…

Top Reads of 2018

This year's best of 2018 list has tons of new categories to fit all of the amazing books I read this year. I've had the chance to read so many advanced books and recent releases, so most of what I read were books that came out in 2018. I mostly choose contemporary, so I've started with my favorite debut as well as the best books in other genres I've ventured into. After that, I have smaller categories in the contemporary genre. I hope you find new books to love and give to your friends and family for the holidays. If you're interested in learning more about the books on the list, click their titles to go to my reviews. Let me know if these are some of your favorites in the comments, and tell me your favorite books!
Best In Genre Top Debut
Nothing Left To Burn by Heather Ezell Nothing Left To Burn gave me the craziest book hangover. I was so immersed in the story, and I couldn't stop reading to do anything that I actually needed to be doing. There is a toxic relat…

What If It's Us

What If It's Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera (448 pages)
Overview: Ben and Arthur meet at the post office during a flashmob. Well, Arthur followed Ben into the post office because he thought he was and, and, just as they started talking, in true form with Arthur's New York fantasy, a flash mob erupted. When the boys and split up, Arthur loses his chance at connecting with Ben, but when he can't stop thinking about him, he explores ways to reconnect even in a city of a million empty faces like New York. Even if they can find each other, with Arthur going back to Georgia at the end of the summer, will it even be worth it? Overall: 4/5

Characters: 4.5 I'm not sure what to say about the characters. I liked them enough, but I didn't feel any real attachment to any of them. I liked the cast of friends, but they all lacked a certain weight that would give them a stronger sense of reality. My favorite relationship in the book was the friendship between Dylan and Ben.…

Going Off Script Review

Going Off Script by Jen Wilde (292 pages)
Overview: Bex has dreams of being a show runner, but, first, she has to rise through the ranks of the writers' room. Luckily, she's scored an internship with one of her favorite TV shows, Silver Falls. Unfortunately, the LA dreams she's fought so hard to get aren't as fun as she imagined. The show runner is horrible and even steals a script that Bex wrote. In an environment that has far too many echoes of high school for Bex's taste, she has to figure out how to make the most of her situation. Overall: 4.5

Characters: 4 I really like Bex. She's made a major life change from living in Washington state and working at Sonic with her mother to help support her family. Living with her cousin makes the transition slightly better, but her new life feels both too different and too familiar. Bex is also dealing with understanding her sexuality.  She's nervous about telling her friends and family, even though she knows they'…

Hot Dog Girl Review

Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan (April 30) 
To Purchase From Your Indie Bookstore*
Overview: Elouise has her summer before senior year (because the summer before senior year is far superior to the summer after), but then everything starts falling apart. Nick, the guy she likes, is still dating princess Jessa. She's the dancing hot dog for the second year in a row at the Magic Castle, the small town amusement park where she works. And then the park announces that it's closing, and Elouise is at a loss. With scheme after scheme, she attempts to save this summer and the ones to come. Overall: 4 

Characters: 5 I like Elouise. She's happy and upbeat, but also a little scattered and unsure. She just kind of traipses from one idea to the next and it all kinda works out with enough finagling. I immediately identified with her because I too have "caramel" hair that won't hold dye, and I burn horribly too. While she's a bit flighty, she's definitely lovable.
Seely&…

The Art of Breaking Things

The Art of Breaking Things by Laura Sibson (June 18)
Overview: Skye was twelve when she was molested by her mother's boyfriend on a camping trip. When she tried to tell her mom that night, her mom brushed her off and was too drunk to remember what happened to Skye. Now a senior in high school, she's lived with the fear and shame for a while, believing that her mother doesn't believe her. She's tried to cope with alcohol, drugs, and art, and she's starting to heal when Dan comes back into their lives. Now with her younger sister Emma turning twelve, Skye is filled with fear, panic, and flashbacks as her family starts to fall apart again. She has to decide if and how she wants to speak out to stop her mother from marrying her abuser. Overall: 5

Characters: 5 Skye is an amazing character. She's so strong, but she feels like she has to be. Her secret eats her alive, and she does whatever she can to drown it with drugs or emotional outbursts. She's trying to cope …

Virtually Yours Review

Virtually Yours by Sarvenaz Tash (June 4)
Overview: Miriam has been in a funk since she started NYU. More accurately, she's been down since her boyfriend of three years broke up with her because long distance would be "too hard". It all changes, though when Miriam decides to try a new virtual reality dating service called HEAVR. The only problem, though, is that when she accidentally matches with her ex-boyfriend, the draw of a second chance is too much to pass up. After concealing her identity, Miriam starts a hoax to get him to fall for her again. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 I liked Miriam, especially as the story progressed and she became more sure of herself. It allowed her personality to shine and gave her more dimensions than she started with. In the end, I was definitely rooting her.
Her friends at NYU are great additions to the story. Miriam's roommate Hedy is a major film buff, and, while it's pretty much her singular trait, she does offer some good advice a…

This Is Not a Test

This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers (326 pages)
Overview: Sloane wanted to end her life. And then the apocalypse came. Her focus suddenly turns to survival because that's what she's supposed to do. She finds a group of other teens from her school, and they survive in the infected city for seven days before finding shelter in the high school. With all the doors barricaded and the necessities provided, suddenly, there's room to think, reflect, and feel again, and their safe haven quickly turns into a cage. Overall: 5 

Characters: 5 This cast has blown me away. Courtney Summers in general has done that with every aspect of the novel, but the characters are all so detailed and unique and flawed and emotional and broken. It makes for the perfect novel.
Sloane has recently had her sister leave without her, even though the plan was for them to escape their abusive father together. Without Lily, she feels her life has no point, but when it's seriously threatened, something co…

What's Coming Up In June

I'm super excited to finally be jumping into summer! June already has a ton of amazing books on the way, and it looks like the rest of the summer is jam packed as well. I'm excited to have more time to write and work on the blog! For Saturday discussions, I'm thinking about talking about graduation and maybe my experience with the SAT this month along with some more bookish thoughts. I'll also be working on a summer reading list of summery books from the past some that are coming out!  Let me know in the comments if there are certain posts or topics you'd like to see from me. Happy summer everyone! Dissenter On The Bench Ruth Bader Ginsburg is amazing. I was super excited to stumble upon a new YA biography about her! I'll be sharing my review of the book on Friday the 31st of May. 

Virtually Yours More college YA! This time, an NYU freshman decides to try a new VR dating app. Inside their system, she reconnects with her exboyfriend under a fake name. Slowly, both a…

Is YA For Me?

I've seen a lot of different conversations taking place on Twitter that all come back to a central theme. The YA space is controlled by adults. For the most part, they are the ones with the purchasing power, they have jobs in the industry, they are in a better position to amplify their voices about how they feel about different books and the category as a whole. I've been thinking about these conversations as a whole, and it really does come back to the intended audience not owning the space and what that means for the category and the conversations around it.
As a teen who's heavily involved in the YA community, I sometimes feel awkward reading all the different, slightly varied takes from adults. Some make blanket statements for themselves and some work with teens and try to be a conduit to add them to the conversation. Very rarely do I come across a real teen who gets an amplified voice in the conversation (definitely go check out Vicky Who Reads on Twitter because, as…