Up to This Pointe (Jennifer Longo) | Goodreads | 4 stars
I did ballet for two years back in 4th and 5th grade (and a little bit when I was about 3 or so, but I don’t think that really counts), but I was never on the same level as Harper and her best friend, that’s for sure. Even Harper can’t quite match up with Kate, though, and that’s how she ends up on the South Pole.
This was a pretty delightful story considering that Harper is quite messed up, both in the “before” chapters as well as the current ones set in a mostly desolate camp on the South Pole. I was actually a little disappointed by the fact that Harper’s eating disordered never seemed to be addressed quite as much as it should have been, but this book was definitely about Harper figuring out who she is outside of ballet – as well as who she is with it, since it’s still the love of her life, no matter what happened with it.
The romances seemed a little unnecessary in this story, but they still didn’t take the focus of the book too much, so I guess they can be forgiven. After reading this emotional journey, I’m definitely interested in seeing what else Longo has to say.
Secrets, Lies, and Scandals (Amanda K. Morgan) | Goodreads | 3 stars
As a big fan of How to Get Away With Murder (I’m actually rewatching season 2 while I catch up on all these reviews), I can definitely see why this book is compared to it, but it’s certainly not on par with that addictive show.
I got through this book pretty quickly, but that was mainly because it was easy, not because I was super-interested. I didn’t care about most of the characters as much as I should have and they just seemed to bumble through their attempt to cover up a murder. I didn’t think it was awful, though – like I said, it was easy, and that was mainly because it kept my attention enough.
I saw some reviews before reading this book that pointed out that it has elements of biphobia and anti-mental health issues, so I was on the lookout for that. I’m the kind of person who’s more likely to find biphobia and anti-mental health issues, but I didn’t see much of the former. There is a bisexual character, and yes, he did cheat on his boyfriend, but I never got the impression that it was simply because he was bi – maybe I was simply expecting a more blatant example, but you can always judge for yourself. I did see shades of “all mental health people are dangerous,” though, so that definitely left me unimpressed.
This wasn’t the best debut, but it was entertaining enough to pass a day or so, so I might check out future stuff from Morgan.
Killer Instinct (Jennifer Lynn Barnes) | Goodreads | 4 stars
I need to stop talking about Jennifer Lynn Barnes books for a while, because every time I do, I seem to say the same thing: why the hell did I wait so long to check out her latest books after enjoying her kind-of-long-ago werewolf series? Seriously, I have failed as a bookworm.
This book had the same struggles as the first – sometimes it left too much of the characters’ backstories a mystery and there was too much romantic angst, but I was too caught up in the mystery and getting to know these characters better despite how tiny all the clues and background seems to be to get too caught up in any issues.
This didn’t improve upon any issues that the first book had, but it didn’t go downhill either, and that’s pretty good when the term “sophomore slump” gets thrown around so much (of course, Her Majesty Barnes is no fledgling writer, but that’s besides the point).
All In (Jennifer Lynn Barnes) | Goodreads | 4.5 stars
I was smart enough to get Book #2 and #3 of The Naturals at the same time, so as soon as I finished Killer Instinct, I went right into All In – and what a good choice that was.
You see those quibbles I just mentioned a few paragraphs ago? Yeah, this book did a good job of dashing all those – there was far less romantic angst (THANK YOU – I don’t know if I was just overly sensitive to it while reading, but it seemed quite blatant in the first two books) and we got a deeper look into some characters, especially Sloane, who seemed to fall in the background because she wasn’t part of the love triangle or the other female character who sometimes seemed to take issue with protagonist Cassie for no reason (and sometimes it was quite apparent what she took issue with – Cassie is one closed-off character). There was also math in this one, and even though I couldn’t always follow along because I’m not a genius, I loved seeing Fibonacci numbers and ideas work into the murder mystery.
This one had more of a cliffhanger than the past books, so I suppose I kind of regret not waiting to read this one since I now have to wait until NOVEMBER (everything good happens in November – hello, birthday *waves*), but I still regret very little because this was definitely the best book in the series so far.
Ask Me How I Got Here (Christine Heppermann) | Goodreads | 4.5 stars
Christine Heppermann is quickly becoming my favorite author of poetry, and I am not a poetry fan. I’m one of those horrible people who has a prejudice against poetry for basically no reason.
Unlike Heppermann’s first collection, this is a series of poetry that’s all connected into one story. It tackles difficult topics like abortion and figuring yourself out, but all in a quick and sparse manner that doesn’t bog you down with unnecessary details and fluff. Of course, that can mean that the characterization can seem a bit lacking at times, but it still packs a big punch.
I’m excited to see what Heppermann tackles next, because I’m sure it’ll be just as difficult and beautifully written as this sophomore effort.
The Raven King (Maggie Stiefvater) | Goodreads | 4 stars
I finally finished the Raven Cycle! I don’t think I’ll ever be as in love with it as some people in the blogosphere, but these books are definitely beautifully written.
Blue has always been my favorite character, but this book really ramped up the Blue-Gansey romantic angst, and I got a little tired of it by this book, which made me less interested in the Blue chapters. I found myself enjoying the Ronan-Adam chapters more, which was nice since I never really got caught up in the flurry of the Ronan-Adam romance online because I felt like it was subtle to the point that it was nearly queer-baiting, but it was finally overt enough that I was able to root for it and not feel like I was reading into things too much.
The best thing about these books will always be its gorgeous writing, not necessarily its plotting (at least for me), and this book was no exception. I’m curious to see what Maggie Stiefvater can do next, especially since there’s talk or even confirmation that she’s going to write a Ronan-centric trilogy in the future. Two books ago or so, maybe even just before reading this one, I would have been a bit unimpressed, but now I might be more interested in that.
Movie Star by Lizzie Pepper (Hilary Liftin) | Goodreads | 3.5 stars
I like books about Hollywood, so this one about a Katie Holmes-Tom Cruise-esque marriage definitely caught my attention.
It’s written as a memoir, in a way, with Lizzie Pepper telling the story of how she fell for her ex-husband, but we go into the story knowing that it falls apart, which takes some of the surprise out of it. It’s been a while since I actually read this, but I remember wanting… more. I can’t remember for sure if it seemed too fake (like it should have just been written as a fictional story not a “real” memoir) or if it seemed too real (not giving us quite as much background as I would have liked because we’re supposed to “know” these people), but either way, I just wanted something a bit more.
It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t the best Hollywood tale I’ve read. It’s distinctly in the middle.