Friday, October 16, 2009

Books that are just ok...

Unfortunately, as a blogger that attempts to review everything I read, I do sometimes have to provide reviews of books I really didn't completely love. Does that stink?'s not fun to write about something that was boring or slow or I just plain didn't like, but that was my resolution for this write about everything (and that will be changing next year!). These three books were not titles that I "disliked," they were just ok. Nothing entirely bad, but nothing really good for me either. You may love them!

One Lonely Degree, written by C.K. Kelly Martin was a big surprise for me, not really loving. I did enjoy the last book from this author, I Know It's Over, when I read it last year for the Cybils, and I was really hoping this one would get that same reaction.

Jacket description:
"Fifteen-year-old Finn has always felt out of place, but suddenly her world is unraveling. It all started with The Party. And Adam Porter. And the night in September that changed everything. The only person who knows about that night is Audrey--Finn's best friend, her witness to everything, and the one person (under thirty) finn trusts implicitly. So when Finn's childhood friend, Jersy moves back into town--reckless, beautiful boy Jersy, all lips and eyes and hair so soft you'd want to dip your fingers into it if you weren't careful--Finn gives her blessing for Audrey to date him. After all, how could she possibly say no to Audrey?

With Audrey gone for the summer, though, Finn finds herself spending moer and more time with Jersy, and for the first time since September, for the first time in her life maybe, something feels right--absolutely, stunningly right. But Finn can't be the girl who does this to her best friend...can she?"

Unfortunately, I felt the book dragged. It moved really slowly for me and I really didn't understand what part of the plot was supposed to be the main point. Was it Audrey and Finn's friendship possibly being broken up over a guy? Or was it Finn's emotional healing after an assault?

Oh and as a last note...I didn't like the cover even a little bit.

It gets great reviews on Amazon, so I may alone in my feelings about this one.

One Lonely Degree
C.K. Kelly Martin
256 pages
Young Adult
Random House
May 2009
Review copy provided by publisher

Well at least I loved the cover for this next one! Karma for Beginners, written by Jessica Blank, had a whole lot of promise for me. I really liked the description, the cover was one of those that pulled me in and made me want to flip through the pages, and I actually really enjoyed the plot, until I was about 3/4 of the way through.

Jacket description:
"Fourteen-year-old Tessa has never had a normal life. Her mother, a frustrated hippie with awful taste in men, has seen to that. But when her mom pulls her out of school to live at an ashram in the Catskills, Tessa goes from being a freak among normal people to being an outcast among freaks. Freaks who worship an orange robe-wearing guru. And while her mom is buzzing with spiritual energy, and finding a little too much favor with the guru, all Tessa feels are weird vibes.

Unless she's with Colin, the gorgeous boy who fixes trucks for the ashram. The connection they share is the most spiritual thing Tessa has ever felt. But he's older-like illegally older-and Tessa's taking dangerous risks to spend time with him. Soon her life is blooming into a psychedelic web of secrets and lies and it's clear that something's about to give way. When it does, will she have anyone to hold on to? Will she even know herself?"

I really was intrigued by the inside look at a cult-like setting and I thought the relationship between Tessa and her mother and then Tessa and Colin was interesting as well. I felt connected with Tessa and her feelings of not fitting in and confusion over why her mother doesn't seem to love her as much as she loves the guru. And Tessa wanting to know her absent father...that was a great plot point as well. When Tessa decided about 3/4 of the way through the book that she would become a pothead and begin taking all sorts of strange drugs and doing totally crazy things, I was pretty much over the book. Done. It was soooo not needed.

I thought the smoking pot part was ok, as much as drug use in a teen novel can be seemed to fit the plot. However, when acid and doing illegal stuff and sleeping with a 20 year old guy came into the picture, it was unnecessary and took away from what I really enjoyed in the beginning. And the fact that Tessa's mom finally begins to understand her after she comes down off an acid trip after stealing a statue from the ashram and the police arrest Colin? Yeah...not exactly believable.

So...I'm probably not going to be recommending this one to anyone, but once again, it gets a 5 star review from someone on Amazon and has been nominated for a Cybil, so someone out there loves it. Maybe you!

Karma for Beginners
Jessica Blank
320 pages
Young Adult
September 2009
Review copy provided by publisher

Finally, the one I probably enjoyed the most out of this bunch, but still wasn't totally loving, was Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles. I'll probably get some flack for this one...I know a lot of you really loved it, but it just moved soooo slowly for me. It took me almost a week to read it, just because I kept wanting to put it down and get a faster-paced story into my hands.

Jacket description:
"Ellie has hooked up with more than a few boys. Each time, she is certain there will be more to the encounter than juts sex. While she is with them, she feels loved. For awhile anyways. So when Josh, an eager virgin with a troubled home life, leads her from a party to the backseat of his van, ellie follows. But their "one-time thing" is far from perfect : Ellie gets pregnant. Josh reacts with shame and heartbreak, while their close friends, Caleb and Corinne, deal with their own complex swirl of emotions. No matter what Ellie chooses, all four teenagers will be forced to grow up a little faster as a result.

Told alternately from each character's point of view, this deeply insightful novel explores the aftershocks of the biggest decision of one girl's life--and the realities of leaving innocence behind."

I did really like the alternating character voices and I really enjoyed and believed in each character and their purpose to the story. Totally relevant to today's teens, I felt the plot was well-done, just really slow.

This is one I would recommend to teens and I think they will definitely enjoy. It really was just "me" that wasn't feeling the pace.

Jumping Off Swings
Jo Knowles
224 pages
Young Adult
August 2009
Review copy provided by publisher

To learn more about any of these titles, or to purchase, click on the book covers above to link to Amazon. I am an Associate and will receive a small portion of your purchase price.


Anamaria (bookstogether) said...

Amanda, I love the way you handle this sort of review: honestly and graciously.

Staci said...

Great reviews on these 3 books. It's important that we read all thoughts on books not just the glowing..thanks for the honesty on how these books made you feel!