Review: The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

When five hyper-successful women agree to appear on a reality series set in New York City called Goal Diggers, the producers never expect the season will end in murder…

Brett’s the fan favorite. Tattooed and only twenty-seven, the meteoric success of her spin studio—and her recent engagement to her girlfriend—has made her the object of jealousy and vitriol from her cast mates.

Kelly, Brett’s older sister and business partner, is the most recent recruit, dismissed as a hanger-on by veteran cast. The golden child growing up, she defers to Brett now—a role which requires her to protect their shocking secret.

Stephanie, the first black cast member and the oldest, is a successful bestselling author of erotic novels. There have long been whispers about her hot, non-working actor-husband and his wandering eye, but this season the focus is on the rift that has opened between her and Brett, former best friends—and resentment soon breeds contempt.

Lauren, the start-up world’s darling whose drinking has gotten out of control, is Goal Diggers’ recovery narrative—everyone loves a comeback story.

And Jen, made rich and famous through her cultishly popular vegan food line plays a holistic hippie for the cameras, but is perhaps the most ruthless of them all when the cameras are off.

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

The Favorite Sister will be available May 15, 2018. 

Despite not being a huge fan of Luckiest Girl Alive, I wanted to give Jessica Knoll another try. Unfortunately, I was even less impressed with The Favorite Sister.

At the beginning of my E-ARC copy of the book, there is a letter from the editor promising the following: “Ferociously paced, brilliantly plotted (just WAIT for the ending), twisty and whip smart…” “…so shocking, and so un-put-down-able…readers everywhere will be blown away.” I feel like absolutely none of that was true. The pacing was very slow (and the chapters were SO. LONG) and I was not shocked by one single thing that happened. I felt like there were plenty of clues that anybody who has read a book remotely similar would be able to predict all the “twists” before they were revealed.

The story is told from the point of view of three different women on the reality show Goal Diggers (heavily inspired by the Real Housewives franchise). I did like the reality tv angle and it was probably my favorite thing about the book. I felt like there was good character development for those three women, but the rest of the characters – including two other women on the show – could have been a little more fleshed out. All of them were awful, though. There was really nothing sympathetic or redeeming about these women. It was really hard to care about what happened to any of them. The only emotion I occasionally felt was disgust.

Overall, The Favorite Sister was just not for me. Though I liked the reality tv setting, the characters were just awful and the plot left a lot to be desired. I’m sure there will be people who will enjoy this, I just wasn’t one of them.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2 Stars

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters I Just Didn’t Click With

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Today’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the Broke and the Bookish, is: Ten Characters I Just Didn’t Click With.

Taken

1) Shannon from Taken by Dee Henderson. I just found everything about her so completely off-putting that I ended up DNF-ing the book.

The Murderer's Daughter

2) Grace from The Murderer’s Daughter by Jonathan Kellerman. I didn’t hate her, but I didn’t really care about her. I think she often did things contradictory to her character development and I just didn’t really care enough about her to ever get really invested in this story.

Luckiest Girl Alive

3) Ani from Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll. She was just all around unlikable.

The Dare (The Bet, #3)

4) Grandma Nadine from The Dare by Rachel Van Dyken. One of those characters that just drove me crazy every single time she was in a scene.

The Heartbreakers (The Heartbreak Chronicles)

5) Stella from The Heartbreakers by Ali Novak. I thought she was such a brat and she drove me crazy.

Emmy & Oliver

6) Emmy from Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway. She was kind of a brat sometimes, but she had less brat-like moments, too. Overall, I just never really connected with her character.

The Wrong Side of Right

7) Kate from The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne. She got a little better as the book went on, but for the first half of the book she just drove me crazy.

Just One Day (Just One Day, #1)

8) Willem from Just One Day by Gayle Foreman. I have zero patience for his gypsy lifestyle.

I guess I’m just going with a top 8 for now. I’m sure I’ll realize ones I forgot after I read some other lists. What characters didn’t you click with? Were you un-clickable with any of my choices?

Most Disappointing Books of 2015 So Far

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Since tomorrow’s Top Ten Tuesday is going to be focused on the top ten books I’ve read in 2015 so far, I thought today I’d focus on the most disappointing books. These aren’t going to necessarily be the lowest rated books (though most of them are), but also ones that I was looking forward to and felt let down by.

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Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. The cover is so intriguing. The reviews were glowing. This was probably my most anticipated read of the year and it was…blah. The pacing was slow, the characters were not well-developed, and I was just bored. The link leads to my spoiler filled review if you want more specifics, but this book was a big disappointment for me. The saving grace was the final action sequence and the ending was interesting enough that I MIGHT read the next book.

A Thousand Pieces of You (Firebird, #1)

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray. Another pretty cover that got my hopes up. I honestly can’t remember much about this book other than I was really looking forward to it and found it pretty boring. And forgettable, apparently.

Vendetta (Blood for Blood, #1)

Vendetta by Catherine Doyle. I’ve seen almost nothing but 4 or 5 star reviews on Vendetta and I just can’t understand it. This book was just absurd. It was unbelievable and over the top and the writing was kind of immature.

P.S. I Still Love You (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #2)

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han. I really enjoyed the first book in this duology, but I found this one really underwhelming. I felt it tried to be too many things and because of that lacked focus. The pacing was choppy and the writing was uneven. I thought the whole thing felt like little kids trying to be grown-ups and it made a lot of the dialogue cringe-worthy to me.

Luckiest Girl Alive

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll. While the book got better as it went along, it was nowhere near as good as I wanted it to be. The main character was very unlikable and not in a fun “I love to hate her” kind of way. I’ve heard this referred to as “this year’s Gone Girl” and that is exactly why I hate book comparisons.

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The Magician’s Lie by Greer Macallister. Everything about this sounded like it would be the kind of book that’s perfect for me. But it wasn’t. I felt like I was supposed to be tricked along the way and shocked at the ending. However, I guessed the ending long before it was revealed and found much of the story leading up to it to be slow and drawn out. This was not the mind-bending surprise I was hoping for.

The Wrong Side of Right

The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne. Probably my most anticipated book after Red Queen and it ended up being just ok for me. I’ve seen pretty much nothing but perfect reviews on it, but a good deal of it really annoyed me. I pretty much hated the first quarter or so of it and then it slowly got better. The main character drove me nuts for much of the story, as well.

What about you? What books have you found most disappointing this year? Do you agree with any of my choices? Or did you love any of the ones that disappointed me?

Review: Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

HER PERFECT LIFE
IS A PERFECT LIE.

As a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. Now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiancé, she’s this close to living the perfect life she’s worked so hard to achieve.

But Ani has a secret.

There’s something else buried in her past that still haunts her, something private and painful that threatens to bubble to the surface and destroy everything.

With a singular voice and twists you won’t see coming, Luckiest Girl Alive explores the unbearable pressure that so many women feel to “have it all” and introduces a heroine whose sharp edges and cutthroat ambition have been protecting a scandalous truth, and a heart that’s bigger than it first appears.

The question remains: will breaking her silence destroy all that she has worked for—or, will it at long last, set Ani free?

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

Luckiest Girl alive will be available May 12, 2015.

I think the synopsis of this book makes it sound much more intriguing than it is. There aren’t really any huge twists and the ending didn’t pack the punch I was hoping for.

Ani has done her best to rise from her somewhat humble upbringing to become one of the rich, sophisticated women she’s always admired. Marrying a successful Wall Street-er who comes from old money is the ultimate prize to clinch the life she’s always wanted for herself and to shut up the naysayers that don’t think she deserves it.  The only problem is that it’s not making her happy and living the lie is getting exhausting.

For about half the book there are references to an event from Ani’s past that made her infamous, an event she’s always tried to overcome. There’s a documentary being made about said event and Ani agrees to be part of it so she can finally share her side of the story. The story is told in alternating past and present sections that slowly (very slowly at times) clue us in to what happened. While the event was indeed quite tragic, it wasn’t as surprising as I was expecting it to be.

Ani was not a likable character. Perhaps because of the comparison to Gillian Flynn, I was expecting Ani to be kind of a psychopath, someone I could love to hate. Failing that, an unlikable character that was at least sympathetic. However, for most of the book I just plan didn’t like her. She was mean and self-centered and catty. She went through some pretty horrible things as a teenager, but she was such a stupid, stupid girl, too caught up in popularity and showing very little empathy for anyone else, that all I could feel was sad for her. But not in a way that made her a sympathetic protagonist I could root for.

The supporting characters, including her fiancé and best friend, were also unlikable. The teenagers she was so desperate to be friends with were awful with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. The one bright spot was her old teacher, Mr. Larsen. He was kind and caring and protective. Even though he had a few moments of weakness, he ultimately remained the good guy and I was glad for it.

I know it sounds like I hated this book, but that’s not the case. It’s true that the first half or so of the story I had to make myself keep reading (and only did so because it’s an ARC), but once we got to the actual event, it became a much more compulsory read. The pace picked up and was about more than Ani’s goal of anorexic thinness and her disillusionment with her fiancé. I did keep expecting for there to be some sort of crazy twist, though, and was a little disappointed that there wasn’t.

Overall, this book was ok for me. While the start was hard to get into, it definitely got better as the story went on. While the ending wasn’t what I was expecting, it did end up painting the main character in a more favorable light and I can appreciate the growth she went through.

Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

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Reviewing the Unreviewed: April 2015

I read a lot of books that I don’t end up reviewing for whatever reason. Some because I wasn’t impressed. Some because I didn’t have the time. Some I just wasn’t feeling it on whatever particular day I finished. I thought I’d start doing a post once a month  with just the couple thoughts I shared on Good Reads.

I don’t know why, but I completely sucked at writing full reviews this month!

 

Luckiest Girl Alive

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll. Read April 1-4. 3 stars.

Overall, this book was ok for me. While the start was hard to get into, it definitely got better as the story went on. (*A full review will be coming next month, closer to release date.)

Texts from Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters

Texts from Jane Eyre And other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters by Mallory Ortberg. Read April 7. 2 stars.

I don’t think I’m cultured enough for this book. I skimmed a lot because I’m unfamiliar with most of the stories. I did enjoy The Baby-Sitters Club, Jane Eyre, and The Fight Club parts, though.  

Solitaire

Solitaire by Alice Oseman.  Read April 8-10. 2.5 stars.

There were times where I just so identified with Tori. In a lot of ways I was like her when I was a sad 16-year-old. But then there were other times where I just didn’t get her at all. I didn’t always follow the thought processes of her or those around her. None of the characters were really likable. The whole Solitaire plot line didn’t even make a lot of sense.

The Singles

The Singles by Meredith Goldsten. Read April 10-11. 4 stars.

This book has been on my radar for awhile, but I always thought the ebook cost too much. At a recent sale at my local library I found it for a $1.00. It was well worth the money!

A book about singles at a wedding seemed right up my alley, especially with my little brother’s upcoming wedding looming on the horizon…However, this book wasn’t really what I thought it would be. Despite that, it was a well-developed character-driven novel with mostly likable characters. It was an easy and quick read that I enjoyed.

The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. Read April 13-16. 3 stars.

This book was well written and for the most part I liked the style. I wasn’t surprised at the part that was probably supposed to be surprising, as I guessed it much earlier on. The characters were unlikable, but with Anna I eventually liked unliking her. While this book was pretty good, I don’t feel like it lived up to the hype.

A Good Killing (Anna Curtis, #4)

A Good Killing by Allison Leotta.  Read April 16-20. 4 stars.

Where has this series been all my life? A well-written, well paced, well done mystery. Full review to come closer to release date.

Made for You

Made for You by Melissa Marr. Read April 20-23. 3 stars.

I was expecting to be more creeped out by this book than I was. The killer was pretty crazy so that was kind of fun and disturbing to read, though I felt like his parts were really repetitive for awhile. I liked that the supernatural aspect didn’t take over the whole story, but I don’t like that we never find out why or how Eva started to have the visions. While I supported the romance, it was a little fast for me.

Missing You

Missing You by Harlan Coben. Read April 23-25. 4 stars.

This was my first Harlan Coben book and it certainly won’t be my last. The multiple mysteries were handled well. Even if there were a few things that I thought were obvious, there were other things that surprised me. The characters were well-developed and I even felt myself feeling bad for one of the bad guys, despite how awful he was. While it took a little bit to get into the story, when it picked up it was hard to put down.

Boy Band

Boy Band by Jacqueline E. Smith. Read April 25-26. 3.5 stars.

This was a cute, fun read. It took me a bit to be able to tell all the boy banders apart, but once I did I enjoyed them. I liked that the guys were nice and responsible and not big partiers. I was also amused by all their banter.

My only real complaint is that I think it could have used a bit more editing and formatting. About half way through the book (I bought a Nook copy) the formatting started to change so there was only one paragraph per page (and when it was dialogue, it was often only one line) and it really hindered my reading enjoyment, though that’s not the book’s fault. (*Note: The Author is aware of this and is working on getting it fixed.) There was also a lot of repetition that could have been phased out a bit.

Not a whole lot happened in terms of plot development and I would have liked more detailed info about their interviews and behind the scenes things, but it was still a fun read! I’ll definitely have to read book #2. Even though I didn’t realize this was going to be a series and was initially a little upset (because of the ending!), I am excited to get to spend more time with The Kind of September and Mel.

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RE-READ

Ignite Me (Shatter Me, #3)

Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi. Still love it! Definitely recommend this series to YA lovers!

The Fine Art of Pretending (The Fine Art of Pretending, #1)

The Fine Art of Pretending by Rachel Harris. I was in the mood for a light, contemporary and there wasn’t a wait for this at the library. I think I enjoyed it more this second time around.