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Crystal

I read and review Young Adult lit!

Member Since 2011

31
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 64 reviews
  • 66 ratings
  • 118 titles in library
  • 22 purchased in 2014
FOLLOWING
8
FOLLOWERS
5

  • The Island of Thieves

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Josh Lacey
    • Narrated By Toby Longworth
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    Buried treasure. Ruthless gangsters. An ancient clue...‘Our Captayne took the pinnace ashore and I went with hym and six men also, who were sworne by God to be secret in al they saw. Here we buried five chests filled with gold.' Tom Trelawney was looking for excitement. Now he's found it. With his eccentric uncle Harvey, he's travelling to South America on a quest for hidden gold. But Harvey has some dangerous enemies and they want the treasure too. Who will be the first to uncover the secrets of the mysterious island?

    Crystal says: ""X" Misses The Mark..."
    ""X" Misses The Mark..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I was hesitant to spend my hard earned credits on Island of Thieves as there are so few reviews, even on GoodReads, and the star ratings were merely average.

    But I watched Indy Jones as a kid and I still dream of finding a treasure map so I decided to give it a try.

    Unfortunately, I can understand the apathy towards the book.

    It isn’t a bad book at all; in fact it actually has the basis of a really good story.

    Sadly, though, it never lives up to its potential.

    That means you’re left not really wanting to bag it out but not caring enough to bother recommending it to anyone either.

    The main character, a 13-ish (didn’t catch his exact age) English boy Tom is probably the most likeable protagonist I’ve read in recent memory. He isn’t overly smart or overly talented or mired in ‘uniqueness’, quirks or backstory. He’s just real. So real, I could see myself – a 28 year old woman - in him!

    The treasure hunt had a cool set-up, included a nice touch of history and was set in the wonderful location of Peru.

    However, the characters don’t develop or arc and the ‘treasure hunt’ is straight forward that no mulling over riddles and historical documents necessary. It ends up being a simple, straight forward tale that basically ends with ‘and then we went home…’

    Like I said, it’s not bad but the fact that it could have been so much better is so disappointing it becomes borderline infuriating.

    I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone looking for a well-developed story nor a short punchy adventure (it’s short but not riveting, nail-biting, action packed etc).

    I think it is meant for younger kids who are more forgiving and maybe not looking for more story but I’d recommend parents give it a listen before they let pre-teens read as it has some adult tones/situations (related to violence). I think they would have been far better suited in a novel for older readers – especially since they were one of the things handled really well!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Fat Boy vs. the Cheerleaders

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Geoff Herbach
    • Narrated By Nick Podehl
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    From "one of the most real, honest, and still funny male voices to come around in a while" (YALSA) comes a brand-new cast of quirky characters, pitting fat boy Gabe against the high school cheerleading team in a battle over control of the school's soda machine. The war is on! Never have the stakes been so high. Never have the trenches been so deep. Never has one soda vending machine been so vital. When the high school cheerleading team takes over the machine's funds previously collected by the pep band, Gabe will not stand for it.

    Crystal says: "Uncomfortably Real"
    "Uncomfortably Real"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Fat Boy was an uncomfortably accurate look at what it’s really like to be an overweight teenager.

    This element hit me in particularly hard but the author pulled no punches when it came to the pain of isolation, inequality, bullying, broken families and dissolving friendships in high school either.

    Credit to Herbach for having the guts to be so confronting but it didn’t exactly make for a pleasant read.

    I would have like the plot to be a little stronger, a little more inspiring, a little more mythic.

    Basically, I wish Fat Boy had been a little more fiction and a little less reality.

    It was definitely well written and impactful – both great things and rare quantities in YA lit.

    But I struggled with to get through the challenging subject matter and I’m struggling to recommend something I personally enjoyed so little.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Killing Ruby Rose: Ruby Rose, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Jessie Humphries
    • Narrated By Kimberly Harsch
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (8)
    Performance
    (8)
    Story
    (8)

    In sunny Southern California, 17-year-old Ruby Rose is known for her killer looks and her killer SAT scores. But ever since her dad, an LAPD SWAT sergeant, died, she’s also got a few killer secrets. To cope, Ruby has been trying to stay focused on school (the top spot in her class is on the line) and spending time with friends (her Jimmy Choos and Manolo Blahniks are nothing if not loyal). But after six months of therapy and pathetic parenting by her mom, the District Attorney, Ruby decides to pick up where her dad left off and starts going after the bad guys herself.

    Crystal says: "Enjoyable...Against All the Odds"
    "Enjoyable...Against All the Odds"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I could tell from the blurb I would either love or hate Ruby Rose – there could be no inbetween with a so completely over-the-top premise.

    And Ruby Rose was everything I should have hated – mopey, shoe-obsessed and far too willing to plunge headlong into danger under the guise of being tough, gutsy and independent...only to need to be recused from herself.

    But somehow…I came to, if not really like her, at least not be annoyed to tears by her. And frankly, I consider that a quite a victory – Humphries shot sky-high with this one and the fact she didn’t fail horrifically is kind of amazing.

    Okay, I’m not really selling this am I?

    Bottom line: I know what I hate and I didn’t hate Killing Ruby Rose.

    Yes, the plot jumps the tracks completely by the third act but I’ll be happy to continue with the series.

    This is high praise from me, so I think most YA readers should be able to find something to enjoy here.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Book: The Sequel: First Lines from the Classics of the Future by Inventive Imposters

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 40 mins)
    • By Clive Priddle, Geoffrey Nunberg
    • Narrated By David Henry
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    A delicious and unexpected return engagement from such favorite characters as Jane Eyre, Ebenezer Scrooge, Jay Gatsby, Holden Caulfield, Wilbur the Pig, and Captain Ahab, Book: The Sequel is a perfect gift for book lovers everywhere - or for anyone to whom "The End" is simply the starting point for the imagination.

    Crystal says: "Great Idea, Poor Audiobook."
    "Great Idea, Poor Audiobook."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Sadly, I have to say the Book: The Sequel just doesn’t work in an audiobook format.

    The “faux-pening” lines come so fast there is just no time to digest or enjoy them. And if you need time to think about any of the more obscure references – you just won’t be able to.

    Worst of all, the two of the three clearly amateur narrators are simply atrocious. One has a speech impediment and the woman uses random and unbearable accents that undercut the wit.

    Now, some of the crowd-sourced humour definitely misses the mark but there is some great satire and laughs to be had so my complaints are not with the content.

    I’ll definitely pick up Book: The Sequel as a hardcopy so it can be appreciated as a coffee table book for casual perusal or a dinner-party conversation starter where I think it can really shine.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Robin Sloan
    • Narrated By Ari Fliakos
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (15)
    Performance
    (14)
    Story
    (15)

    A gleeful and exhilarating tale of global conspiracy, complex code-breaking, high-tech data visualization, young love, rollicking adventure, and the secret to eternal life - mostly set in a hole-in-the-wall San Francisco bookstore.The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a San Francisco Web-design drone - and serendipity, sheer curiosity, and the ability to climb a ladder like a monkey has landed him a new gig working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore.

    Irene says: "Delightful"
    "A Book for Book Lovers"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I love books. In fact, I love books so much that I picked up Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore purely because I liked the idea of an actual 24-hour book store so much!

    And boy am I glad I did.

    Mr Penumbra’s is a love letter to all bibliophiles. It’s for anyone who ever dreamed of finding a real-life mystery in the pages of a book or wished they could go gather a party of their equally geeky friends and embark on an epic quest.

    But for all its fantasy origins, Mr Penumbra’s is grounded in modern day San Francisco on the forefront of the digital age. Technology and leather-bound tomes intersect for a fascinating look at the modern mythology of Google.

    Audiobooks are often treated as the ugly step-child of literary world so I think fellow audible.com users will especially appreciate the musings about the future of the written world in an increasingly virtual world.

    Mr Penumbra’s has transcended genre-preferences amongst my circle of friends so I highly recommend it to readers everywhere!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Sweet Reckoning: Sweet Trilogy, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Wendy Higgins
    • Narrated By Erin Mallon
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (81)
    Performance
    (78)
    Story
    (77)

    Evil is running rampant, and sweet Anna Whitt is its target. Nobody knows when or how the Dukes will strike, but Anna and her Nephilim allies will do anything necessary to rid the Earth of the demons and their oppressive ways. The stakes are higher than ever, and Anna is determined that the love she feels will be her strength, not a liability. But trying to protect the ones she loves while running for her life and battling demonic forces proves to be perilous - especially as faces are changing and trust is fleeting.

    Crystal says: "Unforgivably Pointless Waste of Time"
    "Unforgivably Pointless Waste of Time"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The only reason I didn’t return Sweet Reckoning was so I could at least have the satisfaction of giving it a one-star review.

    After supporting the trilogy from the beginning I am so utterly appalled by this anti-climactic final instalment I urge everyone to not waste their time or money.

    Turns out ridding the world of demons is so simple that Anna didn’t even break a sweat!

    I estimate the yawn-worthy climax took only 40min of the 10hr+ run time

    So what’s Sweet Reckoning actually about?

    Sex.

    The author is clearly a Stephanie Meyer type – so religiously repressed about sex she had to write three books establishing her protagonists’ undying love and even marry her off just so she could write sex scenes without feeling guilty.

    Higgins actually has an angel come down for a post-coital high-five to make it clear this union was totally cool with god.

    Yes, the main action of Sweet Reckoning is, literally, Anna finally getting some action.

    How many times?

    How many ways?

    How many places?

    Don’t worry - you’ll get all the details you can stomach!

    Sure Anna is supposed to be ridding the world of pure demons but there’s sex to be had so she skims the bible on the way to the final show-down and hopes for the best!

    There is no planning, plotting or preparation.

    No training, scheming or strategizing.

    We’ve spent three books leading up to a complete and total non-event!!

    Anyone who has read the first two entries would be better off reading some free fanfiction then paying for this mess.

    Unforgivable.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Winter White: A Belles Novel, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Jen Calonita
    • Narrated By Julia Whelan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (19)
    Performance
    (17)
    Story
    (18)

    Isabelle Scott and Mirabelle Monroe are still reeling from the revelation that they share more than just the roof over their heads. The media has pounced on their story and the girls are caught up in a flurry of talk-show appearances and newspaper interviews. They’ve put on a happy public face, but someone is leaking their true feelings to the press. While it seems like the world is watching their every move, at least they have each other. But with cotillion season right around the corner, Izzie and Mira have barely had time to process their newfound sisterhood.

    Crystal says: "More of the same, if you like that sort of thing!"
    "More of the same, if you like that sort of thing!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Winter White wasn’t bad…it was just more of the same.

    It felt a little pointless to me. The Belles are still at odds, and still won’t work together. The family is still in turmoil and still can’t manage to get ahead of the agents working against them. There are still more social events that have to be shopped for and both Belles are still having problems finding that perfect dress.

    Same old, same old.

    I’m sure most readers who loved the first and love the rich girl drama genre will continue happily through Winter White and onto the third book.

    But I need change, I need progress, I need some character arcs and some plot development.

    I won’t be continuing on with the series but, as I said above, there is clearly an audience for this book and I wish them all the best.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Let the Storm Break

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Shannon Messenger
    • Narrated By Nick Podehl, Kristen Leigh
    Overall
    (7)
    Performance
    (7)
    Story
    (6)

    Vane Weston is haunted. By the searing pull of his bond to Audra. By the lies he’s told to cover for her disappearance. By the treacherous winds that slip into his mind, trying to trap him in his worst nightmares. And as his enemies grow stronger, Vane doesn’t know how much longer he can last on his own.

    Crystal says: "Scattered and Contrived Second Book"
    "Scattered and Contrived Second Book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was an incredibly disappointing follow-up to such a promising first book.

    While I found the establishment of the ‘wind-walkers’ lore incredibly fun in the first book, the expanded world seemed to fall apart here. We were introduced to a huge number of ‘wind-bending’ techniques that defy even in-world logic to the point of ridiculousness.

    I couldn’t invest at all when I couldn’t tell whether I’m even supposed to take any of it seriously.

    And if I’m not, why should I keep reading?

    It certainly won’t be for the characters who became dithering and indecisive here after a refreshingly genuine courtship in book one.

    LtSB hyped up the generic drama and took the characters utterly nowhere. Scene after scene of the couple pondering whether the other one loves them as much as they love the other? Talk about cliché.

    To be fair, though, they weren’t given much to work with story wise.

    Mind spoiler for the first book here but it ends with Audra leaving Vane…for some reason.
    Honestly, I didn’t understand her rationale at the time and it became clear here it was simply so they could begin this book separated. The setup, designed just so Audra would have cause to COINCIDENTLY meet a character with critical information, rang insultingly false.

    Worse, it happened time and time again through the story – the plot relied on convenient contrivances to keep the story moving right through to a double cross even the characters saw coming.

    Predictably, there was no resolution as is the norm for middle books in a trilogy. The problem is, I can’t think of a single reason to continue to the third book.

    Usually, I just give a resigned shrug after a so-so second book in a trilogy. I almost always continue onto the final entry out of some masochistic urge to see a series out and I figure anyone who liked the first will read the second regardless of what I say.

    I will just tell anyone only lukewarm on the first book, not to bothering continuing and caution anyone hoping for a great new series not to get your hopes up.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Sketchy: The Bea Catcher Chronicles, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Olivia Samms
    • Narrated By Kate Reinders
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (9)
    Performance
    (8)
    Story
    (8)

    A popular cheerleader - raped, beaten, and left for dead. An edgy outsider with a gift. An unlikely team that could take down a killer. Bea Washington’s life has been a mess ever since that night - the night her best friend and boyfriend betrayed her, the night that got Bea kicked out of Athena Day School for Girls, the night that sent Bea straight into rehab. Now clean, Bea is starting over at sprawling Packard High School, in a city shaken from two assaults on young women.

    Crystal says: "Unlikeable heroine makes for an unenjoyable book."
    "Unlikeable heroine makes for an unenjoyable book."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Sketchy is a study in dichotomy so I guess it’s only fitting I’m of two minds about it as I write this review.

    Bea is a recovering alcoholic and drug addict…who has a physic ability to sketch people’s thoughts when she draws them.

    There are two very different stories at play here and I’m not exactly sold on how well they fit together.

    On the one hand, Beas substance abuse problem seems like it could fill out a story all of its own. The fact that is shared page time with a high-concept premise really undercut the severity and sincerity of the heady subject matter.

    Meanwhile, the ability to ‘sketch the truth’ side of the narrative didn’t really live up to its promise and wasn’t particularly fulfilling in a mystery sense.

    Don’t get me wrong, this genre-clash had some serious potential given how her using is at odds with her ability but nothing came of it.

    I could just call Sketchy a zero-sum and leave potential readers to make up their own minds but Sketchy had one, I think, unforgivable flaw.

    Bea is painted as a victim because of the lack of trust parents, teachers and police have in her given her substance abuse history.

    And the author clearly tells us it is the authority figures in the wrong here.

    Yes Bea is cleaning up her act but after literally JUST getting out of rehab the author takes the position that it is unfair that her parents don’t trust her… while she lies about where she is going, puts herself in the path of temptation and has trouble managing to resist using again.

    Even when her parents find drugs on her, we are supposed to be outraged they don’t “believe” she’s still clean. Likewise, we're supposed to agree it's unfair that her parents want to her get a part-time job to support her vintage clothing obsession.

    I'm really not sure what the author was going for with this approach to the main character. If she was trying to make her more realistic with her self-centred teen approach to life it backfired to make her simply unlikeable.

    I have no interest in reading about Bea further, whether or not the stories improve and I can’t think of a particular group or age I’d want to recommend Sketchy too.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The List

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Siobhan Vivian
    • Narrated By Allison McLemore
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (27)
    Performance
    (26)
    Story
    (27)

    It happens every year. A list is posted, and one girl from each grade is chosen as the prettiest, and another is chosen as the ugliest. Nobody knows who makes the list. It almost doesn't matter. The damage is done the minute it goes up.This is the story of eight girls, freshman to senior, "pretty" and "ugly." And it's also the story of how we see ourselves, and how other people see us, and the tangled connection of the two.

    Irene says: "Fine performance, but the story?"
    "Engaging and Entertaining"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I loved The List – a story of eight teenage girls, four named the prettiest in their school and four named the ugliest who have to come to terms with both how they see themselves and how others see them.

    The List manages to follow not one but EIGHT different characters all with more depth, poignancy and intricacy then most YA books with a single bland heroine manage.

    Every girl has her own unique story and every one somehow manages to get their due in what is a pretty succinct book.

    The outcast who wears the UGLY label as a badge of honour for all the wrong reasons.

    The popular girl whose attempts to overcome an eating disorder are put into jeopardy when the PRETTY label validates her negative behaviour.

    The beautiful cheerleader labelled UGLY, not for what is on her outside but on her inside.

    The quiet home-schooled girl suddenly in the spotlight now that she is PRETTY.

    I’m amazed she managed to fit so many well-done stories into a single narrative!

    I would have liked a little more wrap-up and I’ve have happily read even more from the girls but it was a rare satisfying stand-alone read!

    I think this is would be a stellar teenage read but I’ve seen some parents complain about the sex, alcohol and language in other reviews. I personally think it was all handled incredibly well – not preachy, nor exploitive just eerily relatable. Maybe a little too accurate for some?

    Still I think the messages of empowerment and acceptance makes The List more than worth a read for teen girls. Older reads though, can definitely enjoy the incredibly well drawn characters too so I highly recommend the list to everyone!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • All Our Yesterdays

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Cristin Terrill
    • Narrated By Jessica Almasy
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain. Only Em can complete the final instruction. She's tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present - imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside.

    Crystal says: "Great story, great conflict, highly recommended!"
    "Great story, great conflict, highly recommended!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I love Time Travel.

    In fact, I have a theory that any story with time travel in it is better than almost any story that doesn't. The time travel might not always be well done. In fact, more often than not, the time travel doesn't even make sense in most tales. But all I need is a cleverly presented paradox, or cute quantum quirk and I can be completely sold on otherwise average story.

    All Our Yesterdays is not hard-core sci-fi and it's time travel rules will NOT stand up to serious scrutiny but it does prove my theory whole-heartedly.

    The time travel core instantly elevates the YA dypostian love-triangle story which is a genre as overdone as sexy vampires at this point! The time travel is critical for establishing great conflict and genuine stakes as past, present and future collide for our three main characters.

    All I can say is that I wanted more, more, more!

    The book opens with a notes from 14 past Em's detailing the 14 different ways they've tried to prevent time travel from being invented.

    I would have happily read ALL 14 STORIES! And I'd have happy read them again with even more POVs, especially from the antagonists who I really wanted to know more about.

    This is one case where the novel moving swiftly through the story was almost a let down - I just wanted more!

    I'm thrilled that a sequel is currently being penned and I'm already giddy with possibilities despite the fact that All Our Yesterdays could be 100% self contained - no annoying cliff-hangers here!

    Authors, this is how to start a series - write a great first book and make us actually WANT more!

    I whole-heartedly recommend this to ANYONE who loves a good YA tale with a sci-fi lean.

    Most importantly I recommend it to any YA romance readers to see a great example of a well handled and not-annoying love triangle!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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