Review: Unwind by Neal Shusterman

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Genre: Young-Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia
Pages: 335
Series: Unwind #1
Release Date: November 6, 2007
Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers

Star

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After Scythe and Thunderhead, I knew that I had to read more by Neal Shusterman. And I’ve heard so many great things about Unwind, which got me even more excited. Then I found out that you can read it for free on Riveted (until 29th January) so my definitely-reading-soon plan changed to definitely-reading-right-now. And I’m very glad for that.

Unwind is a much darker story than Scythe. It’s very much not set in a perfect world. Any parent can donate/sell/throw away their child, as long as he’s between the age of 13 to 18. But not in a simple way, no. Those kids are taken to harvest centers and every single part of their body is transplanted to another individual. And it’s all legal. Hell, it’s not even frowned upon that people are killing children! Of course, they don’t call it “killing” (such a bad word, isn’t it?), they call it ‘unwinding’. They claim that the individual is still alive, simply in a divided state.

At first, I was shocked. I mean, how can something like this happen? But the more you read the book and learn of the situation, the more plausible it seems that people could actually do this. The process of unwinding is the consequence of a war. And there are so many benefits that most people are happy to look the other way.

We have three protagonists. All unwinds. Connor is a troubled teen whose parents gave him up. Risa is a ward of the state and is being unwound because of budget cuts, and Lev is a Tithe. Now, Tithes are special. They’re raised to the age of thirteen for the sole purpose of unwinding. They’re told their whole life that they’re serving a higher purpose. It’s really fucking messed up and, with Lev, you see how it’s affected him to the point that he’s proud to be unwound.

Connor, Risa and Lev are all on the run. They need a safe place to lay low till they reach eighteen, which is not gonna be easy. They’re kids who can’t ask anyone help because that person is likely to turn them in. They don’t have resources or connections. All they can do is keep moving.

I liked all three characters. Connor is the problem child. He’s impulsive, has a quick temper and has a tendency to get himself in trouble. Risa is smarter and she helps Connor to try using his head instead of just jumping into things. Lev is complicated. He’s angry at Connor and Risa for taking him away from his execution, he’s confused by the events that lead up that point, he’s proud of his status as a Tithe, he’s unsure of what to do, but, most importantly, he’s a thirteen-year-old, who’s been brainwashed and has not clue what to do.

His journey was the sad to read. And that’s what this book is, everyone’s journey. It’s a pretty straight-forward plot set in a messed up, broken world. Three teenagers trying to survive. Of course, we meet other kids. One is Cy-Fy. Even though I can’t say anything about him, I had to mention him because his story was the most touching.

Despite the “simple” plot, there are a lot of things going on, the pace is fast, and there’s lots of emotion. If there’s one small thing I have, to complain about (and it’s not really a complaint, per se), it’s that I would’ve liked to know more about what lead to the passing of a bill which dictated that you could unwind your ward. Like, we know the basics but I wanted more depth to it. How could people agree to this? I’m hoping we’ll get more insight in the sequels, which I will most certainly be reading. As for this one, I highly recommend reading it.

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Review: Finding Cinderella by Colleen Hoover

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Genre: Young-Adult, Contemporary Romance, Novella
Pages: 176 (it’s shorter actually, since the end has a sneak peek for another book)
Series: Hopeless #2.5 (Can be read as a standalone)
Release Date: October 14, 2013
Publisher: Atria Books

4 Stars

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FIRST AND FOREMOST! While I really like this novella, there’s one thing about it that bothers me so fucking much that I’m almost temped to shun it.

We have two protagonists, Daniel and Six (that’s a nickname. Her real name is Seven). They meet, feel an intense connection, start falling for each other, but Six has a secret that could change everything… blah, blah, blah… You know, the usual Colleen Hoover stuff. That’s not what bothers me. I mean, it kinda bothers me that she uses the ‘big, dark, secret’ trope in basically every single book, but that’s not the point here.

Six has some issues. The novel isn’t from her perspective but we can still tell. Anyway, because of that she frequently refers to herself as a slut. Because she was, a year ago, someone who had sex with six different guys in little over a year. Now I know she’s in highschool and she was seventeen at the time and six different guys is a lot for her. Still, it’s was in over a year! But again, I get self-hatred. It doesn’t always makes sense. Hell, it almost never makes sense. The real problem is that when Daniel tries to comfort her, he doesn’t say that it’s her choice to sleep with whomever she wants and that it doesn’t make her a slut. He tells her it doesn’t matter what she did in the past and that she’s not that person anymore.

It pisses me off so much because he’s basically telling her that while she’s not a slut, she used to be. And what makes it worse is that Daniel is a great guy. He’s funny, he’s caring , he’s goofy and he’s honest. What he says makes so fucking sense because that’s not like him. So I’m blaming Colleen Hoover. It’s going to be a while before I even consider reading anything by her again.

Rant over. Now for the reason I really like this novella. It’s funny. I know that’s not supposed to be a big deal but, for me, the fact that the conversations in the novella were fun is important. All the interactions, not just between Six and Daniel, were funny, in a sweet and heartwarming way. They endeared you to the characters, who I really like. And they kept the novel light, for the most part. I’m pretty sure this novella has more humour that four of Colleen Hoover’s novels combined.

Daniel’s narrative definitely helped. I wasn’t kidding when I said that Daniel’s a great guy. I really like him. And the writing was obviously good, which is one thing you can rely on with the Colleen Hoover.

Overall, this was a really sweet and enjoyable read. If it weren’t for that really infuriating thing I mentioned above and the fact that Six and Daniel’s relationship got a little too intense a little too fast, this would have been an easy five stars. I’m kinda bummed out that it isn’t. Also, I’m still mad. I mean, all she had to write was that it didn’t matter how many guys Six slept with, or that Daniel’s probably had sex with plenty of girls too and no one was calling him a slut but… ugh! I don’t want to start another rant so I’m just gonna stop.

Review: Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

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Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Pages: 504
Series: Arc of a Scythe #2
Release Date: January 9, 2018
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

For those who haven’t read the first book, Scythe, there are spoilers.

5 Stars

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In my review of Scythe, I said that it was a rollercoaster. Well, this was a way bigger and badder rollercoaster and, even hours later, I’m still reeling. I’m gonna need a few months to fully process everything, which is great because the third, and final, book isn’t coming out for at least another year. Yay… Not!

At the end of Scythe, Citra becomes a Scythe while Rowan escapes with Scythe Faraday. That means the Scythedom is looking for him. And instead of lying low, it turns out that he’s decided to go rogue. He goes by Scythe Lucifer and ends corrupt Scythes (burns their bodies and everything). And before reading, I was afraid he’d had a psychotic break or something but no, he’s quite sane. But he loves the Scythedom too much to let the corrupt Scythes poison it. This is his way of helping. Citra is helping too. But she’s taken a diplomatic approach and introduces new ideals while being part of the system.

Then we have the Thunderhead, who’s a big part of the book. You know how in Scythe, we got excerpts from the journals of various Scythes? Well, in this book, the excerpts are from the Thunderhead. We get to know it a lot. Even the chapters highly feature the Thunderhead. And I freaking loved it. The Thunderhead is such an interesting addition. It’s an artificial intelligence that’s pretty-much perfect and all-knowing. It’s also concerned, most of all, with humanity’s welfare. It’s law-abiding but won’t hesitate to use a loophole or two for a good cause.

But, while it’s supposed to be perfect, I don’t trust it. I guess, after AIs like Skynet and Ultron, it’s difficult. But it’s different from them, it truly cares about people. Though that could also be a problem. We don’t know. And that’s the beauty of it.

There another character we’re introduced to. Greyson Tolliver. Love him too but I don’t wanna give everyone away so you’ll have to get to know him yourself. Basically, we have a lot of characters: Citra, Rowan, Scythe Curie, Scythe Faraday, Thunderhead, Greyson, and others. And they’re amazing. There’s not a single character that I’m supposed to like that I don’t (meaning villains don’t count). I didn’t even hate Rowan’s friend, who is too dumb for his own good.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is, the character game in this novel is on point. So is the writing, Seriously, Neal Shusterman does such an amazing job of writing from each characters perspective. He balances the changes in tone perfectly to build tension and drops just the right amount of hints.

The pacing is also perfect, and faster than it was in Scythe. And I can’t talk enough about the world building and the story. We delve deeper into a world that I already love, and we out why things are the way they are, from the Thunderhead. And it’s all so believable and so <em>human. This series truly is a study in human nature and we can see how much effort the author has put into understanding people. The story is… so good. It’s fast and it’s clever, and so nerve-wracking that I spent the last 300 pages in ‘please tell me this isn’t really happening’ mode. And that ending! Oh my God!

Overall, I can safely say that this novel is perfect. It’s better than I could’ve imagined and I cannot wait to see how the series will conclude. If you loved Scythe, then you’re obviously reading this one. But even if you didn’t, please give it a shot. You won’t regret it.

Review: Most of All You by Mia Sheridan

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Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 352
Series: None
Release Date: October 17, 2017
Publisher: Forever

4 Stars

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Mia Sheridan is an author who has improved a lot since her first novel. But after Ramsay, I felt like she was moving in a direction that I, personally, didn’t like. And I’m very happy to say that we’re back on track.

Most of All You tells the story of two people who’ve had some truly shitty card dealt to them. Crystal, after living most of her life with her horrible father who never showed a shred of affection toward her, now works as a stripper with no hope for a better future. She’s guarded and close to her breaking point. Gabriel is trying to live a normal life after the trauma he faced during his six-year-long abduction as he was a kid. He still has trouble with physical intimacy and that’s why he approaches Crystal. To seek help. Neither of them expected the way they would connect, or that Crystal might need help a lot more than him.

It’s a very emotional journey for both of them. They’ve faced a lot of trauma and while Gabriel has had time to heal (and he’s fine for the most part), Crystal hasn’t even started.

This book is all about healing. It’s about not letting the bad things kill your spirit and continuing to fight. It’s also about vulnerability, how opening yourself to emotion, to pain, is the first step to happiness (Inside Out, anyone?), and that we shouldn’t be so guarded that we miss the good things, even if they’re few and far between. It’s about gratitude and hope.

Mia Sheridan handles the issues and the characters with a lot of care and tells a beautiful story. I was pleasantly surprised by the book. It’s as much of a character story as it is a romance.

There was one character who bothered me though. Gabriel’s brother. He was a grade-A prick and I couldn’t forgive his actions. Nor do I completely understand his reasons for the way he treated Crystal. We get a reason, but it didn’t explain everything. Also, I’m not entirely fond of the every-guy-who-enters-a-strip-club-is-a-disgusting-creep mentally. In an effort to be kind toward women (which I’m more than happy more), it got a little too biased against men.

Other than that, I’m really happy with the novel. I’m also glad that I’m not losing an author I really like. I’m eager to see what she’ll publish next.

Review: Meet Cute by Various Authors

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Genre: Young Adult, Short Stories, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 320
Series: None
Release Date: January 2, 2018
Publisher: HMH Books

3.25 Stars

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Meet Cute is an anthology of short stories. There are a total of fourteen stories, each is by a different author, and each following the theme of two people meeting for the first time. Hence the name “Meet Cute”. I’m going to review each story individually, but briefly because I don’t want the review to get too long. And also because while my memory works fine with novels, with fourteen short stories, it might fall short. Though I did take brief notes this time. I’m reviewing them in the order that they appear in the book.

 

1. Siege Etiquette by Katie Cotugno

Plot: Two people meet while hiding from the police during a house party.
Not the best start to the whole thing. The story was cliché, complete with two people from different cliques. Also, it used the dead-family-member cop-out so the character wouldn’t need to be given an actual personality. It felt like something I’d read many times before. Also, while the writing was okay enough, it for in second-person for no reason.
Rating: 2 Stars

 

2. Print Shop by Nina LaCour

Plot: Two girls meeting via a cranky customer service Tweet.
Even though I’ve only read one other story by Nina LaCour, I know she’s a good author. Her prose is beautiful and she excels at creating an almost tangible atmosphere. This story was cute, interesting, and introduced two likable characters you could care about. If I have one complaint, it’s that I wanted the tone to be a little lighter.
Rating: 4 Stars

 

3. Hourglass by Ibi Zoboi

Plot: A girl determined to get out of her small town.
While we need diversity in books, the presence of diversity is not going to make me like your story more. The writing here was okay at best, most of the story involved the protagonist complaining, there was little emotion and, worst of all, no meet cute. There was a (very short) meeting but it wasn’t cute. I could see zero connection between the characters. Also, typos.
Rating: 1.5 Stars

 

4. Click by Katharine McGee

Plot: First date via a futuristic dating app.
I loved the concept. An app that evaluates the compatibility of its subscribers by analyzing their online presence. And it was cute. But it also used the dead-family-member trope and the writing could some improvements. Still, I liked it. 
Rating: 3 Stars

 

5. The Intern by Sara Shepard

Plot: A magazine intern meets a young rockstar.
The writing was fine-ish. The story was okay enough. And there were cute moments. But we have the third case of lets-kill-a-family-member-instead-of-developing-a-personality. I was pissed off. Also, the romance is insta-lovey and quite far-fetched.
Rating: 2.5 Stars

 

6. Somewhere That’s Green by Meredith Russo

Plot: A transgender female and a closet lesbian.
Personally, I don’t like what I’ve written as the ‘plot’. Their sexuality is not the plot. But the ‘closet’ part is important. And the ‘transgender’ part because she’s dealing with people objecting to her using the girl’s bathroom. It’s a good story and it’s sweet too. But the writing and flow could have definitely used some work. Also, there were parts I found somewhat insensitive.
Rating: 3 Stars

 

7. The Way We Love Here by Dhonielle Clayton

Plot: A speculative approach to pre-destined love
Loved the concept. The setting gave me Moana feels. The story gave us fate, but one that was rife with possibilities. It was a very hopeful story, and a fantasy one. I would love to know more about the world we’re briefly introduced to, giving the author the opportunity to take her time, because while I quite liked the story, it was trying to do too much in too little time.
Rating: 4.25 Stars

 

8. Oomph by Emery Lord

Plot: Two girls stuck in an airport.
This was probably my favourite of all the stories because it was exactly what I was looking for when I picked the book up. It’s lighthearted, it’s really cute, and it’s hopeful. Emery Lord’s written a fun story in which you can really see the two characters connecting. Loved it.
Rating: 5 Stars

 

9. The Dictionary of You and Me by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Plot: Love via missing library book.
The story I was most excited for, because almost everyone loved it. And I gotta say, it was great. The conversations between the two protagonists were funny and cute. The meet cute was also cute. I liked the story (though it was kinda predictable) and, of course, the writing was good. I’m just… I’m over the whole hottest-guy-in-the-entire-school thing.
Rating: 4 Stars

 

10. The Unlikely Likelihood of Falling in Love by Jocelyn Davies

Plot: A subway meet, but on two different trains. En route.
I didn’t like it, despite some cuteness. First it talks about love at first sight, which I very much dislike. Then we find out that the girl wondering if she’s fallen for a guy within literally 5 seconds, is supposed to be all about logic and stats. Yet she doesn’t get why love at first sight is stupid. But, objectively, my problems lie with the inconsistency with the female protagonist’s personality. Also, the author didn’t get her voice right.
Rating: 2.5 Stars

 

11. 256 Million Miles by Kass Morgan

Plot: Two applicants who want to go to Mars.
Really liked this one. I loved that I could tell, right off the bat, that the narrative was that of a guy. It was really good. I loved the protagonist and the story and I certainly want more, of him and the Mars plot. Only problem, it was a tiny bit rushed and, at one point, 24 hours went by like 10.
Rating: 4.5 Stars

 

12. Something Real by Julie Murphy

Plot: Twist on a reality dating show.
Another dead-family-member entry. But it wasn’t done badly so it almost doesn’t count. This was sweet and a good enough read about two people competing to win a date with a celebrity. I liked the story, only wish there was more chemistry to be seen between the main characters.
Rating: 3.75 Stars

 

13. Say Something by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Plot: A diner, a server and a customer.
I would’ve liked this one so much better if it didn’t take itself so seriously. The story wasn’t bad, but it seems to be trying to explain the meaning of life in one short story. Also, the second-person narrative really didn’t work. I wish that, when people use second person, they would give a reason for it. Otherwise, it’s just pointlessly inconvenient.
Rating: 2.5 Stars

 

14. The Department of Dead Love by Nicola Yoon

Plot: A futuristic take on break-ups.
A guy goes to the Department of Dead Love to get a do-over with his ex-girlfriend. And the thing is, while Nicola Yoon introduces the wonders of the future, she doesn’t really flesh them out. The hows and why and the flaws that make it real, they’re missing. As for the meet cute part, that was good. I really liked the story. Definitely put a smile on my face.
Rating: 4 Stars

Review: Groupie by Susan Daugherty

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Genre: New-Adult, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 257
Series: Groupie #1
Release Date: December 2, 2016
Publisher: Sanctuary Publishing
Date Read: Janyary 23, 2017

1 Star

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So I was in the middle of my Worst Reads of 2017 post and realized that I never uploaded this review on the blog (or I did and it vanished). And since I kinda like this review, I decided to fix the problem. And here we are:

It’s funny, for a book titled “Groupie”, it sure does sneer on groupies a lot. Serious, if ‘groupie-shaming’ was a term, this book would set a record for having the most amount of groupie-shaming ever. But more on that later.

This book follows the characters Lexie, who is a physician, and Jack Morgan, a country music star. When Jack gets injured during a concert, Lexie is assigned as his physician and ends up having to travel on tour with him while he heals. And I was doing okay with all that. The romance was a slow burn, the writing wasn’t bad and the author seemed to have done her research of physical therapy.

Things were doing okay. Hell, I was even, more or less, successful, at overlooking the use of wrong words and the constant groupie-shaming, done by Lexie, with sentences like:

I did not want to end up falling for him like another pathetic groupie.

I was even putting up with Lexie, who has to be one of the most judgemental characters I’ve ever read about. Seriously, she gave Jack shit over his music, how he lived his life, his clothing, his relationships, EVERYTHING! She was a complete and utter BITCH who even went so far as to say that if a female practically molested him, it was because of the inappropriate content of his music and that he was asking for it”. My God, how did the author write that without realizing how WRONG that is?!

Yet, I persevered (God only knows how). The moment I snapped was during a scene which included these lines:

the famous cycle of bimbo groupies who are disposable, making it easy for you to stay completely non-involved and ready for the next one.

We’ve already established that Lexie is a judgemental bitch so far up on that high horse of hers that if someone would just give her a little push, we wouldn’t have to deal with her anymore. But what’s worse (yup, it got worse), Jack didn’t object to her saying this! These were his fans she was insulting and he agreed with her! In fact, he never disagreed with any of her degrading remarks because apparently, her word is fucking gosphel, the rainbow-shitting angel that she is.

I’m not sure who I hate more, him or Lexie. Actually no, definitely Lexie.

By the time I got to the end, I was ready for this shit to be over. Then we find out there’s sequel after the ending was a cheap and blatant attempt at stretching a story for as long as possible. Obviously, I won’t be reading it.

Now I’m going to stop ranting. It’s safe to say that I fucking loathed this book and don’t, at all, recommend it. Just glad I’ll never have to think about this it again, except when it comes time for my worst reads of the year post.

My Worst 10 Reads of 2017

Almost decided to forgo this list. I love the Top 10 lists but with this one, I feel like it doesn’t have much of a purpose. Though I did enjoy reading all my negative reviews. They’re fun. And I already had the names narrowed down so why not? No dishonourable mentions. Just jumping in.

 

10. No Love Allowed by Kate Evangelista

23288804Such a pretty cover, isn’t it? And Kate Evangelista that isn’t a bad writer. But this is definitely a bad book. The plot is very generic: rich player meets poor girl who’s not-like-other-girls. Bit of a manic pixie dream girl really. And it seems like barely any effort was put into the book. The romance was forced, the characters nothing special and it was utterly forgettable. Like, I had to read my review multiple times because I barely remember anything about it.

 

9. Off Sides by Sawyer Bennett

29814654Another rich-boy-meets-poor-girl. Not as forgettable but still very bad. Most of the information about what it means to be really rich or poor, as well as the sports aspect, seems to have come from a quick google search. The writing’s bad, the characters are stereotypical (complete with snobby mother and bitchy ex), the romance is unconvincing and it’s very cliché. And yes, clichés work sometimes. That was not the case here.

 

8. Moonshot by Alessandra Torre

27872890This is one of those romances that relies heavily on overblown prose that tells the reader that there’s an instant and intense connection between the two characters. Because God forbid that two people get to know each other via conversations. Who needs that when you can fall in love via stares. All this was made worse by cheap “twist” in the middle of the book and the amount of cheating, that no one seems to mind.

 

7. Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

31952703This book’s on the list just because of how fucking ridiculous the plot is. Girl loves her BFF. Her family’s leaving town so she writes him a letter. For the next three years, she ignores all his attempts at staying friends because he didn’t mention the letter and not once does it occur to her to ask if he even read the fucking thing. And it doesn’t get better from there. Also, the writing’s bad and the characters are really fucking stupid.

 

6. Wild Reckless by Ginger Scott

24500775The best-written book. On this list. And yet it’s so high up. You can attribute that to the very unhealthy relationship. The female protagonist was obsessed with the male protagonist. Not from the beginning but pretty soon after. Her every though started and ended with him. Also, every single aspect of the novel was a plot device for the romance. Like, the protagonist’s mother could get hit by a bus and it wouldn’t be about how it affects her, but how it affects her relationship. And this shit is supposed to be romantic…

 

5. Bait & Switch by Kendall Ryan

27175281Imma tell you what the worst part is by simply giving you a few lines from my review.
Nolan’s big conundrum is that he wants to be with Lacey (female MC) but he has to help out his roommate by sleeping with her, and he’s having difficulty making a decision. Yes, his life is so difficult because he has to have kinky sex with his roommate and doesn’t want to hurt her by ending things. My heart bleeds for Nolan’s poor soul.
Need I say more?

 

4. How to Date a Nerd by Cassie Mae

32148697Why would you write a book about nerds when your knowledge of nerds and nerdy things doesn’t extend far beyond what you see in crappy tv shows? Stereotypes and jokes make not a cute romance. Also, explain to me how this is a good kissing scene.
“Oh yes, yes, yes. He’s the best kisser in the whole freaking world! Even with the frenching, it’s not sloppy or gross, it’s just so flippin’ fantastic!”
Just… it’s so bad.

 

3. Groupie by Susan Daugherty

33236624A book about groupies that just insulted groupies the whole time. Going as far as to call them, and I’m paraphrasing here, a cycle of disposable bimbos. We also have a complete and utter bitch for a female protagonist, as asshole for a male protagonist and the insinuation that if a guy practically got molested, it was his fault because his songs have lewd lyrics. At this point I’m wondering if I should put it higher on the list.

 

2. A Stone in the Sea by A.L. Jackson

32939643My least favourite writing on this list can be found in this book. In my review, I described it as a romantic comedy directed by Zack Snyder. The book’s lifeless. The writing is repetitive and tedious. Also, both the main characters suck. The guy has anger management issues and solves most problems with his fists while his friends defend him by saying he simply has a big heart. It was also really fucking boring. Probably the only romance novel that almost put me to sleep. Barely got through it.

 

1. Snow and Mistletoe by Alexa Riley

28175159One of the worst books I’ve ever had the misfortune of reading. It’s a novella and after reading it, I sat there, staring off into space in horror, wondering if there’s any hope left for humanity. But dramatics aside, we have a guy who’s hella creepy and a stalker, and a girl who doesn’t mind it. Thinks that it’s sweet that he cares enough to be a creepy stalker. I’m sure it’ll be even more adorable when you dump him and start receiving letters written in blood and videos of him jerking off while smelling your shoe or something. Yes, he’s that messed up. This book is downright disturbing. And what’s worse? It’s sold as cheesy. The fuck!

 

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And that’s the end of that. Glad I got it over with. Now I never have to think about these books ever again. And you know, given the amount of romances on the list (basically, all of them), I almost wondered if I should quit the genre. But then I remembered all the amazing romances I read and how much I love romances, and I’m good.

What were some of your worst reads of the year? Or better yet, what were some of your best reads of the year? Those are always more fun to talk about. Who cares about the terrible ones, right?