Review: Little Cruelties by Liz Nugent

50892432

Synopsis from Goodreads:

This story begins with a funeral. One of three brothers is dead, mourned by his siblings. But which one? And how? And, most importantly: why?

William, Brian, and Luke are each born a year apart in a lower middle class Catholic family in 1960s Dublin. William, the eldest, rises to the top of the heap in the film industry as a successful movie producer. Luke, the baby of the family, surprises everyone by morphing into a worldwide pop star. Brian, the compliant middle son, is the eternal adult in the room: the helpful, steady one, the manager of finances and careers.

But none of them is actually quite what he seems. Wounded by childhood, they have betrayed one another in myriad ways, hiding behind little lies that have developed into full blown treachery. With an unnerving eye for the complexities of families, Nugent delves into the secret life of a deeply troubled household and provides stunning insights into the many forces that shape us from childhood.

Hailed by #1 New York Times bestselling author A.J. Finn as “a dark jewel of a novel,” Liz Nugent’s new work of fiction follows three working class Irish brothers, and delves into the many ways families can wreak emotional havoc across generations.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

Little Cruelties publishes November 10, 2020. 

I went into Little Cruelties expecting a psychological thriller and some suspense. Instead, I think this book is another case where Men’s Fiction should be a genre because if this same story was told with three sisters instead of three brothers, it would definitely fall under the Women’s Fiction category.

The story is told through the first person POVs of three brothers, Williams, Brian, and Luke. The book covers decades and swings around from one year to another in no organized fashion that I could discern. Before each brother’s section of chapters are short excerpts from an unknown brother’s view, discussing the funeral and aftermath of one of the other brother’s death. This is really the only bit of suspense in the whole book, though. The rest of the chapters don’t really even allude to someone being murdered, though they all certainly have the motives for it. We don’t find out which brother is dead until the final chapter and by then I was so fed up with these characters that I hardly even cared.

I always struggle with really character-driven books that feature such awful characters. There’s a small amount of sympathy for them because they had such a dysfunctional childhood, which carried into adulthood, but that excuse really only goes so far. Luke also gets a bit of a pass because of his mental health issues, but William and Brian were just straight up despicable. I didn’t enjoy reading about them and often wondered why I kept going. I think I kept hoping that there would either be redemption arcs or some real suspense would start to build. Neither happened.

Overall, Little Cruelties was not for me. I didn’t really ever care about the characters and I while I’m normally a fan of alternate timelines, the haphazard manner it jumped around here didn’t work for me. I also expected a lot more of a psychological thriller/suspense than family drama. However, I did think the first person POVS were well done and that’s why it’s getting two stars instead of one from me.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2 Stars

Review: Little Threats by Emily Schultz

44698987. sy475

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Both a taut whodunit and a haunting snapshot of the effects of a violent crime, Little Threats tells the story of a woman who served fifteen years in prison for murder…and now it’s time to find out if she’s guilty.

In the summer of 1993, twin sisters Kennedy and Carter Wynn are embracing the grunge era and testing every limit in their privileged Richmond suburb. But Kennedy’s teenage rebellion goes too far when, after a night of partying in the woods, her best friend, Haley, is murdered, and suspicion quickly falls upon Kennedy. She can’t remember anything about the night in question, and this, along with the damning testimony from a college boy who both Kennedy and Haley loved, is enough to force Kennedy to enter a guilty plea.

In 2008, Kennedy is released into a world that has moved on without her. Carter has grown distant as she questions Kennedy’s innocence, and begins a relationship with someone who could drive the sisters apart forever. The twins’ father, Gerry, is eager to protect the family’s secrets and fragile bonds. But Kennedy’s return brings the tragedy back to the surface, along with a whole new wave of media. When a crime show host comes to town asking questions, believing the murder wasn’t wasn’t as simple as it seemed, murky memories of Haley’s death come to light. As new suspects emerge and the suburban woods finally give up their secrets, two families may be destroyed again.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review. 

Little Threats publishes November 10, 2020. 

Based on that intriguing synopsis, I expected Little Threats to have a little more mystery and a little more thrills than it actually produced. Unfortunately, I just found it a little – maybe a lot – disappointing.

As I read this book, two words continually came to mind. Pretentious and Familiar. I can’t even count how many thrillers out there revolve around a character not being able to remember some violent and tragic event. It’s a cliché for a reason, though, right? Some books use it really effectively and some not so much. Also, the whole “poor little rich girl” thing. The girls who have every opportunity and advantage rebel against their privilege by doing inane things like shoplifting and drugs and dating bad boys. I’ve read it a hundred times before and I found myself just really bored for so much of the book. And the characters, with the exception of Everett, were truly awful. So much of the story is just them being in their own heads and the writing was so pretentious I couldn’t really take it seriously.

I found the mystery pretty underwhelming, as well. I read some reviews that talked about multiple twists throughout the story and a shocking ending and I didn’t get any of that. I thought it was predictable and completely lacked suspense.

Overall, Little Threats was not for me. I found the plot cliched, the writing pretentious and the pace extremely slow. The book was heavily character focused, which might have saved it if I had cared anything about them. Everett was the one character that came across as sympathetic, but again, this wasn’t enough to turn the book around for me. This isn’t one that I would recommend, but I have seen some good reviews on it, so it might just be me.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2 Stars

Review: Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell

50542147

Synopsis from Goodreads:

The author of the “rich, dark, and intricately twisted” (Ruth Ware, New York Times bestselling author) The Family Upstairs returns with another taut and white-knuckled thriller following a group of people whose lives shockingly intersect when a young woman disappears.

Owen Pick’s life is falling apart.

In his thirties, a virgin, and living in his aunt’s spare bedroom, he has just been suspended from his job as a geography teacher after accusations of sexual misconduct, which he strongly denies. Searching for professional advice online, he is inadvertently sucked into the dark world of incel—involuntary celibate—forums, where he meets the charismatic, mysterious, and sinister Bryn.

Across the street from Owen lives the Fours family, headed by mom Cate, a physiotherapist, and dad Roan, a child psychologist. But the Fours family have a bad feeling about their neighbor Owen. He’s a bit creepy and their teenaged daughter swears he followed her home from the train station one night.

Meanwhile, young Saffyre Maddox spent three years as a patient of Roan Fours. Feeling abandoned when their therapy ends, she searches for other ways to maintain her connection with him, following him in the shadows and learning more than she wanted to know about Roan and his family. Then, on Valentine’s night, Saffyre Maddox disappears—and the last person to see her alive is Owen Pick.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review. 

Invisible Girl publishes October 13, 2020. 

I’m a big fan of Lisa Jewell and oftentimes her books rate among my favorites of the year. Unfortunately, though, I did not really care for Invisible Girl. 

Let’s start with what I did like about this book. Jewell always takes a lot of care with character development and she continued to do it really well here. I felt like I got to know all of the characters. I also thought the three different POVs were used really effectively to create suspense.

While I felt like I got to know the characters, I didn’t really care about most of them. I thought Cate was shallow and judgmental, while she she lived in deep denial about her own life and relationship. I felt sad for what Saffyre went through as a child, but really nothing she did in the present made a bit of sense to me. And honestly I found most of her actions incredibly selfish – and some a big overreaction – and I’m upset that she didn’t face any consequences at all for what she’d done. Owen is the only character that I really felt something for. He made me really sad most of the time – and a few times a little disgusted. For the most part, though, Owen was very misunderstood. While we get to see him come to understand how he has misperceived others and how to work on himself, none of the people who frequently labeled him as creepy got the same education and that kind of disappointed me.

I also wasn’t a big fan of the whole incel plotline. It wasn’t as big a part of the plot as I thought it would be based on the synopsis and I was glad for that. But I felt like I wanted them explained a little bit more. While the people described are obviously hateful, I wondered if there was another side of the coin. It’s like when all people on the political left are grouped together with the far-left and all people on the political right are grouped together with the far-right. Not everyone is an extremist. I didn’t like that celibacy was only looked upon as something weird and creepy and not a valid lifestyle. Though, I do suppose these people are “involuntarily” celibate.

Overall, Invisible Girl just wasn’t for me. It took me well over half the book to really feel interested in the story and even then, I felt like there was a big lack of payoff because I didn’t care about most of the characters. However, I’m still a big Lisa Jewell fan and I will look forward to her next book.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2.5 Stars

Review: The Patient by Jasper DeWitt

51322791. sy475

Synopsis from Goodreads:

The Silent Patient by way of Stephen King: Parker, a young, overconfident psychiatrist new to his job at a mental asylum, miscalculates catastrophically when he undertakes curing a mysterious and profoundly dangerous patient.

In a series of online posts, Parker H., a young psychiatrist, chronicles the harrowing account of his time working at a dreary mental hospital in New England. Through this internet message board, Parker hopes to communicate with the world his effort to cure one bewildering patient.

We learn, as Parker did on his first day at the hospital, of the facility’s most difficult, profoundly dangerous case—a forty-year-old man who was originally admitted to the hospital at age six. This patient has no known diagnosis. His symptoms seem to evolve over time. Every person who has attempted to treat him has been driven to madness or suicide.

Desperate and fearful, the hospital’s directors keep him strictly confined and allow minimal contact with staff for their own safety, convinced that releasing him would unleash catastrophe on the outside world. Parker, brilliant and overconfident, takes it upon himself to discover what ails this mystery patient and finally cure him. But from his first encounter with the mystery patient, things spiral out of control, and, facing a possibility beyond his wildest imaginings, Parker is forced to question everything he thought he knew.

Fans of Sarah Pinborough’s Behind Her Eyes and Paul Tremblay’s The Cabin at the End of the World will be riveted by Jasper DeWitt’s astonishing debut.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

The Patient publishes July 7, 2020.

Despite knowing that I have a hard time appreciating books that fall under the Horror genre, I thought the synopsis for The Patient sounded too intriguing to pass up. Unfortunately, it was just another book that proved this genre isn’t for me.

I just found the story really boring. I was not, at any point, even the smallest bit freaked out or spooked by what I read. I thought at the very least there would be a creepy atmosphere around the hospital, but I didn’t really get that. I thought the mystery surrounding Joe seemed interesting, but it was approached in such a clinical way at first, that it never felt scary. Even when the story morphed into something that was obviously supernatural, I was still just kind of bored with it. It did sometimes have some graphically gross descriptions, but gore doesn’t really make up for lack of suspense or thrills for me.

I also thought there was a real missed opportunity in the formatting of the story. Parker is supposed to be sharing his story in multiple online forum entries. He makes reference to people’s comments to his posts, but we don’t actually ever see those comments. I felt it would have lent some credibility to the format to include those. As it was, other than the date that begins each chapter and Parker explicitly stating at the beginning of each entry that he’s writing this on the internet, there’s nothing about the storytelling that makes it any different than a normal narrative.

Overall, The Patient was a letdown for me. It didn’t live up to it’s intriguing premise and I didn’t really understand the narrative choices. However, you should keep in mind that this isn’t really my genre and maybe die hard Horror fans will think differently.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2 Stars

Review: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

53152636. sx318 sy475

Synopsis from Goodreads:

An isolated mansion. A chillingly charismatic artistocrat. And a brave socialite drawn to expose their treacherous secrets. . . .

From the author of Gods of Jade and Shadow comes “a terrifying twist on classic gothic horror” (Kirkus Reviews) set in glamorous 1950s Mexico—“fans of classic novels like Jane Eyre and Rebecca are in for a suspenseful treat” (PopSugar).
After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review. 

Mexican Gothic publishes June 30, 2020. 

Before I begin, can we all just take a moment to admire that beautiful cover? I’m not even a little sorry to admit that my desire to read Mexican Gothic was totally based on the cover. Unfortunately, it ended up being the only thing that really worked for me.

My lack of enjoyment of this book is mostly one me, though. I took “gothic” to mean a creepy and mysterious setting. Something along the lines of Jane Eyre (which is referenced in the synopsis). This is more “gothic horror”, though, which is definitely not my cup of tea. No matter how hard I try, I really struggle with being able to appreciate the horror genre, so keep that in mind with my review.

The story started out very slowly and I found it really hard to get through in the beginning. I was completely prepared to DNF it, but then I decided to give one more chapter a try and it started to pick up. I became mildly intrigued, but it never really hooked me. I found Neomi kind of shallow and spoiled and not very likable. She did grow on me as the story went on, though. I liked her growing friendship with Francis, who was the only other half-way likable character in the story.

I was hoping to experience a little more of Mexican culture than we got here, too. Despite taking place in Mexico, the story mostly takes place at the isolated house that was built in the English tradition. The Doyle family are also English and only one of them even speaks the language of the country they’ve immigrated to.

Lastly, the whole supernatural/horror part of the story just didn’t work for me. Again, this is probably more me and it might be fine for fans of the genre. I just rolled my eyes a bit and suffered through the explanations. I also found the climax of the story to be kind of predictable.

Overall, Mexican Gothic just wasn’t for me. I love that beautiful cover, but I was disappointed in the lack of Mexican culture and the whole horror plotline. I am, admittedly, not the right audience for this genre, though, so this might be worth the read for those that are.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2 Stars

Review: Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein

52765013. sx318 sy475

Synopsis from Goodreads:

The past seven years have been hard on Avery Abrams: After training her entire life to make the Olympic gymnastics team, a disastrous performance ended her athletic career for good. Her best friend and teammate, Jasmine, went on to become an Olympic champion, then committed the ultimate betrayal by marrying their emotionally abusive coach, Dimitri.

Now, reeling from a breakup with her football star boyfriend, Avery returns to her Massachusetts hometown, where new coach Ryan asks her to help him train a promising young gymnast with Olympic aspirations. Despite her misgivings and worries about the memories it will evoke, Avery agrees. Back in the gym, she’s surprised to find sparks flying with Ryan. But when a shocking scandal in the gymnastics world breaks, it has shattering effects not only for the sport but also for Avery and her old friend Jasmine.

I received a copy of this title from NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

Head Over Heels publishes June 23, 2020. 

I always enjoy watching the Olympics and was pretty disappointed to hear that they are going to be postponed until next year. Head Over Heels looked like a good way to get a small Olympics fix in the mean time. However, it wasn’t really much more than that.

I was pretty bored throughout most of this book. I did enjoy the gymnastics included and reading about Hallie’s training routine as she prepared for the Olympic trials. I just wish there was a little more of an inside look. I feel like everything shared are things you can pick up by watching any of the countless features that play during the Olympics every year. There’s a lot more said about how hard gymnasts work than actually showing them working that hard.

I also never really cared about the romance. Avery and Ryan had crushes on each other as kids and their crushes have bled over into adulthood and they get together fairly quickly. I didn’t feel invested in their relationship at all, so when things went poorly and then got better, I just didn’t care. They could have ended the books as just friends and I wouldn’t have minded.

I expected a lot more to be said about the sexual abuse scandal, as well. It follows a lot of what happened in real life, just with fictional names. The doctor that is accused is one that made Hallie feel uncomfortable once, but thankfully nothing more than that happened with her. There’s a lot of talk about backlash online and a hearing scheduled for the doctor, but no type of resolution. I felt like from the synopsis this would be a major part of the plot, but it mostly stayed in the background. Avery and her old training partner come together to create a foundation to help the mental and emotional health of gymnasts and even that is barely addressed.

Overall, Head over Heels was not really for me. I would have liked for things to be more developed. It felt like just the bare minimum was done in terms of character development, relationship development, gymnastic research, and #MeToo details. What should have been interesting and emotional came off as boring and superficial. This is the second book I’ve tried by this author and I think it will probably be my last.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2 Stars

Review: Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson

51351884

Synopsis from Goodreads:

When their foster-turned-adoptive mother suddenly dies, four brothers struggle to keep open the doors of her beloved Harlem knitting shop, while dealing with life and love in Harlem.

Jesse Strong is known for two things: his devotion to his adoptive mom, Mama Joy, and his reputation for breaking hearts in Harlem. When Mama Joy unexpectedly passes away, he and his brothers have different plans on what to do with Strong Knits, their neighborhood knitting store: Jesse wants to keep the store open; his brothers want to shut it down.

Jesse makes an impassioned plea to Kerry Fuller, his childhood friend who has had a crush on him her entire life, to help him figure out how to run the business. Kerry agrees to help him reinvent the store and show him the knitty-gritty of the business, but the more time they spend together, the more the chemistry builds. Kerry, knowing Jesse’s history, doesn’t believe this relationship will exist longer than one can knit one, purl one. But Jesse is determined to prove to her that he can be the man for her—after all, real men knit.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

Real Men Knit publishes May 19, 2020. 

I have to admit that I wanted to like this book much more than I actually liked it. The synopsis sounded cute and I liked that there was a diverse cast. I was looking forward to some fun family dynamics between the brothers, too. Unfortunately, I found everything that happened really lackluster.

I wasn’t very impressed with the writing, though it did get better as it went on. The first couple chapters were extremely heavy on the internal monologues that set up the story was a massive info dump of characters and circumstances. I would have liked to have seen things start out a little more naturally and get to know the characters in a more authentic way. After two chapters I almost decided to DNF it since I knew I couldn’t take a whole book written in this way. However, I kept reading and it got a little better. There were still some parts where I skimmed when things got a little dense, but it became much easier to read.

While I liked Jesse and Kelly well enough, all the other characters were pretty one-dimensional. I was really looking forward to seeing the relationship between the brothers, but it was pretty underwhelming. I had a hard time even telling some of them apart. I expected to see them bond and come together as they grieved the passing of their mother, but that didn’t really happen. I felt like there was so much potential there and it just didn’t live up to it.

Overall, Real Men Knit left me underwhelmed. I really wanted to like it, but poor character development and a writing style I didn’t connect with kept me from really enjoying it. There were a few funny or cute moments, but they were too few and far between to make up for the rest of the story. While the book wasn’t for me, I’m sure there will be some others than can overlook the issues I had with it and enjoy the romance.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2.5 Stars

Review: The Bright Lands by John Fram

52703177. sx318 sy475

Synopsis from Goodreads:

The town of Bentley holds two things dear: its football, and its secrets. But when star quarterback Dylan Whitley goes missing, an unremitting fear grips this remote corner of Texas.

Joel Whitley was shamed out of conservative Bentley ten years ago, and while he’s finally made a life for himself as a gay man in New York, his younger brother’s disappearance soon brings him back to a place he thought he’d escaped for good. Meanwhile, Sheriff’s Deputy Starsha Clark stayed in Bentley; Joel’s return brings back painful memories—not to mention questions—about her own missing brother. And in the high school hallways, Dylan’s friends begin to suspect that their classmates know far more than they’re telling the police. Together, these unlikely allies will stir up secrets their town has long tried to ignore, drawing the attention of dangerous men who will stop at nothing to see that their crimes stay buried.

But no one is quite prepared to face the darkness that’s begun to haunt their nightmares, whispering about a place long thought to be nothing but an urban legend: an empty night, a flicker of light on the horizon—The Bright Lands.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

The Bright Lands publishes July 7, 2020. 

Ok, let me first say that when I requested this book, I was binging Friday Night Lights and I didn’t exactly read the full synopsis. I saw football and Texas and secrets and that was enough for me. The Bright Lands ended up being much different than I was expecting. It wasn’t exactly the kind of book I usually go for, but the characters made me keep reading.

This review is going to be short because most of my thoughts on the plot would be full of spoilers. So what can I actually say? The story was told through multiple points of view and I think those were well done. It really moved the story along and I was invested in all the characters. Early on in the story I wasn’t sure if this was a book I wanted to finish, but the characters kept me going. I expected a small town mystery, but there were definite Horror vibes, too. Horror is not really my genre, so take it with a grain of salt when I say it made me take a lot of things way less seriously than I otherwise would have. There are also major themes of hypocrisy and  homophobia, along with a lot of drugs, violence, assault, pedophilia, and demons (some metaphorical, one real). We spend most of the book waiting to find out what the mysterious Bright Lands are and while I did come to have my suspicions, it ended up being another eye rolling disappointment.

Overall, The Bright Lands wasn’t really for me. I didn’t appreciate the horror aspects and the overall tone of resentment and regret made me a little more depressed during already depressing times (though you can also take that as a compliment to the writing, I guess). I did really like the multiple POVs and was invested in the characters, though. While the story itself wasn’t really my cup of tea, I think there are a lot of readers out there that will enjoy this one a lot more than I did.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2.5 Stars

Review: Admission by Julie Buxbaum

46147598. sy475

Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Tell Me Three Things comes an of-the-moment novel that peeks inside the private lives of the hypercompetitive and the hyperprivileged and takes on the college admissions bribery scandal that rocked the country.

It’s good to be Chloe Wynn Berringer. She’s headed off to the college of her dreams. She’s going to prom with the boy she’s had a crush on since middle school. Her best friend always has her back, and her mom, a B-list Hollywood celebrity, may finally be on her way to the B+ list. It’s good to be Chloe Wynn Berringer–at least, it was, until the FBI came knocking on her front door, guns at the ready, and her future went up in smoke. Now her mother is under arrest in a massive college admissions bribery scandal. Chloe, too, might be facing charges, and even time behind bars. The public is furious, the press is rabid, and the US attorney is out for blood.

As she loses everything she’s long taken for granted, Chloe must reckon not only with the truth of what happened, but also with the examination of her own guilt. Why did her parents think the only way for her to succeed was to cheat for her? What did she know, and when did she know it? And perhaps most importantly, what does it mean to be complicit?

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review. 

Updated Publication Date for Admission: December 1, 2020

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve heard about the big College Admission Scandal. Many wealthy parents, including a couple celebrities, used a “consultant” to cheat their kids into prestigious colleges. Admission is an account of a fictional family facing the fall out. However, if you’re hoping for more emotional insight than you’ve seen on the news – or that Lifetime Channel movie – then you’re going to be a little disappointed.

The crimes of Chloe’s parents are taken directly out of the headlines and seems to be a combination of both Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, though I definitely felt more of a tilt towards Loughlin. The story read a lot like the Lifetime movie of the scandal, except the movie was a little more interesting. The slow pace and unlikable characters made the book a chore to get through. There is even a part early on where Chloe is in English class discussing a book and is reminded that readers don’t need to like characters in literature, which feels like a cop out for not making the characters of this book more developed or empathetic.

The chapters alternate between Now and Then, with the Now chapters starting with the FBI showing up and the Then chapters starting with Chloe struggling to study for the SATs. I have to say I found the Now chapters much more interesting. Most of the Then chapters felt a little like filler that basically just highlighted all the ways that Chloe was unaware of her rich, white privilege. There are snippets of Chloe ignoring the weird things her parents were doing – telling her she has ADHD to get accommodations on the SAT, going through her phone to find a picture where she has a good tan that someone might be able to confuse for some Argentinian heritage, etc. The past chapters also chronicled her relationship with her best friend and friend-turned-boyfriend, who were both pretty underdeveloped caricatures.

I think the story would have benefited by adding some other POVs. Or even making at least one of the characters a little more calculating. Here everyone knows what they’re doing isn’t on the up and up exactly, but they also don’t think it’s really that bad. The whole point of the story seems to be to cast a light on how privileged people don’t fully grasp their privilege and it’s effect on others. All explained to us by a privileged white lady…

Overall, I found Admission pretty disappointing. The main character was whiny and unrelatable, there wasn’t really anything in the story that you haven’t already read in the news, and the overall moral of the story about wealthy, white privilege came across as kind of trite. Also, the cute romance I expect from a Buxbaum book was almost completely missing here. The one bright spot in the book was Chloe’s sister, Isla, who was the only character who didn’t feel like a complete cliche, even if she was a little unrealistic.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2 Stars

Review: What I Like About You by Marisa Kanter

51932743. sx318 sy475

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Can a love triangle have only two people in it? Online, it can…but in the real world, it’s more complicated. In this debut novel that’s perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Morgan Matson, Marisa Kanter hilariously and poignantly explores what happens when internet friends turn into IRL crushes.

Is it still a love triangle if there are only two people in it?

There are a million things that Halle Levitt likes about her online best friend, Nash.

He’s an incredibly talented graphic novelist. He loves books almost as much as she does. And she never has to deal with the awkwardness of seeing him in real life. They can talk about anything…

Except who she really is.

Because online, Halle isn’t Halle—she’s Kels, the enigmatically cool creator of One True Pastry, a YA book blog that pairs epic custom cupcakes with covers and reviews. Kels has everything Halle doesn’t: friends, a growing platform, tons of confidence, and Nash.

That is, until Halle arrives to spend senior year in Gramps’s small town and finds herself face-to-face with real, human, not-behind-a-screen Nash. Nash, who is somehow everywhere she goes—in her classes, at the bakery, even at synagogue.

Nash who has no idea she’s actually Kels.

If Halle tells him who she is, it will ruin the non-awkward magic of their digital friendship. Not telling him though, means it can never be anything more. Because while she starts to fall for Nash as Halle…he’s in love with Kels.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

What I Like About You publishes on April 7, 2020. 

What I Liked

-There is a lot of book community nerdiness in this and I liked it. It’s always fun to read a book about a book blogger.

-I enjoyed reading about Jewish culture. Though Halle is Jewish, she wasn’t really raised with religion, so when she lives with her grandfather who is religious, we get to learn right along with her about traditions and etc. I haven’t read a lot of books that include this, so it helps set it apart a bit from other similar books.

-I loved Halle’s little brother, Ollie. He was wise beyond his years and was always there for Halle. He deserved a little better from her, though, to be honest.

-I liked Le Crew. Though some members of the group weren’t always my cup of tea, I liked their friendship.

What Didn’t Work for Me

-Halle’s parents are famous documentary filmmakers. A little is spoken about the super important topics they cover, but more is said about how they are chasing an Oscar. They came across really shallow to me. I didn’t really respect them.

-One of my biggest pet peeves in books is when all the drama could be resolved with one, honest conversation. I got very, very frustrated with Halle. I can understand being caught off guard the first time she met Nash, but then months go by and their relationship progresses, and it turned more into an uncomfortable catfishing situation. Her brother was the only one who knew the truth of the situation and he continually tried to talk her into telling the truth and she would just get mad at him and storm away to go pout. She was often a hard character to like.

-There’s a lot of YA Book Twitter drama that goes on and it reminded me of why I mostly avoid Twitter. The YA Book Community can be great, but it can also be incredibly toxic and judgmental and promotes “cancel culture”. To be fair, though, the Twitter community in general can be that way. One situation in this story is that the author of a book that means a lot to Halle disses the movie being made about her book saying it’s not just for teens. Halle plans on seeing the movie anyways because it meant a lot to her grandmother (who worked on the book), but she lets other people make her feel guilty about it and it sways her opinion to join the boycott. For a book that celebrates the YA book culture, I just wish that the characters would’ve come across a little better than they did.

Overall

Overall, What I Like About You wasn’t really for me. I almost DNF-ed it several times, but I decided to keep going and did enjoy some parts of it. When needless lying is basically the whole plot, though, I just can’t get behind it. However, this book is obviously a celebration of YA literature and I am well over the age of the target audience, so some of the things that bothered me may not bother them.

Overall Rating (Out of 5): 2.5 Stars